Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 19, 2013

What’s happening with Draft E?

— Is the infamous Draft E revision of the Elkhart County Zoning Proposal reappearing? Those interested in this issue will recall a lively public hearing that occurred in April 2011, attended by about 300 Elkhart County property owners. About 40 people addressed the Plan Commission on that day. Only one person spoke in favor of that document. The message delivered to the Plan Commission was clear: Draft E usurped property owner rights more than protecting them.

The 270-page Draft E presented definitions, standards, requirements and restrictions. It did little for property owner rights and privileges.

In December 2012 the Plan Commission approved a representative working group of local property owners. This group has been working gratis since August on a new zoning document. They delivered a progress report to the Plan Commission. The Plan Commission (including Commissioner Mike Yoder) disagreed with the unanimous working group recommendation.

The Plan Commission instructs the working group to remove residential uses from property zoned agriculture. This month the working group meets to discuss the way forward. Members do not understand the reason for removing residential use from ag-zoned property. They request the plan director to seek clarification from the Plan Commission of the specific reasons why this use should not be allowed. At the Jan. 10 meeting of the Plan Commission (with Commissioner Frank Lucchese, but minus Commissioner Yoder) the Plan Commission is asked for, but cannot provide, specific reasons. They voted 5-4 (just a month ago) to not allow residential uses in ag zones.

How can it be that the professionals on the Plan Commission cannot provide the reasons they voted just 30 days ago to disallow residential uses in ag zones? Do they need to get instructions from someone else? Or are the recommendations of property owners inconsistent with the planned community vision of the County Commissioners?

— James Kuhlenschmidt