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Zoning change will let Goldenrod move into new office

The Truth - 9/18/2018

Sept. 18--GOSHEN -- Goldenrod, a faith-based service agency for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, hopes to move into a new office east of Goshen following approval of a zone map change by the county Monday.

The Elkhart County Commissioners approved the rezoning for 11642 C.R. 36, at the southwest corner of C.R. 36 and C.R. 41, so the agency can buy the property and use it as a new corporate office. Goldenrod is headquartered in Goshen at 1514 College Ave., but the agency has outgrown the building, commissioners learned.

"They're out of room at this location," said Brad Mosness, a civil engineer with Abonmarche Consultants. "They've been searching for a new location for a while and this fits their needs. They're excited about it."

Members of the county Plan Commission were in favor of the zone change at their August meeting, but the planning staff had doubts about the suitability of the location, according to Planning Manager Jason Auvil. He said they're fully in favor of what Goldenrod does but worry that the amount of staff and client traffic, which is likely to be more than if the land remained residential, would be hard on the gravel road that leads to the location.

Tammy Friesen, Goldenrod CEO, said the traffic wouldn't be as bad as feared. She noted it won't actually be 200 separate trips every day because clients will be taken in and out by bus.

Goldenrod works to empower people of all abilities reach their individual potential by providing in-home care, respite care and community-based habilitation in both 24- and non-24-hour settings, according to its website.

Friesen also noted that neighbors, which include some parents of Goldenrod clients, fully support the change.

Commissioners approved the rezoning after Friesen indicated the agency would consider helping cover the cost of paving the road.

Also Monday, commissioners approved an agreement that will introduce subscription fees for the largest users of the county geographic information system website. The GIS site includes data on properties throughout the county along with aerial photographs.

The site gets between 5,000 and 6,000 hits a month, County Administrator Tom Byers said, and costs the assessor's office $29,938 a year. In addition, getting updated aerial images can cost $50,000 or more, depending on whether the county is doing it on its own or as part of a regional agreement through the Michiana Area Council of Governments.

The subscription costs will be $7.50 a day, $15 a month or $150 a year. The county will receive anything over $29,938 that comes in, which Byers estimated could be $100,000 a year.

Assessor Cathy Searcy said the average user who looks up property information won't be charged. She said her office will publicize the details when the fee goes into effect.

Commissioners agreed that it was a good idea to charge for the service.

"This is targeting professional services in the community who are the heaviest users and rightfully should help support the infrastructure," Commissioner Mike Yoder said.

And commissioners heard concerns about river bank erosion from a resident of the Auburn Estates subdivision. Carolyn Carter said the subdivision on the south side of the Elkhart River, southeast of Elkhart along Phaeton Place, is under increased risk of flooding as the river bank loses stability.

She said residents had to have a tree removed from the river and have seen an increased number of snakes along with the rising water. They had to cover the cost of the tree removal themselves, in addition to the taxes they already pay, and she's gotten nowhere appealing to federal agencies because it's not public land.

"We're treated like a stepchild," she said. "This is a future problem that's gonna be bad."

Yoder said jurisdiction of the area is murky, making it unclear whether shoring up the river bank is a city or county responsibility. He said he'll check with the county surveyor's office about options.

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(c)2018 The Elkhart Truth (Elkhart, Ind).

Visit The Elkhart Truth (Elkhart, Ind). at www.elkharttruth.com

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