An city administrative hearing officer this afternoon dismissed an odor complaint filed by the City of Evanston against the Veolia Environmental Services transfer station on Church Street.
Hearing officer Mitchell C. Ex ruled that the testimony from one resident living in the Church Street Village townhouse development near the transfer station wasn't enough to demonstrate that the transfer station was creating "such an offensive smell as may taint the air and render it unwholesome or disagreeable to the neighborhood" in violation of a city ordinance.
Patrick Conway of 1633 Church St. testified that he noticed an offensive odor from the transfer station when he left his townhouse about 10:20 a.m. on Sept. 27 and drove down Church Street past the transfer station entrance on his way to the supermarket. He said he still smelled what he described as "a foul stench" when he returned about a half hour later.
A Veolia employee, Mark Moxon, who supervises the Evanston station and one in Rolling Meadows, said he wasn't at the site at that time, but arrived shortly after 11 a.m. and walked through the facility with Fire Division Chief Tom Janetske to review plans for installation of a new charcoal filter ventilation system designed to control odors at the site.
Moxon said he didn't notice any foul odor at that time and that transfer station employees didn't tell him of any problems earlier that morning.
An attorney for the company unsuccessfully argued that the city would have to show negligence by the company to prevail in the case. The hearing officer said the ordinance, while not absolutely clear on the issue, didn't appear to require a showing of negligence.
But Ex ruled that it would require testimony from more than one person, or perhaps from a city official, to establish that the "neighborhood" found the smell disagreeable.
A few neighbors and two aldermen attended the hearing. Afterward Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said the community has concluded that the transfer station's operation is incompatible with nearby residential uses, but that the process of persuading the company to leave, or forcing it out, is likely to be a long one.
The city is currently considering imposing a $2 per ton fee on haulers delivering waste to the transfer station as part of its effort to close a projected $3 million gap in next year's city budget.