Council Approves South Shore Annexation Proposal | Local News
GOSHEN – Members of the Goshen City Council on Tuesday gave their final nod of approval to a land annexation request related to plans to build a major multi-facility industrial development on the city’s southeast side.
During the meeting, council members voted on final second reading to narrowly approve a request by development company Last Dance LLC for annexation of two plots totaling approximately 163 acres of land generally located on the north and south side. from CR 36, west of CR 31 and east of the railway line. The request was approved at first reading at the July 6 council meeting.
The two plots, known as Tract 1 and Tract 2, are directly linked to plans by Last Dance LLC to build a new multi-building industrial campus on a 150-acre plot, known as Tract 3, located just southeast of Elkhart County 4 -H Fairgrounds on CR 36 / East College Avenue.
Currently zoned agricultural A-1, the annexation agreement provides that the property will be zoned industrial M-1, or light manufacturing, upon annexation to the city.
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According to Becky Hutsell, responsible for the city’s redevelopment project, the former owner of the three plots, Lippert Components, previously annexed Tract 3 to the city in 2018 as part of a plan to use the site as a location for ‘a $ 20 million facility. focused on lightweight manufacturing, research and development. However, that plan was later scrapped and Last Dance LLC bought the package from Lippert last fall.
As a result of this purchase, Last Dance LLC purchased an additional 100 acres east of Tract 3 in November, now known as Tract 1, and 63 acres of neighboring land located on the south side of East College Avenue in February. , now known as Tract 2.
According to Hutsell, Last Dance LLC plans to invest $ 26 million in the site over the next three years, which includes a commitment to build two manufacturing buildings and a rolling building on Tract 3 by January 1, 2023. .
In addition, the group also plans to build a fourth manufacturing building on Tract 3 by January 1, 2025, a fifth by January 1, 2026 and a sixth by January 1, 2027.
With the successful completion of the project, Hutsell noted that Last Dance LLC plans to create around 500 new jobs in the area with an average wage of $ 40 per hour.
In addition, Hutsell noted that Last Dance had pledged to pay up to two-thirds of the total cost of infrastructure improvements at the site, such as water, sewers, etc., which it believes have a expected cost of approximately $ 15 million.
“Of this amount, the developer intends to purchase a bond of approximately $ 10.5 million which will fund most of the project,” Hutsell said. “The TIF funds would then be used to finance the main water loop project, as well as the flood control project, because they benefit more than this development. TIF’s total expenditure would not exceed $ 5.3 million per development agreement. So, again, two-thirds of the project is funded by the developer, and payable only if development takes place.
As to what will happen to Leaflets 1 and 2, Ryan Thwaits, co-owner of Last Dance LLC, noted that there are currently no plans in place for how the two leaflets will be developed in the future, although the idea is that part of the newly annexed property will be used to help solve the well known flooding problems on the site through the construction of additional water retention ponds etc.
As with the first reading of the request, some council members were joined on Tuesday by members of the public in raising concerns about the annexation proposal, the majority of which focused primarily on concerns about the potential for increased traffic. on the site and how the proposed development will address the already well-known flooding problems in the region.
The belief that the new development could become another hub for the city’s already expanding RV industry, while an eye on diversification could be more beneficial to the city in the future, also raised concern. .
Crystal Welsh, an urban planner at Abonmarche, the design firm representing Last Dance LLC, noted in response that the site’s Tract 3 has already been appended to the city, and as such, Last Dance may continue its plans for the site. , it does not matter if the annexation of the two additional parcels is approved by the council.
That said, she noted that allowing the annexation of Leaflets 1 and 2 would actually be an advantage for the region, as it would allow the development of a stormwater containment system that is much more robust than would be possible if only the leaflet. 3 was to be developed.
“The concept of annexation really came about from a process of trying to look at the region in a more holistic way,” Welsh said. “I can tell you from a professional point of view, we have had to try to help find the best possible solution.”
She went on to note that she was feeling the benefits of the deal, such as expanding the water and sewerage infrastructure at the site, constructing new modern industrial buildings in the city, etc. – will in fact be a boon to the city thrust. for diversification, as it will prepare the site for further development by all kinds of other businesses that might choose to expand in the region once the barrier of lack of infrastructure is lifted.
“I think the problem of the limited industrial land available is really a problem that Goshen has to solve, and the annexation of these two parcels, although there is no direct short-term plan except for the stormwater management at this point, which will open up increased opportunities once utilities, roads and public infrastructure are improved, “Welsh said.” St. Joseph and Elkhart counties lack industrial space The old buildings that we have are not necessarily what new businesses are looking for. And therefore, creating this development with new and modern industrial facilities is a positive in the community no matter what happens there. You also open the ground for future development by developing your industrial base.
“Ryan and the owners are committed to a project,” she reiterated. “We just hope that it can encompass more than this single existing parcel within the city limits.”
Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman expressed a similar sentiment when expressing support for the project on Tuesday.
“I fully understand the positives and negatives of this project,” Stutsman said. “Much of what has been brought up tonight with traffic and stormwater are certainly concerns of city staff, and myself, and I can tell for the developer, wanting to make sure everything is working. We are therefore trying to resolve them through this project.
“And as I said before, it is a possible way to finance all these projects that need to come true,” he added, noting that the city would find it difficult to pay for a project itself. such a vast infrastructure. “We’re in a position where we have an owner who would like to develop it, and we’re trying to accommodate that, the annexation request, and make it work the best it can for everyone involved. … I understand the concerns. Doing this annexation has its drawbacks. Failure to do so has negative consequences. That’s what makes this one so difficult. But the staff and I think it’s a good way to fund and move forward with making a lot of these needed improvements. “
In the end, a majority of council members agreed, and a motion was presented and approved by a 4-3 vote in favor of passing the annexation request.
Council members voted in favor of adoption: Jim McKee, R-District 1; Doug Nisley, R-District 2; Matt Schrock, R-District 3; and Brett Weddell, R-At Large. Council members voted against the passage: Julia King, D-At Large; Megan Eichorn, District D 4; and Gilberto Pérez Jr., D-District 5.