(New Carlisle, IN) - A valiant effort to save farmland ended with the ground being rezoned for expansion of an industrial park outside New Carlisle. The St. Joseph County Council onS eptember 8 approved a request to rezone over 700 acres from agriculture to industrial use for expansion of the Indiana Enterprise Center between U.S 20 and Indiana 2.
The 7 to 2 vote came after several hours of debate between supporters and opponents of the rezoning. St. Joseph County Economic Development Director, Bill Schalliol, said visits to the site by prospective developers are expected soon, indicating he wouldn’t be surprised if construction of some type begins next year given the level of interest in the property. “We’re excited about moving to this next level,” he said.
The rezoning comes nearly three months after the Area Plan Commission of St. Joseph County ruled the proposed rezoning for the property was not compatible with the surrounding lane use. Schalliol and other supporters argued the farmland is just a short distance from existing industries like the I/N Tek and I/N Kote steelmaking plants and Navistar Proving Grounds.
Restrictions were imposed on the rezoning to prevent uses like a landfill or scrap yard to go up on the property, leading to a middle ground solution with the opposition. Schalliol said future land use restrictions could also be added. The current owners of the property also have final say over future use of the land under right to purchase agreements negotiated with the county in June. “We won’t bring prospects that we know won’t be acceptable to the property owners and the property owners have given us a pretty good understanding of what the range of uses and types of uses they would like to see on the land,” Schalliol said. The owners of the property are Ken Sebasty along with Tim, Todd and Jill Kaminski.
The Indiana Enterprise Center consists of more than 7,200 acres of land. Over 2,000 acres are developed already with businesses like I/N Tek and I/N Kote, Navistar Proving Grounds, Gavilon Grain, American Electric Power Company, Air Gas, Carris Reels, Edcoat, Five Star Sheet and Helena Chemical. Schalliol said light industrial and some type of technology use is envisioned for the expanded area of the park. He said warehousing and distribution are likely not options since the location isn’t close enough to the Indiana Toll Road to meet the needs of businesses relying heavily on timely deliveries and shipments.
The St. Joseph County Open Space and Agricultural Alliance, spearheading the opposition, expressed disappointment with the decision on Facebook. Jen Betz, one of the members of the organization, in a Facebook post called for opponents to keep up the fight by doing things like contacting their elected officials and run for office in hopes of bringing a reversal of the rezoning.