Truck terminal plan in Grayslake clears a key hurdle

A truck terminal proposed in Grayslake received a key endorsement from a Lake County panel Wednesday, but opponents vow to continue fighting.

"It was a huge step," said Grayslake Mayor Rhett Taylor, a supporter of the plan, after the Lake County Board's public works and transportation committee a recommended extending sewer service to the terminal site.

"I'm very disappointed in their decision and firmly disagree," said Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz, an opponent of the proposal. "It's not over."

Committee members said both sides made good points, but the decision was based on the request for sewer service and not what is being proposed on the site.

Grayslake receives sewer service through the county and wants to extend it to a 33-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Midlothian and Peterson roads, known as the Roppelt farm. That would allow the terminal proposal to move forward.

"This is not for a land-use decision," said Nick Sauer, vice-chair of the county committee. "This is a sewer deal."

The 9-0 vote followed about two hours of presentations and public comment regarding the proposal by Saia Inc. of suburban Atlanta, and its implications on the area. The terminal would operate 100 docks 24 hours a day, along with repair and maintenance facilities.

The committee last August indefinitely tabled the matter.

However, in an unusual maneuver, county board Chairman Aaron Lawlor last month scheduled it for a vote by the full board, saying Saia told him it wanted to close on the property by the end of the year. Lawlor ended up withdrawing the matter from the board's agenda so it could get a public airing at the committee level.

"I think the sense of urgency was manufactured," Barbara Klipp, an environmental activist and resident of the Prairie Crossing community in Grayslake, told the committee on Wednesday.

Jesse Kelly, Saia's real estate manager, said the company operates 147 terminals in 34 states, including one in Burr Ridge.

"We're proposing this location because of the demand that's showing itself to us," he said.

The project would include a number of landscaping and design features to buffer the facility from homes and limit noise, traffic and emissions, the committee was told.

"We realize we're not an attractive business to a lot of people. But we listen and are able to design our facilities to promote the best situation," for the surrounding area, Kelly said. "I think it's going to be the best looking facility we have in our portfolio."

That will hinge on whether the full county board agrees to provide sewer service, which would be equivalent to that of 24 homes. Libertyville and Mundelein also border the property and were considered as options, according to Hal Francke, special counsel for Grayslake for this issue. Grayslake annexed and zoned the property last August, contingent on it receiving sewer service.

"They're (Saia) the ones taking the risk," said Bonnie Thomson Carter, who heads the committee. "They knew what all their options were. They made a business decision to go with Grayslake."

Lentz said Mundelein has spent millions to provide sewer service to the area and envisions a business park there. He contends Saia's proposal is not consistent with the county's comprehensive plan and also violates "the spirit of Grayslake's (comprehensive) plans and the letter of ours."

In late October, Mundelein and several residents living south of the site filed suit against Grayslake and Saia, reiterating those concerns and contending the zoning and annexation ordinances are invalid.

"Mundelein's trustees and I will do everything legally possible to defend our residents against this violation of our community's charm and appeal," Lentz said Wednesday afternoon.

The full board is expected to consider Grayslake's request at it meeting Tuesday.


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