ELKHART — A potential land exchange is still on the table between Eastwood Elementary School and a local manufacturing company that wants to expand its operations nearby, according to the school district’s superintendent.
The Elkhart School Board is expected to decide within the next three weeks whether to accept a plan that would allow Eastwood to swap 10 acres behind the school’s building for 10 acres along C.R. 15 owned by MOR/ryde International. The company is seeking to rezone 22 acres just south of the school in order to expand its facility on Cooper Drive.
MOR/ryde’s plans to rezone the land have been met with resistance from some parents who have children at Eastwood and homeowners who live in subdivisions south of the company’s property. To ease concerns, school officials offered a compromise centered on a land exchange deal.
“If you’ve driven out by there, you probably don’t even notice it, but if you’re a resident in that community, I’d say that piece of land is very important in trying to maintain a corridor,” district superintendent Rob Haworth said.
Haworth moderated a listening session Tuesday, March 19, for the Elkhart School Board and members of the public that included presentations by Eastwood parents, teachers, area residents and Bob Weaver, the chief project engineer for MOR/ryde’s expansion project.
“Everybody walked out of that meeting feeling like they were heard,” Haworth said. “That was our hope.”
Control of the 10 acres MOR/ryde has offered to swap with the school would “eliminate the future possibilities of an entrance along C.R. 15,” Haworth told a crowd of about 80 people at Tuesday’s meeting. “The exchange reduces the number of residents that would be subject to having MOR/ryde as a next door neighbor,” he added.
“I don’t know if I’m necessarily for or against the land exchange,” Haworth said Friday, March 22. “We were touting that as an option for our board to be able to possibly control its own destiny.”
The Elkhart County Plan Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on MOR/ryde’s rezoning request on April 11. From there, the plan commission will make a recommendation to the county commissioners who will decide in May whether to give final approval for the rezoning.