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Opposition to Boone County development sparks concern



Boone County, Indiana – The projected high-tech development in Boone County by the state has received more than 3,000 signatures of opposition. The 91 other counties in Indiana are receiving a warning from the citizen committee that is leading the opposition.

“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 evolved into a fictitious information clearinghouse regarding the progress. To help them navigate the flood of information coming from the state, they have hired a lawyer.

“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.

On property just to the north of Lebanon, Eli Lilly and Company has committed to constructing a new manufacturing facility. Nearby Love’s farm, on about 700 acres, will be consumed by the plant. The problem is that that facility will essentially act as the anchor for the remainder of the planned development. It is still unknown what or who is coming to Boone County.

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

This entire endeavor is largely funded by the state. The legislation was passed by the general assembly that provided a workaround for the state to purchase land for development directly.

“Not only is the state becoming a developer which ought to make all developers in Indiana annoyed because now, but they also 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.

The owners of a number of homes purchased north of Lebanon will soon have to relocate. Before being demolished, the houses could be rented out. Nearly all of the property owners inside the planned development have been approached regarding the sale of their land. Love told me that farmland is selling for at least $25,000 per acre, which is about twice what Purdue estimates the average price to be for top-quality farmland in Indiana. He claims that the state is looking 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.