Opposition to West Chicago facility from St. Charles neighbors is growing

Opposition to a second waste transfer station on Powis Road in West Chicago is growing from both residents of the city and officials in neighboring St. Charles.

Those objections, however, could be premature. As West Chicago City Administrator Michael Guttman points out, Lakeshore Recycling Systems has yet to submit its anticipated application for a station at the 27.8-acre facility.

In fact, it's been 20 months since West Chicago approved a basic “host community benefit agreement” with Lakeshore that detailed the economic perks for the city if Lakeshore receives approval to expand its operations by adding a waste transfer station.

Local opposition began almost immediately, much of it coming from a group identifying itself as Protect West Chicago.

The opposition grew significantly last week when the St. Charles City Council, concerned about additional garbage truck traffic on its streets, unanimously passed a resolution challenging Lakeshore to show that a waste transfer station at 1655 Powis Road won't adversely impact its residents.

St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina and City Administrator Mark Koenen said at last Monday's city council meeting they'd been in contact with their respective West Chicago counterparts about the station.

“The intent here is not to in any way, shape or form disparage or say that West Chicago should not put a transfer station on the property in their corporate limits,” Rogina said. “What we're saying is we want to protect our residents with respect to environmental concerns, with respect to truck traffic, etcetera.”

Guttman, while acknowledging communication, said there is little to discuss with St. Charles. Until an application is submitted by Lakeshore, which then instigates a rigorous review process, West Chicago officials are at a standstill with the issue.

“I don't know if there's going to be an increase in traffic because we haven't gotten an application,” Guttman said. “The application will hopefully lend some insight into that and the public hearings associated with it will do the same.”

Members of Protect West Chicago expressed a number of concerns in a letter to West Chicago residents. They also questioned why the application — expected this fall — was not filed.

“This massive increase in garbage capacity would mean increased odors, more litter and wear and tear on our roads while lowering our value of our homes.” said Nick Dzierzanowski, a West Chicago resident and a co-signer of the letter, in a release.

Lakeshore Managing Partner Josh Connell cited a fluid situation in the industry as a reason for the delay. He also noted the complicated nature of the application that, according to Guttman, includes several binders of information.

Guttman said once the application is submitted, there's a list of nine criteria that must be met, including that the facility is “necessary to accommodate the waste needs of the area it is intended to serve.” At least one public hearing must be held before the West Chicago City Council decides the fate of the station.

According to the host agreement, the station would be limited to a maximum average of 1,500 tons of municipal solid waste a day and West Chicago would receive $2.45 per ton. The city currently receives about $650,000 annually from the other waste transfer station on Powis Road, which is operated by Groot.

The Lakeshore facility in West Chicago currently operates a construction and demolition debris transfer station. It also stores empty garbage trucks overnight that serve communities during the day, including St. Charles.

The waste transfer station would allow filled garbage trucks to temporarily dump refuse on the ground. The refuse would be hauled away from the site by semi trucks to landfills, meaning no garbage would be stored at the West Chicago facility.

Even though garbage trucks already currently travel between St. Charles and the Lakeshore facility in West Chicago, the St. Charles City Council voiced concerns.

“Although we might not be able to stop this from happening, as it is in West Chicago, I would think we might have some control over garbage truck traffic,” said St. Charles Alderman Lora Vitek. “I bring this up, too, because I received some complaints recently from residents about the current garbage truck traffic, so I would assume this would compound it.”

Other aldermen, though, questioned opposition to something that hasn't even been proposed.

“I understand our concern, trust me, but we don't even know what the plan is yet,” said St. Charles Alderman Ron Silkaitis. “How can we object to something that we don't even know what they are building?”

Until the application sparks the review process, Guttman said it would be irresponsible for West Chicago officials to take a stance.

“We'll need to judge it on its merits,” Guttman said. “The city of West Chicago in these processes can't just say we don't want it. We can't prejudice the process and express an opinion at this time.”

  Lakeshore Recycling Systems in West Chicago has expressed interest in adding a waste transfer station to its facility, which has concerned local residents and the St. Charles City Council. Brian Hill/
  The St. Charles City Council passed a resolution asking Lakeshore Recycling Systems in West Chicago to show its planned expansion won't adversely impact St. Charles residents. Brian Hill/
  The St. Charles City Council, concerned about additional garbage truck traffic on its streets, passed a resolution challenging Lakeshore Recycling Systems to show the expansion of operations won't adversely impact its residents. Brian Hill/
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