Elkhart takes steps toward banning stoplight fundraisers

Elkhart City Council will consider establishing a ban on stoplight fundraisers when it meets tonight.
Posted on Nov. 5, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

ELKHART — The City of Elkhart is moving in the same direction as Elkhart County and Goshen in banning what is commonly known as stoplight fundraisers.

On Monday, the Elkhart City Council took the first step in considering Mayor Dick Moore’s request to prohibit the fundraisers that are viewed by some as a public safety hazard because people who do the collecting often venture into traffic lanes.

Moore’s proposal was read into the record Monday night and will likely face a preliminary vote Nov. 19.

Several years ago, the city put limits on the fundraisers by requiring groups seek approval from the board of works.

Elkhart established limits on the practice several years ago after officials realized groups from out of town and out of state were using some of Elkhart’s busiest intersections for fundraising efforts.

However, city officials have continued to hear complaints, mostly about safety issues.

According to Mike Machlan, city engineer, Moore referred the issue to the city’s legal department to prepare an ordinance to establish the ban.

Members of the board of works support the ban, Machlan said.

Machlan said the most problematic scenario with the fundraisers occurs at intersections with left lane turn signals. The problem arises when the left lane has the green and other lanes to the right are still stopped, Machlan said.

The Elkhart County Commissioners and Goshen Board of Public Works already acted to ban the activity.

Beginning Jan. 1, roadside donations will be banned in unincorporated parts of Elkhart County.

The ban was approved by the county commissioners in October. The commissioners pointed to complaints about people collecting donations where S.R. 120 meets C.R. 17, south of the Six Span Bridge in Elkhart.

The Goshen Board of Works approved a ban in September that took affect in October. In other business, the council learned two or three groups have shown interest in purchasing the city’s municipal golf course, Oak Hills.

The city has two appraisals and will turn to the board of works to determine the best way to sell the property located near Middlebury on S.R. 120.

Money from the sale would go into the city’s general fund, Moore said.

Moore announced several months ago plans to permanently close the golf course because it is not self-sustaining financially.

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