Village Voice 04 2021: April

President's Letter:

Dear Village Residents,

Letter from the President:

Hello VRA members,

Spring is finally in the air! And doesn’t it feel like the longest winter ever? It’s great to see Village residents finally able to walk and greet each other from afar. While you’re walking around try and stop by some of our downtown shops. At our March VRA meeting we talked about ways to help local businesses. If you couldn’t attend, there’s a brief story in this month’s Village Voice.

Spring also means time to clean yards and homes. Brush and limb pickup will be provided by the town the week of April 12. For any large items that need disposal, heavy trash pickup will take place for Village residents on Wednesday, May 5. More information about both of these can be found on the town’s website.

We’re fortunate to have so many homes with amazing history in our midst. Village resident Michael Sandy wrote about his Pine Street home and has provided an excerpt. His book is available at the SullivanMunce Cultural Center. That’s also where you can discover many other titles about local history which will be featured in future issues.

Next month look for a tour of local fairy gardens – if you have a fairy garden in front of your house that you’d like to be added to the list, send a message to And of course, pass along any story ideas for future issues!

Take care,

Heather Lusk

Town Council:

I’ve always tried to keep these Council updates decidedly non-political. This is my 40th update in the VRA newsletter and I know this because I’m a digital pack-rat that still has them all. The goal has always been to better educate you on your local government, the various functions and departments, and what is going on within Town Council.

The biggest story going on right now, and in quite some time, is the disagreement and now legal action between the Mayor and the Council over the proposed demotion of Fire Chief VanGorder. I’m hoping by the time you read this that the lawsuit has been settled and we’re back to doing more productive things for our Town. I don’t intend to use this medium as an outlet pleading our case and why we feel we’re in the right. I did however think it would be appropriate to understand the background as to why we have this unique structure.

Most of you know that Zionsville was reorganized in 2014 after we merged with Perry Township. That reorganization was approved by voters and changed how our government was setup including allowing us to have the role of Mayor while remaining a Town. We are one of only two Towns in Indiana that have a Mayoral role, every other government is a City. This reorganization was challenged by Whitestown, who also had eyes on Perry Township, but it was ultimately ruled constitutional by the Indiana Supreme Court. There are a few unique elements of the reorganization including the separation of powers when it comes to department heads. The Mayor cannot demote a department head without the majority approval of the Town Council. Why is that?

I asked a few folks that helped write the reorganization and the simple answer was to take politics out of our department heads and allow them to operate in a manner that is best for the Town. This tension existed long before we had a Mayor. Department heads often felt trapped when given conflicting orders from different Town Councilors. Various Town Council factions in the past would put department heads in uncomfortable situations when pursuing their priorities. While it didn’t happen with all Councilors, it happened enough that the authors of the reorganization wanted to eliminate that tension. In having a Mayor and Council agree on a department head removal, it took the pressure off the department heads and ensured that change would be for performance reasons and not political reasons.

I’m always happy to answer any questions on this matter (or anything else). I hope this back story helps. I’m not defending or criticizing what those framers had in mind, nor do I want to explain my personal position in this newsletter, however I thought it might help give some context to your local government.

Enjoy our warmer weather!

Picking up chicks

by Heather Lusk

It’s not often that we bring home chicks from Broad Ripple, but that’s exactly what we did in mid-January. They made a bit of a racket on the drive, but they were such cute little balls of fluff it was worth it.

More than a year ago we inherited a small flock of older hens from our neighbors. We’ve lost a few over the years due to illness, a hawk and old age. Recently an idea hatched to replace our losses.

We purchased our little ones from Agrarian ( They’re a second-party distributor of chicks specifically for urban farmers. They purchase the chicks directly from a large-scale operation which allows Agrarian customers to get the type of hen they’d like in much smaller numbers, even as few as a single chick. Alternatively buying chicks online, there is often a minimum order of eight and sometimes as high as 15. Agrarian sells 61 different breeds, although each breed is not available each week. Because the chicks can be challenging to distinguish, they often will only sell different looking varieties in the same week.

Agrarian has a money-back guarantee that chicks will live for the first 48 hours. For an additional fee they offer rooster insurance and will replace or refund eligible male chicks. Their pickup service is quite simple and they sell anything an urban farmer might need.

We discovered that raising chicks isn’t as complicated as it might appear. There are a few necessary household items, and anything else can be picked up at Tractor Supply or Agrarian. We borrowed a large tub (to serve as a brooder) that we filled with pine shavings. Then added a small waterer and feeder, a heat lamp bulb attached to a regular lamp, and a thermometer to ensure the temperature is warm enough. As the chicks continued to grow, we transferred them to a dog crate. Their only requirements are ensuring the temperature in the brooder is comfortable, that they have consistent food and water, and that their brooder is cleaned every few days.

Our current flock is growing older – chickens lay eggs for the first six years or so of their life, and then only live a few years after that. New chicks begin laying eggs when they’re 18 weeks old and their egg production will be consistent for the next two to three years before it begins to slow. The addition of ChewBOKa, Hen Solo and Cluck Vadar will ensure we have eggs through the winter.

