Developer wins battle to build controversial northwest side gas station

Site where developer plans to build a gas station (WTHR)
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INDIANAPOLIS - Controversial plans to build a gas station and strip mall on the northwest side of Indianapolis can move forward after a ruling Friday by the Indiana Court of Appeals. For two years, neighbors have been fighting plans to build on the southwest corner of 86th Street and Lafayette Road.

The coalition of homeowners, neighborhood associations and Pike Township Schools lost the latest round of the fight when the appellate judges ruled that the developer properly received a permit to build the project.

Long Fight About Development

In March 2015, Three Mile Properties requested zoning approval to build on the land. The initial plans the company filed show a gas station with six pumps, a convenience store and a strip mall with about seven other storefronts. The City approved the zoning request.

The neighborhood groups appealed. They won and the trial court reversed the zoning approval in February 2017. The court cited two issues – who actually owned the land and whether zoning application was complete.

Three Mile Properties appealed that ruling, which lead to today’s decision – a victory for the developer.

The Court of Appeals decided that Three Mile Properties does indeed own 8562 Lafayette Road, because a company official signed the land contract to purchase it well before the zoning permit was filed.

The Court also determined that the application was complete. That’s important because of when the city passed a moratorium on new gas stations and convenience stores in areas like 86th and Lafayette. Three Mile Properties filed its zoning request in March 2015. In April, the City decided no new gas stations and convenience stores could be built in areas zoned C-3. Three Mile’s application was approved in June. The lower court had said that since the application wasn’t complete before the April change, Three Mile Properties would be subject to the moratorium.

Neighborhood Objections

Residents and other organizations near the intersection have been fighting the project since the start, and they created a website to keep others up to date on the developments.

The website details a number of reasons the groups want to prevent this project at 86th Street and Lafayette road. They cite particular concerns about the impact on drinking water because the gas station would be located so close to Fishback Creek. They are concerned that any leaks could contaminate the creek that feeds into Eagle Creek Reservoir which is a primary source of water for the area. Also, the group says a number of nearby homes use well water.

Pike Township Schools joined the legal fight against the project since Fishback Creek Public Academy is directly across Lafayette Road to the east.

The website also expresses concern about public safety. The website states, “Lafayette Road is a major route for bicyclists accessing Eagle Creek and nearby country roads; the proposed gas station may increase the risk of accidents and crime.”

The group also notes that there are a number of other gas stations close by – approximately 30 in about five miles of the intersection.

The lawsuit to stop the project was filed by a group of parties in the area - Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods, Traders Pointe Neighborhood Association, Inc., the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township and five individuals.

WTHR has reached out to Three Mile Properties and to the neighborhood group for reaction to the ruling and to learn what is next for the project.

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