APC / City Council member Robert Horkay responds to RGAW APC letter

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Advisory Plan Commission / City Council member Robert Horkay response to letter sent by RGAW to APC members. Form your own opinion.

I am prepared to discuss this petition tomorrow, and if there is collective agreement among APC members, send a recommendation to Council. Strictly my reading of the tea leaves is that I expect there will be agreement, and that it will be for a favorable recommendation. 

What I have watched over the last few months appears to be a lack of understanding, or ignoring, the fact that this site has approved zoning from 2006. This is clear from the very first paragraph where RGAW implores APC to send a negative recommendation, with I have to presume, further hope that Council would also reject the revised PUD proposal. Does RGAW understand that this results in the property being developed in accordance with the 2006 PUD? It does not stop development. It is unfortunate that some existing residents may not have known of this PUD in 2006, or new residents since 2006 prior to making a decision to locate in the area. But it doesn't change the fact that the Aurora PUD was approved in 2006, and that approval cannot be unilaterally rescinded. If the developer does not desire to make changes, it cannot be changed.

The developer has offered to hear neighbor concerns and integrate reasonable changes. But he is under no obligation, and has specifically expressed no desire, to completely rewrite the PUD, which from my observations is what RGAW is expecting. This was an excellent opportunity to bring reasonable concerns to the developer and work toward mutually agreeable changes. I cannot support reaching beyond what has been offered, as the City is powerless to take away existing zoning, or to otherwise deliberately interfere with allowing this petition to progress through our established review process. The developer could drop everything and simply start applying for permits for the 2006 PUD, which would be issued. 

RGAW members may believe group actions have been responsible (the "R" in the name). But in the context of this proposal, overreaching and not using your last best opportunity to effect reasonable changes, appears to me irresponsible in general, and to membership in the vicinity of Aurora in particular. 

I do not agree with attempts to involve majorities of APC and Council at meetings other than regularly scheduled meetings; that's what Monday nights in City Hall are for, to conduct the business of the City. In public. I will not attend such meetings as I do not believe it is an effective way to manage this process.  In general I would encourage APC members to decline meetings outside of City Hall; Council as an elected policy-making, not advisory, body can make individual decisions to attend other meetings. I occasionally attend outside meetings, but not when the number of attendees will not fit comfortably around a table the size of my kitchen table, and when the end result is not intended to be educational. 

Whoever constitutes RGAW may want to use hours remaining between now and Wednesday's APC meeting to determine a few absolute most important items to achieve. There is no public input on the agenda, and it will be the discretion of the chair to consider allowing comment (or not). I recommend if RGAW wants to have any chance to comment, and do not take this as a promise it will (or even might) happen, come to the meeting with only your few most important items to discuss if opportunity is offered.

Robert L. Horkay
Westfield City Council - District 5



January 3rd, 2017

Dear Gentlemen of the Advisory Plan Commission of Westfield,

We are writing to you today to implore you to study more passionately, hear more clearly and take action by making an adverse decision or negative recommendation to the Aurora PUD, which is back on your January 4th, 2017 agenda.

It is our most sincere plea that you read the documentation provided by the Responsible Growth Alliance of Westfield (RGAW) and understand each and every concern from the group. We believe we have collectively brought to light many points that have yet to be mitigated by anyone. Great effort has been made to meet with all parties including the Developer, APC members, City Councilors and neighbors regarding Aurora PUD.

The petitioner, Mr. Chris R. White and his representative, Mr. Russell Brown, publicly failed to submit the final Aurora PUD documentation needed for the December 5th public hearing on a deadline provided by the Community Development Department.

Article VII: Hearings & Conduct of Hearings, Section 1-Hearings, Number 4:

“Administrative rules and deadlines are established by the Secretary (Director of Community Development) for procedures such as filing petitions and are available in the Community Development Department.”

Article VII: Hearings & Conduct of Hearings, Section2-Conduct of Hearings, Number 2, subsection a):

“The burden shall be upon the Petition Representative to supply all information, including charts, diagrams and other exhibits necessary for a clear understanding of the case.”

