Real Wealth Society

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I’ve been thinking about postscripts By Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after April 15th

I’ve been thinking about postscripts. Actually I’ve been thinking about the landfill, criteria/ stipulations, the advisory committee, Shaw Environmental/ mitigating factors, the eastern 88 acres, the CCOC, and the Rochelle City Council. This past Wednesday the Rochelle City Council, sitting as the siting authority, approved the application for the expansion of the landfill located between the Village of Creston and the City of Rochelle. This was a highly controversial matter which has been passionately dividing our communities for a decade now. From the onset of this go-around, I was frequently asked if I was going to do a column on it – my response was always: “not until it’s over.” So… here are my thoughts and how I feel about the outcome because "it's over."

You see we have witnessed a truly remarkable process whereby everyone was given their full opportunity to listen to the professional presentations and make their personal comments known to one and all. I was amazed (and proud) of how courteous and thought provoking the hearings/ commentaries proceeded. I shouldn’t have been because we have a lot of good people here who are proud of their community and have valid concerns. Nobody (myself included) really “wants” a waste depository in their backyard, but refuse disposal is a fact of life in our consumptive society. I feel, however, that in all honesty I can both accept and live-with the decision reached by the Rochelle City Council for the reasons which follow.

It is difficult enough to get any landfill, or any landfill expansion, approved by meeting the nine criteria mandated the State of Illinois and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. To these the Rochelle City Council added thirty-seven more conditions and requirements; thirty-two of the additional requisites apply to Criteria two (Health and Safety) alone. These show that the Council have raised the bar - placing far more caveats and conditions on themselves and the City Manager than any other group in the State who ever sought such a facility. This puts teeth in what Ken Alberts described as being a good neighbor. An independent five-person “Landfill Advisory Committee” is also a requirement.

The professionals of Shaw Environmental gave a detailed presentation at the hearing as to the containment features of their design. They will also be a part of the construction phase; supervising every step of that construction. Their design is far more involved than the two predecessors, and would more than meet all the state-of-the-art containment mandates WITHOUT considering the mitigating factors of that layer of red hard-pan clay which naturally is part of the proposed location. This clay has been both a blessing and a curse for anyone building a residence in Creston before the advent of our recent sewer system. It was the driving force behind Creston’s initial industry – the brick and tile works in the 1800’s. There are also specific guarantees in place for Creston’s present (and future) water wells.

This current proposal was well below half the capacity of the height and footprint from the initial proposal. The 40 acres of the Babson farm, plus the 88 acres acquired from the Village of Creston, have been precluded (by specific stipulation) from ANY future expansion. Developing the eastern 88 acres as a permanent industrial park is currently one proposal under consideration for the use of that land. This would clearly provide a buffer for the new home construction anticipated to the Southwest of Creston.

Those members of the Rochelle City Council - sitting as members of the siting authority and those of the Concerned Citizens of Ogle County (CCOC) are all very good people and can take a great deal of pride over what transpired these past months. Some of them I know personally - and have for years; others I know only by reputation. They all take a sincere interest in this community, or they wouldn’t have subjected themselves to such a long and costly process. All respected our system of representative democracy as well as the public’s right to protest and speak out (or speak up). Face it, this was a hard decision - you’re damned by some if you do and you’re damned if you don’t by others. What I do know is that every effort was made to keep the public in the loop, to make available reams of data/information, and to give each and every person a chance to speak. Given the parties involved (and what is at stake), I have every expectation that this waste depository will become THE model, and set THE standard for the entire State of Illinois. I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

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