WINNEBAGO COUNTY - Rock River Environmental Services claiming victory Thursday night as the Winnebago County Board voted overwhelmingly in favor of expanding the county's landfill. The final vote was 21 yes, 3 no, 3 absent, 1 abstaining and 1 vacant.
The resounding comment from board members who voted for the landfill's expansion said they did it because of the economic benefits the county stands to gain.
"As you all know, we're going to get $110 million over the life of this landfill," said Gary Jury (R-District 3). "That's money that we can use to reduce tax-spending of tax-payer dollars."
Those who voted against the measure quickly left the county board room without comment to the media. Members who voted against the expansion were from districts that border the landfill; Wendy Owano (R-District 5) and Dave Fiduccia (R-District 4). Steve Schultz (R-District 2) also voted against expansion of the landfill, even though his district does not border the landfill.
Neighbors of the landfill will not have to worry about actual expansion for at least the next few years. There's still more red tape for Rock River Environmental Services to jump through with the Illinois EPA, before everything is said and done.
"It'll take us about 6-8 months to transform the application for citing into an application for development of the landfill," said John Lichty, President & CEO of Rock River Environmental Services. "It'll take the agency approximately three years to review that, so we're almost four years off from having a permit to construct."
Lichty says it may even take a few more years for the construction to be complete even after they get a permit from the Illinois EPA.
The landfill also faces hardship to help mend relations with nearby residents torn by the battle to expand the landfill. Lichty says he looks forward to having better ties with the landfill's neighbors.
"I always kindly say I don't ever expect anyone to be thrilled that we're in their neighborhood," said Lichty. "But you know people have an acceptance that it has to go somewhere and if we do our job, the best you can hope for is to convince them that we're doing as well as anyone would at that."
Scott Christiansen, Winnebago County Board Chairman, said he was also for the expansion. He hopes the county will reinvest that money into more economic development opportunities like manufacturing that he says, "created the wealth in this community."