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Stop the Mega-Dump appeals to Illinois Supreme Court

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – Stop the Mega-Dump is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to halt progress on an expansion of the DeKalb County Landfill.

The citizens-led group is challenging an appellate court decision that stated the Illinois Pollution Control Board was correct in its ruling that county proceedings were not fundamentally unfair during public hearings on a landfill expansion proposal.

The high court is expected to make a decision on whether to hear the case between January and March.

Dan Kenney, organizer of Stop the Mega-Dump, said that while there is only about a 5 percent chance the court will take the case, residents have encouraged the group to keep fighting.

“We felt that the whole process is still fundamentally unfair,” Kenney said. “We don’t think we got a fair response from the appellate court.”

The appeal claims “fundamental fairness” in landfill siting proceedings has “eroded” because of recent decisions in Peoria and Yorkville, where the Illinois Pollution Control Board has supported local procedures that raise serious concerns.

“The trend observed in these cases is that pretty much anything goes during the landfill siting process in terms of improper communication of participants with decision makers,” the petition states. “The court ought to accept review to reassert the minimal standards of fundamental fairness.”

If the court decides to reject the case, the legal maneuver will still serve as a delaying tactic while Cortland Township residents organize. They could file a class-action lawsuit to stop the landfill expansion.

During a Stop the Mega-Dump meeting in November, leaders urged Cortland Township residents to argue that their objection to the landfill trumps the county’s decision to green-light the project. Their objection was submitted to the DeKalb County Board in writing during public hearing proceedings.

Kenney pointed to an Illinois statute that states township residents can prevent the deposit of garbage within township limits – including at refuse disposal facilities. It has never been tested in court.

DeKalb County Administrator Gary Hanson said the county hoped to start landfill expansion work as early as possible and was not sure how the delay would affect the project.

The landfill expansion has been targeted as the funding source for a $27 million jail expansion project for the county to deal with major overcrowding issues. The landfill would generate the revenue by charging a tipping fee for accepting other counties’ trash.

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