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Residents oppose rezone of 200-acre urban forest in Pike Township

Pike Township rezone proposal.png
Posted at 7:56 PM, Sep 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-07 19:56:55-04

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 200 acres of land residents in Pike Township cherish could very well be leveled.

Residents that live in the area walked along West 86th Street on Thursday with signs in hand to show their opposition to the potential rezone of the forest.

The acreage is currently farmland, forest and wetlands – all land that environmental groups and residents say is vital to their quality of life.

“Without it providing the drainage, water retention and carbon sequestration, there will be flooding,” Lore Perdue, with the Indiana Forest Alliance, said.

Perdue says there are 4,237 individual urban forests in Marion County. An urban forest is defined by the Indiana Forest Alliance as one acre of continuous tree coverage or more.

Cornerstone Companies Inc. is attempting to rezone the chunk of land. They hope to create a mixed-use development which would include a hotel, medical facility and retail, among other things.

“We are coming up to where they want to put in a roundabout and entrance to this property,” Martin Risch, who lives in the neighborhood that borders the land, said. “That’s why all these trees here are going to disappear as a consequence.”

Risch feels the city should focus on already commercially zoned sites, rather than create more.

“There are already roads, parking lots, sewers and water,” Risch said. “Why can’t we revitalize our commercial districts instead of breaking new ground and getting rid of farmland and forest to create another similar kind of situation where there could be more empty store fronts? It just doesn’t seem economically helpful.”

WRTV reached out to the city to see how they are working with residents about their concerns, but they did not comment because the decision process for the rezone is ongoing.

WRTV also reached out to the developer to see if they are taking citizen’s concerns into consideration. We did not receive a response by deadline.

Residents hope the city council will reject the rezoning of the 200 acres and instead focus on preserving the urban forests left in Marion County.

"We can still have development, we just need more compatible development, which is what the city originally had planned, " Risch said.

The city county council is expected to vote on whether to approve the rezoning of this area in the coming months. An exact date has yet to be determined.

To read more about Cornerstone Companies Inc.’s proposal, click here.