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McLean County Board advances proposed waste transfer station

Pantagraph - 2/15/2024

Feb. 15—BLOOMINGTON — The plan for a controversial solid waste transfer station on the southern edge of Bloomington advanced Thursday when the McLean County Board accepted findings of fact for the project.

Lakeshore Recycling Systems, owner of the local waste management company Henson Disposal, submitted an application in August for a solid waste transfer station at 2020 Bunn St. in unincorporated McLean County.

In order to determine whether the project would meet the nine statutory requirements laid out by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, a public hearing took place over two days, Nov. 29 and 30, to demonstrate the need for the project. Members of the public also were given another 30 days to submit feedback to the county.

By accepting the findings of fact, the board acknowledged the filings and public feedback were in order, moving the project next to a hearing before the Illinois Pollution Control Board at a date to be determined.

McLean County Board Chair Catherine Metsker said the board received multiple requests to speak on the proposal during Thursday's County Board meeting but they were denied due to restrictions imposed under state law.

"The Illinois Environmental Protection Act requires the County Board to base its decision on evidence submitted at the (Nov. 29-30) public hearing, and the public hearing only, as it applies to each relevant factor," Metsker said.

This also led to the removal of several signs reading "LDS Don't Dump on Bloomington" that were brought by attendees.

Representatives of Republic Services, which operate a transfer station at 2112 Washington Road that collects solid waste for shipment to the Livingston Landfill near Pontiac, had argued that the project was not necessary to accommodate the waste needs of the area it is intended to serve.

Board member Susan Schafer said Thursday that according to her observations, the applicant used census data to estimate the amount of municipal solid waste requiring disposal in the affected service area.

However, the applicant also added additional student populations from Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities, which would have been included in the census data and therefore inflated the estimates.

"Additionally, the projected increase in recycling in the future was not considered, which will further reduce any perceived need for this facility," Schafer said.

The construction of the transfer station also would require the creation of a new road, HDI Court, leading to the facility.

To ensure that the project complies with public health and safety requirements, the county stipulated that a final plat of the subdivision be prepared prior to the issuance of any construction permit, that the applicant would be responsible for the maintenance of any landscaping buffers, and that the applicant shall construct the new road and all intersection connections to county standards.

The board voted 11-6 in favor of adopting the findings of fact with members Schafer, Geoff Tompkins, George Wendt, Beverly Bell, Chuck Erickson and Natalie Roseman-Mendoza voting no.

Chair Metsker did not vote and board members Lyndsay Bloomfield and Randall Knapp were absent.

Roseman-Mendoza said she is a resident of the mobile home park directly across from the proposed site and voiced concerns about the impact additional truck traffic would have on the maintenance of adjacent roads.

"There are numerous homes not counted as residents because they are in that mobile home park and they are not classified as residents," she added.

Tom Kirk, co-owner of Henson Disposal, said that board's decision could be subject to an appeal, which could push back any planned construction. However, he said the County Board's decision was a huge step in the advancement of the project.

Contact Drew Zimmerman at 309-820-3276. Follow Drew on Twitter: @DZimmermanLee


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