LOWELL | If the Lowell Town Council wants to formally begin negotiations for annexing a landfill and its adjacent land, it needs to formally say so, the attorney for Republic Services said Monday.
Attorney Jim Wieser, of Schererville, told the council during a work session on the topic his client is not asking to come into the town boundaries.
"Our position is: We are there. We exist. If the Town Council decides it's in the best interests of the town ... We're more than willing to work with the town," he said.
A Feb. 11 letter from Wieser to the council labeled as a "letter of intent" listed terms as a base from which negotiations could build. One was the company's desire to know that its special use zoning now in place would not change. The construction and demolition landfill is on Ind. 2 west of Lowell and east of U.S. 41. It has agricultural zoning on three sides.
That letter of intent prompted Monday's work session since two councilmen who oppose annexing the landfill — Craig Earley, D-1st, and Phillip Kuiper, D-4th — said they were being kept out of the loop.
Nothing said on Monday appeared to change their minds.
Council Vice President Don Parker, D-3rd, who chaired Monday's meeting at Council President Edgar Corns' request, said he was the one who initially contacted Republic representatives.
Wieser said he, Parker, Corns and Republic representatives subsequently met in late November. A request from Parker and Corns at that time led to the Feb. 11 letter, he said.
When Parker suggested Wieser return with a more definitive list of terms desired by Republic, Wieser said he believes his client would want Lowell to take the next step.
Planning consultant James Mandon said the annexation and land use maps the town commissioned from him indicate the sequence in which to annex. Going west should be the first step, he said. There is a greater return for the assessed valuation, and it would be easier to expand municipal services to the west, he said.
Annexing the landfill and adjacent Republic-owned acreage would give the town the opportunity to collect host fees, although how much Republic would pay would be a negotiating point. No numbers were mentioned Monday.
"I don't want the county making decisions that could affect Lowell. ... We should have some say-so. ... We need some control," Parker said of the landfill now in county jurisdiction.
Parker said the push west is intended to stretch town borders west and north, eventually to the U.S. 41/165th Avenue intersection where an Illiana Expressway ramp is planned.
Councilman Robert Philpot, R-2nd, said he observed from aerial maps that the landfill property extends over the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks to U.S. 41 frontage.
"This is enough, in my opinion, to continue talks," he said.
Earley expressed multiple concerns, but, in the end, said his constituents have said they don't want it.
Kuiper said he finds it difficult to understand why Republic would welcome coming into the town boundaries to pay host fees when it could save money with the status quo.