An ordinance calling for the city of Anderson to join a commission that would handle planning for a proposed $450 million reservoir has won initial approval from the central Indiana city's council.
The Anderson City Council voted 7-2 Thursday to pass the first reading of the ordinance that calls for Anderson to join the Mounds Lake Commission. That multi-governmental agency would oversee planning of the proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir, which would be created by damming the White River in Anderson and create a lake stretching seven miles.
The ordinance's second reading is expected June 11, with a third and final vote coming later, The Herald Bulletin reported.
Councilman David Eicks, who voted for the ordinance, said his vote was in favor of finding "all the factual answers" about the proposed reservoir.
"I don't think anyone could vote up or down on the project at this point," he said Friday.
The proposed commission would include government entities from Madison and Delaware counties, including the communities of Anderson, Chesterfield, Daleville and Yorktown. It would plan for the development, financing and construction of the reservoir, along with zoning and land use in the area.
Madison County Corporation for Economic Development Executive Director Rob Sparks, who's spearheading efforts to build the reservoir, said the commission is needed to answer questions and move the project forward.
"This project is large in scope, $440 million," he said. "I think a project as large as this is needs to have the oversight of elected leaders."
Supporters say the reservoir would be a boon to Anderson, raising real estate values, drawing tourists and spurring economic development while providing another water supply for central Indiana.
The project's opponents, including Heart of the River and the Hoosier Environmental Council, say the reservoir isn't needed for water supplies and warn that the project would waste millions of dollars, flood a stretch of the river, destroy wildlife habitat and threaten historic sites.
"We are committed to opposing this project for as long as it takes," said Sheryl Myers, a spokeswoman for Heart of the River.
The Delaware County Council recently voted unanimously to oppose the proposed reservoir project. The council passed a resolution calling on the county's commissioners to join in opposition to the project. The commissioners will meet Monday to discuss the project.