Judge denies group’s efforts to stop VA’s Crown Hill cemetery project

The Indiana Forest Alliance filed a lawsuit against the VA back in December to stop the building of a cemetery. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Construction could soon begin on a new national cemetery in Crown Hill’s north woods. This comes after a judge denied a local group’s efforts to stop the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from building there and knocking down around 14 acres of forest in the process.

The Indiana Forest Alliance filed a lawsuit against the VA back in December. They claimed the VA didn’t follow the proper process when it came to finding and choosing a location for the cemetery.

24-Hour News 8 first told you about the VA’s plan to build a national cemetery in that location back in September. Since then the trees have stood untouched, but that soon could change.

“They could start moving heavy machinery to lay out where the road is going to be and be marking which trees are going to go and which are going to stay in the next few days, next week,” said Jeff Stant with the Indiana Forest Alliance.

Stant said that’s what the group was trying to prevent. IFA has been working for months to stop the VA’s plans and save the trees.

“Our objective was to save a rare ecological jewel for Indianapolis for posterity, for the public to be able to use and enjoy this forest… it is looking like that is not going to happen and it just it makes you feel really despondent,” said Stant.

Stant said he supports the VA’s project, but wants to see it built elsewhere. He said he was shocked at the judge’s ruling.

“I thought the merits were so strong. The fact that they didn’t look at a single alternative site or make a single effort to approach the surrounding community and let them know this is what we are doing, they just glossed over that,” said Stant.

The Indiana Forest Alliance plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

Representatives for the VA were unavailable for comment.

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