From the bottom up…

This is the tale of four grassroots citizens’ groups who are objecting to local governmental units’ decisions with action and not just words. As the squeeze for government revenue tightens amid falling EAV, failing businesses, foreclosures and joblessness it makes sense for neighbors to keep track of what their neighbors are contending with and how they are addressing the issues they face.

DeKalb Nature Trail Restoration photo taken after ComEd's clear cut vegetation management program.

DeKalb Nature Trail Restoration photo taken after ComEd’s clear cut vegetation management program.

Stop The Mega-Dump — See Facebook Page

Citizens of DeKalb County inadvertently let the wolf guard the hen house when it came to the landfill in Cortland. Long time residents that paid attention to such things had been warned by their county board of the dire consequences of a major landfill expansion IF the Town of Cortland was to annex the landfill in their backyard for the evil purpose of getting tipping fees because Lord knows what those Cortland people would do with that money.  So, while people trusted the county to stop that sort of thing from happening they negotiated a Host Fee agreement with Waste Management so they could build the bigger better jail taxpayers rejected four times. That Host Fee agreement in and of itself created the need for the landfill to expand to accept more than 2,000 tons of garbage each day for the next 30 years from 17 northern Illinois counties (including Cook).

By the time citizens caught on it was too late. A small group of citizens literally formed on the floor of the first day of the one and only public hearing (minimum required by law). From that more than 1,000 residents have worked and supported a tenuous effort in legal proceedings that have reached the Illinois Supreme Court. The citizen group has not had success fighting a process that allows a Fortune 500 company to sponsor the legal fees of the DeKalb County Board as well as reach financial agreements with local governmental units to not object or assist anyone who might object to the expansion application before the public hearing took place.

But the struggle against the fundamental unfairness of a flawed process continues.

Keep Kiwani’s Park Green – See Facebook Page

The busiest place in DeKalb on any given Saturday morning is Kiwanis Park on DeKalb’s south side (4th and Fairview). It’s been that way for the past 35 years because of AYSO soccer moms, dads and kids. The seldom referred to Comprehensive Plan designates Kiwanis Park as open space in its future land use plans. District 428 purchased the land to expand school facilities during Dr. Brian Ali’s tenure as Superintendent for $1.5 million cash. The district is now facing a $2.6 million budget deficit this year. The district also faces a $42,000 a year payment schedule kicking in for land it purchased during Dr. Paul Beilfuss term as Superintendent for the new high school. Someone got the idea to swap Kiwanis Park to the developer holding the paper on the land at the high school for later if needed expansion.

Neighbors to the land and then neighbor to neighbor organized quickly to oppose turning active recreation open space into a Planned Urban Development. They attended school board, park board, plan commission and city council meetings with signed, circulated petitions objecting to the proposal. Save Our Green It’s Not For Shodeen signs popped up throughout the community. The Kiwanis Club who have raised and donated more than $75,000 for needed improvements over the years has offered to raise and donate $25,000 more if citizens match the contribution and the land remains Kiwanis Park.

Currently the School District and Park District are working on an agreement expected to finalize by the end of the month that will transfer Kiwanis Park to the DeKalb Park District who found a way to acquire the property without a referendum (as was originally thought). No word yet on the repayment schedule for the new high school property or how District 428 will address its budget deficit.

DeKalb Nature Trail Restoration — See Facebook Page

When corporate officials are called upon to make corporate decisions they often find it easier and more profitable to deal with appointed administrators as opposed to elected boards. Those elected board members are subject to annoying Open Meetings Act laws that might tip off residents that, for example, ComEd was going to liberally comply with federal guidelines and clear cut down to the stumps all along the prized DeKalb Nature Trail enjoyed by hikers, bikers and neighbors for decades. By the time the neighbors heard the chainsaws the damage was done.

The anger spread as the resolve grew. Citizens organized and a plan for restoration authored by trail users and neighbors is underway. The effort is quite organized with task assignments, social networking, conventional and digital petitions in circulation. Compliance with federal guidelines will not come as cheaply as perhaps hoped. The community will have some say in the restoration of the nature trail.

To sign the electronic petition go here and consider attending the DeKalb Park District board meeting this Wednesday, Jan. 9th at the Hopkins Park facility, second floor.  The regular meeting begins at 7:00pm (work session at 6pm).

Cortland Township Electors — Facebook Page Pending

If your neighbors all decided they did not want garbage buried in their backyards would you let them bury it in yours? Cortland Township residents don’t want 17 northern Illinois counties including Chicago to bury their garbage in the township. The Cortland Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously to a resolution against the proposed mega-landfill expansion before the public hearing on the siting application. It was ignored by the county board. The Cortland Township Electors (registered voters) acted according to the Illinois Township Codes and called a special meeting where they voted against the landfill expansion. That legal action was ignored by the county, the Illinois EPA and the Appellate Court.

The Cortland Township Electors are meeting at 6:30pm tonight (Jan 8) at the Cortland Lions Club Shelter to discuss and decide whether the township should pursue a lawsuit against Waste Management’s landfill expansion despite the township’s official vote against it. Here’s the Illinois Township Codes that are being discussed.

(60 ILCS 1/30-120)
Sec. 30-120. Garbage. The electors may prevent the deposit of night soil, garbage, or other offensive substances within the limits of the township. This Section does apply to refuse disposal facilities regulated by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the county in which the facilities are located.
(Source: P.A. 82-783; 88-62.)

(60 ILCS 1/30‑25)
Sec. 30‑25. Exercise of corporate powers. The electors may take all necessary measures and give directions for the exercise of their corporate powers.
(Source: P.A. 82‑783; 88‑62.)

The Cortland Township Electors will move into closed session at 7pm to discuss pending litigation. To attend the closed session meeting you must be a registered voter residing in Cortland Township.

4 thoughts on “From the bottom up…

  1. I’m so tickled I am going to quote myself:

    The Cortland Township Electors will move into closed session at 7pm to discuss pending litigation. To attend the closed session meeting you must be a registered voter residing in Cortland Township.

    How’s that for local governance! The registered voters of Cortland Township held a closed session meeting to discuss pending litigation.

    (60 ILCS 1/30‑25)
    Sec. 30‑25. Exercise of corporate powers. The electors may take all necessary measures and give directions for the exercise of their corporate powers.

    Whoa! Voters may act with authority? Who said township government didn’t serve a meaningful purpose? Name another unit — federal, state or local — that registered voters may take all necessary measures to exercise their corporate powers.

    Maybe the Electors (registered voters) of Afton, Clinton, DeKalb, Franklin, Genoa, Kingston, Malta, Mayfield, Milan, Paw Paw, Pierce, Sandwich, Shabbona, Somonauk, South Grove, Squaw Grove, Sycamore and Victor townships should get to know what their corporate powers are so they can take measures to exercise them.

    What if every township in Illinois decided they didn’t want new or expanded landfills in their soil? Then our state would step into the 21st Century with advanced recycling, waste-to-energy facilities and the associated jobs.

    :-)

  2. The government will keep taking more and more. Bless these groups for putting up a fight. Just too bad the *EXPLETIVE DELETED* can’t see what they are doing.

  3. Any idea who sat on the School Board ( and how the voted) when they bought the property on Fairview for expanding the High School and who was on the board ( and how the voted) when they decided against that site and selected the site on Dresser Road.