I-Team 8

Opposition to Boone County development sparks concern

BOONE COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — More than 3,000 people have signed petitions against the state’s proposed high tech development in Boone County. The citizen committee behind the opposition is issuing a warning to the other 91 counties in Indiana.  

“This is a pilot program, so they want to do this in all 92 counties” Jim Love said. Love is one of the organizers of the Boone County preservation group. Their Facebook page has 1,188 followers, most of whom live in the county. The group was formed earlier this year in opposition to the state’s proposed high tech business park just north of Lebanon. On one of the maps of the proposed development, Love’s farm is dead center in the middle. 

“I have seen multiple maps with these grandiose plans on farms they don’t own including this one. I have seen a plan that shows this as the city center and they have never owned this. We have never sat down at the table with them” Love said.

The group has become a pseudo clearing house of information about the development. They have hired a lawyer to help navigate the streams of information coming from the state.   

“We have spent the past 12 months doing everything we can to try and figure out what is taking place and what our fate will be, and how to make decisions based upon the information that is available. The information given to us is primarily junk,” Love said.

Eli Lilly and Company has committed to building a new manufacturing facility on land just north of Lebanon. The facility will consume close to 700 acres a few miles from Love’s farm. That facility will essentially anchor the rest of the proposed development, which is where the trouble lays. What and who is coming to Boone County remains a mystery.   

“I have never seen a government top to bottom as rogue as this one in my life time and I’m not that old, but I have never seen a rouge government top to bottom as we have right now,” Love said.

The state is essentially funding this entire project. The general assembly passed legislation that created a way around the state directly buying land for development. 

“Not only is the state becoming a developer which ought to make all developers in Indiana annoyed because now, they have a new 800-pound gorilla in the room that has unlimited resources. Now they have decided they want to be a landlord as well” Love said.

Several homes north of Lebanon have been bought and the owners will eventually have to move. The homes could be rented before being torn down.  Almost every landowner within the proposed development has been contacted about selling their land.  Love told me farm ground is selling for $25,000 an acre or more, almost double the average price for top quality farm land in Indiana according to Purdue. He says the state has their eyes set beyond Boone County. 

“People need to pay attention to what is happening in Boone County. If you live within the surrounding counties, you need to be thinking you could be next” Love said.