Typically, when a controversial issue comes before a state agency, both sides line up expert testimony and evidence. The information is presented in a public hearing with that state agency.
It is a process that is not new in Madison County and results in thousands of dollars being spent by both sides. Officials with the public agency then decide which expert testimony to accept and which to reject, similar to a court case when a judge instructs jury members to determine which testimony and evidence they deem to be the most accurate.
The first local example of a company seeking to move forward with a planned development that faced a well-organized and well-financed opposition was the battle over the Mallard Lake landfill in Richland Township.
Through Indiana Department of Environmental Management hearings and court cases those opposed to the Mallard Lake plan presented testimony from hired experts to counter those of the landfill-backing JM Corporation.
Finally, the JM Corp. received a permit for the Mallard Lake landfill to proceed. To date the landfill has not opened.
A similarly long process is again looming over the proposed Mounds Lake reservoir.
The Anderson/Madison County Corporation for Economic Development is currently conducting an impact study through a $600,000 state grant.
During a panel discussion hosted by Heart of the River, a coalition of groups opposed to the landfill, hydrogeologist Anthony Fleming said the only way the public can fight the reservoir is through testimony and evidence that points out concerns with the project.
Fleming said he could undertake a study for the Heart of the River, but would have to be paid for his work. Several panelists said that the permit process for the proposed reservoir would take years. Public hearings would also have to be conducted by IDEM and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.