MUNCIE — The creation of an environmental committee under the the Muncie City Council prompted a lengthy debate and close vote with council members questioning the need for the committee as well as its usefulness.

Resolution 16-19, which came before council at the Sept. 9 meeting, called for the creation of an environmental impact committee, in hopes of avoiding future issues that might stir the community like the now-dead Waelz steel dust recycling facility. The resolution, drafted by council member Nora Powell passed 5-4.

The committee will be comprised of members of the city council who would be required to seek the advice and expertise of professionals in the community, including those from IU Health, Ball State University, the Delaware County Board of Health and members of the public.

Powell said the recent controversy over the proposed Waelz project was compounded by council members not knowing what committee would consider an economic resolution after the public expressed concern about health issues.

It could have been sent to one of three existing standing committees, but Powell said the creation of this one would provide an option specifically focused on environmental issues.

The vote on the formation of the committee was tied 4-4 before council member Linda Gregory broke the tie. Gregory, who originally passed when called on to vote, came back in favor of the project.

Nora Powell, Lynn Peters, John Hampton and Julius Anderson voted yes, while Dan Ridenour, Brad Polk, Doug Marshall and Jerry Dishman voted against it.

Council members and members of the public voiced different solutions to the same problem in a debate taking up more than half an hour of the nearly three-hour meeting.
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