CHICAGO | The Cook County Board on Tuesday approved a resolution urging Gov. Pat Quinn to approve a new law banning landfill expansion or creation anywhere in Cook County.
The resolution was sponsored by Commissioner William Beavers, whose Far South Side district includes the Land and Lakes landfill at 138th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue that straddles the Chicago/Dolton border.
The board’s action came despite one commissioner saying she believes it interferes with local government control. But another commissioner said he thinks the action by county government was long overdue.
Land and Lakes wants to annex the Chicago portion of the landfill into Dolton to allow it to circumvent a Chicago moratorium on landfills. The state law, if approved by Quinn, would make that attempt a moot point.
In approving the resolution, the County Board put itself on the side of environmental activists in Chicago’s 10th Ward and surrounding suburbs who want the Dolton portion of the landfill to close down when it reaches capacity some time next year.
Beavers said he believes the Land and Lakes landfill will keep “spreading” into nearby forest preserves unless the county specifically forbids it.
“This is my area. I’m representing it,” Beavers said. “I don’t want it!” he said of a landfill.
Agreeing was Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy, D-Crestwood, who said, “This is a detriment to any development we would want in the Dolton area.”
The only commissioner to oppose the resolution was Elizabeth Doody Gorman, R-Orland Park, who said she thinks the actions of Dolton government should be respected. The Village Board earlier this week rejected a resolution that would have stopped expansion of the landfill.
But Commissioner John Fritchey, D-Chicago, who served more than a decade in the Illinois House of Representatives, said many of his former legislative colleagues sought out his opinion on the issue when it was before them last month, and many were surprised that Cook County did not take a stance on the issue back then.
“This was an intensely lobbied bill,” Fritchey said. “I had people asking me, ‘Where is Cook County’ on this issue?”
Land and Lakes officials said in a prepared statement they were "confident" Quinn would see harmful effects to the bill, which they say include "creat(ing) significant budgetary challenges for the already cash-strapped village of Dolton" and "strip(ping) decision-making authority from local communities" when it comes to landfill location.
But Tom Shepherd of the Hegewisch neighborhood-based Southeast Environmental Task Force called the board’s action “wonderful.” He said, “I hadn’t heard they were going to do anything about this,” adding later, “Maybe we should have been talking with them about this issue all along.”
In a separate move, the County Board approved a resolution urging the federal government to provide the Illinois International Port District with a $14 million grant to rebuild a century-old dock wall at the Iroquois Landing Lakefront Terminal.
The dock wall is near the mouth of the Calumet River at Lake Michigan, and is part of the Port of Chicago — the largest cargo port on the Great Lakes.