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There was standing room only in the meeting room for the Elkhart County Commissioners meeting Monday, May 20, 2013. Public comments were heard from many who oppose the proposal after MOR/ryde spokesman Bob Weaver finished his presentation. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Attorney Gordon Lord reviews materials before the Elkhart County Commissioners during a meeting to decide the rezoning request by MOR/ryde International which would allow the company to expand its operations. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Eastwood Elementary School PTA president Tanzie Nielsen speaks in opposition to the MOR/ryde expansion request as she addresses the Elkhart County Commissioners during a meeting Monday, May 20, 2013. Public comments were heard from many who oppose the proposal after MOR/ryde spokesman Bob Weaver finished his presentation. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

MOR/ryde spokesman Bob Weaver makes an opening statement to the Elkhart County Commissioners during a meeting Monday, May 20, 2013 to decide the company's rezoning request. Public comments were heard from many who oppose the proposal after Weaver finished his presentation. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Elkhart County commissioner Terry Rodino starts a meeting Monday, May 20, 2013 to decide the rezoning request by MOR/ryde International which would allow the company to expand its operations. Rodino recused himself from the issue due to business dealings with the company. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Resident John Hulewicz speaks in opposition to the MOR/ryde expansion request as he addresses the Elkhart County Commissioners during a meeting Monday, May 20, 2013. Public comments were heard from many who oppose the proposal after MOR/ryde spokesman Bob Weaver finished his presentation. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Elkhart County commissioner Terry Rodino starts a meeting Monday, May 20, 2013 to decide the rezoning request by MOR/ryde International which would allow the company to expand its operations. Rodino recused himself from the issue due to business dealings with the company. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

A member of the standing room only crowd listens to comments to the Elkhart County Commissioners meeting regarding the expansion request by MOR/ryde Monday, May 20, 2013. Public comments were heard from many who oppose the proposal after MOR/ryde spokesman Bob Weaver finished his presentation. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Resident Bill White sits quietly listening to comments to the Elkhart County Commissioners meeting regarding the expansion request by MOR/ryde Monday, May 20, 2013. Public comments were heard from many who oppose the proposal after MOR/ryde spokesman Bob Weaver finished his presentation. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Resident Kathy Hollenberg speaks to the Elkhart County Commissioners meeting regarding the expansion request by MOR/ryde Monday, May 20, 2013. Public comments were heard from many who oppose the proposal after MOR/ryde spokesman Bob Weaver finished his presentation. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)

Resident Stephen Hollenberg speaks to the Elkhart County Commissioners meeting regarding the expansion request by MOR/ryde Monday, May 20, 2013. Public comments were heard from many who oppose the proposal after MOR/ryde spokesman Bob Weaver finished his presentation. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard) (AP)
MOR/ryde expansion goes forward with rezoning tie vote
Posted on May 20, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 20, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.

GOSHEN — After months of debates about noise issues, property values and proper land use, a manufacturing company northeast of Elkhart will be allowed to expand one of its three plants between an elementary school and a group of residential subdivisions.

MOR/ryde International has been cleared to rezone 12 acres west of C.R. 15 as an extension of its Cooper Drive facility, but opponents of the project did not go down without a fight. Close to 100 people on both sides of the issue showed up Monday, May 20, to a public hearing on the company’s rezoning request in front of the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners.

It came down to a split vote between two of the commissioners, Frank Lucchese who voted against the rezoning project and Mike Yoder who voted in favor of MOR/ryde’s request. Terry Rodino, president of the county commissioners, recused himself from the public hearing because MOR/ryde is a personal business customer of his.

Because of the tie vote, the decision defaulted to the Elkhart County Plan Commission’s recommendation. The plan commission voted 5-3 in April to give MOR/ryde’s request a favorable recommendation to the county commissioners. Lucchese was one of the three plan commission members who voted against rezoning the land.

Lucchese said his top reason for voting against MOR/ryde’s application was the potential negative impact on the nearby properties. Yoder, on the other hand, said MOR/ryde is the type of company that could be easily integrated with its residential surroundings.

Though a handful of MOR/ryde employees spoke at the public hearing to defend the company’s plans to rezone its property, opponents pleaded with the commissioners to turn the business’s request down. Nearby homeowners and parents of children at Eastwood Elementary School pointed out concerns about diminishing land values, property line buffers and noise coming from the plant.

“The quality of life we hold so dear is worth fighting for and worth defending,” said Tanzie Nielsen, head of Eastwood’s Parent Teacher Association.

Plan commission president Jeff Burbrink, who voted in favor of the rezoning last month, told the commissioners Monday that he would have voted the other way if he would have had more details about the land’s history, including past protections for industrial development in the area.

“As a plan commission member, you have to sort through all these things, whether somebody’s lying to you or telling you something that they probably won’t do,” Burbrink said. “Over the last month or so of hearing things, seeing things, sitting through this again, I feel like there was some information that wasn’t given to the plan commission.”

Bob Weaver, senior project manager for MOR/ryde’s expansion, said the company plans to start construction on its 12-acre property as early as this year. MOR/ryde has roughly 450 employees and plans to hire up to 100 more people at its three Elkhart County plants as a result of the expansion.