In the corner of a Gibson County bean field, Greg Kissel’s roots are planted.
“We built the place and got a couple acres out here,” he says smiling in his sunroom. “We made it home,” he says.
A lot has changed in the last 30 years, but he’s not going anywhere. Neither is the farmland that flanks Interstate 69’s path near his front year and through Gibson County, despite local leaders pushing to grow more than just crops.
I-69 between Evansville and Bloomington is considered by many a black hole for restaurants and gas stations. It will remain that way for the time being, at least in Gibson County.
An area that had exclusively grown crops for decades was looking at the possibility of sprouting retail development. It pitted many neighbors against some county leaders, and now it’s back the drawing board.
“We feel it would be in our best interest to have zoning,” Jim Stephens, Executive Director of Gibson Co. Chamber of Commerce.
For the last six months, County Commissioners have spearheaded an effort to develop I-69 with commercial space. There’s not a lot on that 100-mile stretch between Evansville and Bloomington.
Kissel isn’t as strongly against the idea as some of his neighbors. “We didn’t have the support to go forward with it, and so we decided to end that process,” says Stephens.
County leaders have given up and disbanded the group aimed to change zoning laws. Gibson County is one of 12 Indiana counties without county zoning.
Officials hoped county zoning would give protections to developers and encourage them to build.
“You never want to say never,” Stephens says, “but for the time being I think it’s time to move on and pursue other avenues.”
For now, it is still just corn and beans that’ll grow out there.
(This story was originally published March 8, 2018)