Public to get another venue for comment on proposed truck terminal in Grayslake

Some residents oppose Saia Inc. plan to build facility for big rigs in Grayslake

Residents and others concerned with a proposed truck terminal in Grayslake will get another chance for input after an unusual maneuver by Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor did not proceed Tuesday as planned.

Instead, a move to change a sanitary sewer agreement to serve the area south and west of Midlothian and Peterson roads where Saia Inc. wants to build a $14 million facility was withdrawn by Lawlor from the county board agenda and referred to its public works committee for review Jan. 7.

"As I worked through the issue, it was evident we had the votes to pass this, but it would be better served to send it to the committee," he said.

On Monday, Lawlor cited extenuating circumstances for including the item on the agenda during what traditionally is a nonbusiness meeting to approve rules and committee appointments. The company wanted to close on the 33 acres by the end of the year and said it wanted approvals in hand by then or it would look elsewhere, Lawlor said.

County board rules would have allowed the maneuver, he asserted.

However, some involved in the issue contended it was bowing to corporate pressure, and suspending the rules to add the sewer vote would have required a two-thirds board majority.

Grayslake resident Barbara Klipp, an environmental activist who had questioned the placement of the agenda item, thanked Lawlor and county board members "who stood up for us" to ensure a "full and fair" process.

"Win or lose on the merits of our case, the integrity of the process was upheld today, which is tremendously important," Klipp said. "We are delighted to see that the Lake County Board has, once again, held true to its deep commitment to the public for transparency and fairness."

Grayslake annexed and zoned the property last August. Mundelein subsequently sued Grayslake, the property owners and Saia, arguing, in part, the 24-hour facility would diminish property values because of noise, traffic and light pollution.

Lawlor said there have been seven opportunities for public input during the process. The questions now are whether there is available sewer capacity and whether the proposal is in tune with the county's comprehensive plan. Grayslake receives sanitary sewer service through the county, and any change must be approved by the county board.

Saia officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Lawlor said a Saia representative was at the meeting. The company representative did not speak.

"I'm confident we can convince the company to wait one month," Lawlor said. "I believe there has been a public process, but this just takes it a step further."

He said the county wants to be aggressive in attracting and retaining business but also requires public input. The facility also would include truck repair and maintenance facilities. Sixty people would be hired, the company has said.

While some concessions, such as a much larger landscape berm, were added to the original plan, opponents have argued the facility is too close to homes along Winchester Road in Mundelein and that truck traffic, exhaust and noise from the operation would be detrimental.

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