Fox 59

Neighbors lose fight to stop rezoning for sewage treatment plant

INDIANAPOLIS — West side neighbors lost their fight against the rezoning of a property in the 900 block of South Tibbs Avenue to make way for construction of a new sewage water treatment plant.

An investigator for the Metropolitan Development Commission told a hearing examiner that while communities need sewage treatment plants, no one wants one in their neighborhood.

The examiner sided with the Ben Davis Conservancy District and found the former industrial site could be appropriately rezoned to locate the plant.

“This property is ideal,” said BDCD Chairman Fred Buckingham. “This site will save the district over $1.5 million compared to other sites.”

BCDC told the hearing examiner that the plant will utilize new oxygenated technology to reduce the risk of odors.

The property lies along the westbound lanes of I-70 passing over South Tibbs Avenue and nestled in by railroad tracks.

“This particular land can never be used for residential, agricultural use or can never contain a potable well or a daycare center,” said District Attorney Jennifer Hess.

Neighbors told the Hearing Examiner the property isn’t good for anything after years of industrial use and dumping, just down the street from the former Chrysler Foundry. And added they won’t benefit from the plant which won’t actually be located inside the conservancy district.

“It’s in our boundaries, not in theirs and we get none of the rewards, we get the risks, we breathe stuff but we can’t hook up to it,” said Jessica Saenz. “We get all the pollution but we can’t hook up to it.”

Another resident testified that a sewage treatment plant on the highway leading from Indianapolis International Airport is not the proper first impression the city wants to make on arriving visitors.

“This is the gateway to the city from the airport,” said Jonathon Howe. “You come into the interstate from the airport to welcome to Indianapolis and we’re going to welcome all of our out-of-town guests for the next basketball championship game with a new sewage plant as you come into the city off the interstate.”

While one neighboring business owner told FOX59 News that he welcomed any new development in the hard hit west side community, another lifelong resident said a sewage treatment plant will not add to the area’s quality of life.

“The smells here are already bad,” said David Price. “It’s the smell that’s gonna be on people’s clothes and everything else walking in the businesses and then you got the smell coming from the building, too, so I do see both sides of it. I could see where it could be a good thing. I see where it could be a bad thing. And the bads are outweighing the goods here. Yeah, it could provide more jobs, but if it’s an empty lot, who needs it?”