INDIANAPOLIS — The Greater Garden City Civic Association learned about the new Rezone Indy project being conducted by the City of Indianapolis. Tammara Tracy of the Department of Municipal Development spoke to a small group of people interested in the zoning of the Westside.
Tracy was welcomed to the GGCCA by the group’s president, Mary Anderson.
“I’d like to thank Tammara for being here,” Anderson said. “I’ve seen a similar presentation and it is very interesting.”
Tracy started her presentation by saying, “I’m a nerd. That’s why I’m here.”
She is in the Division of Planning for the Department of Municipal Development managed by the City of Indianapolis.
“I like to write code and tweak ordinances,” Tracy said. “We’ve been launching Rezone Indy which may seem a little unusual.”
She said the goal of the project is to make the zoning ordinances more sustainable for the population.
“I know that sounds like a snorefest,” she said. “But it’s really not. Zoning touches your lives every day in many ways. Every parcel of land is designated a zoning. That zoning tells you how that land can be used. That’s how it shapes our world.”
She said zoning helps to keep residents safe and sets a base level of development for all properties.
“Zoning basically sets the minimum and sets a level playing field,” she said. “We want you to tell us where to set that level playing field.”
Tracy explained that the Indianapolis zoning ordinance has not been updated for 50 years.
“We’ve changed a lot in 50 years,” she said. “We need to change the rules so we can create what we want.”
She explained one way a city can change zoning and impact the area.
“Baltimore increased the amount of trees it had by 10 percent,” she said. “That helped to lower the crime in the area by 12 percent.”
She said adding trees and making an area more pleasing often helps decrease crime.
“Because it looks like people care and that they’re paying attention,” Tracy said. “One of the statistics that bothers me is this one. Forty percent of the 90,000 children in our public schools are over weight or at risk of being over weight.”
She said our zoning ordinances have set children up for trouble because they can no longer walk to places they need to go.
“You see, 50 years ago we were in love with our cars,” Tracy said. “We wanted to drive everywhere. We can change the ordinances to change the environment. We can require walking paths to entice you to walk. It will help set up legitimate physical activity. And we don’t need all these ponds. Did you know that a goose poops two pounds every day? And it is very high in E. coli.”
She said retention ponds are not necessary and can be very dangerous.
“I can tell you how to build it cheaper and without those ponds that attract the goose,” she said.
Tracy said the problems that have been created can be fixed. The Rezone Indy project is soliciting information from the public to see how the populous would envision Indianapolis in the future.
“We can fix this,” she repeated. “We can require more compact development and add trees. Trees are like a storm water system. A mature tree can hold 900 to 1,400 gallons of water.”
The GGCCA meets four times a year to discuss issues in the area. Dues are $5 a year. Those eligible for membership live in the area inside 10th Street — Speedway city limits on the north, Raymond Street, Sam Jones Expressway, and I-465.
For more information about the GGCCA, e-mail Anderson at Anderson@mcanaindy.org.