McCORDSVILLE – A lot has happened in McCordsville in the nearly three years since Bryan Burney has served on the town council, and he wants much of it to slow down.
“The developers are overrunning my hometown,” said the resident of the Champion Lake neighborhood, where several subdivisions totaling hundreds of homes are planned nearby. “…And the current council, in my opinion, is making every accommodation to have it appear more rapidly, to facilitate it, and I believe it needs to be controlled carefully and done responsibly so that we don’t have to pay to do it over with taxpayer dollars in 10 years.”
And while that desired pause is at the center of his campaign, he’d like to hit the ground running on multiple other ideas if he gets elected this November.
The Republican is seeking one of two at-large seats on the five-member McCordsville Town Council. He faces fellow GOP member Scott Jones as well as Democrats Linda Robinson and Andrea Yovanovich in the upcoming general election.
Burney, a retired physician and residential real estate developer, served a term on McCordsville Town Council representing District 2 until 2019 when his successor Greg Brewer defeated him in that year’s primary election.
At a time when the town is looking to hire a second municipal planner to help vet the abundance of development proposals, Burney said he wants to slow down to ensure it’s done right.
“I’m a big believer in it’s important what you see, and I think a McCordsville resident’s right to look at that field of corn across from them and their peace and tranquility is equal to the developers’ rights to” seek rezoning approvals for projects, he added. “So I’ll be giving more weight to the McCordsville residents that care about what’s next to them.”
The town’s south side has drawn several large industrial projects in recent years, most of which consist of speculative buildings designed for logistics purposes.
Despite their appeal, the town has little place for such developments, Burney stressed.
“Folks tend to look at industry and see the taxes they pay as being desirable, but unfortunately McCordsville doesn’t have good places in large quantity for industrial development,” he said. “Therefore it’s going to be mostly a residential town, and we don’t have to do it fast or all at once, and we have to be sure we do it in a way that the town can afford the services to be provided to the residents without those huge industrial and commercial tax bases like Fishers has.”
Along with formerly serving on the town council, Burney’s leadership experience also includes serving as president of Champion Lake’s homeowners association for 23 years. He was chief of staff at two major Indianapolis hospitals as well, and had multiple other leadership roles throughout his medical career in radiology.
If elected, Burney said he’d advocate for the town collecting more money from developers before dirt moves so that services like police, fire protection and wastewater treatment can grow along with development rather than having to wait for the additional tax revenue years after residents move in. McCordsville currently charges developers impact fees for parks and officials are considering doing so for roads.
“I’m for responsible development paid for somewhat upfront by the people who are bringing the new citizens some needs,” Burney said.
The town could improve how it handles public meetings, Burney feels, noting ones for town council often last late into evenings. He proposes maintaining a meeting every month for voting and making decisions, and adding a second monthly meeting – much like how school boards in the county conduct work sessions – which the public could attend and interact with officials. That would allow more time while still following state transparency laws, he said.
Burney also wants to make town meetings accessible on the internet with quality audio and video, allow remote participation from the public and archive meetings online.
Parks are a priority for him as well. More need to be planned south of the railroad tracks that divide the town, he said, where there’s currently only one. Impact fees should be put toward creating different kinds of parks, Burney continued, adding the expansive town center planned east of Mt. Comfort Road between Broadway and CR 750N would be a good place for them.
“I don’t want to spend those dollars to buy cookie-cutter parks with asphalt basketball and multipurpose tennis courts and plastic swing sets,” he said. “I want specialty parks.”
Like one for outdoor and indoor events with a climate-controlled indoor venue, he added. A cemetery park could help with the diminishing burial spaces in town. At a winter park, Burney said, dirt removed for stormwater detention could be transformed into a sledding hill with machinery drawing water from the pond and turning it into snow. The town needs dog parks as well, he said.
The Fortville Vernon Township Public Library provides a mobile service to McCordsville, but the town needs its own Hancock County Public Library branch, Burney said, similar to the one the county recently opened in Sugar Creek Township.
During his time developing speculative homes in Vail, Colorado, Burney noticed the town decorated the centers of its traffic circles with trees wrapped in inexpensive and long-lasting LED lights. If elected, he’d work toward McCordsville doing something similar, and said showcasing works from area artists could be another possibility.