Village Voice 08 2021: August

President's Letter:

Hello VRA members,

I’ve been spending a lot of time at SullivanMunce Cultural Center lately. There are two primary reasons for that. First, I’m nearing the end of research for an upcoming book about Boone County’s history. Because a book already exists specifically for Zionsville (by Joan Lyons - this one will focus on the entire county with more details about Jamestown, Thorntown and Advance, previously underrepresented towns in our area.

I’m also frequenting the museum preparing for GhostWalk. The event is an annual fundraiser that combines all three areas of SullivanMunce: art, history and genealogy. GhostWalk will be held Oct 1 & 2. Scheduled tours walk around the village past our homes to learn about town history through several spooky vignettes all based on true local stories. The event always needs volunteers for costumes, makeup, lights and sound, tour guides or performers. If you’re interested in participating let me know.  

Thanks to resources at SullivanMunce I’ve been very successful in both endeavors. The museum has a lot to offer anyone searching for local information or simply looking for family history outside of Indiana. This month read about some of these resources and stop in to learn more about our community.

Our community is planning to come together in person on September 25 at 6 p.m. for the annual VRA picnic. There will be more information in next month’s newsletter but you can put it on your calendar now. We’re also in search of someone to help organize the annual progressive dinner in December. We had a great meeting outdoors in-person in August, and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to continue connecting - as safely as possible - through more events moving forward. 

Heather Lusk

Town Council:

I wish Summer would slow down a tad. Despite the rain, it has been filled with activities and fun, which only makes it go by faster.

Speaking of Summer, or at least sun, some of you may have heard about a proposed solar farm for the northern area of Zionsville along 421. Brickyard Solar is proposing to turn roughly 1,600 acres of farmland into solar panels that generate electricity which would be sold to NIPSCO (Northwest Indiana power company). The project is being proposed as a rezone of acreage; therefore, it would go through the Board of Zoning Appeals, and if approved the Planning Commission. It would not come before the Zionsville Town Council.

When the Town last updated our code of ordinances, zoning, and master planning in 2000, large-scale solar projects were not considered at that time. The technology was too new and the economic viability of them were limited to the sunniest parts of the country. As efficiency has risen and costs have come down, it is now feasible to have projects like that in cloudier parts of the country including Indiana.

The Council is not opposed to solar generation for electricity. Speaking personally, I feel we need more clean and renewable energy to combat climate change. On the other side I also have several concerns about this project including what happens to these solar panels when they are no longer economically viable yet remain permanently installed in the countryside.

Our thought process is to review and renew our ordinances and master planning to incorporate and provide guidelines towards solar and other newer building trends. The BZA and Planning Commission are independent bodies and there are rules about how we can contact them and discuss our concerns. It was advised that we send a letter to the BZA for their consideration. Below is that letter:


BZA Members,

On your docket is a proposal from Brickyard Solar to allow for approximately 1,600 acres to be granted a special use and create a 200-megawatt photovoltaic-solar-energy-gathering facility.

The guidance provided to you for this request is based on The Town of Zionsville Zoning Ordinance which established in 2000. In 2001, the Town Comprehensive Plan was created and identified the area of the proposed solar facility as “Agricultural and horse farm facilities are encouraged”.

At the time of the creation of the zoning ordinance and the comprehensive plan, the installation of large-scale solar, as well as other current trends in planning and building, were not considered. These plans pre-dated the advent of large solar projects with the most notable solar project in the state of Indiana not being built until 2013.

It is apparent to the Town Council that the guiding ordinance and comprehensive plan need to be updated to reflect current trends such as solar. This process would include inputs from stakeholders including elected officials, property owners and most importantly Town residents. The output would provide the BZA with a more current set of guidelines for which you can make your determinations on projects such as these.

Until that happens, we would ask that large scale proposals such as Brickyard Solar be tabled or denied. This is not an indictment against Brickyard Solar as an entity or their specific proposal, nor on solar in general as a means of diversifying our electrical grid. Rather it is a request for the community to weigh-in, and elected officials to implement guidelines for a long-term vision for Zionsville.

Respectfully submitted,

Zionsville Town Council

Off with their Heads

New Zionsville resident Janet Stutzman was surprised to find the tops of her freshly blooming coneflowers dangling from the stems. She asked local gardening groups for advice and did some searching before she discovered the cause: the sunflower head-clipping weevil. 

These little bugs – approximately ¼ inch long – with pointed snout are responsible for decapitating daisies and asters in Midwest gardens. The females lay eggs in the fallen head. When the larvae emerge they eat the flowers, then burrow into the ground for the winter. The following July they emerge, ready for the process to start all over again.

This underscores the importance of cleaning gardens and bagging debris on the ground which might house these pests. 

There are a few ways to control these weevils. The best option is to cover the dangling bud with a plastic bag, then clip it so that the little decapitator is trapped inside. Then dispose of the bag. Quickly removing clipped flowers and cutting back these damaged plants will help as well. Another option is to place the clipped flower in soapy water to kill the larvae. Insecticide is not recommended because it impacts such a small number of plants and could have a negative impact on pollinators.