Osceola Dragway approved for future expansion after split decision

GOSHEN, Ind. (WNDU) - It was one of the biggest Elkhart County Commission meetings they have had in a very long time. Nearly 150 people showed up.

The Elkhart County Commission votes 2-1 in favor of rezoning Osceola Dragway, with Commissioner Suzanne Wierick voting against the proposal.

Neighbors opposing the expansion of Osceola Dragway on one side, everyone else in favor of the expansion on the other.

However, one thing both sides could agree on is this was not going to be an easy decision for the commission and it wasn’t.

“I really think this is a cool project. I don’t like it by all of these people, Elkhart County Commissioner Suzanne Weirick said Monday.

The commission voted 2-1 in favor of rezoning Osceola Dragway from R-1 to M-2, with Wierick voting against the proposal.

The approval means that the 170-acre site on Ash Road will be expanded to include a test course and a business park. Osceola Dragway will be renamed as Hoosier Motorsports & Business Park.

“I think the expansion will be good for the community,” says Dowagiac resident Larry Stoker .

Others like longtime drag racer Orville Teter says he too supports the commission’s decision.

“I am thrilled to death. I think they made an educated decision and it’s going to work out for all of the community’s future,” Teter said.

On the other hand, neighboring residents to the Osceola Dragway like James Pendergrass disagree with the vote.

“I think it is terrible. I think the dragway should be shut down all together because of the sound levels on the river,” Pendegrass said.

Nancy Carter also lives near the dragway and says too disagrees with the commission’s decision.

“I think the decision take the residents and the R-1 in the zoning. We could have come to a compromise with a B-3, but we do not need an M-2 in a residential area,” Carter says.

Residents fear that the new expansion will be too much noise, too much traffic, and too much of loss on their property values.

“There is at least 800 people that are against it in our neighborhood, it’s not been officially delineated what the property values are going to be for all of us,” a man who lives near the dragway said.

Today’s approved plan included to additions to its original tentative plan. The first, expanding a berm located at the south end of the property to the east end, where a new racetrack will be located.

The second addition will be adding two curves to current layout of the track to help slow down drivers on the course. Developers say this will help prevent drivers from going too fast on the track and putting their safety at risk.

Developers say the project will take “some time” to develop the new Hoosier Motorsports & Business Park given the size of the property and the money it will take to build it.