Meet John Doe: Pollution Control Board agrees to hear landfill expansion challenge

August 29, 2012

By Paul Gorski

Local resident and business owner Martin Maggio is challenging the Winnebago County Board’s decision to approve the expansion of the Winnebago Landfill. Maggio’s challenge was filed Aug. 15. The Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) agreed to accept Maggio’s petition for a hearing Aug. 23.

IPCB records indicate Maggio appealed the board’s decision because “the County Board did not have proper jurisdiction to conduct public hearings on WLC’s application due to failure to serve notice, and that the proceedings were not fundamentally fair.”

Furthermore, the IPCB’s initial response to Maggio’s challenge states “no evidence now before the Board indicates that this action is duplicative or frivolous. The Board accepts petitioner’s petition for hearing.” These records may be found at http://www.ipcb.state.il.us/COOL/External/CaseView.aspx?case=14490.

Maggio is challenging the process that led to the county board’s decision. He is not challenging the landfill based on air, water or land pollution allegations. Maggio is challenging the expansion hearing process at all levels: hearing notification, hearing meetings, and evaluation of evidence presented at the hearing, and evidence possibly presented outside the hearing process. Again, these are alleged violations, not confirmed.

I’m not surprised by the challenge. I’ve written previously about my concerns regarding problems with the expansion hearing process and how overlooking simple procedural steps and rules of order could invite such a challenge.

So what now? According to IPCB records, an initial phone call status meeting with all involved parties is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29, the purpose of which is to discuss the status of the matter and the “readiness for hearing.” Subsequent meetings will undoubtedly be held. The IPCB has until Dec. 13 to render a final decision.

The IPCB could agree in whole or in part with Maggio. If the IPCB finds fault with the hearing process, we might see a new series of landfill expansion hearings. If the IPCB only finds fault with the county board, then the matter may simply go back to a new board for a vote. If the IPCB rules in favor of the county and landfill, or renders no decision at all, the county/landfill wins the challenge, and the expansion continues.

If you have noticed landfill odors, report them to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency at http://www.epa.state.il.us/pollution-complaint/. To be fair, we have two major local landfills. The odors you smell may not necessarily be coming from the Winnebago Landfill. Your reports won’t affect the appeal mentioned in this article, but the Illinois EPA might consider your reports as it reviews the expansion application.

Paul Gorski (http://www.paulgorski.com) is a Cherry Valley Township resident and a former Winnebago County Board member.

Posted Aug. 29, 2012

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