Evanston rebuts accusations of harrassment from Veolia

Chelsea Corbin

Attorneys from waste management company Veolia are now reviewing Evanston’s response to allegations of unlawful pressures from the city to shut down a local transfer station.

Veolia filed a complaint against the city in December, alleging illegal fees targeting the company and excessive inspections of the transfer station, located at 1711 Church St. The transfer station temporarily stores waste to be transported by larger vehicles to a permanent location.

The complaint requested that the city repeal a targeted tax and reimburse the company $195,000, the amount Veolia says it paid in improper fees. The city’s statement, filed Feb. 2, called the allegations “misstatements, omissions, or flat out misrepresentations of the record.”

Veolia’s attorneys plan to respond to that statement in the coming weeks, said Jerry Callaghan, an attorney for the Chicago-based Freeborn & Peters law firm that is representing Veolia.

“We’re going through it right now,” Callaghan told The Daily on Wednesday. “It’s the pleading stage of the litigation – there’s a lot of back and forth. I couldn’t tell you what (our response) will be.”

Callaghan said the case will most likely end up in trial.

The city rebutted claims of harassment and said the fees and inspections in question were applied in the interest of citizen health and well-being, according to the city’s response.

The company’s complaint cited city ordinances as part of a “two-pronged attack against Veolia.” Veolia claimed the city also engaged in an “oppressive regulatory monitoring and inspection scheme,” assigning a full-time city staff person to inspect the transfer station frequently.

The ordinances imposed by the city also require Veolia to relinquish its customer list, which includes Northwestern. Veolia’s complaint claimed the city intends to encourage clients to stop using the transfer station to pressure the company out of Evanston.

In its response, the city said it is rightfully protecting its citizens after receiving complaints of offensive odors emanating from the transfer station. The response claimed Veolia filed its lawsuit because of threats to the company’s economic stability.

“The facts are that a multinational French conglomerate failed in its attempt to bully Evanston and its residents, and now having assumed a business risk, seeks judicial relief in order to continue its flouting of city home rule authority and to ameliorate said risk,” the city wrote in its response.

City spokesman Eric Palmer did not respond Wednesday to requests for further comment.

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