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Evanston’s Plan Commission is scheduled tonight to consider a proposed zoning change that would permit creation of a commercial landscape waste transfer station on a former auto junkyard site on Oakton Street.

The location, just west of the Home Depot, is not far from the city’s former compost site at James Park, which was phased out several years ago after complaints from neighbors about unpleasant odors.

But the operator of the proposed business says the new site shouldn’t cause such problems, because rather than being left to moulder on site as was the case at the city facility, the yard waste would be trucked away each day.

Jim Seckelmann and Scott Scholler want to open a business called The Mulch Center, which would sell landscape materials and have the yard waste transfer operation as a place where small-scale landscape contractors could drop off grass clippings and other yard waste while they’re purchasing their wholesale landscape materials.

City staff and the Zoning Committee of the Plann Commission are recommending approval of the proposed zoning change which would allow landscape waste recycling transfer facilities as a special use in the I3 General Industrial District.

The Oakton site is part of the city’s only I3 district, and the nearest residential area, Zoning Manager Dennis Marino says, is over 400 feet away from the closest portion of the I3 district.


Update 4/11/13 10:15 a.m.: The Plan Commission Wednesday night unanimously approved the zoning change, which now goes to the City Council for final action. No one objected to the proposal at the meeting.

Related document

Plan Commission meeting packet (.pdf)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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9 Comments

  1. I know a better location

    Landscape waste transfer station at 2533 W Oakton?

    Not fair…..wards 8,9,2, and 5 always get the crappy stuff, while Melissa Wynne gets a Trader Joe's.

    Say…that Kendall lot is still empty, isn't it?

    Oh , I know, it's zoned R1, not I3….but zoning can be changed at the whim of council….I remember how Kendall used to be U1 before it was changed to R1, and that wasn't too long ago.

    I think that it would be the appropriate way for Council to retaliate against the people who re-elected Fiske.

  2. Completely agree — more smelly, low-end businesses down south

    Yes, I know that it is a former auto junkyard.  But do we really need more trucks and more smell on Oakton Street?  Just another low-end business (with a high possibility of smelling bad!) on the south end of the city.

    And yes, I know that the operator says that it won't stink.  But what would you expect him to say? 

    Can you imagine a business person who wants to locate his/her business in a certain location being quoted saying: 

    "The neighbors will certainly hate the smell that the place gives off in less than one week of operations.  And the city will get complaint after complaint but it will be too late to do anything about it as we will already be on the premises and we'll tie the city up in knots in costly litigation."

    No one who wants to operate a venture is going to say that about their own operations.  I am certain that it wouldn't be too long before we would hear the excuses as to why the landscape waste can't be removed every day as planned (cost, logistics, whatever).

    Either get it in writing before the business moves in (and make certain that it is legally binding) or do not approve the request.  It's called planning ahead to avoid problems — something that the City of Evanston should try to do whenever possible.

  3. Great!

    This is great news for my family, as my husband  runs his own landscaping business.  Many local landscapers travel long distances to dump, so this will for sure bring in a lot of business. I live in the 2nd ward and agree with the above comment, but at least for my family this will be useful and beneficial.  Unless I missed something, I am also very happy that the City is not opening up our pocket book to them to build or start the business.

  4. If you think it smelled before….

    So Ward 9, where I live and often have to hold my breath when going outside in the morning due to diesel fumes from running trucks – city and private, is adding yet another dirty business. It's not enough that this side of Evanston, now known as the armpit of Evanston, has low-rate grocery stores, questionably licensed auto mechanics, businesses working without a license open on Sundays and people using the residential streets as car lots but the city is now bringing back the fragrant smells that my neighbors and I tried, and at least won for a short while, to remove from our neighborhood.

    If you think it smelled before here's what we're going to get if this goes through:

    A mound of grass clippings stinks like a hog farm and wait until the temps warm up. If you've ever had a mow and blow truck drive by your house after grass clippings have been on the truck for a few days you will not forget that smell. Now imagine 20 trucks dumping that smell everyday and you happen to be downwind. Hold your breath.

    I happen to like the smell of fresh composted mulch but many many people do not so even if the grass clippings are hauled away every day the fresh mulch is on site to stay and new fragrant mulch will probably arrive every few days.

    OK, so your nose isn't that decerning but what about the dust? A few dry days, western winds and the dust will fly unless the City has very strict rules about keeping the dust down with water.

    Yes, something stinks here and I think it's the goverment of this fair (only if you live north and east) city. Voter apathy? Yeah, I voted because I had nothing better to do not because I thought it would make one iota of a difference. Until the voters get good and tired of this wreck of a city council we are in for a very bad ride in the next few years. Ward 8 gets ward8 and another bar for which we are footing the bill, we get to buy a $2M parking lot for Trader Joe's within walking distance of Jewel and WF and Ward 9 gets another stink hole. Yeah!

  5. Leaves on street curb?

    Great news,I hope we can leave leaves on the street curb this fall.It will save me in bag stickers.

  6. Landscape waste site

    The whole landscaping industry capitalizes on people's vanity/fantasy to have a well groomed lawn. The only time people should be picking up so-called "yard waste" is when all the leaves have fallen and they should be concerned about said leaves ending up in the sewer system… and even then its a questionable practice. Have your yard service cut everything and leave it on your lawn. The city gets all hot and bothered about a "Green" Walgreens, bans but does not enforce the use of leaf blowers but then promotes an extremely environmental unfriendly industry. Finally, the owners say the waste will be hauled away every day… if you believe that, I got a bridge for sale.

    1. Big houses with big lawns

      "The whole landscaping industry capitalizes on people's vanity/fantasy to have a well groomed lawn. The only time people should be picking up so-called "yard waste" is when all the leaves have fallen and they should be concerned about said leaves ending up in the sewer system."

      Yes…and don't forget all of the chemicals that go into keeping grass green, and the waste of water….

      So what we have here is the people of the Big Houses and Big Lawns – the CSNA crowd, the R1 crowd….creating yard waste in their precious Historic Districts and then sending the smelly waste to the 9th ward.

      Condos and apartments are better for the environment.

  7. Transfer station lesson

    My advice for neighbors living around the proposed Oakton transfer station is to fight this now and not later. The transfer station on Church St. started as a landscape waste transfer site.  That company was bought out and then after another buy out or two we have a huge garbage transfer station. Instead of a few loads of landscapping waste a day we now have over 100 garbage trucks going up and down Church Street a day. 

  8. There already is this type of

    There already is this type of businesss, including landscaping waste drop off at Buy The Yard on Main street just blocks away.  I haven't detected any odor living 6 blocks away.

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