Spesia & Taylor attorney Michael Stiff, on behalf of the Village of Rockdale, prevailed in having the Illinois Pollution Control Board’s decision on siting a Transfer Station within the Village, affirmed by the Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa.
In December 2014 Environmental Recycling & Disposal Service, Inc. (ERDS) filed an application for siting approval with the Village of Rockdale. The application sought approval from the Village to site a non-hazardous transfer station to accept municipal solid waste for temporary storage, consolidation and transfer to a waste disposal/treatment facility.
The application process is governed by Section 39.2 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, since the proposed transfer station is a “pollution control facility” as defined by the Act. The Village appointed a hearing officer and conducted public hearings over 4 days in March and May, 2015. In addition to testimony from the witnesses for the applicant, there was testimony and evidence taken from Waste Management of Illinois, Inc. and the County of Will. In addition to the evidence and testimony taken during the hearings, public comment was also taken, in person and by mail.
On September 3, 2015, at a Special Village Board meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously passed an Ordinance granting ERDS’ application for siting approval, with conditions.
Waste Management and the County of Will appealed the Village Board’s decision to the Illinois Pollution Control Board. After additional public hearings and evidence, taken by a different hearing officer, the Pollution Control Board on April 21, 2016 issued a 40-page decision affirming the Village Board’s decision and finding that the Ordinance was not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
On appeal to the Third District Appellate Court, Waste Management and Will County argued, as they did to the Pollution Control Board, that the Village Board lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter because the applicant, ERDS, did not comply with the notice requirements of Section 39.2 and that the Pollution Control Board’s decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence because several of the required criteria of Section 39.2 were not met. In addition, the County argued that the application was impermissibly amended, and Waste Management argued that the imposition of conditions by the Village Board was an impermissible amendment to the already allegedly deficient application.
The Third District Appellate Court, in an opinion by Justice McDade, affirmed the judgment of the Pollution Control Board, finding that the pre-application notice met the requirements of the Act, and that the Village Board had jurisdiction to review the siting application. The court also found that the application was only amended once, and rejected Will County’s contention that the application was improperly amended multiple times.
With respect to the arguments that the imposition of conditions by the Village Board was improper, Justice McDade considered this an issue of statutory interpretation, which was reviewed de novo. According to the Court, Section 39.2 states that the board may “impose such conditions as may be reasonable and necessary to accomplish the purposes of this Section,” and held that the Village Board’s imposition of conditions was proper.
Finally, with respect to the actual Section 39.2 criteria, the Court held that ERDS did establish that the transfer station is necessary to accommodate the waste needs of the service area, and that while conflicting evidence was presented on whether the facility was designed to protect the public health, safety and welfare, the Pollution Control Board’s decision that ERDS had met that criteria was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. The Court further determined not to re-weigh the evidence, noting that the Pollution Control Board indicated that the Village Board believed the testimony of ERDS to be more thorough and credible than that of Waste Management and Will County.
With respect to the final two challenged criteria, the Court found that the evidence revealed that the proposed facility was designed with operational features which will minimize the danger to the surrounding area from fire and spills, and that there was nothing in the record demonstrating that the application was not in compliance with Will County’s Solid Waste Plan. Therefore, the Pollution Control Board’s findings affirming the Village Board on those criteria was not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Justices Schmidt and Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion. Waste Management has filed petition for rehearing, which is still pending. No petition for rehearing was filed by Will County.