ELKHART — Another piece of Elkhart’s initial annexation plan has been approved.
On Monday, June 2, the Elkhart City Council voted to pass all four of the areas representing Phase 2 of its annexation plans, which aims to add 16 areas to the city.
The four areas of Phase 2 are:
No. 5: C.R. 6 and S.R. 19
No. 6: C.R. 6 and C.R. 11
No. 7: Mishawaka Road and S.R. 19
No 8: East of C.R. 1 and Old U.S. 20 West
Dozens of dissenters — the majority of whom were homeowners — packed into the chambers and addressed the council during the three hour meeting. Though some raised concerns surrounding water and sewer services, many just flat-out stated they did not want to be part of the City of Elkhart.
Area 5 was voted in unanimously by the council and without any discourse from the public, but more than a dozen people spoke in opposition of the Area 6 annexation.
“Not that we don't like you. We just don't want to be in your area,” said Darlene Underwood, a Dunny Street resident who stood against the annexation of Area 6. “We like our police and our fire departments. We don't want your wells. We don't want your trash. We don't want your lights.”
Several business owners and representatives spoke out against annexing Area 7, a heavily industrial spot south of the city along S.R. 19 that also includes some residential homes.
“It’s my understanding that to annex an area, the city must show a benefit to the area,” said Linda Wilson, CFO of M-3 & Associates, a metal fabricating company. “I think it’s been very clearly shown that there’s no benefit to commercial property owners.”
A woman from Area 7 did not understand why 13 homes had to be annexed alongside businesses like Forest River. City engineer Mike Machlan clarified that homes were included with the businesses “to not create pockets of unannexed property” and to keep boundaries clean.
The Elkhart Annexation Committee provided homeowners in the affected area with a list of answers to questions raised at the public hearings April 21.
Among the questions answered, the committee clarified that it will pay off a share of the loan taken out by the township fire department once the annexation is complete. Private wells for irrigation are also allowed once annexed.
After unanimously approving Area 5, the city council voted 7-2 on Area 6, 8-1 on Area 7 and 7-2 on Area 8. Councilman Brian Dickerson, a Republican, voted down the final three proposals.
“We want you to be part of us but we don’t want to force you here,“ he said at the beginning of the meeting.
The council also approved revised fiscal plans for Phase 1 of the annexation.
Barring legal opposition, the annexation would become effective in those areas on Jan. 1, 2015.