June 2, 2024

IDEM rejects permit to transform Franklin Township wetlands into warehouses, hotel

A rendering of the proposed retail development. - Photo courtesy of Gershman Partners and Citimark

A rendering of the proposed retail development.

Photo courtesy of Gershman Partners and Citimark

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) denied a permit application to turn wetlands in Marion County into a retail development area last week.

Gershman Partners submitted a permit in February to transform wetlands in Franklin Township – on the northeast corner of East County Line Road and South Arlington Avenue – into an area with warehouses and a hotel. However, IDEM rejected the proposal stating the developers did not show “reasonable alternatives” to destroying the wetlands.

The decision impacts a small portion of the $175 million proposed development area where the wetlands are designated as Class III, the most valuable and protected type in the state.

Sam Carpenter, the executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, supports the denial along with many community members who signed a petition.

“Legislation has already eroded so much of our protection for wetlands that concern that additional wetlands in the area could be in jeopardy as well,” he said.

IDEM stated the lack of a buyer for the warehouse and other vacant warehouses in the area as reasons for the denial.

This year, the Indiana General Assembly passed HEA 1383 which reduces protection for Class III wetlands in the state.

Robin Heldman’s home borders the planned development. She said, in a statement, that impacted communities must “make their voices heard if they want to protect our remaining wetlands.”

“Our state must carefully weigh our need for abundant clean water with allowing developers to continue to destroy wetlands in the name of economic opportunity,” Heldman said.

The City of Indianapolis has approved tax incentives, including a TIF district to support the development near the I-65 corridor on the south side.

Gershman Partners could appeal the decision by mid-June or submit a new permit application to IDEM. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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