The official countdown to a decision on what would be the first municipal waste transfer station in Lake County has begun.
Groot Industries Inc. filed an application on June 21 in Round Lake Park for a facility at the northeast corner of Route 120 and Porter Drive that is designed to accept up to 750 tons of waste each day.
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Permitting a transfer station in Illinois is a two-step process that first requires local siting approval, followed by a permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Round Lake Park village officials have 90 to 120 days from the date the application was filed to schedule a public hearing.
The 1,215-page document addresses nine criteria, including the need for the facility, the affect on the character and value of surrounding properties and the impact on traffic. The document is available at the Round Lake Park village hall, 203 E. Lake Shore Drive, and at the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County website.
"The clock has started. The state has made this a pretty rigorous process for the applicant," said Walter Willis, Solid Waste Agency of Lake County executive director. "It gives interested parties a chance to have their voices heard."
In 2010, Groot made a former lumber yard on Porter Drive its headquarters for waste hauling operations in Lake County, and it has installed a compressed natural gas fueling station there to assist in the conversion of its vehicle fleet.
The company also has state permission to build a construction and demolition debris recycling facility on 14 acres immediately south of that site, and now has begun the official approval process for the Lake Transfer Station on about 4 acres nearby.
At a transfer station, garbage trucks dump their loads on a cement floor, and the trash is transferred to larger trucks to be taken to a landfill. Transfer stations are regarded by Groot as a cost-effective measure to combat dwindling landfill space.
Both SWALCO and Lake County have approved host agreements that, among other things, call for payments to each of 45 cents per ton of trash.
Safeguards, such as daily street sweeping and litter pick up, were added to make the facility "more acceptable and compatible" with the area, Willis added. The agreement sets the open date of June 2016, although that can be changed upon review.
Waste agency member communities in April voted 32-1 in favor of the agreement, with Round Lake as the sole dissenter.
The village is compiling information on various aspects, including whether other communities have successfully fought such an application, according to Mayor Dan MacGillis.
"I still do not want this anywhere near the residents of Round Lake. Our residents will be impacted," he said.
The facility is proposed to be within 1,500 feet of some Round Lake homes, he added, saying the village doesn't think the minimum state requirement of 1,000 feet is adequate. But hiring experts to rebut the application can become an expensive endeavor, and village officials have not determined a specific course.
"We're still fighting," MacGillis said. "It's an uphill battle."
The Round Lake Park village board has to make a decision within 180 days from the time the application was filed. It can approve, approve with conditions or deny the proposal.