Proposed waste transfer station clears final hurdle before county board vote

By Bill Dwyer for Chronicle Media

The McLean County Pollution Control Site Hearing Committee voted Jan. 29 to recommend the County Board approve the application by Chicago-based Lakeshore Recycling Systems for a second waste transfer station in south Bloomington. (McLean County Facebook photo)

A proposed second waste transfer station in south Bloomington appears likely to become a reality after the McLean County Pollution Control Site Hearing Committee voted Jan. 29 to recommend the County Board approve the application by Chicago-based Lakeshore Recycling Systems.

The Pollution Control Committee’s decision comes after a series of hearings in December regarding LRS’s application to build a 12,000-square-foot facility in south Bloomington near the 42-acre Henson Recycling Campus.

Individual McLean County Board members and staff were involved at various times throughout that hearing process. The issue now goes before the full McLean County Board for a final vote Feb. 15. If the plan is approved, LRS will still need to secure local building permits and final approval from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The Pollution Control Committee’s approval comes with conditions, including holding LRS responsible for some landscape maintenance and the construction of a new two-lane road to allow truck access to the HRC facility off of Bunn Road.

The proposed facility would take waste from individual collection trucks, sort it, compact it and load it on to larger trailers, which would then transport up to 400 tons of waste daily to landfills at other locations outside McLean County.

The facility would be allowed to receive collector trucks from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

While there has been significant public concern expressed, the proposed project also has wide support from area officials, including Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason, Normal Mayor Chris Koos and the McLean County Chamber of Commerce.

A 20-page “Recommended Findings of Fact and Recommended Conditions of Approval” was presented to the Pollution Control Committee on Jan. 29, by hearing officer and attorney Derke J. Price of the Ancel Glink law firm.

LRS’s plans have elicited criticism from some residents living close to the proposed site. Chief among their concerns were increased traffic and possible pollution.

Price addressed those concerns to the Pollution Control Committee, saying, “I found that the public comment, while important to understand the context of the application, was not focused on the statutory criteria in a relevant and “probative” way. The public comment, Price said, also “lacked sufficient evidence about the sources cited (i.e., an evidentiary foundation) as required by the statute and case law …”

Price said a licensed Illinois real estate appraiser testified to “the historical use of the subject property and surrounding area,” which includes recycling and other industrial operations. That expert, he noted, found that a solid waste transfer station “would fit within the highest and best use of the property.”

He also noted that the planned waste transfer station “is consistent with the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan.”

Republic Services, Inc., which currently operates the only other waste transfer station in McLean County, attempted to block LRS’s application, saying the site was within 1,000 feet of residential housing, that the application had not been properly noticed to neighbors and that a planned access road (HDI Court) was a “de facto private drive that serves only the transfer station.”

Price dismissed those arguments in order. “Under questioning from RSI and the County Board concerning HDI Court,” he noted, “(LRS) agreed that HDI Court would be a publicly dedicated road as part of the subdivision process.”

As for feared negative impacts on traffic, an expert testified that “the location, existing operations, and proposed route for the transfer trailers all minimized the impact on existing traffic flows.”