Elkhart annexation hearings draw concerns over plans

Residents from area 10 — southeast of the city — were most vocal at council meeting Monday.

Posted on June 16, 2014 at 10:15 p.m.

ELKHART — “We the people” versus the city of Elkhart.

It sounds like a monumental court case, but it was actually one of the summary lines echoed Monday night, June 16, during one of five annexation hearings at city hall.

The Elkhart City Council listened to input, but did not take any official action.

A final vote on the matter is expected on July 21 for the following five areas:

■ Area 12, Beck Drive, C.R. 17

■ Area 14, S.R. 19, C.R. 4

■ Area 15, C.R. 6 and C.R. 7

■ Area 9, Toledo Road C.R. 13

■ Area 10, Toledo Road C.R. 17 (Phase 4A)

Those tracts are part of the third phase. The first three phases include 13 areas that are on schedule to become part of the city next year if there are no legal challenges. Another three areas that make up the fourth phase will be reviewed early next year.

The council heard a smattering of complaints and pleas against annexation during the first four hearings, but received  a more pronounced set of arguments for area 10, which is also known as Toledo Road and C.R. 17 and is southeast of the city.

Residents complained that the area is too rural for city oversight. Many of the homes are on two or more acres, some said.

Two people complained that they would not be able to enjoy target shooting with firearms or even bonfires because of city ordinances against both.

Tom Christophel, speaking for many of the residents,said he believed initial maps of area 10 were inaccurate and that he discounts claims that city fire service can respond quickly to emergencies in their neighborhood.

“There has been nothing about this process that inspires trust with this administration,” Christophel said.

“You may have the right to pursue this annexation, but it is not the right thing to do,” he said.

While he said he had a petition representing more than 50 properties, an attorney representing the city urged opponents to hire an attorney and follow state laws regarding the process.

Lisa Cour, wearing a shirt that read, “American Patriot,” boiled the issue down to personal property rights.

Cour said she believes people have very little voice in federal and state government and said she doesn’t want that to happen on the local level.

“I want to have a say on my little piece of land,” Cour said.

“We bought our houses where we wanted them. You do not have a right to move in on us,” she said.

Rick Rice, who lives on C.R. 15, said he and his neighbors want to be left alone.

While he said he likes the city of Elkhart, he also pointed out that he grew up on North Sixth Street in the city, which he said is known by some as the “hole.”

“I feel like the city is sucking me right back into that hole,” Rice said.

Rice said the city council needs to look at what “We the people truly want and not what the city wants.”


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