I-Team 8

City of Carmel plans to enforce current zoning on Lucas estate

Events at the estate have been the subject of zoning controversy

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) -- A hearing Monday night on the zoning for the Lucas estate "party barn" is off the table, and the city of Carmel said they plan to enforce zoning to the fullest extent of the law.

The Lucas estate and their attorneys have argued that having private events at the home is not a violation of Carmel zoning laws. City officials sided with many neighbors and said hosting events at the mansion is a violation of the residential zoning in the area. 

The Lucases and the city have gone through mediation to try to reach an agreement. The issue, which had been pushed back a month at July's Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, was set to be heard Monday.

Last November, the Carmel director of community services said in a letter that the Lucas estate was not allowed to operate as an event venue and could only host four events a year. 

This month, he wrote another letter to the attorneys for the estate saying he was withdrawing the previous letter, and the BZA's order "remains in effect and can be enforced to the fullest extent of the law."

A representative for the city of Carmel provided the following statement:

"We consider this a matter of litigation because the BZA Order is valid and enforceable against the Lucas Estate. Neighbors to the estate still have a grave concern about noise, traffic and what they believe is business use of a residential property.  Any action to enforce that BZA Order by the City will potentially result in litigation.   Despite this, both parties continue to discuss a potential resolution.  To guarantee the integrity of these discussions, the City has no further comment at this time."

Attorneys for Forrest and Charlotte Lucas sent I-Team 8 a statement from Forrest Lucas that reads, in part: 

"Last November, the City of Carmel issued a "Director's Determination" that sought to place restrictions on the Lucas Estate that did not apply to anyone else. The Determination was essentially the City of Carmel's opinion about how our property should be used.  In our view, many of these restrictions were unreasonable and deprived us of the full use and enjoyment of our property without due process.  We had no choice but to appeal.   

"Following the mediation, the City of Carmel withdrew its Director's Determination that ended the need for an appeal.

"We are not looking for special treatment.  We have repeatedly said that we are willing to abide by the same rules as everybody else.  We have committed to work with the City of Carmel to ensure that we are in compliance with the zoning and noise ordinances.  We want to continue to use our property to be charitable to people who need it."

You can read the city's full letter here and the letter from Forrest Lucas via his attorneys here


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