Boone County residents file legal challenge over LEAP annexation

A rendering of the planned innovation district in Boone County (Indiana Economic Development Corp.)

A group of Boone County residents filed legal action Tuesday against the city of Lebanon, accusing the municipality of violating state and local zoning law when it annexed 5,200 acres of land and created a new zoning district for a manufacturing and tech hub.

The eleven property owners filed a complaint for judicial relief asking a Boone County Circuit Court judge to throw out two city ordinances.

In December, the Lebanon City Council approved the creation of the LEAP zoning district and a request for voluntary annexation from 43 landowners in Boone County and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. LEAP is short for Limitless Exploration/Advanced Pace.

In their written complaint, the Boone County residents said the zoning district violates state law because the annexed land was not included in the city’s comprehensive plan, which was passed in 2020.

They also accused the city of not following its own zoning ordinance that requires petitions for annexation to include a concept plan if the land is to be zoned as anything other than single-family residential.

“In fact, thousands of acres were classified into the new LEAP (LP) District without even the most basic requirements,” the complaint reads.

The plaintiffs are all interested parties who received notices for public hearings regarding the proposed zoning classification and annexation, their attorney said.

The IEDC began working with a third-party company as early as November 2021 to purchase land for a planned 11,000-acre innovation district in Boone County, a project state officials have likened to The Research Triangle in North Carolina. In May, Eli Lilly and Co. committed $2 billion to construct two manufacturing plants on 600 acres east of Interstate 65, a project expected to bring 500 jobs, the company said.

The project has faced backlash from longtime residents concerned with the loss of farmland, the project’s impact on water resources and a perceived lack of transparency from the state’s job-creation agency.

Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry said he is confident the city will prevail in a court of law.

“We did everything by the book,” Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry told IBJ. “I think it’s a situation where residents are trying to use every avenue available to them to stop this.”

The residents are being represented by Michael Andreoli, an attorney in Zionsville.

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9 thoughts on “Boone County residents file legal challenge over LEAP annexation

  1. Weren’t these all voluntary annexations? Sounds like neighbors who aren’t in the district trying to kill the LEAP district. I doubt they’ll be successful.

    1. If they received notices as “interested parties” then they are directly affected and have every right afforded them under the law just as the City of Lebanon does. The court will have to decide based on the merits.

    1. You are completely ignorant to the situation and life outside of suburbia. Yes, these people have ideas; and yes, they have aspirations! Also, they are very successful. We are talking about multi-generational farm families. They have worked hard and have dedicated their lives to the most essential profession in the world. One of their aspirations is to pass this down to their children and grandchildren. An EV battery plant is not going to feed or cloth you. Do some research on what everyday essentials are made from corn and soybeans.

    1. The land, our farms, our houses, and our families are important for those of us who live here. All of these economic development initiatives are not being done for the good of Hoosiers. They are targeted to out of state (and country) companies and workforces.

  2. So Lilly is doing something on only 600 acres of the 5200 that are being annexed? I don’t blame those folks for wanting more information on what the rest of the land is going to be used for. I have heard the technology park argument before and seen apartments put up instead. How are they going to zone this acreage? Could someone build a mini steel mill? At a minimum I would want to see strict zoning in place that can’t be circumvented by variances simply because a company needs them.

    1. Lilly is going on 600 acres that is from the first annexation of 1,200 acres that they did a few months before this annexation of 5,200 acres.