Lowell councilmen criticized for meeting with Republic Services

2013-12-15T23:30:00Z 2013-12-27T01:23:17Z Lowell councilmen criticized for meeting with Republic ServicesMelanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 15, 2013 11:30 pm  • 

LOWELL | After being criticized by fellow councilmen earlier this year for discussing possible annexation of an industrial landfill, two Lowell councilmen met again with the landfill, incurring legal costs and the further ire of fellow councilmen.

Council President Edgar Corns said some councilmen might not appreciate the decision by him and Councilman Don Parker to continue talks on annexing Republic Service's 80 acre-landfill into town borders, but he feels it is right for Lowell.

"I was originally against the landfill," Corns said.

But he said the town has experienced 10 years of the headaches related to having it just outside its western door -- and no money in tipping fees. Annexation would equal control, Corns said.

Corns also said the landfill figures into his and Parker's goal to stretch the town's boundaries to U.S. 41 and 165th Avenue where the proposed Illiana Expressway could be accessed.

"We want to beat Cedar Lake there," he said.

Both Lowell Town Council Vice President Craig Earley and Councilman Phillip Kuiper said Corns called them in advance of the Nov. 18 meeting Corns, Parker and town attorney David Westland had with Republic Services officials. Earley and Kuiper did not support annexing the landfill.

"If our attorney hadn't been involved in it, I wouldn't be upset. But, they spent taxpayers' money doing this. ...We were never informed when the meeting was to take place, and we were never informed of the results of the meeting," Earley said.

He said he knew nothing until he saw the attorney's bill last week before the council's regular session.

Kuiper said the public has a right to know what is being discussed.

"You asked me for my support to negotiate for friendly annexation," Kuiper told Corns and Parker.

Kuiper said no negotiation is necessary for friendly annexation because there is a simple form at Town Hall on which such requests can be made.

Instead, Kuiper suggested a trade-off may be negotiated allowing for an 80-acre expansion to the landfill for coming into the town.

"That's a possibility," Corns said.

He said the county would eventually permit an expansion so the town should attempt to gain control and secure municipal revenues it could bring.

The landfill is used for construction debris and waste, not municipal garbage.

Jeff Langbehn, executive director of the Lake County Solid Waste District, said earlier this year the district receives $2.50 per ton of debris dumped at the facility.

Lake County Treasurer John Petalis said the waste district has received $718,026 over the past five years from the landfill owners.

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