We’ve watched the chicks with fascination as their fluff turned into feathers and as their curiosity has taken over. Soon we’ll merge them into the existing flock and that will be a completely new adventure. 

Tracking History

By Michael Sandy, author of “485 West Pine Street: A Brief History of People and Place”

The SullivanMunce Cultural Center is a Zionsville treasure and I spent many afternoons there researching our home and our Village.  Knowledgeable, helpful staff and fascinating resources made this project a joy, and I ended up creating a 40-page “coffee table” book.  Art, genealogy, a museum, (and my book!) are waiting for your visit.

Just a bit of what I learned:  if you take a walk from our front porch at 485 West Pine, you can travel almost 200 years in just 200 steps.  Head out to Pine Street, look east toward Fourth Street, and then turn west and walk up to Sixth and Pine.  You will pass homes built as recently as 2015, as early as 1862, and if you look carefully up Sixth Street to the corner of Oak, you will see the site of David Hoover’s first log cabin, built in 1823.  From Fourth and Pine to Laurel and Pine, you have walked nearly 200 years in 200 steps and enjoyed what makes the Village a special place.  There are 19 homes along those two and a half blocks, and 14 of them are at least a century old.

(Here’s an excerpt from “485 West Pine Street: A Brief History of People and Place”)

Was Zionsville just a happy accident?  After all, this story began with a modest house on Main Street in a small midwestern town – the very definition of nondescript.  Yet 150+ years later, it’s 485 West Pine and a designated Century Structure nestled in the “Village of Zionsville.”  A beautiful old home in a much-desired place to live among Indiana communities.

Happy, yes…but no accident.

Consider this:  founded in 1852, Zionsville’s population was right around 1,000 in 1870 and did not exceed that number until after 1930.  Things were quiet around here, right through 1970 (population 2,000).  But then, local leaders woke up one morning and had the vision to limit growth and discourage “updating” old buildings with the worst trappings of 1970’s architecture.  Thus, while nearby towns spent most of the last quarter of the 20th century plowing under or vinyl siding over their old town center, Zionsville managed to retain its Main Street and small-town homes with their patina of age and family life.  Believe it or not, by the 1980’s, while Carmel was busy planting houses on every available farm field, Zionsville was limiting new construction permits by law to no more than 50 per year.

Exclusionary?  Perhaps…but visionary too, with benefits everyone living here now enjoys.  Those leaders and those laws are long past, but they saved the past.  Zionsville owes them much, payable by remembering and continuing their efforts to protect the future by respecting our history.

Today we hear the marching bootheels of retail armies encircling Zionsville, but we don’t need to spend millions creating a faux town because we have a real town, a vibrant time capsule filled with homes that practically live and breathe.  It’s the rapidly fading history of 19th and 20th century America…the story of our country… told through architecture and preservation.  How can we maintain this authenticity in our 21st century wind tunnel world?  We all accept that change will come under any circumstances, but change does not always need to include a bulldozer.  Maybe…just maybe…if you know the history of the houses, you can help preserve them and their Village.

As for 485 West Pine, longevity isn’t just fortunate happenstance either…it’s here because generations stood with it.  Each owner made it part of the family, helped it thrive and grow and become perfectly not perfect.  Aren’t the most interesting parts of life oddly shaped spaces and scratched floors anyway?

So walk around the tree-lined (and tree-named) streets.  Admire the “doll houses” and wince just a little at the “tear-downs,” understanding why those neighbors want to live here too.  The homes are filled with fascinating and often untold stories.  This book tells a few about one of them, ours for a while as stewards of its future and the future of Zionsville

(The book is on sale at the SullivanMunce Cultural Center, and 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the SullivanMunce.)

Giving local business a boost

There are plenty of ways to help Zionsville businesses right now. If every village resident did just one of these things each week, that could make a difference in a business staying afloat.
  1. Shop in person: If you feel comfortable going out and shopping or dining, please do so.  Often sitting down at a restaurant, many people get a glass of wine or a beer with our food resulting in a nice dining experience and a higher ticket for the restaurant. Go into a retailer and shop.  Now would be a great time to pick up future birthday or anniversary gifts, plus individuals can shop while there is less traffic.
  2. Shop Online: If you would prefer to carry out food, consider picking up from a local business once a week. Supporting local restaurants via carry out is a great way to keep businesses open and people employed.  If you do not want to shop in person and would like to shop locally from home, try our option. You can find many of our local stores there and shop from them just like you would from their own websites, but in one place.
  3. Pick-up and delivery: Many stores have delivery or curbside pick-up options.  Call, place your order, drive up and get your items.  Easy!  Some local businesses will even leave their items on your doorstep. Easier!
  4. Leave a business a positive review:  Take an afternoon and leave a positive review for your favorite businesses.  Many people look at reviews when making a purchase, so let’s tell everyone how great our Zionsville shops and restaurants are!  Good places to leave a review are Google, Yelp or Facebook.
  5. Encourage friends and family to shop locally: It’s simple, right? By encouraging those outside of the Village to shop our Main Street, we increase the customer base of businesses and help others discover the many treasures that we have downtown. Just tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on and so on!