Boone County looks to create PUD ordinance in area planned for high-tech district

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The Boone County Commissioners announced Monday that the county will work with an Indianapolis-based land use planner to create a planned unit development ordinance in response to the state’s plans to build a high-tech business district north of Lebanon.

Boone County Commissioners President Jeff Wolfe said in written remarks that the commissioners believe hiring Rundell Ernstberger Associates is the best way to protect the interests of Boone County residents, particularly those who live in unincorporated areas of the county.

“The proposed development needs to be fully vetted, and we also need to ensure we are listening to stakeholders and landowners in the community,” Wolfe said.

A planned unit development, or PUD, is a tool that defines and regulates proposed development and guides developers on permitted uses and design standards. The ordinance planned in Boone County would provide for commercial, industrial, residential and agricultural uses along with community amenities.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is looking to purchase up to 10,000 acres in rural Boone County, where it hopes to attract companies in the advanced manufacturing, research and development, life sciences, technology, and microelectronics and semiconductor industries.

Local and state officials say the long-term goal is to create a sort of research district—not unlike the North Carolina Research Triangle—that would connect a Boone County tech park with Purdue University in West Lafayette and schools, researchers and other assets in Indianapolis.

As of mid-June, the IEDC—which serves as the state’s economic development arm—had about 6,000 total acres under contract for the LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District, a venture it has been working on since last year.

In May, the state announced pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. would anchor the northern portion of LEAP, spending $2.1 billion on two new manufacturing facilities. The company plans to use about 600 acres of land just east of Interstate 65.

The state plans to surround the Lilly facilities with suppliers and other tech-driven firms, while the southern area of the development would have headquarters, research and development facilities and advanced manufacturing. The Indiana Department of Transportation also plans to construct a new interchange at I-65 and West County Road 300 North.

The Lebanon City Council on Monday approved the voluntary annexation of about 1,400 acres of land into the city, a move that drew the consternation of some residents in attendance.

“Aspects of the PUD ordinance will specifically address environmental sustainability, preservation and developmental flexibility,” Commissioner Tom Santelli said in written remarks.

IEDC Executive Vice President David Rosenberg said in a written statement said the agency will continue to work with local officials as the LEAP Innovation and Research District continues to evolve.

“We are very excited about the progress of the LEAP development and appreciate the leadership and partnership with county officials, city officials, Boone [Economic Development Corp.], and many other stakeholders,” Rosenberg said. “There is still much work to be done.”

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