More than 100 residents attended the Morton Grove board of trustees meeting Monday to learn more about a proposed transfer station at 6132 W. Oakton St. adjacent to the corporate headquarters of Lakeshore Waste Services.
A presentation on the status of the potential project was given by Village Administrator Ryan Horne. The potential petitioner, Lakeshore Waste Services, has not submitted a formal application to move forward on the project.
Once that were to happen, it would take at least six months to move the project forward.
Close to 20 people voiced their oppositon to the proposal during the public comments which lasted close to two hours, Horne said.
"Everyone is feeling cheated that there wasn't enough infromation ahead of time about this issue," said Tom Maddex, a member of The Citizens to Stop the Morton Grove Transfer Station.
Maddex said one bright spot in the meeting was when Trustee Daniel DiMaria suggested town hall meetings be held on the issue to keep residents more informed.
"One of my problems was that our group was the one trying to tell people about this project; when I asked how many people at the meeting found out about it through the village website, no one raised their hands," Maddex said.
"When I asked how many were made aware [of it] by our group's communications, 80 percent of the hands were up in the air," he said.
The Citizens to Stop the Morton Grove Transfer Station was formed in mid-July, in response to the spring agreement between the village and Lakeshore Waste Services regarding safeguards on the project.
"We started with a group of eight [homeowners] on Cleveland Ave., and decided we had to do something about this, because it really is in our backyard," Maddex said.
People began asking how they could get involved and help us to make sure this transfer station does not come into the village, Maddex said.
A former principal in Chicago who now lives in Morton Grove spoke in opposition of the project, according to Maddex, and said at the meeting if something like this happened near his former school, parents would be up in arms to protect their children.
"When the parents of Niles West Township High School learn about this project that would be located right near the high school, it's not going to be pretty," Maddex said.
Another concern expressed was in regards to the size of land necessary for the transfer station, that would potentially handle 500 tons of waste a day.
"Some of the residents did personal research and found such a transfer facility would required at least 10 acres of land," Maddex said.
Lakeshore Waste Services is situated on five acres, according to Horne.
"Because a project of this type is handled by a regulatory agency [the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)], residents might not understand that we cannot take a stance on this," Horne said.
"If the area is too small, I would think the EPA would not move foward with [Lakeshore's] the application," Horne said.
Horne said what was in the village's power was to negotiate a safeguard by requiring Lakeshore, if they were to file an application and move forward with the project, to reimburse the village for all legal costs which could amount to close to $400,000.
"I know residents were discouraged to learn the village has to remain neutral on this," Horne said. "We have no power to say no to it, due to it being overseen by the EPA."
Horne admits there are strong emotional concerns about the issue, and said he understands why people are emotionally charged up about it.
Concerns remain about increases in truck traffic, health hazards, the smell of garbage, lowering of property values and losing the character of Morton Grove by having a transfer station in the village, Horne said.
Meanwhile, at least one of the residents opposed to this project doesn't appear to be backing down.
"This is a battle that the residents will not allow [Lakeshore] to to win," Maddex said.