Historic Meeting to Determine Basic Rights


cortlandtownshipelectorsThe Cortland Township Electors are setting historic precedence in Illinois government. At a special meeting called for 7pm January 31, 2013 every registered voter who lives anywhere within the boundaries of Cortland Township can show up and vote on whether or not to enforce their legal rejection of the landfill expansion plans of Waste Management of Illinois.

On May 18, 2010 the Cortland Township Electors rejected the expansion as allowed under state statutes and the Illinois Township Code (60 ILCS 1/30-120). The meeting was recorded on video.

Frankie Benson, who lives on land that would become adjacent to the expanded landfill, if approved, was elected moderator of the special meeting held in the garage of the township headquarters. She collected the required signatures to call the Jan. 31st special meeting to act according to the Illinois Township Code (60 ILCS 1/30‑25) that states in its entirety:

Exercise of corporate powers. The electors may take all necessary measures and give directions for the exercise of their corporate powers.

According to the required legal notice (published in the Daily Chronicle, January 12, 2013) the Cortland Township Electors attending the January 31st meeting will vote up or down on the following actions items:

  • To authorize the Township Electors to assess a special levy to all Township parcel owners to cover the legal costs of the above authorization and to retain the firm of Jeep and Blazer.
  • To authorize the Township Electors to open a special account for donations towards legal expenses.

Let’s stop for a moment. If you’re a participating registered voter — did you know you had the right to do what Cortland Township Electors are doing? Prevent night soil from being deposited (buried) in your township limits. That right is protected under the Illinois Township Code (60 ILCS 1/30-120). A tip from our local daily: Don’t Google night soil before eating.

It should be noted that the Cortland Township Board of Trustees also passed a unanimous resolution against the expansion before the one and only required siting application public hearing. That resolution was not disclosed during the public hearing.

According to the IEPA Rule 39.2 landfill siting process only evidence or testimony disclosed or discussed at that public hearing could be argued in the appeal process. Note to those wondering why, if the Illinois Township Code provided any real argument, it wasn’t brought up in the first place.

Rule 39.2 contains more than 200,000 words in lawyers’ language. The Illinois Township Code pertaining to its elector’s right to prevent the deposit of night soil, garbage and other offensive substances in their township limits has exactly 46 words. It’s written in plain english:

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.

What a [snark] win-win [/snark] choice Cortland Township Electors face. Accept 2,000 daily tons of 17 other counties’ garbage for the next 30 years or direct their Township Board to fight for then rights and figure out how to pay for it. They can only tax themselves and/or seek donations to pay the legal expenses.

Some say Cortland Township residents should just fold the tent and accept the inevitable. Put that expanded landfill plan in your township limits. Maybe the Illinois Township Code was written to protect you, too, from the corporate market strategies and the whims of a wish list agenda-driven county board.

That’s what makes this Special Meeting of the Cortland Township Electors so important — and historic.

Makes one wonder what other authorities Illinois Township Electors have under the Illinois Township Code?

Cortland Township offices are located at 14 South Prairie Street in Cortland. See map.

View Larger Map


  1. Hi Mac, I was wondering if you could explain the reasoning behind taking action against Waste Management versus the individual County Board members.

    Were the County Board members even aware of Illinois Township Code (60 ILCS 1/30-120) and their lack of authority to circumvent this code? If they were not aware of the code during the hearings, would many of them now be willing to retract their vote to avoid legal proceedings?

    The same logic would apply to any environmental problems that were not addressed or glossed over during the hearings.

    It seems what the County Board creates, the County Board can destroy.