ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - The town of New Carlisle appears to have reached a tipping point.
The town board has unanimously passed a resolution that seeks to stop work on the Indiana Enterprise Center — at least temporarily.
The Indiana Enterprise Center is a 7,200-acre rural area in western St. Joseph County that is being eyed by the county for potential development.
“We do have prospects that are interested in the area, and it’s a matter of how we put those prospects and this, you know, the next steps to together as we remove forward,” St. Joseph County Economic Development Director Bill Schalliol said.
At the New Carlisle Town Board meeting Tuesday night, there was a standing room-only crowd.
The board unanimously passed a resolution that seeks, among other thing, “more meaningful and intensive public involvement” in the Enterprise Center project.
“It’s been a long two-years fight to get people to listen to our cause,” St. Joseph County resident Arthur Wheeler said. “We think we made some headway tonight.”
St. Joseph County Commissioner Dave Thomas also addressed the crowd at Tuesday’s meeting and made his feelings known to reporters afterward.
“Well, here's the citizens of the area talking to their representatives here in the town of New Carlisle who all recently took, most of them recently took office, elected on a platform to tell the county to quit picking the pockets, abusing the people of this area,” he said.
The passage of the resolution was somewhat frustrating for Schalliol.
“We had a good relationship with the last town administration. Little disappointed this town administration didn't reach out before going through these steps,” he said.
St. Joseph County Council Representative Diana Hess was at the New Carlisle Town Board meeting.
“I think there's been a lot of misperception, a lot of miscommunication,” she told 16 News Now Wednesday. “Some of the things I heard last night were the fact that they don't want another Gary, Indiana, over there in New Carlisle, so, which, to me, I've heard nothing of that kind of development that would even be considered to go into that area.”
Hess says she expects that the development would be more along the lines of wind farms or warehouses and logistic centers.
Given the alleged logistics of some of the project opponents, it remains to be seen what weight the resolution will carry for the county.
“It certainly has some impact because they are the neighboring town, but again, I think our concern is a lot of people that were helping raise the ire out in New Carlisle aren't New Carlisle residents nor are they immediately within the IEC boundaries. So I think we need to factor out some of the noise from some of the reality,” Schalliol said.
The resolution claims that the project conflicts with the county’s own comprehensive plan that limits industrial development in the area to 2,400 acres.
Schalliol says that plan is from 2002 and woefully out of date. He expects a new master planning process to begin this year.