The Hendricks County Commissioners denied the re-zoning of an 80-acre development near Brownsburg. While “Clermont Village” on the old Clermont Golf Course at 4705 N. County Road 1000 E. included mixed density housing, a Muslim seminary and school, plus a community center with prayer rooms, the commissioners denied it based on drainage.
The zoning change to a planned unit development or PUD was delayed from the Jan. 26 meeting to allow for the gathering of additional information.
Planning Director Tim Dombrosky said the applicant produced more architectural details and the ordinance was modified with specifics that could be enforced. He also told the commissioners that the Town of Brownsburg had responded favorably to the development in a letter.
The commissioners brought up past developments that have tried to use the same site, but stopped or pulled their zoning requests due to problems most often with drainage.
At the January county plan commision meeting more than 60 citizens spoke during the comment period. The majority were in favor of the development citing diversity and inclusion of an Islamic community. Area neighbors were concerned about traffic and drainage issues. The main concern appears to be a petition on Change.org titled Stop Clermont Village signed by 850 people. However the explanation did not mention Islam specifically. It did talk about property values and the floodplain. It also voiced opposition to the proposed school because the petition said the public schools in the area were sufficient.
In the end, the commission recommended the zoning variance by a split vote of 4-3 in January. Commissioner Phyllis Palmer cited the split vote as a cause of concern for her.
“That weighed heavily on me that it was not a unanimous vote,” Palmer said in the meeting.
First-term commissioner Dennis Dawes told the applicant that the plan was good.
“I think the site plan that you’ve put together looks like (like) a very good plan to me,” he said. The way that it is laid out is very good. I just think the site is wrong. It’s just not the right site for what you want to do.”
Dawes encouraged the applicants to seek another parcel in Hendricks County.
A group called Muslim Advocates sent out a press release saying the denial was unjust.
“Today’s vote to deny Clermont Village’s rezoning application is inexplicable, other than as an act of bigotry,” Muslim Advocates staff attorney Matt Callahan said. “The county commission rejected the recommendation of its own plan commission to approve this project. Hendricks County is opening itself up to an expensive and unnecessary religious discrimination lawsuit. The commissioners’ supposed concerns about stormwater are not an appropriate ground to deny the application and are worryingly similar to other, equally unfounded claims about water quality commonly deployed to thwart Muslim developments.”
He added that the denial proves that Muslim projects are held to a different standard.
“The county is discriminating against Muslims, showing hostility to freedom of worship and could pay a hefty financial price for it,” he added.