Lake County Board's trucking proposal hearing questioned

Residents near the Mundelein/Grayslake border say scheduled action Tuesday by the Lake County Board involving the site of a proposed truck terminal is an unusual, if not unprecedented, maneuver that bypasses the normal review process in response to a corporate threat.

The special call meeting, beginning at 9 a.m., traditionally is held to approve rules and make appointments to county board committees. This time, the board also will consider changing an agreement with Grayslake to extend sewer service to the truck terminal site south and west of Midlothian and Peterson roads.

"We all support economic development, but at what price?" asked Barbara Klipp, a Grayslake resident and activist on environmental issues. "We want a full and fair process, which we feel we're being denied."

The area adjoins Mundelein, and residents and village officials from that community also are expected to ask that the vote be delayed or the proposal defeated.

"We are in the middle of negotiations with Grayslake about this," and bringing it up now could interfere with talks, Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz said. The village on Oct. 30 filed suit against Grayslake and other parties regarding the $14 million proposal.

Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor said it is an economic development matter and timing is the driving factor regarding a proposal by Saia Inc. to build and operate a 24-hour, 100-dock terminal.

"It is an extenuating circumstance. We heard from the company they wanted to close on the property by the end of the year," Lawlor said. "They wanted to get the approvals done or would be looking elsewhere."

He described the addition of the sewer service item to the agenda as a "once in a blue moon occurrence," but he said it is allowed under county board rules.

Opponents argue the matter has not gone through the usual county process, including consideration and a recommendation by its public works and transportation committee, which last summer indefinitely tabled the matter.

"This is an issue that has been through a number of public bodies," Lawlor said. He said there are no county business or committee meetings scheduled for the rest of the year.

"We have the authority to do this," he said of adding the item.

In August, Grayslake annexed and zoned the 33-acre property, known as the Roppelt Farm, for a $14 million truck terminal. Grayslake receives sewer service through the county, and an expansion of the service area requires county approval.

"This is not a land use decision," Lawlor said. "This is a decision based on our county's policy whether there is sufficient capacity" to provide sewer service.

Lentz said the plan would have a "huge impact" on residents in neighboring subdivisions in terms of pollution, traffic and other factors. But Mundelein, which does have sewer capacity to serve the area, may accept the development "under certain circumstances," he said.

Klipp noted Grayslake and Mundelein have new representatives on the county board who have not heard previous public comment and that a "full and fair committee hearing" is warranted.

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