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Cook board rejects effort to resurrect landfill restrictions

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
by Gregory Tejeda

The Cook County Board on Wednesday rejected an effort by one of its members to institute a ban on landfill operations anywhere in the county.

Commissioner John Fritchey, D-Chicago, wanted a county ordinance that says landfills can’t operate in Cook County, saying he fears the state law that bans landfills in the county could someday be repealed or altered in ways to put the landfills back in business.

Fritchey tried introducing a resolution to that effect, only to have it rejected earlier this week by the County Board’s environmental control committee.

Fritchey on Wednesday tried to get the full County Board to reject the committee’s report. He said his intent was to keep the issue alive and create the possibility that the board would actually approve his proposed ordinance.

“If action is taken by the full board, I believe (the proposal) would be passed,” Fritchey said.

But after much confusion and multiple explanations from the board’s parliamentarian, the board voted 8-8 on Fritchey’s request to reject the committee report, with Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, D-McCook, voting “present.”

Area Commissioners Joan Patricia Murphy, D-Crestwood, Deborah Sims and Stanley Moore, both D-Chicago, were among the eight commissioners siding with Fritchey on the issue.

Moore's district includes the River Bend Prairie Landfill at the Chicago-Dolton border that has inspired much of the landfill debate during the past year. “My residents have made it clear to me they don’t want any landfills,” he said.

The commissioners who opposed the proposed ban both Tuesday before the environmental control committee and Wednesday before the full board, have said they believe the county measure would force the existing landfill to shut down immediately, whereas the state law that prohibits it from expanding would force its shutdown only when it reaches capacity, which is expected sometime later this year.

Fritchey said he hopes the issue can be addressed in the future, while Moore said he will always consider it a priority.

Less concerned about the issue was county board President Toni Preckwinkle, who kept quiet during debate Wednesday. She said later, “There’s already state legislation on this issue. That’s why it was decided that (her staff) would be neutral.”

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