Council denies request to rezone property

A residence in a soon-to-be designated historic neighborhood in Seymour will not be rezoned to commercial zoning.

But the request from homeowner Valerie Padilla has city officials taking a closer look at all properties along West Second Street to see if changes need to be made to bring zoning in line with current land uses.

The city council voted 7-0 Monday night to deny Padilla’s request to rezone her property at 810 W. Second St. from R-3 (multifamily residential) zoning to C-1 (commercial-local business) zoning.

Padilla told the council she wanted to open a photography business at the home but is trying to sell the property and has had interest from buyers wanting to open a bed and breakfast, a salon and a mortgage broker office.

The property once housed a tax preparation business that operated under a variance.

Padilla said most of the properties around her home are used for businesses, including Kovener’s Korner and Mensendiek’s Auction Service, and all of the properties across the street are zoned C-2.

Councilman John Reinhart said he could go either way on the vote but decided the situation would best be served by a variance instead of rezoning.

“I think a variance is more appetizing, but I want the plan commission to look at the zoning down through there. I can’t come up with a reason of why some of that area is zoned the way it is,” he said. “We need to take a look at what’s happening in that neighborhood and that area and come up with a plan for it.”

Reinhart also sits on the plan commission, which gave the request an unfavorable recommendation on an 8-1 vote earlier this month.

Councilman Lloyd Hudson said a variance makes more sense.

“It’s more flexible,” he said.

Several residents spoke Monday night against the proposed rezoning.

Although changing the zoning won’t impact a forthcoming historical designation for the Boulevards neighborhood from Indiana Landmarks, resident Joe Brooks said the current R-3 zoning protects and enhances the neighborhood.

A C-1 zoning would open up the possibility for the residence to be torn down and a new commercial building to be put up instead, he said.

Brooks lives across the street from Padilla. He said he would not be against a variance for a business to operate from her residence.

“We want to try to maintain it where businesses blend in with that side of the neighborhood,” he said.

Tom Melton lives on Emerson Drive diagonal from Padilla’s residence and has been in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, he said.

Had Padilla asked for a variance for the property, Melton said he wouldn’t have an issue with the request.

“What I do have a problem with is the spot zoning change. That will be the only C-1 in that entire lot. That whole block is R-3,” Melton said. “We do not need one little C-1 making its way into that area because once that first one is in there, the second one will follow sooner or later.”

Jerry Osterman also lives across the street from Padilla’s residence and said there is no parking available for a commercial business in that area.

Although there currently is some space along West Second Street for parking, Osterman said there are major changes coming to the corridor, including a 10-foot bike path along the north side of the street that will take up that parking.

Robin Ramp, who lives in the 700 block of West Second Street, said there are better options available for Padilla to operate a business from the residence.

“Even though variances aren’t something you always like to consider, I think in this case, that would be a better fit because it allows you as our elected officials to maintain control of that growth and to shape that growth so that in the future, anything that might go in there be in line with a neighborhood in a historic district,” she said.