The Northwest Suburban Citizens for Clean Water, a Barrington Hills-based group that's trying to keep an auto auction company from opening in neighboring East Dundee, mailed a flier out to 2,409 East Dundee residents that urges them to fight the proposal.
Insurance Auto Auctions, which sells totaled vehicles to the highest bidder, hopes to build a 12,000-square-foot building and 34 acres of outdoor storage north of Route 72 at Commonwealth Drive in a reclaimed gravel pit. It lies near the Spring Lake Forest Preserve that would back up to Barrington Hills' Pond Gate Farms subdivision. The proposal is expected to create 25 jobs.
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But the clean water group, which has 324 members, says it is fearful fluids from the vehicles will leak into and contaminate groundwater in the surrounding area. Insurance Auto Auctions is now working on a plan to comply with regulations from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, the citizens group has launched an aggressive campaign against the proposal, which includes the mailer it sent out last week.
Here are some of the flier's larger claims:
• "IAA is under investigation for its involvement in a contaminated superfund site."
What research shows: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Ecology Department are investigating IAA to see whether it contributed to the pollution of a superfund site in Washington, but the scope of the investigation is much larger than that. The EPA has mailed letters to more than 100 other companies around the site to find out which is or are responsible for the pollution to determine who will be on the hook to pay for its cleanup, said Mark MacIntyre, an EPA spokesman. IAA leases property near the area but didn't move there until three years after it was declared a superfund site.
• Claim: "East Dundee is spending millions of tax payers' property tax dollars ... to pay IAA to put a junkyard in East Dundee bordering the forest preserve."
What research shows: While the village board has created a tax increment finance district -- where property tax revenue above a certain point goes to development rather than local governments -- to include that land, negotiations are ongoing and a dollar amount has not been set, East Dundee Village Administrator Bob Skurla said. That eventual figure could be in the millions, he said. Any money IAA would get would allow the company to recapture some of the property tax money it pays in exchange for developing in East Dundee. "That would be part of a redevelopment agreement which hasn't been final enough to take to my board," Skurla said.
• Claim: "If you live in this area, you can also expect heavy truck traffic, noise, rats and other ugliness."
What research shows: Company spokeswoman Jeanene O'Brien said vehicles are transported by tow trucks and that noise has never been an issue. The claim about the rats is false, she said. "Certainly we do not process food, we do not have a history of attracting rodents and we are within an industrial area," she said.
• Finally, the flier features a picture of a junkyard next to a photograph of an open field. Marvin Husby, one of the Barrington Hills residents who helped write the flier, admitted that he pulled a random junkyard photograph off the Internet because the actual picture someone shot of an IAA facility in Wheeling was too low-resolution to be used in the flier.
"I think what the flier actually says is that this is what it could be," Husby said, when asked whether the photograph was misleading. "I don't say that this is what it is."
IAA's O'Brien took issue with that image, which shows heaps of motorcycle and auto parts strewed together. That is not how IAA operates, she said.
"They're not stacked on top of one another, they are in rows that are typically marked on the ground so that they are very straight and orderly," she said.