'Let's let the dust settle': New rules for waste hauling go live in unincorporated Lake County
New rules for landscape burning restrictions and waste hauling in unincorporated Lake County went live Wednesday, and officials say they will stay atop any issues during the transition.
"This is a milestone, but it's not the end of the road for us," said Eric Waggoner, Lake County's director of planning, building and development.
That promise is especially important to county board members representing northern areas, who say they have been inundated with calls regarding a new trash pickup service.
"We will keep an eye on things and will continue to coordinate daily, weekly and monthly with the haulers," Waggoner said. "Let's let the dust settle."
In a 13-7 vote on Jan. 11, the county board enacted new permanent rules for burning landscape waste to include a ban on grass and leaf burning.
At the same time, five-year waste hauling agreements were approved with two companies, one for the northern half of the unincorporated area and one for the southern half.
Garbage hauling logistics came to the forefront Wednesday during Waggoner's report to the county board's public works, planning and transportation committee.
"I think you will have to agree this was not an easy transition," said Board Member Linda Pedersen, who represents the Antioch area. "One of the biggest issues in my district is the summer homes."
Pedersen's District 1 has the largest unincorporated area of the 21 Lake County districts. She said 30% to 40% of homes in her area are not occupied full time and garbage bins have been sitting unclaimed.
Some residents have paid their previous service for the entire year and are not getting reimbursed, while some seniors share containers because they generate little waste and are getting stuck with containers they don't need, she added.
"I lost count of my calls after 100," she said. "These last two weeks, I have been on the phone every single day with calls from these people."
Board Member J. Kevin Hunter, who represents Fox Lake, Ingleside and other communities, said the one-size fits all approach of the new county franchise doesn't work for everyone.
"I can't tell you the amount of time daily spent returning phone calls," he said. "This has been very difficult."
Despite their concerns, Hunter and Pedersen lauded the outreach and responsiveness of Waggoner and his staff.
Waggoner said the topics of landscape burning and waste hauling before and after the county board vote have been the subject of more public discussion and debate than almost any other issue in recent memory.
Every day for the past five months, his office has been coordinating with waste haulers, troubleshooting for residents and dealing with other details, he added.
"Lake County promised this would be an open, informed and extensive conversation with the public, and we have delivered on that promise," he said.