GOSHEN — An RV inspection facility for the biggest makers in the area can move ahead after a vote by the Elkhart County Commissioners Monday.
The commissioners approved a rezoning request made on behalf of a development called the Schonsheck Distribution Center. The facility on the north side of C.R. 6, just east of C.R. 19, would keep recreational vehicles on site to be inspected before they’re shipped out to dealers and customers, according to Chris Marbach with Marbach, Brady and Weaver Inc.
“The main purpose of this building is quality inspection of the RV units that come to this site,” he said. “This future owner wants to make sure that when he delivers a product out to someone else, there aren’t any bugs left in it.”
He said it would employ 40 to 80 people, and could be built in spring if it receives final approval. More detailed plans will be worked out when the developers submit a planned unit development request.
The Elkhart County Plan Commission recommended the change in zoning from agricultural to commercial at its Oct. 10 meeting. The commissioners approved the change after hearing more than a dozen neighbors speak about their opposition to the plan for close to two hours.
Many were concerned with the extra traffic it could bring to what they see as an already busy street. Others worried that the business could expand in scope beyond what’s being proposed.
Many also said they’d rather see the land remain agricultural, and that they chose to live where they live in order to avoid being near things like this.
“Seems that the RV production is primarily in the Bristol area, and a lot of that product and shipment flows through the turnpike entrance, not on C.R. 17 but in Bristol,” said James Jones, a resident of the nearby Pheasant Ridge subdivision. “Why does somebody want to take the production of the Bristol factories, bring it all the way over to our neighborhood for a, quote, ‘inspection,’ and then funnel it further out to C.R. 17 and so forth.”
In his response, Marbach pointed out that the roads have an existing issue with traffic and he didn’t believe a projected four percent increase would add much to the problem. He said that if the land were handed over to residential development instead, with upward of 100 homes possible in the space, the effects on traffic would be much worse.
He said while the site will have space to store 1,200 vehicles, only about 37 daily deliveries would be made, spread out over the day.
“The Pheasant Ridge community is at least a half a mile from the site. They won’t be able to see it from where they are at any of those homes,” Marbach said. “No noise, this site’s not gonna produce noise, beeping, anything other than just a little more traffic.”
Before the vote, Commissioners Mike Yoder and Suzie Weirick indicated that they shared some of the concerns over traffic, but that it was an issue that would have to be addressed with road improvements and wasn’t enough on its own to deny the rezoning.
Weirick said she wouldn’t be uncomfortable having the inspection facility in her own backyard, and that she’s happier with the request knowing that it isn’t for a manufacturing use.
Yoder remarked that he had a hard time saying no to the requested land use change, especially with the extra protection that a planned unit development would give. DPUDs can have certain commitments written into them, such as building buffer areas around the property.
Business zoning is also more restrictive than the current agricultural zoning, he noted.
“Your residential area is an A1 zone. It’s an A1 ag zone. And in this county, that is like open season,” he said. “When I look at this particular land use, it’s actually one of the least intrusive in this area that we could have seen.”