Both the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Waste Management must sign off on any redevelopment plans for Settler's Hill landfill and the surrounding 700-acre campus before any of the amenities are built.
But several Kane County Forest Preserve District commissioners indicated Thursday they believe those approvals are a foregone conclusion.
Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit said both Waste Management, which oversees the landfill, and the IEPA knew the landfill site would be redeveloped some day. Hoscheit said the IEPA required an end use plan be part of the plan that created the landfill.
"This plan is consistent with the end use plan they approved," Hoscheit said. "There could be issues with draining and grading that are technical in nature, but the concept of the plan has already been embraced by the IEPA. It would be crazy for us to spend money advancing a plan that we thought we had no chance of getting approved."
That's exactly why several other commissioners want some review and written approval by both Waste Management and the IEPA before the redevelopment plans progress. Commissioner Jim Mitchell cited the unexpected elevated levels of methane gas recently detected at the landfill as additional reason to seek more reassurances.
"We have a golf course right now with a pipe running across the entrance to mitigate the gas," Mitchell said. "I do not want us to get into the middle of something, spend taxpayer money, and have them say you have your own liability. If we get sued for millions, their verbal agreement won't mean a whole heck of a lot."
Commissioners expect to have in hand a letter from Waste Management within two weeks.
A more formal process of approval from the IEPA is required as the redevelopment plans do represent a more detailed vision of the end use plan than when the landfill first opened.
Commissioners now expect to move forward with public hearings on the overall redevelopment ideas. Mountain biking, even now that it's removed from the east section of Fabyan Woods, may see even further scrutiny in the public hearing process.
Commissioner Mark Davoust joined a previous concern cited by Commissioner Myrna Molina that the proposed mountain biking trails on the landfill are still too close to the woods to trust that bikers won't continue to blaze their own trails in the woods.
In fact, Davoust said he's leaning toward pushing for total removal of any mountain biking trails at the Fabyan campus.
"Some uses just don't mix," Davoust said. "I'm quite skeptical about the mountain biking and its proximity to the existing homes and the golf course."
Commissioners said they plan to have a schedule in mind for the public hearings detailing how they would phase in the various amenities at the campus during the course of several years.