Though the Commission allowed Mr. Brown’s presentation, without the proper and final documentation, it was the Commission’s burden to ask and receive a majority vote to grant a continuance to the petitioner.

Article IV: Meetings, Section 5-Quoroms & Decisions, Number 7, subsection c):

“The Commission at its discretion and on an affirmative vote of a majority of the Commission, may continue or postpone a public meeting or hearing of any case where, in its judgment, the petitioner has not provided sufficient evidence on which to make a final determination.”

Also, during this same public hearing, Rory O’Bryan, the legal representative of Responsible Growth Alliance of Westfield, was limited to 3 minutes to speak, rather than the 5 maximum minutes permitted to him.

Article VII: Hearings & Conduct of Hearings, Section2-Conduct of Hearings, Number 1, subsection e):

“The official public hearing shall then be opened. Comments from organized groups, committees (5 minutes maximum), and individuals, other than the petitioner, shall then follow (3 minutes maximum per speaker). Speakers should present new points and not repeat comments from previous speakers. The public hearing shall then be closed.”

As we approach the January 4th, 2017 meeting of the APC, Mr. White’s deadline for filing was understood to be December 16th, 2016. Again, the burden is placed on the petitioner for a comprehensive submission. However, as the agenda was released by the Planning Department on December 30th, 2016, we discover that page 4 of the amendment to the Aurora PUD is missing in its entirety and therefore the submission must be deemed as incomplete, yet again. Ordinance 16-35 also fails on several other levels, including but not limited to:

  • Neglects to recognize 196th Street as an “External Street,” yet clearly includes it in the PUD. Based on the footnotes in the Staff Report prepared by Kevin Todd, one can determine that the Aurora PUD Commerce Parke abuts 196th Street and the zoning does not follow the Comprehensive Plan.

Cited in the footnotes of page 12 of the Staff Report,

1) “Westfield’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan; Comprehensive Plan Map (Figure 40 on page 47) shows the area east of U.S. 31, south of State Road 38, west of Grassy Branch Road, and north of 196th Street as appropriate for low and medium intensity commercial/industrial. The area immediately adjacent to Grassy Road was identified as medium density, varied residential. The 2020 Comprehensive Plan was adopted in December 1999 (Res. 99-10)

2) Westfield-Washington Comprehensive Plan: Future Land Use Map (Page 24). The Comprehensive Plan identifies that area east of U.S. 31, south of State Road 38, west of Grassy Branch Road and north of 196th Street as appropriate for business park development. The current Comprehensive Plan was adopted in February 2007 (Res. 07-06).

  • Ordinance 16-35 does not remove Open Industrial Zoning, and cites the Unified Development Ordinance for outside storage, though largely relying on Enclosed Industrial Uses (UDO, Article 6.12 (D), further citing ten (10) added uses that do not fall in to the EI use table.
  • Fails to meet the requirements for buffering neighbors per the Westfield-Washington Township Comprehensive Plan.
  • Continues to purport that the Business Parke abutting US 31 does not need to comply with the US 31 Overlay, as noted in the Planning Staff Report. Written commentary states that the Aurora standards have “more enhanced architectural and development standards,” yet the Business Parke and PUD location is undeniable. Unable to confirm or deny if INDOT was notified of the two public hearings on October 3rd, 2016 and December 5th, 2016, as required by the Rules of Procedure of the APC.

Article VIII: Notices, Number 7

“In accordance with City of Westfield Ordinance 07-09, all development proposals which are located within the area designated as the U.S. Highway 31 Overlay Zone, as defined in the Westfield-Washington Township Zoning Ordinance, that require a public hearing or action by the Commission shall provide notice to the Indiana Department of Transportation in accordance with the requirements established on the INDOT Notice Form.”

