CORTLAND – Cortland Township residents will gather today to vote on whether to pursue legal action in an attempt to stop the landfill expansion planned by Waste Management.
At 7 p.m. today at the Cortland Township offices, 14 S. Prairie St., all registered voters in Cortland Township are invited to vote on whether there should be a tax levy to cover an estimated $60,000 in legal costs to seek an injunction against Waste Management.
Opponents of the landfill expansion hope a judge will provide a favorable interpretation of a statute that could give townships authority to control garbage disposal within its own boundaries.
The DeKalb County Board superseded the township’s vote against the landfill expansion almost three years ago.
Frankie Benson, organizer of the special meeting, said she did not know the exact motions that would be voted on as wording could always change and more items could be added.
The two proposed action items read as follows: To authorize the township electors to assess a special levy to all township parcel owners to cover the legal costs of the above authorization and to retain the firm of Jeep & Blazer; and to authorize the township electors to open a special account for donations towards legal expenses.
Benson said the special account would assist in covering legal costs should voters pursue action.
Cortland Town President Robert Seyller said while he and many in Cortland have never been in favor of the expansion, there is little that can be done to stop it.
He said the town was voiceless in the process, which is why he reached out to Waste Management and secured benefits for Cortland should an expansion go through.
The town would receive roughly $1 million for projects the taxpayers would not have to fund and roughly $30,000 for firefighter training related to potential landfill emergencies.
Seyller said the town also was able to negotiate an increase in the protection zone from a half-mile to one mile for property value protection and stricter well-water monitoring.
“The general public thinks we somehow have the ability to say no, but we had absolutely no control or voice in the process,” Seyller said. “We basically got run over by a bus and backed over a couple times to show we have no voice.”
Benson, however, has not given up the fight. She encouraged all township residents to come out, discuss the issue and vote. She said those who do come out should be prepared for cold conditions because of poor heating in the facility.
“I hope as many Cortland Township electors come to the special meeting as possible. We need to hear from each other,” she said. “It will be very cold and we will do our best with heat but everyone should bundle up.”
If voters choose not to challenge the expansion, Waste Management would be closer to growing its landfill to accept garbage from 17 other counties including Cook. The additional garbage would generate enough revenue to fund the $27 million DeKalb County Jail expansion.