Proposed Round Lake ski hill's opponents call it a 'dump,' but mayor says 'it's not a landfill'
Residents and others concerned with a request to annex 94 acres for a fill site that would create a year-round ski hill in Round Lake have stepped up efforts to make their case and voice concerns.
Opponents are questioning the track record of the would-be fill site operator and what they say are a lack of specifics for the proposal to create a 200-foot ski hill using a synthetic snow substitute.
The ski hill would be constructed with clean dirt and clay that comes from construction projects around the region, according to the village.
"It's not a landfill," Mayor Russell Kraly said. "Never has been, never will be."
Village officials say they are aware of questions and concerns and are incorporating dozens of revisions to the annexation agreement in advance of an official vote.
"It's not that people are opposed to development," said Dan Cordoba, who created a Facebook page after attending a public hearing on the matter in June. He grew up on Townline Road, and his parents and the family landscaping business still are there.
"Where are the details of this actually looking like a legitimate business plan?" he asked.
A notice on the village website says the ski hill proposal is not on the village board's regular or committee of the whole meeting agendas for Tuesday. The feedback is appreciated, officials say, and they urge residents to take online postings with a grain of salt.
"Many of the statements are incorrect, and the village board encourages you to review the project for yourself and not believe everything you read on social media," the statement reads.
Kraly said residents have had their say in three public meetings. "People are only going to hear what they want to hear," he said, and he is hopeful that on Sept. 19 village officials "can answer everything and calm things down."
"Stop the Ski Dump" is a grass-roots group that met through shared concerns. Group members have been contributing in various ways to spotlight the plan and share information.
"We've gotten 120 new members in the last five days," Cordoba said last week of the Facebook page, which has grown exponentially. As of Thursday, the site had 618 members. He said only facts are posted.
Meanwhile, village officials are considering more than 40 revisions to the proposed annexation agreement to include soil sampling and monitoring, water monitoring, a reworded escrow/bonding agreement and other protections.
The changes were submitted by Trustee Pat Duby, a construction manager who builds hospitals for the federal government.
Duby said he submitted the changes "to protect our citizens from traffic, pollution and other environmental concerns and to better protect the financial interests for the village." He said he plans to write a lengthy post on the grass-roots Facebook page listing the added measures.
According to Duby, Kraly also is requiring the applicant, CHDS LLC, to have a signed agreement in place with the manufacturer of Snowflex and put money down on that contract.
As outlined in the annexation agreement, the hill -- which would allow for downhill skiing, snowboarding and tubing and related amenities -- would be developed in three phases over seven to 10 years.
The daily number of trucks would vary depending on the availability of dirt and the weather.
Cordoba and his parents are among 10 residents represented by attorney Kenneth J. Ashman, who has been sending information to village trustees and Kraly regarding CHDS LLC and its owner/operator, Dan Powell.
Since 2017, Powell has operated a material processing center on village-owned property at Wilson Road and Route 120, near the proposed ski hill site.
The Lake County Health Department conducts inspections of the composting operation at the facility on behalf of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The agency found violations that remain unresolved, according to information presented to the village board.
Powell's attorney, David L. Shaw, said the dispute covers only 1 acre of the 50-acre site and involves the acceptance of landscape waste for composting under the site's original permit.
He said there has been no resolution despite ongoing talks and will contest a complaint recently filed in Lake County circuit court.