River Ridge Offers Former Industrial Land for Lease to Farmers

by Erica Peterson on December 26, 2011

An Indiana Development Authority plans to offer hundreds of acres of land for lease to area farmers. Part of the River Ridge Commerce Center is on the former site of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, which raises questions about whether the land should be used for farming.

The River Ridge Commerce Center is about 6000 acres along the Ohio River in southern Indiana. About half of the acreage is still in the process of being transferred from the Army to the Development Authority.

But a lot of the land isn’t being used yet. River Ridge Development Authority director Jerry Acy says it was expensive to maintain, so the board voted to allow about 360 acres to be leased out to farmers.

The farming acres are about six miles away from the most active areas of the former ammunition plant, and Acy says he’s confident they aren’t contaminated.

“Thankfully, it was like there were no buildings, no processing, no activity basically on that area that’s directly adjacent to Highway 62 and that’s predominantly where this farming acreage is,” he said.

But the state of Indiana hasn’t evaluated the land, and in a document published last year, River Ridge acknowledges the extent of the land’s contamination is unknown.

Brownfields vary by site. Depending on the type of contamination, sometimes it’s easily contained, but sometimes if the groundwater is contaminated it can spread for miles. There is no planned environmental review of the space.

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