After about a year of assorted delays and strong resistance from neighboring Barrington Hills, East Dundee trustees gave the green light for a wrecked auto auctioneering business to come to town.
But the Barrington Hills residents who fear leaking fluids from Insurance Auto Auctions' vehicles will pollute the groundwater, and who hoped to defeat the measures Monday, say they aren't finished just yet.
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"It's the ending of one part of the process and probably the beginning of another," Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin said after the vote, noting that the group will meet to discuss its next steps, which could include legal action. "We've got other access avenues to look at, but yeah, this is not a positive development."
Village President Lael Miller says he's not intimidated because the village has done nothing wrong.
"I'm confident in the engineering in this, that it's been over-engineered, so I'm not concerned at that point," Miller said of the IAA project. "We certainly wouldn't do anything that might contaminate the groundwater."
With Monday's unanimous votes, IAA will receive $3.5 million through a special tax increment finance district the village created for the company last year, freezing property taxes to local governments at a certain point and funneling tax revenue above that point back into the development. The money will help IAA offset the nearly $9 million investment it plans to make in the village.
It is expected to bring 25 jobs to town and generate $210,000 a year in tax revenue year for the village. The board also approved a new industrial subdivision for the project that moves its access point to Healy Road.
IAA will now construct a 12,000-square-foot building north of Route 72 at Commonwealth Drive and use 34 acres of outdoor storage for the totaled vehicles it would stock before auctioning them off to the highest bidder. Construction would start later this year and last about six months. The facility is expected to process 25,000 vehicles a year.
"We are working closely with East Dundee officials toward the opening of an IAA facility in the area," IAA spokeswoman Jeanene O'Brien said. "This remains a priority for us and we are looking forward to working with the community."
Monday's votes followed about 13 minutes of comments from four Barrington Hills residents living in Pond Gate Farms, the subdivision that borders IAA's future home in East Dundee.
About a dozen Barrington Hills residents attended Monday's meeting, including two children. Although the agreement calls for regular water testing and other protective measures approved by several engineers and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Barrington Hills residents still aren't convinced IAA will be a good neighbor.
Dr. Divyang Joshi of Barrington Hills fears the polluted water will cause cancer in children and babies, and likened IAA to a large tobacco company that "knows where to flex its muscle."
Another resident, Carl Lowry, noted IAA's environmental issues in other states, which include:
• Settling a 2011 lawsuit in New Jersey by paying $350,000 for site improvements and $150,000 for related fees. The lawsuit accused IAA of violating state pollution laws, but the allegations were never proven.
• Paying a total of $10,144 in fines to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for failing to collect and analyze water samples in Portland.
"The pollution that their industry has brought to other areas of the country is offensive," Lowry said. "They don't appear to be good corporate citizens in my opinion, and I don't understand why the wonderful town of East Dundee would want to have an organization like this at their front door."
But new Trustee Dan Selep defended IAA and said the village is holding the company to a higher standard. The proposal dragged on for almost a year in part due to the time officials took in making sure the site is safe, officials said.
"We really did our due diligence with the final report," Selep said. "I believe we went above and beyond the required codes and I believe IAA is a great company."