The Indiana Department of Economic Development has contacted city and county leaders about a proposed commercial development that would span 4,000 to 7,000 acres of agricultural and residential land in northwest Lebanon.
Few details are known to local officials.
“Apparently they met with Mayor (Matthew) Gentry a few 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 think there’s someone trying to collect quite a bit of property there… We don’t have any direct information at this time.”
Wolfe said he, the commissioners’ attorney, Robert Clutter, and Boone County’s executive director of economic development, Molly Whitehead, met with state officials on Thursday, but officials gave little information. .
The commissioners have scheduled a special meeting open to the public for 7 p.m. Thursday in the Western Boone Jr.-Sr. High School Gym, 1205 Ind. 75 Thorntown.
“We want to get feedback from the community and see what they think about it,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe said details are few, but the state revealed that:
• It intends to develop 4,000 to 7,000 acres in northern Ind. 32 and along US 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 palatable to the public than a normal business park would be”;
• State officials do not yet have end users for the park but have discussed with some interested companies; and
• The proposal is based on models developed by other States.
“So far they haven’t shared a lot of development information with us, but they want to start working with the county to develop a plan,” Wolfe said. “We know that a broker went out of his way to contact landowners and try to get land under option.”
Area landowners along Hazlerigg Road and other parts of the target area began indicating months ago that a broker wanted to get their land under contract to buy.
The state said agricultural and residential acres may have to be annexed by Lebanon and would require rezoning, but did not indicate what zoning would be needed for the development, Wolfe said.
The state cannot force development on the wishes of taxpayers.
“Nothing is settled,” Wolfe said. “They can’t do anything without rezoning, so there’s local control over that, and to my knowledge they haven’t made any land deals.”
Wolfe said he expects to meet with state officials again before Thursday’s meeting to get more information for those attending.