Winnebago Landfill expansion approved in 20-3 vote
Online Staff Report
In a 20-3 vote, the Winnebago County Board approved July 11 the 222-acre expansion of the Winnebago Landfill, which beginning in 2020 will extend from Lindenwood Road to Interstate 39.
Board members Dave Fiduccia (R-4), Steve Schultz (R-2) and Wendy Owano (R-5) voted against the expansion. Lynne Strathman (R-1) abstained from the vote. Those who voted for the expansion and those who were absent are listed at the end of this article.
The expansion of the landfill is not expected to begin until 2020, when the landfill is projected to reach its capacity. The expansion will reportedly extend the life of the facility to 2045.
The board’s approval gives Rock River Environmental Services permission to seek permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the construction and operation of the expansion. According to Rock River Environmental Services CEO John Lichty, the permit process could take as long as four years.
The proposed expansion of the landfill drew sharp criticism from area residents concerned with the stench of the landfill, traffic, property values, litter issues, environmental concerns and possible litigation.
With regard to the odor, Lichty said controls would be put into place to cut down on the smell emanating from the landfill.
Former Winnebago County Board member and frequent contributor to The Rock River Times, Paul Gorski said in a July 11-17 guest column that the board should postpone its vote until a new board is in place. He cited legal, environmental and economic development concerns in supporting his view.
In his guest column, Gorski suggested “the county risks an unnecessary lawsuit, and the expenses a lawsuit entails, by voting on the landfill expansion now.
“The landfill expansion process requires all testimony supporting or opposing the expansion be presented in open, organized hearings,” Gorski’s column said. “However, just months before the landfill expansion hearings, the county board voted on two other pieces of landfill-related legislation. Testimony or input regarding the landfill expansion may have been introduced, without the opportunity to rebut or challenge the information. Allowing testimony to be presented outside the hearing process lays the groundwork for a lawsuit challenging the process.
“Waiting until a new board is in place later this year will avoid that conflict of interest, as the new board is technically a different board,” Gorski said.
Schultz reportedly voted against the expansion because of concerns with economic development in the area near Interstate 39 and Baxter Road, near the site of the landfill expansion.
In a move that has surprised and angered many Rockford residents and local officials, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (D) announced July 10 the Commercial Drivers’ License facility at 3816 Auburn St. would be closed July 29 and relocated to 4752 Baxter Road in September, in the area near the landfill expansion. The Auburn Street facility is the city’s only west-side driver’s license facility.
While the landfill expansion drew intense criticism from opponents through both letters and public hearings, hundreds more reportedly supported the expansion.
Following are Winnebago County Board members who voted in favor of the expansion: Isidro Barrios (D-11), Ted Biondo (R-9), John Cabello (R-8), Frank Gambino (R-14), Angie Goral (D-7), John Guevara (R-13), Pearl Hawks (D-6), Kevin Horstman (R-5), Gary Jury (R-3), Bob Kinnison (R-10), L.C. Wilson (D-12), Fred Wescott (R-9), Jim Webster (R-2), Dave Tassoni (D-7), John F. Sweeney (R-14), Rick Pollack (R-13), Dianne Parvin (R-4), Marc Gasparini (R-1), Kay Mullins (R-8) and Kyle Logan (R-3).
Dorothy Redd (D-6), Joe Hoffman (D-11) and John Ekberg (R-10) were absent.
Posted July 12, 2012
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