Whiteland OKs Bright Farms addition to Mohr industrial park

The long-debated Mohr Capital annexation plan for Bright Farms will proceed, more than six months after Mohr withdrew its proposal.

The Whiteland Town Council unanimously approved the project Tuesday, freeing up 154.5 acres of farmland for Mohr Capital to build on. Mohr will add to its planned industrial park off Whiteland Road near Interstate 65. The town council had already granted Mohr 233.9 acres of farmland alongside the interstate for future development.

Mohr broke ground on an about 827,000-square-foot industrial lot last week, and will break ground on an additional lot — this one more than 1 million square feet — in less than two months. Both those lots are part of the same logistics park that the Bright Farms property will be part of.

Mohr Capital initially planned to invest up to $350 million in the industrial park, which would include 11 warehouses ranging in size from 111,000 square feet to 1.3 million square feet. The town said that could change as plans are still being finalized.

Most of the fanfare leading up to the vote occurred last week, during the Whiteland Plan Commission meeting, when several members of the public, many of whom live near the Bright Farms property, spoke out against the project. They cited concerns about light and noise pollution, semi-truck traffic on Tracy Road, a popular thoroughfare in New Whiteland near the Bright Farms property, and whether there would be adequate buffers between the property and nearby homes.

To get council approval, Mohr Capital committed to conducting a traffic study, and will look at the possibility of physical changes to roadways to allow trucks to turn south before they reach Tracy Road. Mohr Capital also committed to an 80-foot-wide area, along with a 12-foot berm, to help create a buffer between the property and nearby homes.

Additionally, Mohr Capital will work with individual homeowners who have concerns, including one who said their yard was damaged during the Cooper Tire project, said Matt Price, attorney for Mohr Capital.

Though there was no official public hearing during the meeting, the town council allowed two remonstrators to speak. Heather Stone, a Whiteland resident, said the project would lower property values.

“How the warehouse fits into our neighborhood undoubtedly affects us — it doesn’t fit,” Stone said. “My residential values will plummet. No one wants to live next to a warehouse.”

Another resident, Matt Stephenson, questioned the timing of the project.

“Why are we pushing this forward right now?” Stephenson said. “Maybe it will help some people, but does it help the town, the community right now?”

The project will create jobs for struggling families, said Rick Shipp, Whiteland’s police chief.

“Families are arguing and people are out of a job. This is instrumental in bringing jobs to our community,” Shipp said. “We’re a small town starting to grow big. This generates more money for our public safety, our fire department, our police department. We’ve done an excellent job so far, and this builds on it.”