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Article updated: 11/29/2012 3:42 PM

Insurance Auto Auctions sends cease and desist letter to citizens group

By Lenore T. Adkins

Insurance Auto Auctions, which hopes to open in East Dundee, has fired back at a Barrington Hills-based citizens group that mailed a flier to more than 2,400 East Dundee residents, one the group says legitimately outlines its pollution concerns about the business.

But IAA doesn't see it that way. On Monday, Mary Mullin, an attorney representing IAA, mailed a cease and desist letter to the Northwest Suburban Citizens for Clean Water, which accused the group of "intentionally and/or recklessly circulating false and misleading information about IAA in violation of applicable defamation laws."

IAA sells totaled vehicles to the highest bidder and 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 in East Dundee.

The property lies near the Spring Lake Forest Preserve and would back up to Barrington Hills' Pond Gate Farms. Subdivision residents, along with others in neighboring communities, started the movement against IAA. In the mailing, the group -- which now numbers more than 320 -- says it's concerned leaky fluids from the vehicles will pollute the local groundwater. Besides the flier, the group's opposition efforts have involved a petition opposing IAA and frequent appearances at East Dundee village board meetings.

The letter from the IAA attorney addresses four allegations the citizens group recently made about the company's business practices in a recent mailer.

In the letter, IAA essentially says it is not a junkyard, that it does not have a long history of polluting its communities and that the chances of it polluting the local groundwater supply with leaky auto fluids are remote.

IAA also explains in the letter that it moved to a polluted waterway in Washington State three years after it was declared a superfund site, and that it and other entities along the waterway have been asked to provide information to the federal EPA. An EPA spokesman has said IAA and more than 100 other entities in that area are being investigated to determine who polluted the waterway.

IAA accuses the group of using the mail, Facebook and an Internet petition to defame the company and is ordering it to stop.

But Marvin Husby, one of the members of the group who wrote the flier, takes exception to that characterization.

Husby lives in Pond Gate Farms and said he wrote the flier based on information from IAA's 2011 financial report, documents from Barrington Hills about pollution concerns and a visit to the IAA facility in Wheeling. The group will meet to discuss its next move and has until Dec. 7 to respond to IAA's demand.

"IAA's trying to muzzle the community group," Husby said. "We plan to try to continue to gain support against the project and if I was an East Dundee resident, I would be concerned to have a corporate citizen within my village who, when they have a dispute with their neighbor, runs to their attorneys."

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