ELKHART — One fourth of Elkhart’s initial annexation is now close to completion.
On Monday night, Elkhart City Council gave final approval for the first four areas that are part of Phase 1.
All four areas received unanimous approval by the council.
Some concerns about residences that raise chickens or have a few horses were raised by several council members. While those activities are permited in non-incorporated areas, they are not alowed in the city of Elkhart.
City officials said such non-conforming uses which were legal under Elkhart County ordinances would be permitted after being annexed by the city as long as the property is not changed in use or expanded in some way.
Issues such as burning brush or firing firearms, though, would not be permitted.
Phase 1 includes tracts of land known as the airport, C.R. 6 and C.R. 15; C.R. 17 and Middlebury Street and Borg Road and Pierina Drive.
The C.R. 17-Middlebury tract includes Bullard Farms, a longtime operation.
Kevin Bullard, speaking for the business, said he had discussions with Mayor Dick Moore and other city officials associated with the annexation process and expressed some level of confidence that his business would not be adversely affected.
"We're in full understanding," Bullard said. "All our questions have been answered."
Unless a legal opposition arises, the annexation would become effective in those areas on Jan. 1, 2015.
Phase 1 is part of four groups being considered for annexation. City officials are looking at annexing 16 areas around the city's perimeter and could look at other areas next year as they work to pull in many sewer customers outside of the city who has been on the compact fee policy.
The compact fee policy is being phased out by the end of 2014 in favor of rates based on a rate study.
An opportunity for remonstrance still exists but many of the sewer customers have signed agreements saying they will not protest annexation.
In other matters, the council approved all of the mayor's capital expenditures totaling roughly $2.3 million, except for a $21,000 request.
The council voted 6-2 against plans to spend $21,000 for the purpose of coloring wood chips that would be sold to the public,
Several council members spoke against the move, saying the city should not be in the business of competing with retailers. Concerns about liability and costs were also voiced.
Council member Mary Olson asked that the request be removed from other items that were part of a $120,000 proposal to use money from the Riverboat fund. Other Republicans, including Brian Dickerson and Davide Henke, also spoke against the plan.
Olson suggested the proposal could be brought back for consideration if a more thorough business plan could be developed.