July 16, 2024
State proposes business development on agricultural land northwest of Lebanon | News

The Indiana Department of Economic Development has approached city and county leaders about a proposed business development that would sit on 4,000 to 7,000 acres of farm and residential land northwest of Lebanon.

Few details are known by local officials.

“Apparently they met with Mayor (Matthew) Gentry a couple of weeks ago, and then they came to meet with us,” Boone County Commissioner Jeff Wolfe said Friday.

“I don’t know if I have anything confirmed that I can comment on at this time,” Gentry said last week. “I do think there’s someone trying to assemble quite a bit of property out there … We don’t have any direct information at this time.”

Wolfe said he, the commissioners’ attorney Robert Clutter, and Boone County Economic Development Executive Director Molly Whitehead met with state officials Thursday, but the officials gave little information away.

Commissioners have scheduled a special meeting open to the public at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Western Boone Jr.-Sr. High School gymnasium, 1205 Ind. 75, Thorntown.

“We want to get input from the community and see what their thoughts are,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said details are few, but the state did reveal that:

• It intends to develop 4,000-7,000 acres north of Ind. 32 and along U.S. 52 and encompassing the Hazelrigg area in the Western Boone School district;

• The state aims to attract high-end users and will include green space to make it “more acceptable to the public than a normal business park would be”;

• State officials do not yet have end users for the park but have talked with some interested companies; and

• The proposal is based on models developed by other states.

What’s next?

“So far they’ve not shared much information about the development with us, but they want to start working with the county to develop a plan,” Wolfe said. “We do know a broker has been working on making contact with landowners and trying to get land under option.”

Area property owners along Hazlerigg Road and in other portions of the targeted area began indicating months ago that a broker wanted to get their land under contract to buy.

The state indicated the agricultural and residential acres may need to be annexed by Lebanon and would require rezoning but did not indicate what zoning would be required for the development, Wolfe said.

The state cannot force the development over taxpayer wishes.

“Nothing is a done deal,” Wolfe said. “They can’t do anything without rezoning, so there is local control when it comes to that, and to my knowledge, they haven’t closed any deals on land.”

Wolfe said he expects to meet with state officials again before Thursday’s meeting so he has more information for those who attend.