Neighbors fight plans to replace historic barn with gas station

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.-- A barn in St. Joseph County has supposedly stood for over a century and a half. But now there are possible plans to tear it down and replace it with a gas station, much to the dismay of nearby residents.

"If you ask anybody in the area over the age of 40 for directions and you say 'oh, by the old barn,' and they'll go, 'oh, elm and dragoon,'" said John Banicki, who lives across the street from the barn. "It's part of one of the original homesteads of the area." 

Neighbors along Elm Road and Dragoon Trail are voicing their opinions against the rezoning of this land.

Plans are going in front of the St. Joseph County Area Plan Commission to rezone the land, tear down the barn, and build a gas station.

"The reason we're all protesting it so much, is we love the barn, we would like to see the barn stay," said Margaret Banicki, who also lives across the street. "In all reality, we might not be able to fight that part. What we're really fighting is the gas station."

Concerns over the gas station, neighbors said, include light pollution, crime, traffic, litter, and possible contamination of the water table, which supplies all the water wells in the area.

"100% against putting a gas station up here," John said.

But the broker for the land, John Piraccini said a purchase agreement has already been made.

"Well, it's been on the market for a while, and so this is what's come as an offer," Piraccini said. "So, at this point, that's what we have."

But area residents are still protesting the county to stop the change before it starts.

"We’re hoping to save the barn and keep our quiet neighborhood quiet," John Banicki said.

The St. Joseph County Area Plan Commission will talk about the possible rezoning of this land Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the County-City Building in downtown South Bend.

The public is welcome to attend.

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