The Seymour City Council will hear a request Tuesday night from a resident wanting to rezone a property on West Second Street in order to operate a photography studio.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in council chambers at city hall, 301 N. Chestnut St. It is being conducted Tuesday instead of Monday because of the Memorial Day holiday.
Earlier this month, Valerie Padilla went before the Seymour Plan Commission seeking to rezone the property at 810 W. Second St. from R-3 (multifamily residential) zoning to C-1 (commercial-local business) zoning.
In an 8-1 vote, the commission forwarded the petition on to the council with an unfavorable recommendation. Commissioner Bernie Hauersperger was the only one to vote in favor of the rezone.
Two commissioners, Jeri Wells and Gary Colglazier, did not attend the May 9 meeting.
Padilla said most of the neighborhood is commercial, and her property once housed a tax preparation business.
“Most of the neighbors are C-2,” she said.
Several neighbors spoke in opposition of the request.
Joe Brooks said he lives across the street from the property, and he and his wife, Stacy, have been involved in the process to get the area designated as a historic neighborhood.
“The Boulevards are in the process of being declared a historic neighborhood by the state of Indiana through the Indiana Landmarks association,” he said.
That process was started in 2017, and the cost for the historical designation is $7,500, which was split between Indiana Landmarks and the city, Brooks said.
In 2018, another meeting was conducted with residents in the Boulevards confirming the plan. The designation should be granted in November or December of this year, he said.
“There are benefits for the neighborhood to have that,” he said.
Brooks said most properties on the north side of West Second Street are zoned either R-3 or R-1 (single-family) zoning.
“C-1 would open up the risk that the property would be allowed to accommodate a business or another structure that is not conducive to the neighborhood,” he said. “I believe the C-1 designation is detrimental to the intent of the original zoning category previously approved by this board at some point in time.”
Reading from the city’s zoning ordinance, Brooks said the purpose of R-3 zoning is to “protect and enhance older neighborhoods in Seymour.”
He pointed out a real estate business operated by Shirley Runge next door at 800 W. Second St. remains zoned residential and blends in with the neighborhood.
“It’s a contributing resource to the neighborhood, and 810 W. Second St. is a contributing resource to the historical designation,” Brooks said. “I believe this beautiful home that’s positioned right next to Calvin Boulevard is a great example of why the Boulevards have been selected to have this honor of being named a historic neighborhood.”
Robin Ramp, who lives at 717 W. Second St., said there are three reasons why the zoning should not be changed from residential to commercial.
Those reasons are history, property values and that it’s just not needed when a variance could be granted instead, she said.
“There aren’t very many things that we get to hold onto anymore in this life that are traditional, and the Boulevards are one of those very important and historic neighborhoods to Seymour,” she said.
She also said rezoning may improve the property’s value, but it does so to the detriment of others who want to maintain residential homes in the area.
Most importantly, she said, the petition is unnecessary because the current zoning allows for a business if approved with a variance.
Ramp said the current zoning of R-3 allows the plan commission to control what variances might happen in the future. By granting the rezone, Ramp said the board would lose that control.
“Seymour is at such an important point in its growth that we need your guidance and your vision moving forward, and we’d prefer not to see it zoned just commercial,” she said.
Resident Jerry Osterman said he lives on the south side of the street and is concerned with parking.
“If there is going to be a business there, I hope they have virtually no employees and no customers because there is no place to park,” he said.
“There’s room for three or four cars to park on Second Street, and that’s it,” he said. “That’s not the best place to have a bunch of people coming and going all the time.”
Commissioner Mike Jordan said approving the request would be a classic example of spot zoning since the surrounding properties are zoned residential, and that is not something he supports.
“I don’t think it’s good for our community, especially in a historic district like this,” he said.
Commissioner Mark Hays said he thought Padilla’s request would make more sense as a variance.
“I know we’re trying to get away from variances, but this is a perfect example of where a variance should be used instead of rezoning,” he said.