Lakeshore Waste Services dumps dump proposal in Morton Grove
Morton Grove resident Tom Maddex stands in front of the Lakeshore Waste Services facility in Morton Grove on Sept. 8. | Jon Durr~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:45PM
MORTON GROVE — Lakeshore Waste Services has dropped plans for a waste-transfer station near its office in Morton Grove, though company officials have not said what their plans for the site may be.
The company notified the village Sept. 7 that it would not pursue a proposal to open a transfer station at a site on Oakton Street near Lehigh.
The project was unpopular with area homeowners who came out in force last month to tell the village board about their concerns over traffic, odors, vermin and other potential problems.
In a press release from Lakeshore, sent out by the village, Lakeshore owner Josh Connell said the transfer station would have been a “compatible” use for the site.
“We continue to believe that a waste-transfer station would be a compatible and acceptable land use in Morton Grove, given the proposed industrial-park location and the strict environmental regulations that would govern its operations,” Connell said in the release.
He noted that waste-transfer stations are located near residential areas in communities across Cook County.
“I respect the public process and community involvement, and was fully prepared to begin meetings with residents in advance of submitting an application for a transfer station. Unfortunately, it became clear that an open, factual dialogue was going to be difficult to achieve,” he said.
In the press release he said Lakeshore may approach the village about another business use for the property adjacent to its corporate headquarters at 6132 Oakton St.
Connell said he did not have a specific timetable, but that Lakeshore would “reach out to the Morton Grove community to engage in fact-finding about a potential alternate concept before submitting it to the village.”
But Tom Maddex, who organized a citizens committee to oppose the transfer station, said he is trying to set up a meeting with Connell to talk about the future of the site. He said Connell has indicated he might ask to locate a recycling center on the site.
Connell could not be reached for comment.
But Maddex said he has some of the same concerns about a recycling center as he had about the transfer station: noise, odors and vermin.
“We’re still concerned with everything we were concerned with the transfer station,” he said. “If it’s still the same thing we’re not going to favor it.
“Recycling is a fancy word for managing garbage. We’re not sure that’s the answer to the problems here.”
The committee opposing the transfer station, Citizens to Stop Morton Grove Garbage Transfer Station, collected more than 200 signatures on an online petition. The group had planned to present it to the village once the total reached 300.
Though the transfer-station plan has been withdrawn, Maddex said he plans for now to keep the group active. Maddex said he organized the group after learning about Lakeshore’s original plans in July.
“It seemed so odd, so I just started talking to everybody about the transfer site” Maddex said, noting that most residents of Morton Grove he talked to didn’t know about the waste-transfer site plans either. “I received a lot of surprised and angry reactions and people wanted to know more.”
In response the village undertook an informational process including publishing a special newsletter dedicated to the transfer-station issue. The newsletter, published at the end of August, quotes mayor Dan Staackmann saying, “We take great care to wait until all the facts are understood before taking any final action.”
He also cited residents’ concerns that the village had not done enough previously to provide information about the transfer station.
Maddex noted that the city of Evanston has been in a struggle with Viola Environmental Services over a transfer station that firm operates in the city that could possibly be replaced by one in Morton Grove. Issues of contention include odor citations, fees recently imposed by the city and the firm’s claim that it is exempt from local zoning review.
The transfer station is used to consolidate multiple truckloads of garbage before the trash is hauled to an outlying landfill.
Niles Township High School District 219 is also following the issue in Morton Grove, though spokesman Jim Szczepaniak said the school district declined to take an official position until Lakeshore actually made an application. The facility as proposed would have been near Niles West High School.
Both the district and village note that the regulations governing waste facilities are set by the IEPA.
“Some of our local residents have begun to ask important questions about how having a waste-transfer facility so close to our school would affect the health and well being of our students,” said District 219 Superintendent Nanciann Gatta. “The safety of our students is our No. 1 priority.”
The site is not far from the location of an off-track betting facility proposed in 2006. But the board, then dominated by the Morton Grove Caucus Party, instead of approving it voted to ban OTB facilities.