Our View: Time to dump landfill protests

Published: Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 5:30 a.m.CDT

Illinois’ 2nd District Appellate Court ruling upholding the expansion of the Waste Management landfill south of Cortland looks like the end of the legal challenges on the matter.

At least, it ought to be.

The citizen-led group Stop the Mega-Dump was within its legal rights in challenging the DeKalb County Board’s decision to allow the expansion.

It appealed first to the Illinois Pollution Control Board – which upheld the county’s decision – and then to the appellate court – which upheld the pollution control board’s finding – saying the County Board had allowed for more public participation in its hearings than required by law; that its members had not taken improper tours of another Waste Management landfill; and that there was no proof board members had made up their minds before the issue came before them.

There’s nowhere else for the anti-landfill group to turn short of the Illinois Supreme Court, which might decline to hear the case.

Dan Kenney, organizer of Stop the Mega-Dump, told Daily Chronicle reporter Jeff Engelhardt that the group was still mulling its options. Members might appeal to the state Supreme Court, or they might mount a challenge on behalf of Cortland Township residents, who held a 2010 special meeting of electors, where those in attendance voted to oppose the expansion.

But it seems the only real beneficiaries of continued legal appeals would be the attorneys who work on them.

The decision to allow the landfill expansion was made more than two years ago. Two higher bodies now have upheld it.

At the Cortland Township meeting in 2010 – a five-minute video that can be seen online on YouTube – a gathering of residents said by simple voice vote they would not allow the expansion of the landfill in the township.

But the County Board’s authority trumps that of the township. If the Cortland Township vote really made a stronger case, it would have been the one the opponents went with in the first place.

It’s understandable that an expansion that would allow the landfill to accept as many as 2,000 tons of trash a day would be unpopular. At some point, however, the community and the company should be allowed to move forward.

The impact of the expansion has not been felt. Waste Management has assured residents that a larger landfill will not endanger their health and safety.

Rather than expending more time, energy and money trying to stop an expansion that seems inevitable, perhaps those who oppose it should shift their focus to ensuring the company keeps its word.

Make sure that the landfill can fit safely within the community.

If there are signs that it does not, they should raise their voices again and demand that any problems be addressed.

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