The former Marsh in Bargersville will be home to a family fun entertainment center and a Crew Car Wash. Elissa Maudlin | Daily Journal

The former Bargersville Marsh is getting a new life with a Crew Car Wash and family fun entertainment center.

Jeremy Hamilton, co-owner of the property, can’t say exactly what the former Marsh will be developed into, but could say that it will be a “first-class family entertainment center.” They are currently reconstructing after the Whiteland tornado left much of the building damaged. It will cost about $1.5 million to make the necessary repairs, which are already in the works.

Hamilton said the family entertainment center could open later this year and an announcement on what franchise will be leased can be expected later this summer.

A Crew Car wash will also be built on a portion of the old parking lot, at 2904 S. State Road 135. The Bargersville Board of Zoning Appeals approved a setback for the Crew Car Wash at a meeting Tuesday night, 4-1 after nearly an hour and a half of debate.

The parcel is already zoned as C-3, general business, but the town of Bargersville Unified Development Code requires buildings to have a setback of at least 100 feet. Crew Car Wash requested the setback be reduced to 79.3 feet to help ease traffic flow and reduce vacuum noise that would impact the nearby Stones Bay neighborhood.

Crew Car Wash could build without the variance because of its approved use, but that would create interference to south travel lanes and put the entrance closer to residential areas, said Eric Prime, who spoke on behalf of the petitioner.

The Bargersville Board of Zoning Appeals approved a variance to allow a setback variance for Crew Car Wash at Tuesday night’s meeting. Jayden Kennett | Daily Journal

Community impact

About three people spoke at the public hearing, expressing concerns about traffic flow and noise pollution.

Lavonne Berkley, who lives in Stones Bay, spoke on behalf of herself and other residents of the neighborhood. She asked for reassurance that no “toxic chemicals” be dumped in the watersheds of Stone Bay and that noise from the vacuums be reduced for the neighborhood. Neighbors would like to see a noise-reducing fence on the east border of the subdivision between the Crew Car Wash and the neighborhood where a “rotting” fence currently stands, she said.

Officials with Crew Car Wash assured residents that the water is cleaned on-site, reused or stored in underground tanks and that no chemicals from the car wash would be dumped. The car wash also has to get a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to operate, town officials said. As for a noise-reducing fence, they do not own the property where the current fence is located, but do plan to plant a landscaping buffer to help reduce the noise.

Jackie Ponder, who lives off State Road 135, thinks it’s too soon to approve the variance without knowing the impacts on the community.

“Sure, it may be more relevant to a site plan than it does this, but a setback would harm them [neighbors] and having it up front would harm traffic,” Ponder said.

The fence separating Stones Bay and the property would “do nothing” to mitigate the Stones Bay neighbor’s concerns, she said.

Traffic, access concerns

Discussion of traffic flow and access to the property took up a large portion of the meeting.

Pete Cleveland, owner of the nearby Noble Romans Pizza, expressed concerns about these topics. Cleveland said he had a hand in designing the former Marsh and was intentional about the design to disperse traffic as much as possible. He asked the developer to consider revising the site plan.

Officials said the plan is built around a potential traffic signal that Indiana Department of Transportation plans to install in the future. Some board members also took issue with approving a plan without knowing if the traffic signal would actually be approved by INDOT.

Joe Csikos, Bargersville’s director of development, pointed out that the town has “little to no say” on access points on the road as it is a state road.

Developers say they have been working with INDOT on traffic flow. And while they are still early in the process, they could verbally commit to working on the access issues with Cleveland. The developers said they could not commit in writing to keep north access open because it would lock them into their design, which could change, Prime said.

An aerial view of the Crew Car Wash at 2904 S. State Road 135 is overlaid with the site plan. Provided by Town of Bargersville

Focus on the setback

Council members debated whether board members should even be considering traffic issues. John Mandabach said it should, while Jeff Sickmeier and Rowana Umbarger said it should not. Mandabach said he was uncomfortable moving forward without knowing how the site will impact traffic and safety.

Sickmeier said the decision to be made by the board is only a setback. Everything else, including site plans, drainage and traffic will be decided later, he added.

BZA members said most of the issues aren’t relevant to the decision of the board to approve the variance. There are about 706 pages of development standards that are reviewed and followed by developers, Csikos said.

Mandabach said his concerns stem from this being the “one and only time to get this right,” since it would not be required to have another public hearing.

“Tonight is the only opportunity that the public has to have any input in any of this that moves forward, so the decision you make may seem minuscule in the fact that it’s only a setback, but the impacts to our community are pretty important to only have one public hearing,” Mandabach said.

The variance was approved with commitments to work in good faith to optimize traffic flow and work with residential property owners to maximize noise and light pollution mitigation, 4-1 with Mandabach voting no.

“I hope I don’t have to say I told you so,” Mandabach said.

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