Community meeting

Boone County land dispute draws hundreds to community meeting

More than 300 people attended a community meeting Monday night to learn about the state's plans to develop an innovation district in Boone County.

More than 300 people attended a community meeting Monday night to learn about the state’s plans to develop an innovation district in Boone County.

More than 300 people attended a community meeting Monday night to learn about the state’s plans to develop an innovation district in Boone County.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation continues to purchase properties in the county as part of a $164 million investment approved by the State Budget Committee. The state hopes to attract a variety of advanced manufacturing, life sciences, technology, microelectronics and semiconductor companies.

Jim Love of the Boone County Preservation Group fears farmland is disappearing for development.

“I think that’s a key thing is that we need to talk about the fact that they’re just trying to attract business. These people are not eager to wait for this land to be purchased so that they can move in. Once they get that land from the farmers, they have to go out and sell it to others,” Love said.

He says water is another stumbling block in the project.

“There is barely enough water in Boone County for the town of Lebanon. So, not sitting on this large surplus, they went to Frankfurt to try to empty the aquifer and the seven wells they drilled. Six of them were unwanted and one was partially viable. And so that was ruled out. There’s not enough water south of the city to come up from Indianapolis,” Love said.

Some farmers felt compelled to sell their land. “The shame is that because it’s the state, and the state has hired an investment or real estate company out of town, it’s telling stories and people feel like must have sold,” said Love.

Love has a farm near the I-65 and Highway 52 interchange. He says he won’t sell.

The Boone County Preservation Group has grown to more than 1,000 members since its formation shortly after the state announced the high-tech district.

He collected nearly 2,400 signatures on a petition protesting the proposed land takeover.