Neighborhood groups opposed to a controversial garage project in Broad Ripple said theyre angry that developers will get additional time to convince city officials why they should be allowed to proceed with construction, even though the project apparently violates federal rules for building in flood plains.
Preparatory work is already under way for the $15 million garage and retail project at the corner of Westfield Boulevard and College Avenue.
The developers, Keystone Construction, hope to break ground in the next two weeks and asked city officials for more time when the Department of Metropolitan Development staff recommended against giving them a variance from zoning requirements for building in flood plains.
The property sits almost four feet below flood level, RTV6's Norman Cox
"We are asking for a short continuance," said Joe Calderone, an attorney for Keystone.
The Board of Zoning Appeals granted the continuance and the appeal will be heard by a separate panel next week.
Neighborhood opponents argued that Keystone is simply shopping for a friendlier panel.
Calderone said Keystone will present evidence that a partially completed levee provides enough protection.
"Well, I'm not an engineer. But two phases of the levy have been done. In fact, it's been completed to the west and to the south of the subject property. So, those are all questions that will be discussed during the proposed meetings, Calderone said
Without a variance, Keystone would have to elevate the ground floor of the garage nearly four feet, which would make the project more expensive.
Pat Andrews with Alliance of Neighborhood Associations said Keystone should just follow the ordinances already in place.
"If they were denied the variance from the flood control ordinance, all it would mean is that it would cost the developer more. And the city and the taxpayers have already chipped in $6.3 million. The developer just wants to cheap out on having to obey the flood ordinances that everybody else has to obey, Andrews said.
Neighborhood groups said they fear that if Keystone is allowed to build without protections, the federal government will find the city in violation of flood plain laws and raise homeowners rates for flood insurance.
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