Still no decision on Goshen council districts

Councilors, Mayor growing weary of process

Posted on April 9, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — Frustration was evident at Tuesday’s meeting of City Council as members could not come to a consensus on a plan for redistricting.

Four months into the process and without a plan that satisfied all councilors, Mayor Allan Kauffman suggested turning to a previously assembled group of citizens not elected to office for a non-binding recommendation. The recommendation would be put together without any elected officials in the room as the group deliberated, Kauffman explained, but that the group would be free to speak with anyone as they planned their proposal.

The group had originally been put together to provide input to council members as they worked on alternatives to the original planned proposed by the city’s legal department in December 2012.

The legal department had spent too much time continually drawing up proposals that weren’t going anywhere, the mayor said. Kauffman, noting that he did not require council approval to enlist the assistance of the non-elected group, asked the council if they would support that decision.

He added that the committee, comprised of Wayne Kramer, Richard Aguirre, David Daugherty and Vince Turner, had agreed to take another look at the redistricting possibilities.

Kauffman said the group’s recommendation could be one that had already been proposed, a variation on an existing proposal, or something completely different.

Council president Jim McKee and councilman Ed Ahlersmeyer requested that former councilman and current Elkhart County councilman Tom Stump be added to the group since he no longer held a city office.

Kauffman countered that Stump could contact members of the non-elected group or they could solicit suggestions from Stump, but he wished that no elected officials of any kind be present during the group’s final deliberations.

After it was clear the council would not be voting on the resolution to establish council districts Tuesday night, councilman Jeremy Stutsman asked that any further discussion on the topic of redistricting at council meetings be postponed until the citizen committee presented them with a plan.

Other business the council attended to Tuesday included declaring two locations as economic revitilization areas (ERA) as the first step towards authorizing tax phase-ins.

The first was for Dave Carter and Associates Inc., a supplier to the manufactured housing and RV vehicle industries. According to a memo from Community Development director Mark Brinson to the council, the business will be relocating a distribution facility from Elkhart to Century Drive in Goshen, with construction to be complete in 2014.

The memo said the project will result in 64 jobs in Goshen, including 37 transferred from the closing of the Elkhart facility and 27 additional jobs as a result of the move.

The second designation was for Lippert Components Manufacturing Inc. Another memo from Brinson stated that Lippert will be expanding operations at three facilities in Goshen on College Avenue, Kercher Road and Century Drive.

Brinson’s memo noted that the expansion would allow for 376 new positions by 2016.

The council also passed the resolution to annex an area of land near U.S. 33 that will be used for a new Wings Etc. franchise.

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