If city planner Tammara Tracy has it right, Indy is on the
cusp of a radical process of transformation, akin to historical innovations
such as architect Alexander Ralston's original blueprint of the Circle City in the 1820s,
Park and Boulevard Plan in 1909 and UniGov in 1970.
The reason for her excitement: Indy Rezone, an effort to nurture growth in the
city's sustainability and livability through a revision of zoning and
The effort aims to modernize antiquated zoning codes that at
times stymie urban core revitalization efforts by adhering to 1960s-era
policies designed for the auto-centric culture (think requirements for large
parking lots or large setbacks).
"The built environment affects virtually every
aspect of life, your health, economic development, property taxes, crime,"
"The quality of the physical environment, it can help
how you live life and what you think about it because the
built environment is what we're all in every single day."
A city's design can enhance feelings of safety or fear, calm or
stress, Tracy said.
As one example, she cited a study of 192
cities the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention released this summer that found people were less obese in
environments considered conducive to walking and biking.
"Zoning isn't exciting; it's what you
can accomplish with zoning that's exciting," Tracy said.
officials are not only soliciting as much involvement with the community as
possible, they are bringing remote-control technology to their meetings. Arming
every public participant with a remote, officials can gauge in real time and
with great response rate, the crowd's reaction to a series of questions to
determine local residents' opinions.
interactivity also forces participants to understand that each regulation
carries tradeoffs, such as increased costs that
mandated design requirements might seek in pursuit of greater public safety
(such as more windows in buildings where vast walls face the streets) or
environmental and aesthetic improvements (as requirements for greater tree
plantings at new home sites would offer).
"neighborhood invigoration" meetings will be held throughout the fall
and winter with the goal of developing draft proposals next spring and summer.
The goal is to finish by March 2014.
are interested in working with all sorts of community groups to provide as many
meetings to as many city residents as possible.
these policies affect everyone's quality of life, Tracy said she hopes to see a
wide variety of ideas proposed and constructive criticism levied.
"Every voice can make a difference," she said.
In conjunction with ordinance updates, the city will also
revise the development regulations for government projects. A group of 45
officials from the police department, the
prosecutor's office and the department of metropolitan development took
intensive seminars in crime prevention through environmental design.
The Indy Rezone effort sprang from a $1.19 million grant from
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Sustainable
Housing and Communities. Indy provided a 40 percent match totaling just under
$2 million in in-kind services.
Only 42 communities of the 586 that applied received HUD
The website indyrezone.org
contains a wealth of information on the project, including opinion poll
questions and a calendar of meetings.
In related urban environment news, City-County Councilor
John Barth, an at-large Democrat, will host a hearing on a draft proposal
crafted by the young attorneys section of the Indianapolis Bar, Keep
Indianapolis Beautiful and members of the City-County Council to
address the blight of vacant lots and abandoned homes that continues to scar
sections of the city.
The hearing is set for 5:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 20, in
the John H. Boner Community Center gym, 2236 E. 10th St.