Amish Acres

Amish Acres® Historic Farm and Heritage Resort is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is America's most complete Amish heritage experience featuring historic interpretation, culinary and performing arts, lodging, and shopping.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Zoning by Auction

Elkhart County has the largest percentage of its population employed in manufacturing in the nation. It also is one of the most fertile agricultural counties in Indiana. It has the largest milk heard and bales the most hay. With Amish Acres and several other major tourist destinations it ranks maybe second in tourism in the state. This combination is unheard of anywhere else. Three communities employ more people than live there.

Although this economic diversity creates vibrancy, it also creates zoning problems that are not being delt with in a controlled manner. County government until now has not recognized this uniqueness and the coresponding unique zoning requirements to preserve the rural nature of much of the county and the smart growth opportunities surrounding our cities and towns. Therefore, we have been living under the utterly destructive 3 acre rule that is actually an exemption in our county zoning. Buy three acres from any farmer anywhere in the county and build a McMansion using the county road as a residential street. The county has become blotched by beautiful and productive farmland, much of it owned by generations of Amish, Mennonites, German Baptists and other plain people, turned into random, uncontrolled single family dwellings.

This week less than 1/2 mile from Nappanee city limits sewer, and water, a farm has been carved into over a dozen plots of 3 to 4 acres and was auctioned off for unplanned development. Septic systems will be installed (our water table for the first time is showing traces of chemicals hazardous to our health), wells will be drilled drawing water from the same untreated source. To their belated credit county officials are bringing the subject to the table of how zoning affects our future growth, quality of place, and the ability to attract creative people to keep our prosperity alive and well.

I know of no species in nature that fowls its own next, but there must be one because we couldn't figure this unintelligent system of land use on our own.


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