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Article posted: 4/13/2013 8:00 AM

Garbage transfer station plan for Round Lake Park cleared for next step

By Mick Zawislak

Dual approvals this past week by the Lake County Board and the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County have cleared the way for the next step in what could be a lengthy process to build and operate a garbage transfer station in Round Lake Park.

In separate actions, both entities convincingly approved a host agreement, which outlines various control measures and fees to be paid, for what would be the first garbage transfer station in Lake County.

At a transfer station, standard garbage trucks dump their loads on the concrete floor of an enclosed building. The trash is loaded onto bigger trucks to be taken elsewhere and is not stored overnight.

Groot Industries Inc. has proposed such a facility on about 4 acres at the northeast corner of Porter Drive and Route 120 but has not made an official application to the village, which has siting authority and eventually will vote on the plan. Building the station represents a long-term strategy for the company, which has said transfer stations will be cost-effective alternatives as landfill space dwindles.

Having an approved host agreement is a requirement under county rules for any party that wants to pursue a transfer station, but it is not an approval of the project itself.

"What we are doing is not going to mean that anybody can build a transfer station yet," Lake County Board member Pat Carey of Grayslake said before the 19-2 vote on Tuesday in support of the agreement.

On Thursday, the SWALCO board, comprised of 41 entities and the county, approved the measure 32-1. Round Lake was the sole dissenter, as village officials and residents have vowed to fight Groot's plan.

The impact on already depressed home values, truck traffic and other considerations have been among the concerns raised during several public meetings involving the proposal since last fall.

"I can't express the horror and the worry and such that our village is feeling. These people are truly worried about their homes, their families and their life quality," Round Lake village Trustee Susan Triphahn told the county board. She asked that the matter be delayed a month for further discussion of various potential impacts.

"We have heard loud and clear from our community," said fellow Round Lake Trustee Don Newby, who with Triphahn was re-elected Tuesday.

Triphahn also is the village's SWALCO representative and cast the "no" vote on its behalf, as recently directed by the village board.

Some county board members disagreed with Triphahn's contention there had not been enough public input.

The next step is for Groot to submit what is expected to be about a 1,000-page application to Round Lake Park. That will trigger a quasi-judicial process -- with opportunities for appeals -- governed by state statutes.

"Traffic and property values will be dealt with during the siting process," said Walter Willis, executive director of SWALCO. "That's where things are debated, experts are put on."

The county also has regulatory authority from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to inspect transfer stations and landfills, providing for local control, Willis said.

"We're able to focus a lot more attention on the sites we have in Lake County," he said.

As proposed, the 27,800-square-foot facility would accept about 750 tons of garbage per day. The host agreements with the county and SWALCO call for Groot to pay each 45 cents per ton of trash.

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