Mundelein joins agencies opposing Wisconsin's controversial deal for a Foxconn plant

Mundelein trustees have joined the Lake County Board, Lincolnshire and Gurnee in opposing Wisconsin's plan to waive environmental restrictions for a Foxconn manufacturing plant being built just north of the Illinois border.

The village board this week approved a resolution urging Wisconsin to enforce applicable environmental regulations on the project.

Foxconn is the world's biggest contract manufacturer of smartphones, computers and other technology products. The $10 billion plant is being built in Mount Pleasant, about 20 miles north of the Illinois border.

President Donald Trump, who heralded the deal, attended a groundbreaking ceremony last month.

Foxconn was spared from some federal and state environmental requirements as part of a $3 billion incentive package promised by Wisconsin legislators last year.

Perhaps most significantly for Illinois, the company is being allowed to fill 26 acres of wetlands without first conducting an environmental impact study. Those wetlands flow into the Des Plaines River watershed.

Gurnee and Lincolnshire are among the Lake County communities that experience floods from the Des Plaines River following heavy rains and snow melts. Filling in those wetlands without replacing them nearby could increase flooding, officials have said.

FoxConn water worries

Much of Mundelein is in the Des Plaines River watershed, and some areas flood after significant rains. But that flooding has more to do with an insufficient sewer system than the Des Plaines River's water level, Village Administrator John Lobaito said, and infrastructure improvements are planned.

Still, the village board wanted to support the communities that could be affected by the Foxconn development, Lobaito said.

Mundelein's resolution was based on a draft created and circulated by the Lake County Municipal League, a regional networking group.

Trustees didn't debate the issue before approving the resolution. It simply was one of three items approved in a group as part of what's called an omnibus vote.

Trustee Ray Semple said he was surprised to see it on the agenda.

"We probably won't have an impact on any changes," Semple said. "But it can't hurt."

The Lake County Stormwater Management Commission has urged Wisconsin lawmakers to reconsider the Foxconn deal, too. In addition, the Illinois Senate - in an effort led by Democrat Melinda Bush of Grayslake - adopted a resolution urging Illinois agencies to take action to prevent any ecological damage from the Foxconn project.

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