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Cortland Township sets date for landfill vote

Published: Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

CORTLAND – Three votes will be taken at a special meeting of Cortland Township electors to decide whether residents should pursue legal action against Waste Management to stop the landfill expansion.

Electors – any registered voters living in Cortland Township – will meet at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 in the Cortland Township office on 14 S. Prairie St. to decide whether the township should sue Waste Management and if so, how to pay for it.

Township residents will be asked to consider a special levy to cover legal costs and retain the services of law firm Jeep & Blazer LLC. Meeting organizer Frankie Benson said a one-time special property tax levy would be needed to cover about $60,000 in legal costs.

Only 15 electors need to attend for the meeting to become official, but Benson said she hoped for a large turnout because a financial decision such as a special tax levy should not be left to a select few.

“How we pay for it is going to be up to the people that are there,” she said. “It is one funding source we would consider.”

Another funding option that could be implemented in addition to the levy is a special account for private donations. Benson said electors would also vote on setting up that special fund.

Before any votes on funding options are taken, township residents must vote on whether they want to seek an injunction against Waste Management. The potential lawsuit would ask a judge to consider a state statute that says electors may prevent the deposit of garbage within township limits.

Landfill expansion opponents claim the DeKalb County Board ignored the townships formal refusal of the expansion in May 2010. The county is already facing a lawsuit from Stop the Mega-Dump that claims there were public hearing and procedural violations leading up to the approval. The county has prevailed at the appellate court level; the case has been appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, which could decide to hear it.

Should township voters support legal action, Jeep & Blazer would likely represent the township. The firm has represented numerous municipalities in environmental and land use issues, including recent opposition to a Yorkville landfill. Representatives from the firm declined to comment until after the Jan. 31 vote.

Benson said she would be distributing informational fliers around Cortland for residents leading up to the meeting. If there is severe weather Jan. 31, the meeting will be Feb. 1 at the same time and location.

“We’re trying to get as many people to show up as we can,” she said. “It is an important decision.”

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