Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Publicly-funded Airport Trying to Elbow Out Privately-owned Business

The Indianapolis International Airport, a government-run agency, has filed two lawsuits to stop a private, park-and-ride facility from being built on property-tax generating land in Decatur Township.  It's big government up against big business, and the taxpayers end up footing the bill twice if the airport wins.

As many of you know, Decatur Township is the smallest township by land and by population with much of the land around the Indianapolis International Airport completely off the tax rolls.  Add in that another large area is off the property tax rolls due to a TIF district for AmeriPlex industrial park, and you have a significant amount of land north of Kentucky Avenue that does nothing for Decatur but make land owner's property taxes higher.

Recently, a developer has been working with AmeriPlex to build an innovative park-and-ride facility on property tax-generating land in Decatur.  This parking facility would serve as a catalyst to jump start further commercial development in the area in the way of businesses that would cater to travelers or township residents.

The park-and-ride facility includes a number of innovative features set to minimize the environmental impact of parking 3,000 cars on a single facility.  It also includes things like carports and other services to people that might want to leave a prized possession like their automobile behind while on a trip.

Over 50 neighbors showed up at the Metropolitan Development Commission hearing to support a complete change in zoning that would allow the development.  Five City-County Councillors from both parties also supported the change in zoning, and the MDC listened.  Over the objections of a very small group of neighbors, the Indy Park and Ride facility in Plainfield, the Indianapolis International Airport and Mayor Greg Ballard, the MDC voted to change the zoning, 6-2.

Things appeared to be all go for this new development that would create a few jobs and some tax revenue for the township until the Indianapolis International Airport stepped in and filed two lawsuits.  The first lawsuit would stay the zoning change, and the second lawsuit would overturn the zoning if a judge agrees with the plaintiff.  This pits the taxpayers against the taxpayers.  It pits a taxpayer-funded public entity against a private company that wants to bring jobs and tax revenue to Decatur Township.

The airport claims that the park-and-ride facility will harm the parking facilities on the airport grounds by cutting into their revenue.  In essence, the government agency (the airport) is using taxpayer money (filing the lawsuit) to try to force out a private company that will create something that generates new tax revenue.  Isn't that what some call un-American?

Pat Andrews has some excellent writing about this case over on her Had Enough Indy blog.  Here is a link.  Fox 59 has also picked up on this story as well.  A link to that report is here.

Hopefully, the airport will drop its lawsuit immediately and realize the damage it is doing to capitalism and the American Way.   Big government vs. a private business just doesn't sound good these days.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Amen, Jon, amen.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you think a parking lot is the highest & best use of land that is zoned to attract tens of million in investment from commercial or industrial development?

You need to raise your expectations?

Had Enough Indy? said...

The government should not be given the authority, through lack of interest from the public, to kill off a legitimate private business on legally zoned private property.

As for the investment - the Fast Park isn't your typical car park and ride and will, indeed cost about $15 million to construct. Canopies over every parking spot will have solar panels on top and the lighting underneath - for just one atypical feature.

Because Decatur does not have residential rooftops to satisfy market analyses, these mobile rooftops will help attract some of the basic retail we simply do not have. These basic amenities will help the Purdue Research Park attact more tenants and foster spin-offs. These are high paying jobs and high dollar investments in community.

So, yes, in this case this IS the highest and best use because of its catalytic effect.

Anonymous said...

Local/State officials are pondering a new Rolls Royce manufacturing campus near the Indianapolis airport to compete against a 1,000 acre aerospace park in Virgina that wants to take the company and its suppliers from Indianapolis.

VW/Audi is looking for a site for a North American auto assembly plant.

Wouldn't several BILLION dollars of development with high skill/high paying jobs be much better than a parking lot?????

Had Enough Indy? said...

You set up a hypothetical choice. There is plenty of land to accommodate both the business ready to roll, and your hypothetical.

Anonymous said...

This is real, not hypothetical. The current zoning supports these bigger projects. Your time would be better spent on landing these bigger projects than fighting over a parking lot with minimal investment and no high skill, high paying jobs.

Jon E. Easter said...

This is a catalyst project that will bring the kind of commercial developments that will support bigger projects. Currently, that does not exist.

No one is going to bring a Rolls Royce kind of development to Decatur Township when there's nowhere for employees to eat, to shop, to buy gas, etc. Nothing exists in this area but a small Subway and two hotels.

Anonymous said...


Amazon is putting a 1 million square foot fulfillment center in Jeffersonville to get access to the Lousville UPS air hub.

If you have been to Jeffersonville you would know it wasn't retail that was driving this site decision.

Look at the plat plan/zoning in relationship to the new $1.3 million Aerotropolis land use plan and you can clearly see how everything fits together very nicely......if everyone agrees to work together as a region.