Neighbors claim airport is a 'bully' with deep pockets


Lawyers for Indianapolis Airport Authority are asking a judge to overturn his ruling that would permit a 30-acre parking lot at Ameriplex just south of I-70 and airport property.

Judge Michael Keene ruled Aug. 29 that the Metropolitan Development Commission was within its authority to grant a land use change to allow a developer to build a 2,000-car Fast Park & Relax on Ameriplex Parkway.

Wrote Keene, "MDC has legal authority to grant modifications of land use plans that change land use locations or boundaries," and, "IAA failed to submit any material evidence, proof or argument in support of its challenges to this part of the MDC decision."

Airport Executive Director Bob Duncan disagrees.

"We don't believe the MDC has the authority to change the land use and that has to be a function of the city county council by ordinance."

Neighbors said the airport is a bully and trying to force the developer to drop the project through legal challenges.

"We have a government entity that is using the judicial system to squash private competition," said Ron Dowdy, who has lived 16 years across the street from the proposed parking lot site. "They don't want competition. They're using the legal system."

The parking lot would feature carports with solar panels on the roof and a rainwater recycling system.

Dowdy said quiet cars parked in a lot would make better neighbors than hundreds of semi-trucks that rumble past his house now to a nearby warehouse and beverage plant.

He said such a parking lot serving air passengers could lead to more motels, convenience stores and restaurants in his nearly deserted corner of Ameriplex.

"It would be nice to have a Texas Roadhouse or a Fazoli's or anything here."

"Fast Park & Relax" would charge a couple dollars a day less to park than the airport does at its own close-in parking facilities and that competition could threaten the finances of IAA.

"The parking operations, quite frankly, are the largest source of revenue on the airport at $38 million a year," said Duncan. "We are a proprietary business and like any business we try to protect our business interest and in this case where we don't think the MDC acted within its power to change the site, we're challenging that decision."

City-county councilors representing neighbors of the airport recently voted to strip $100,000 from the airport's budget--an amount equal to the legal fees IAA has spent fighting this case.

"All they want to do is boost up the price tag and draw out the timeline so the developer will back off the proposal," said Pat Andrews of the Decatur Township Civic Council.

"They don't have the moral authority to decide. They don't have the legal authority to decide. All they have is the deep pockets of somebody else's money to spend to try and drive it away."

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