Community questions economic development

A standing room only crowd filled the New Carlisle Fire Station on Monday, September 12 as Bill Schalliol, St. Joseph County Executive Director of Economic Development, presented the county’s plans for the New Carlisle Economic Development Area (NCEDA).

A majority of the 4,600 acres which comprise the NCEDA was first designated as an economic development district in 1997 to help facilitate larger development opportunities.

The NCEDA took its current name after 12 parcels were added to the boundary of the area this year. In addition to the expansion, the County Council also approved a $9.2 million bond to fund infrastructure projects within the area to help spur future development.

Schalliol said the purpose of the meeting was to rebuild some trust with the community, which has been vocal over the last decade in its opposition to some projects in the area, such as the Tondu power plant and the shredder. The meeting drew questions from not only property owners within the NCEDA’s footprint, but also from residents and business owners inside the town limits, who voiced fears that too much industrial development right outside of the town could cause New Carlisle to lose its character.

According to Schalliol, most of the property acquisition within the NCEDA would be done private-to-private, with developers offering owners a price for their land. Additionally, most of the land in the area is zoned agricultural, so any potential industrial use would be subject to a public re-zoning process.

However, the county does have an acquisition list of 19 properties it is currently working to obtain for infrastructure work. Most of these properties are located on the western edge of the NCEDA and would be needed for the relocation of the Niespodziany Ditch and to facilitate a rail connection the Norfolk/Southern line.

Schalliol pointed out that the county would only have power to invoke eminent domain on infrastructure projects and noted that the county would be hesitant to use it. Schalliol said the county will offer an average of two appraisals and negotiations could take place if the property owner is not satisfied with the price.

Residents along the US Highway 20 corridor voiced concerns about the water and sewer line project, which will begin immediately. These residents were reassured they will not be forced to tie into the new lines at the present time. However, should there be a failure with their wells or septic systems in the future, the county health department would have the final determination if they will have to connect to the county’s line.

As a resource, Schalliol provided a link to the Office of Economic Development's website, which contains maps and information from the presentation:

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