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Did Buffalo Grove board drop the ball over landfill pollution questions?
By Marni Pyke | Daily Herald Staff

Lisa Stone

 

Elliott Hartstein

 

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Published: 7/26/2010 12:00 AM | Updated: 7/26/2010 3:55 PM

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Buffalo Grove's role concerning the former Land and Lakes landfill is generating even more heat between Trustee Lisa Stone and other village officials.

Stone faults the village for not acting on a 2005 environmental report evaluating the landfill, which now is a compost facility and landscape waste transfer station.

The preliminary review by Shaw Environmental Inc. raised concerns about previous findings of chemicals in groundwater, recommended more monitoring wells and questioned if the landfill exceeded its permitted borders.

The village hired Shaw Environmental five years ago to assess the landfill, which accepted construction and demolition debris, when it was envisioning a joint commercial/recreational development there in partnership with the Buffalo Grove Park District.

Village President Elliott Hartstein said the village was interested in buying the land, which has a key commercial location on North Milwaukee Avenue, north of Lake-Cook Road. Because Buffalo Grove could become a potential owner, it was important to get an environmental assessment, he said.

The preliminary report was reviewed in April 2005 but village officials did not follow its recommendations for more wells, analysis of groundwater and leachate and an inspection of methane gas collection.

Hartstein said he did not think the report indicated any glaring environmental problems and he also noted that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Lake County were already monitoring the site.

"I have every reason to believe there were no problems based on the inspections," he said.

Because the proposal was not economically feasible for the park district, the village dropped the idea of purchasing the land. Without an ownership interest and no jurisdiction, there was no point in requiring further studies from Shaw, Hartstein said.

But Stone, who has been a critic of the landfill's composting facility following odor complaints, contends village government dropped the ball back in 2005.

"I would not have sat silent on this," she said. "I feel strongly about health and safety issues."

In fact, Stone started reading the Shaw report aloud at a recent meeting and argued with other officials about its merits, leading Hartstein to ask her to "shut up."

Stone, who was elected in 2009, has been at odds with others on the village board over issues such as the composting facility at Land and Lakes.

The Shaw report findings indicate serious environmental issues concerning the landfill, which could have repercussions for people on private wells in the area, Stone said. She wants more testing done. "If I had been on the board I would have gone to every length to be sure some environmental agency was aware of what was found by the engineers."

Stone had sought to obtain an audiotape of an April 18, 2005, executive session where board members talked about the landfill issue and the environmental report. Her initial Freedom of Information Act request was denied but the village attorney later ruled in her favor. However, the tape was discovered missing.

"Any reasonable person would find it peculiar," Stone said. "It was a critical meeting. The tape was very important, it is the only memorialization of what happened at the meeting."

Hartstein called it unfortunate the tape was lost but as regards the landfill, "everything checks out properly," he said.

The village annexed the landfill property in 2008 with hopes of it being developed for commercial purposes. However, the lackluster economy has slowed that plan.