We ask that you require the petitioner to adhere to one of the following applicable rules of procedures regarding Ordinance 16-35, the amendment to Aurora PUD:

Article VII: Hearings & Conduct of Hearings, Section2-Conduct of Hearings, Numbers 4 – 6:

4)Applicants shall be entitled to the meeting advertised by public notice. Such postponement/continuance must be requested in one postponement/continuance to another scheduled Commission meeting following writing by the petitioner / applicant, or their representative, at the scheduled meeting.”

5)” Subsequent postponements, continuances or requests for such action to a meeting beyond the meeting referred to in paragraph “4” above shall be made to the Commission in person by the petitioner / applicant, or by their representative.”

6)” Failure of the applicant, or Petition Representative, to appear in order to make the request referred to in paragraph “5” above shall result in the dismissal of the petition. If the applicant chooses to proceed with the petition, it will be treated as a new petition and shall be re-filed in proper form with the required data, numbered serially and placed on the docket of the Commission by City staff. Should the above occur the petitioner / applicant shall be responsible for paying all associated fees with the new petition / application.”


In conclusion, we respectfully ask that the Advisory Plan Commission admonish the Petitioner and the Petitioner Representative by assigning Ordinance 16-35 an adverse decision based upon the aforementioned and supporting evidence, as is allowed.

Article IX: Final Disposition of Cases, Section 7-Cases Decided Upon, subsections a) and b):

a) “A case which has been decided adversely to the petitioner shall not be placed on the docket again for consideration until the legality of the Commission’s decision is finally determined pursuant to IC 36-7-4-1000 et seq., or for a period of twelve (12) months following the date of the adverse decision previously rendered, whichever is later.”

b) “A new case involving the same property that was the subject of a case which has been decided adversely to any petitioner shall not be placed on the docket for consideration until the legality of the Commission’s decision is finally determined pursuant to IC 36-7-4-1000 et seq., or for a period of six (6) months following the date of adverse decision previously rendered, whichever is later.”

Responsible Growth Alliance of Westfield asks that this Commission demand Ordinance16-35, the amendment to Aurora PUD, be sent to committee as authorized by Indiana Code Title 36 (Local Government Code Section) 36-7-7-407, before it is presented again:

“Each plan commission may establish advisory committees of citizens interested in problems of planning and zoning. In its resolution establishing such a committee, the Commission shall specify the terms of its members and its purposes. Each advisory committee shall:

1) study the subject and problems specified by the commission and recommend to the commission additional problems in need of study;

2) advise the commission concerning how the subject and problems relate particularly to different areas and groups in the community; and

3) if invited by the commission to do so, sit with and participate, without the right to vote, in the deliberations of the commission, when subjects of mutual concern are discussed.


A committee shall report only to the commission and shall make inquiries and reports only on the subject and problems specified by the commission’s resolution establishing the committee.”

It is our most sincere hope that this Commission amends its Rules of Procedure forthwith, clarifying and strengthening its adherence.


Article X: Amendments

Amendments to these rules of procedure may be made by the Commission at a First Meeting, Second Meeting, or Special Meeting. With and upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Commission it shall be effective.


Having completed a diligent review of the Rules and Procedures of the Advisory Plan Commission (http://www.westfield.in.gov/egov/documents/1396840086_83286.pdf), we conclude and believe you would agree that the actions of this Commission to date as they pertain to Ordinance 16-35 Aurora PUD do not align with your own rules and procedures.  It is the responsibility of the APC alone to protect and defend this document and execute your duties in line with this document and state codes.  We have discovered that many rules seem to have been dismissed or changed of late.  We are concerned that the integrity of the Commission's purpose and authority is under threat of being usurped or negated within the City.  We also believe that the residents whom you serve will be encumbered and all, including the City and developers, will be hindered from bringing forth development plans that bring the most benefit to all in harmony with existing development.  Therefore, we are compelled to implore you to refresh yourselves by reviewing and upholding the following to the benefit of the Commission, our community, our neighborhood and prospective developers.  

Indiana Code 36-7-4-400 Series, 500 Series, 600 Series,


and, the Indiana Citizen Planner’s Guide



With Regard for your appointments and the protection you provide to the Citizens of this Community,

Responsible Growth Alliance of Westfield