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Lebanon council approves massive annexation for business park

LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — The Lebanon City Council on Monday night expanded the city’s geographic size by 50%.

There were nearly 20 speakers during the Lebanon City Council meeting, of all the individuals that spoke there was not a single person in favor of the annexation.

“How much is this going to cost taxpayers at the end of the day? This brings me to my second question, where is this money coming from?” Britt Resit said.

The land is largely farmland that will be turned into the LEAP Industrial Park. Some farmers in the area are concerned with the expansiveness of this project.

Jim Love, a farmer with Boone County Preservation, said, “Boone County is full of green spaces and those green spaces are corn fields and soybean fields and those green spaces feed a very hungry world. So instead of creating all this grass that has to be mowed, we would like to have these facilities be more compressed like they would have been in the past. And then those other greens spaces that would be grass let’s just keep farming those and growing food because there are always people that want to be fed.”

This project comes on the heels of the Eli Lilly industrial project in the area. Citizens are asking the city to slow expansion.

Kim Love, also a farmer with her husband Jim and affiliated with Boone County Preservation, said “With increased traffic and moving equipment, big slow equipment, wide equipment around on highways is extremely difficult as well as somewhat dangerous so it will increase the danger to our family.”

The Loves are concerned about the amount of water that will be used when these industrial properties go online.

Jim Love said, “So water is a big deal in this project because all the manufacturing that they would like to bring to this project would require heavy amounts of water. Now we have enough water here for the citizens of Boone County but we don’t necessarily have enough water to feed a bunch of industrial operations.”

The new business will be eligible to use city services such as fire and police and city water. The mayor said this project is a positive for Boone County in terms of tax growth.

Mayor Matt Gentry, (R) Lebanon, said, “Frankly it provides great opportunities for people in town. Next-gen technologies for people, for things we use every single day. And then provides the ability from a revenue standpoint with some of these investments being made in the community.”

Original story: Lebanon council prepares to vote on massive annexation for business park

LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — Jim Love rolled out a map of the proposed annexation on his dining room table.

The map showed a pink area with 5,200 acres — or more than 8 square miles — that the Lebanon City Council was to vote on Monday night whether to annex.

The map’s light green, shaded areas represent property owners who have declined the annexation into the suburb northwest of Indianapolis in Boone County.

For I-Team 8, Love pointed out his farm, one of the larger areas on the map. The annexed area will eventually become part of the LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District, an area under development by the state and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. “LEAP stands for ‘limitless exploration/advanced pace,’ the city said in a July news release, “as the state plans to use the rural Boone County site to attract companies in the advanced manufacturing, research and development, life sciences, technology, and microelectronics and semiconductor industries.”

One of Love’s issues with the development is the lack of information on what companies are coming to the area.

He said, “I’d love to get to go to the meeting where the decisions are really made.” 

Love is one of the founders of a grassroots organization called Boone County Preservation Group. It hired a lawyer to navigate the complexities of annexation and economic development. He and many of his neighbors were somewhat blindsided earlier this year by a 1,400-acre annexation for an Eli Lilly and Co. development. Now, the city wants more land.  

Love said, “Everybody that is disassociated by one step or so away from this, they always have the same opinion. It’s, like, ‘That can’t be true.’ ‘This doesn’t make any sense.’ And quite frankly, that is partially why we got behind the eight ball ….”

The farm owner says the Lilly project drove up the price of land around Lebanon. Some of his neighbors have sold farm ground for $68,000 an acre, which is 10 times the average price across Indana.