EV battery plant proposal leaves New Carlisle residents with more questions than answers

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NEW CARLISLE, Ind.—Residents of New Carlisle seem to have more questions than answers about the proposed Ultium LLC plant to be possibly built in the Indiana Enterprise Center (IEC).

One such resident is Sharon Peterson, owner of The Billy Goat 9 & Dine, which sits along Michigan Street.

“I’m all about progress as long as it’s positive progress,” Peterson said. “There’s so many variables with this company that we don’t know about. The fact that it employs about 1,000 people; I don’t know where they’re going to get them, because everybody is struggling for staff.”

The proposed electric vehicle battery plant would be within a five mile radius of her business, if built.

She said the idea of bringing in the joint venture between General Motors and LG Electric leaves her with mixed feelings.

“I’m excited there’s possibility of increased business for us, I want to see New Carlisle stay on the map, I want us to be strong, but there’s too many variables to decide how I feel at this point,” she said.

She shared other concerns with ABC57 regarding the unknowns of this possible development project.

“I have huge concerns about all the farmland that’s being scooped up by corporations and different things,” Peterson said.

“It has the potential to be very positive just for St. Joseph County, I hope that nobody’s taxes go up because of the abatement and they’re going to be pulling at that aquifer like everybody else wants to,” she continued.

Peterson is not the only one with reservations about the plan. A local environmental group, the Open Space and Agricultural Alliance (OSAA) is not sold on the idea, especially considering a top priority of the group is farmland preservation.

“Some of these farms have been here since the civil war, and they’ve been in the families for generations,” said OSAA member Dan Caruso.

But Caruso, also a New Carlisle resident, is not vehemently opposed to the idea like some of his counterparts.

“I think this is a positive step,” Caruso said. “Let’s face it, this is much better than slaughterhouses and smoking factories. Everything is enclosed inside, and it’s the way they’re saying we’ve got to go. We’ve got to get away from fossil fuels, and this is a way to do it.”

What bothers Caruso, he said, is the historic lack of communication when it comes to the planning process for the IEC.

“There has to be input from locals, from people who actually live in the area,” he said.

Many OSAA members adorn their yards with signs, which have a red line crossing out IEC. The core center, roughly 6,000 acres, has been used for various manufacturing plants, but OSAA members do not want to continue sacrificing decades of agricultural growth.

“That sign says ‘NO IEC.’ From my perspective, ‘no IEC’ until you involve me,” Caruso said.

The St. Joseph County Council will start committee discussions on the tax abatement proposal for Ultium LLC Tuesday. After the committee process, it will go to public debate, starting Sept. 10.

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