Update 5:00 p.m.: A group of Evanston residents are sending a letter to the state environmental protection agency today opposing plans by Veolia to expand its Church Street waste transfer station.
The company is seeking the state agency's approval to proceed with the expansion without getting zoning approvals from the city for the changes.
The residents, organized by community activist Linda Beck, argue that the transfer station is a blight on the neighborhood and that it shouldn't be located in a residential area.
They say current state rules recommend siting such a facility on at least 25 acres of land, while the Evanston transfer station is on just two acres.
The letter says nearby residents live with a disgusting stench, a constant stream of speeding trucks and garbage spilled on streets and sidewalks.
City officials have recently imposed a $2 per ton fee on the transfer station's operation and are also opposing the company's request for an exemption from the zoning regulations.
The company has argued that under state law new waste transfer stations are not subject to local zoning. But the residents and the city say Veolia's Evanston facility, which has existed for over a quarter century, can't now be considered to be "new."
A Veolia spokesperson, Melanie Williams, says that the company's proposal to add a tarping station to the facility and demolish a building on the property's Church Street frontage won't actually expand the size of the site.
The tarping station, she said, would be a scaffolding-like structure that truck drivers could climb on to place tarps over their truck's load before they drive out of the facility.
She says drivers now have to climb onto the trucks to spread the tarps, running a risk of falling into the loads of trash.
In a letter to the IEPA late last week, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl noted that under current law no waste transfer facility could be located within 1,000 feet of residential property, and said that for the safety and well being of nearby residents the city must not be barred from exercising its full zoning powers.