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Annexation lawsuit claims city not following their own rules

LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — When the city of Lebanon annexed more than 5000 acres, the town geography essentially doubled. The annexation opened the door for huge commercial development project funded by the state. The lawsuit claims the annexation violated state and local laws. 

According to the lawsuit the city of Lebanon needed to specify exactly the intended use of the land. For instance, if this wheat field is going to be used for homes, then the zoning should be stated as such. Brian Daggy is not part of the lawsuit, he is part a group with a vested interest in the outcome. The property behind his house was annexed and has been sold, but he has no idea how the land is to be used. 

“They have circumvented several steps in the zoning process and did not give people the opportunity to really contemplate what might be going on the property, and whether they wanted to have an appeal or make comments. Part of the whole process to make sure you have public involvement”, said Brian Daggy, of Boone County Preservation Group. 

Much of the annexed land is part of the LEAP project funded by the state. Eli Lilly and Company bought just over 600 acres for a new manufacturing facility in Lebanon. That land was annexed and zoned with a designated purpose. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the state of Indiana are attempting to land a semiconductor manufacturer that could bring 50 billion dollars of investment to the state of Indiana.

IEDC is using 150 million dollars of state funds set aside by the general assembly for projects like LEAP. It would be the most expensive semiconductor facility in the country, and possibly the world. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation declined to talk on camera about the project, but sent a statement to I-Team 8. 

The potential projects associated with the IEDC’s request exceed $50 billion of committed capital investment in high-wage industries of the future.”

David Rosenberg, Chief Operating Officer & Chief of Staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation 

 The land for this proposed project is part of the disputed annexation.  

“They wanted to have shovel ready building sites and I understand why they want to be able to move rapidly. That is the way development seems to go as they compete around the country, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t follow the rules and they should short change the local populous to able to appropriately comment and have input on what’s being done and how it’s being done,” said Daggy.

The Lebanon city attorney filed a motion asking the lawsuit to be dismissed, saying it is baseless and frivolous. The judge has dismissed a portion of the lawsuit and a final ruling is expected in the coming weeks.