BOONE COUNTY — After months of speculation, Boone County commissioners have confirmed that the State of Indiana is interested in building a large development north of Lebanon off Interstate 65.
“We have been approached by the State of Indiana for a possible, potential new development, nothing has been set in stone at this point,” said Boone County Commission President Jeff Wolfe.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) is interested in the land but has been tight-lipped about the details. Commissioners managed to get a little information in the last few days, but nothing concrete.
“We certainly don't know what's going to be in this area, but what we do know, and what we've had commitments from the state is that it's not going to be an airport, it's not going to be a drone facility, as some of the rumors were out,” said Wolfe.
Wolfe said his talks with the State indicate the area could be used as a high-end business development with green space, possibly dealing with technology. But information about the size of the project, what it will look like, how it could affect traffic, and its exact location, are not known.
Residents said IEDC has been approaching their neighbors about selling their properties for months, but Wolfe says the IEDC never made anything official or consulted county officials until this week.
“Boone County local officials are very disappointed that we were not brought into this earlier,” said Wolfe.
Thursday evening, residents packed into the stands at Western Boone High School for an informational session, but the commissioners didn’t have many answers.
Most residents were not happy, including Justin Hawkins. He said secrecy is not a good indicator of what’s to come.
“It's a negative impact on us. It's hard to believe our local authorities don't know what's coming at us,” he said. “I think we're all pretty worried that by the time we find out, it's already going to be here, and there's nothing we can do about it.”
In order for the IEDC to develop the land, it would have to go through the county commissioners to obtain a zoning change. Wolfe said the commission will not approve many of the projects that residents have been concerned about, such as an airport, penitentiary, trucking facility, or drone facility.
On Friday, the IEDC released the following statement to WRTV:
“The state of Indiana continues to evaluate opportunities to innovate and compete globally for high-wage careers in high-tech industries. We continue to be competitive because of communities like Boone County that position Indiana at the forefront of the 21st century economy. We look forward to partnering with Boone County and communities around the state as we build an economy of the future together, and look forward to sharing more in the near future.”
WRTV will continue to follow this story and provide more information when it becomes available.