Lakeshore Recycling, Republic Services make their cases to McLean County Board
A Chicago-based company that already operates Henson Disposal in Bloomington began making its case for developing a new waste transfer center on Wednesday.
Lakeshore Recycling Services (LRS) filed an application with the county earlier this year seeking approval for the new solid waste transfer center on 2020 Bunn St. — land that is technically unincorporated McLean County, but is located in south Bloomington. The proposed center would sit on about three acres of land east of Interstate 55, southwest of the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks, north of Rhodes Street, and east of Bunn Street.
One of three scheduled public hearings on the proposal kicked off Wednesday, pitting LRS against Republic Services, the owner of the only current waste transfer center in McLean County.
McLean County Board members have until mid-February to decide whether to approve LRS' proposal, a decision that must come within 180 days of the application submission and follow a series of public hearings.
Both the application and the testimony given by LRS in the hearings are aimed at determining whether the company's plans satisfy nine different state standards for the project, as well as as standards in McLean County's local code. Those criteria include justifying the need for the project, whether plans protect public health and "minimize" impacts to traffic, and possible danger from operational accidents.
John Hock, an engineer working with LRS, testified at Wednesday's hearing that the company saw an opportunity to bring competition into the county.
Republic Services not only owns and operates the only current waste transfer facility in McLean County [also in south Bloomington], but also provides hauling services and operates a landfill near Pontiac, where it takes the waste it collects.
"I've kind of beat on it, but it really is the key point: That ... right now, McLean County relies on one transfer station to transport all its non-recyclable waste to out-of-county landfills, resulting in an effective monopoly," Hock said.
Republic Services made itself a party to LRS' application ahead of the public hearings, which allows it to have a legal team cross examine the witnesses LRS presents and present its own case to the county.
By the numbers
LRS has argued in its application that the under the near-monopoly of Republic, McLean County faces a shortfall of 200 tons of waste that needs to be transported out of county — part of why it sees an opportunity to develop the station it says could process up to 400 tons per day.
The company has estimated around 143,000 tons of waste in the county need processed each year, or about 500 tons a day, though on Wednesday McLean County assistant state's attorney Trevor Sierra questioned the figures used to determine that need.
Hock said LRS used population data from the U.S. Census Bureau to estimate per capita data — "meaning, the amount of waste generated per person, per day."
LRS added an additional 20,000 people to the Census report of McLean County's 170,000-plus person population, which Lock said was to factor enrollment of students at both Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities.
Sierra asked Hock if he — or the company — was aware that the Census data already includes enrollment totals for both universities; Hock said "we assumed it did not."
He added the company's projection of the county's waste needs would need to be reduced accordingly to be more accurate.
Another engineer working on behalf of LRS, Carl Finke, testified Wednesday on the transfer center's design, arguing it met all of the nine standards set by the state and county regarding public safety and other concerns.
Although no public comment was taken Wednesday, written comments on the proposed facility have been open for submission for some time: Nearby residents have written about traffic, smell and noise concerns, as have representatives from nearby Sam Leman Corporate and Bradford Supply.
Finke said the site had been developed with odor-control measures in place: Trash would arrive in covered vehicles and be processed in a metal building with bay doors that open and shut within 10 seconds. He said the plan has "modern features that most other transfer stations don't have, which is what makes it highly protective of the environment."
Developing the transfer center also would result in development of a new road — one that Bloomington Township could eventually be responsible for maintaining.
Called HDI Court, the two-lane road would provide access to the center across from Bunn Street. It would intersect Bunn where that street meets the existing Henson Recycling Campus.
LRS' traffic study showed projections of one trip both in and out of the center every three minutes during peak hours.
Additionally, both McLean County and the City of Bloomington have been offered host agreements in the proposal submitted by LRS. Each government would receive around $70,000 a year based on how many tons of waste are processed at the facility.
The project has garnered the support of Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason, former Republican state Sen. Jason Barickman, Normal Mayor Chris Koos, former Normal City Manager Mark Peterson and others.
Republic Services plans to cross examine another LRS witness when public hearings resume on Thursday afternoon; each hearing has been scheduled for 1-6 p.m. through Friday.
Verbal public comment will be taken at the hearings once both LRS and Republic Services have made their cases.