BOONE COUNTY, Ind. — Plans for construction on a new Eli Lilly facility in Boone County are expected to move forward after the Lebanon City Council approved an agreement to provide water to the facility Monday night.
The Lebanon City Council unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding between Lebanon Utilities and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to pre-allocate 864,000 gallons per day for both water and wastewater for the new development.
“They wanted to make sure the capacity would be available so they weren’t six months down the road putting sticks in the ground and they didn’t have the ability to get water, wastewater service to the project,” said Jeff Jacob, the attorney representing Lebanon Utilities.
The Eli Lilly site will be two manufacturing facilities representing a total $2.1 billion investment in Boone County. Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry said the facilities will be located east of I-65 and south of C.R. 450 North.
”Knowing this is there and in place I think would give the developer comfort this is full steam ahead,” Jacob said.
The two Eli Lilly facilities are seen as the anchor to the IEDC 7,000 acre LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District. The site is set to be in Boone County. IEDC has already started gathering land for the huge project, but some neighbors are holding out.
“It is very productive land, and we have worked very hard to preserve it so we have something to pass on to our descendants,” Jim Love said.
Love and his family have owned and farmed on 200 acres off of U.S. 52 in Boone County since the 1940s. Love’s land sits within the proposed innovation district. He said IEDC has approached him about selling his property twice. He’s refused both times and doesn’t plan to sell.
“Although this seems like a big game, these are people’s lives, these are their homes, this is where they’ve raised their families,” Love said.
He said he’s had neighbors both sell and hold out but believes those who are still holding plan to stay strong.
Love was at the city council meeting Monday night along with other members of the Boone County Preservation Group. He said he’s not upset with the several hundred acres Eli Lilly will take up, but frustrated with the entire LEAP project and how much farmland it would destroy.
“We realize that growth is important and innovation is important, we just don’t see the need for taking that growth and scattering it out,” Love said.
In a phone conversation Tuesday, Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry said the LEAP development won’t be a typical manufacturing park, but an ecosystem of research, technology and manufacturing to help Boone County and Indiana compete on an international stage.
Going forward, Love wants the community to be more involved in a process they said has lacked transparency.
“We’re not trying to completely change your plan, but what we would like to have is a seat at the table,” Love said.
Gentry told CBS4 he welcomes those conversations and invites residents to talk to him and other city leaders about what they want to see.
The agreement between the IEDC and Lebanon Utilities states IEDC will pay more than $7.9 million for water availability fees and more than $13.3 million for wastewater availability fees. Both fees are due 90 days after IEDC signs the agreement.
Jacob said when this water is eventually in use, it will not impact any of the other people or businesses using Lebanon Utilities for water.