Changes to the use of the Eastowne Business Park are expected to attract more manufacturing companies to east St. Joseph, but residents in the area are concerned about the impact.
The St. Joseph City Council unanimously approved revisions to the Riverside Precise Plan, a document that outlines what can be placed in the Eastowne Business Park.
The original plan designated lots near the corner of Eastowne Drive and Route AC as office and financial space. However, officials at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce realized those lots weren’t in demand.
“With the changes in the economy since 2005, we didn’t find those uses to really be a viable use, so what the changes do is open up those areas to be able to be used for the general business park designations,” said Brad Lau, the vice president of economic development at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.
The revised plan allows those lots to be used for manufacturing like the rest of the business park.
“This will help us market and really utilize the park for the needs that we have because we have a lot of times that we can’t bid on a project because we don’t have the appropriate land,” Lau said. “It just gives us more flexibility.”
But residents in the nearby neighborhood along Pickett Road are concerned about what businesses would be allowed with the changes.
“We feel like uses as far as rendering plants or anything that would have toxic chemicals would just be something that we wouldn’t really be interested in having this close to our property line,” said Tom Corrington, who lives across the street from the business park.
Chamber of Commerce officials said uses would be similar to the current businesses already in the park, like BMS Logistics and Cereal Ingredients.
“Although (the business park) was kind of remote, it’s grown from there,” said Dan Bayer, president of BMS Logistics. “Any additional businesses provide additional opportunities for the group out there.”
Corrington said there still is a worry about the noise and the view. The lots that were changed from office space to manufacturing are right across the street from his house. Also, more than 76 acres nearby are available for Phase 2 of the business park.
“Anything that they would add physically, building-wise, is just a concern because, as you can see, the view is great back here, and there’s really not a whole lot of noise around this part,” Corrington said.
The city has looked farther east to find new land to entice potential companies, which was why the Eastowne Business Park was built. It’s also how the city was able to land Cereal Ingredients.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth in that east side business park since its inception,” City Councilman Brian Myers said. “Making some more needed modifications will help further grow and develop that area.”