Council votes to end lawsuit, continue working with waste transfer center


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) attends a City Council meeting. Aldermen voted Monday to settle a suit lodged against the city by trash collection agency Advanced Disposal.

Nora Shelly, Reporter

City Council approved the settlement of a lawsuit from the waste transfer station Advanced Disposal and agreed to new city host agreement terms Monday night.

The station has been in operation at 1711 Church St. under several different owners since 1984. In 2010, Evanston imposed a fee on the waste transferred through the station, and Veolia, the garbage collection service that operated the center at the time, sued the city, alleging that the fees were illegal, according to a 2010 Chicago Tribune article. The agreement, which was unpopular with some nearby residents, will settle the lawsuit and allow Advanced Disposal to continue operation of the facility while the city will extract a fee of 75 cents on every ton of trash that is transferred through the station.

“Obviously this is a very difficult situation for us to be in as a city,” Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said. “But I think as most people recognize … we are defendants in a lawsuit so it’s requiring us to compromise.”

Monday’s vote will permit city lawyers to settle the suit. The settlement allows the city to keep more than $1.2 million dollars that has been collected in transfer station fees since 2011 and lowers the fee from $2 to 75 cents, which is an average of the fee charged to similar waste stations. If the settlement is finalized by lawyers on both sides, there will be no fee collected until January 1, 2018.

The new host agreement will also require Advanced Disposal to set up an avenue for complaints that must be answered within 24 hours and will allow city officials to periodically inspect the station for compliance to the host agreement.

Residents at both Monday’s council meeting and the Feb. 8 meeting said the waste transfer station has long been a problem for those who live close by. Advanced Disposal neighbors Church Street Village and is also close to Evanston Township High School. Current state regulations prevent such a waste center from being so close to residential areas, but the Church Street location was grandfathered into the law and thus allowed to remain in its location.

“They are not a good neighbor,” Megan Baxa, who lives in Church Street Village, told The Daily after the Feb. 8 meeting. “The worst is the odor. A close second would be noise and traffic.”

A few citizens expressed concern that the settlement agreement had been negotiated without public input, and Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) advocated for community input before voting on a third ordinance, which would require the city to repeal two past ordinances that imposed the original fees.

“They want their voices heard,” Holmes told The Daily. “We can’t always get what we want … it is what it is.”

Concern was also raised over how long the new fee would remain in place. The fee per ton of trash will likely be subject to slow increases over the coming years, according to the agreement between Advanced Disposal and the city.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd), whose ward encompasses the station, said although he had hoped the negotiated fee would be higher, the council’s authority was limited in this situation.

“As a council we recognize that we don’t have any authority over the licensing, which is unfortunate,” he said. “I think the vote tonight is trying to make the best situation out of a very difficult issue.”

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Twitter: @noracshelly