State to review controversial utility project

SMITHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The state will review plans for a controversial $10 million water treatment plant in DeKalb County due to opposition from a group of residents.

State officials told The Tennessean that it is the first time a citizens group has successfully petitioned for a state review of such a project.

DeKalb Utility District, which gets water from the city of Smithville, wants to build its own plant but a group of residents says it isn't necessary and it would raise their rates by 22 percent.

The lawyer for the district says opposition has been fired up by a public relations firm hired by the city to fight the project.

The case is being watched across the state, which has 180 rural utility districts that critics say operate with little oversight.

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