GOSHEN — Annexation isn’t an option, so county officials found another way to give Bristol jurisdiction over an area where Lakota Trailers plans an $11 million expansion.

The Elkhart County Commissioners voted Monday to assign to the Bristol Redevelopment Commission unincorporated land southeast of S.R. 15 and the Indiana Toll Road. That allows the commission to establish a tax increment finance district there before actually annexing the land, which state law prohibits in a pre-census year.

“Originally there was a project for the development of an industrial park on the north side of Bristol. The rest of the industrial park is in town, but this is in the county,” explained county attorney Craig Buche.

“Because there is a prohibition on an annexation to become effective this year, the year before a (federal) census, the town could not annex it and the town could not do a TIF district to help on the funding. So in lieu of doing that, and in lieu of the county being in the middle of the project, this jurisdictional transfer will allow the Town of Bristol Redevelopment Commission to establish a TIF District.” 

He added that the county won’t have to do anything additional when the town completes the annexation next year.

Bristol Town Council passed an annexation agreement Feb. 28 for about 60 acres along Stoutco Drive. Lakota Trailers plans to invest about $11 million in constructing a 110,000-square-foot building, and four buildings in total could be added eventually.

The new TIF will be used to finance the extension of utility lines to serve the property. Town officials have said it will likely take about 1,500 feet of water and sewer service lines to reach the Lakota property, and utility improvements are expected to cost close to $1.5 million.

Estimated predesign costs for annexation include $623,000 for improvements to S.R. 15, $275,000 for a new interior street connecting to S.R. 15 and $53,000 for the resurfacing of Stoutco Drive. The company has also agreed to replace the lift station just north of the Little Elkhart River for around $250,000.

Bristol Town Manager Mitch Mitchell said Monday that the big needs for the company’s expansion include running water and sewer lines to the property and bringing Stoutco Drive into the town’s road network. He said he expects to see movement on the new building as quickly as possible.

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