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"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" - Patrick Henry

Citizen Anger in Carmel Surrounding Gramercy

The southern third of Hamilton County has been in a race to develop for at least the last 30 years. The first residential developments in Clay, Delaware, and Fall Creek Townships made the transition from farm land to low density usages, on either beautiful estate lots, or in spacious subdivisions.

Much of the recent residential development has been higher density usage. There are two primary reasons for this- one is the exceptional cost of the land involved, whereby the developer can only recoup via volume sales or luxury price tags. The other is the desire of municipal governments, such as in Carmel and Fishers, to drive up assessed value on property, so that it yields the highest amount of dollars at the lowest rate possible.

Because the developer could go either way with housing product, and because there is only a tiny market for extreme high-end housing, this government policy in conjunction with its zoning laws makes it particularly easy for development to choose to undertake higher density develoments.

Next time you see a city sign proclaiming, "Zoned for your protection", please be sure to scoff out loud.

It's one thing to add high density development in an existing inner city. It's expected and desired there. But in bedroom communities where estate lots and large subdivision expanses are present, people deeply resent high density development, especially when people have an estate lot right next-door to the proposed high density development.

So, it was no surprise that the Carmel residents near the proposed Gramercy development turned up in numbers to voice their opposition to the plan.

It was also no surprise when Carmel ignored these residents. For municipal government officials, it's all about assessed value.

Of course, the residents have had some choice words of late. From Robert Francis' letter to the Indy Star:
Time and again people were asking to just send it back to committee for further study on the density. Sadly, the council members ignored their wishes and the development was approved in its entirety. The mayor, who is no better, called the members courageous. Better adjectives would be arrogant, egotistical, condescending and elitist. I completely lost any respect or admiration I had for these individuals.

Mark Lushell's letter gets to what elected officials understand:
The mayor stated after the vote Monday night that it took courage from the council to vote for this. I believe the real courage will come from the residents of Carmel. That courage will be in the form of voting these people off the board and out of the mayor's office. Until that happens, we will continue to have dense developments crammed down our throats.
So, why are they arrogant? Because the City Council runs unopposed. In 2003, not one Carmel City Council member had a general election challenger. Without any real ballot box pressure they can behave in public as described in Dawn Mast's letter:
Several people spoke before the board with heartfelt issues. I just wish the councilmen would have listened more intently. It's obvious that they already had their minds made up regardless of what these citizens had to say. Some of the councilmen got up to get a drink or left the room for some unknown reason, not to mention the whispering that went on among them. The Auman/Newark additions take this matter seriously.
Arrogant, egotistical, condescending, and elitist attitudes from Carmel led long-time Republican supporter Dean Barkley to run for mayor as a Libertarian. Barkley owns the Extreme Outfitters shop on 116th between Rangeline and Keystone. Carmel shut down the road, and access to his shop, without so much as a letter to notify him. When Barkley sought answers, he found arrogance, ego, etc. Because he always held libertarian beliefs- limited government, lower taxes, defense of small business- he ran and gave the Mayor a good challenge, earning 27% of the vote on a shoestring budget.

I hope some of these citizens will channel their anger and run for Carmel City Council in 2007. If they get on board now and start building support in runs against the five who voted this way. Even if they ultimately lose the race, a strong challenge can result in important changes in the attitudes and the council votes.

Contact the Libertarian Party about running for office today!

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posted by Mike Kole @ 8:51 AM, , links to this post