ANDERSON, Ind. —
For the first time since construction on a wetland restoration project quietly began last summer, residents of a neighborhood off County Road 600 West on Monday night had an opportunity to tell Department of Natural Resources officials why they are against it.
About 30 people armed with questions and criticism attended the public hearing at the Anderson Public Library.
Among their concerns were the prospects of the project becoming a giant breeding ground for mosquitoes and that the plans as drafted might make things in their neighborhood worse during floods.
There was also a healthy dose of mistrust.
“The water is not going to drain as it was meant to,” said Moe Glover, a neighborhood resident. “We need your help.”
Madison County and state officials halted construction on the project in the 1600 block of 600 West in Jackson Township last summer because a consulting firm didn’t obtain required permits before starting to build berms and levees on the 11.4-acre parcel.
That particular land was chosen to offset the loss of wetlands at an upscale private golf course and community miles away in Hamilton County called The Bridgewater Club.
Indiana law requires a mitigated wetland to be constructed in the same county or along the same river watershed. The 600 West property fit that criteria because of its location on a designated floodplain of the nearby west fork of the White River.
Brent White, an engineer and area resident, said he was concerned about whether project managers had obtained necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, telling DNR officials that the project managers were required to file a flood plain improvement plan before proceeding with work.
Ted Blahnik, the president of Williams Creek Consulting Inc., attended the hearing but did not speak, saying it was not the proper forum.
However, he said it wasn’t until his crews arrived on-site that the existence of a legal drain on the property became known. Since then, he said his company has worked cooperatively with county officials to rebuild the drain.
Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.
Markita L. Shepherdson, senior environmental manager of technical services for the DNR Division of Water, said she was unsure when the department will reach a decision on the project.
Her office will draft a memo, which will be reviewed by other department staff before that occurs. If area residents disagree with the findings, they have the right to appeal.