Lawsuit looms, but work on controversial Grayslake truck terminal starts

Site work on a controversial truck terminal in Grayslake is underway, a move opponents said amounts to a gamble while it's been being challenged in court.

Earthmovers have been preparing the 33-acre former Roppelt farm at the southwest corner of Midlothian and Peterson roads in advance of a truck terminal planned by Georgia-based Saia Inc. The $14 million proposal calls for a terminal with 100 docks and vehicle repair and maintenance facilities.

The activity has surprised some observers.

“I knew nothing about them proceeding as a resident in the area,” said Sue Markgraf, who lives nearby and has been a vocal opponent. “I think it's very curious as to what they're doing over there since as I understand there's still a lawsuit pending.”

Grayslake officials last summer annexed and rezoned the property to accommodate the trucking facility and it has been the subject of debate since. Mundelein neighborhoods with hundreds of homes border the site to the south and some residents oppose the project fearing noise, emissions, traffic and other potential pitfalls.

Last October, the village with eight residents as plaintiffs sued Grayslake and Saia, disputing the validity of the annexation and zoning, saying the use didn't fit the location.

“Our complaint is it's an inappropriate use next to our residential,” Village Administrator John Lobaito said. “We think they're proceeding obviously at their own risk.” The complaint cites parking for 443 semi-tractors and trailers, 113 cars for the 24-hour operation.

Saia spokeswoman Jeannie S. Jump said there have been no changes to the company's plans to build and operate a terminal at the site, but she declined to provide further detail.

Besides the court action, securing municipal sewer for the project is still unresolved. In the interim, Saia is proceeding and has secured the necessary permits for access and construction.

“They've got permission to start and go ahead and build,” said Kirk Smith, zoning officer for Grayslake.

Saia also received a permit from the Lake County Health Department for a temporary underground holding tank for sewage. The permit is good for up to one year from the date of occupancy, according to Mark Pfister, population health services director for the health department.

The tank is a temporary measure while awaiting the extension of a sanitary sewer extension to connect to the Grayslake system, he added. The Lake County Board in a 17-4 vote in January approved Grayslake's request for a sewer extension.

Grayslake gets its sewage treatment through an agreement with Lake County, which in turn has a contract with the North Shore Water Reclamation District. That contract expired more than two years ago. Negotiations between the county and reclamation district continue, but the district last fall issued a moratorium on providing new wastewater service.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Roppelt family members have been dropped as defendants, according to Mayor Steve Lentz, because Saia purchased the property.

A status hearing is scheduled for July 31.

At the time of the county board approval, some members said the company's willingness to limit truck traffic and build a six-acre buffer to shield the view were among the actions that showed the company's flexibility and willingness to address concerns.

  Georgia-based Saia Inc. has received permits to build a truck terminal near Midlothian and Peterson roads in Grayslake. Neighboring Mundelein has sued the village saying the land use is incompatible. Mick Zawislak/
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