No welcome mat laid out for proposed Indianapolis church

Residents pack meeting to voice opposition

INDIANAPOLIS - More than 100 people in Indianapolis’ College Park neighborhood have pulled away the welcome mat and are trying to block a church from moving in.  

Neighbors fear the proposed congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses will bring down their quiet way of life and property values.

There's no sign of a church at Colby Boulevard and Barnard Street yet, but even the suggestion upsets people.

"People enjoy that tranquility and the enjoyment of their neighborhood, and what we believe they're going to bring is a lot of intrusion into that," said resident Susan Blair.

Indianapolis' College Park is a community some people describe as a throwback, a quiet place where things change slowly.

"If I were to buy a house right now, I wouldn't do it. I would not buy a house in this neighborhood because of what is happening," said a resident at a public hearing on the matter.

The issue that motivated people to pack a community center Wednesday night hinges on six acres of land that the Metropolitan Development Commission has approved for rezoning, from residential to special use.

The rezoning measure allows for a College Park Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a three congregation church, each with its own services.

"It really doesn't have anything to do with their practice of faith or their congregation at all," said Blair. "What it really has to do with is the intensity of what they plan to bring to the community, and when I say intensity, I'm talking traffic and congestion."

Concerned people are trying to appeal to Indianapolis City-County Councilor Jose Evans to pump the brakes on the churches' plans.

"There are people who have been living here for over 40 years and believed when they purchased this property 30 years ago that that property that we're talking about would be for a school or a park,"  said Evans.

 

If the City-County Council doesn't act to stop the rezoning within about 25 more days, it will automatically go through.

Representatives with the church told RTV6 wherever they go, they strive to be good neighbors.

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