Boone County Residents File Lawsuit Over LEAP Annexation – Inside Indiana Business

A depiction of the proposed Innovation District in Boone County (Indiana Economic Development Corp.)

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

The 11 property owners filed a lawsuit for mutual legal assistance, asking a Boone County District Court judge to reverse two city ordinances.

In December, the Lebanese City Council approved the creation of the LEAP zone district and a request for voluntary annexation by 43 Boone County landowners and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. LEAP is the abbreviation for Limitless Exploration/Advanced Pace.

In their written complaint, Boone County residents said the zoning district violated 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 failing to follow its own zoning ordinance, which requires annexation applications to include a concept plan if the land is to be designated as anything other than single-family housing.

“Indeed, thousands of acres were assigned to the new LEAP district without even the most basic requirements,” the complaint reads.

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

The IEDC began working with a third-party company back in November 2021 to purchase land for a proposed 11,000-acre innovation district in Boone County, a project state officials have compared to The Research Triangle in North Carolina. In May, Eli Lilly and Co. committed $2 billion to build two manufacturing facilities on 600 acres east of Interstate 65, a project that is expected to create 500 jobs, the company said.

The project has been criticized by longtime residents who are concerned about the loss of farmland, the project’s impact on water resources and a perceived lack of transparency from the state employment agency.

Lebanese Mayor Matt Gentry said he was confident the city would prevail in court.

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

Residents are represented by Michael Andreoli, a Zionsville attorney.