Monday, October 1, 2012

Archer Heights Civic Association Works to Stop Trash Transfer/Recycling Facility

Thomas Baliga, Mary Ammons and AHCA President Stan Lihosit
An eye for detail and swift action by the Archer Heights Civic Association appear to have stopped a company's plans to establish a garbage transfer and materials recycling facility in the Sleepy Hollow area, near 42nd and Knox.

A request by Midway Transfer & Recycling LLC for a city zoning change that would have enabled the facility "...was referred to the City Council Zoning Committee; and it will die there," announced AHCA Executive Director Thomas Baliga, to the applause of about 75 people at the September meeting of the AHCA.


According to the AHCA newsletter,

"...we found by reading the City of Chicago Council Journal that a company called Midway Transfer and Recycling had submitted to the City Clerk on June 6th a request for a zoning change to establish and operate a recycling and transfer station at 4626 West 42nd Street. The application shows that the property in question is a triangular shaped parcel that runs along 42nd Street, starting from the Belt RR tracks west to Keating Avenue and is bordered on the north by the Stevenson Expressway and on the east by the Belt RR. At this location 42nd Street is an unimproved street and the land (old Silver Shovel property) is basically vacant. Immediately upon hearing this, we contacted Alderman Edward Burke (14th) to get some details, and the alderman put us in contact with the attorney for the applicant.

"The application form was vague; only stating the reason for re-zoning the property was for the installation of a recycling and transfer station facility to be housed in an industrial building of approximately 14,500 square feet with a scale and 16 parking spaces on a paved lot. We contacted the attorney and advised them that we would need to have a community meeting so they could explain the proposal. Because the legal requirement for notifying affected properties of such a re-zoning is only 250 feet and this parcel is located in an industrial area, none of the neighbors in the residential area of Keating, Kilpatrick and Knox avenues south of 43rd Sstreet received notices. We arranged for a meeting to be held on Monday, July 5th at St. Richard Church Hall and quickly passed out flyers to the 4300 blocks of Keating, Kilpatrick and Knox Avenues and made personal visits to the industries in the area.

"At the meeting, the owners and their attorneys gave a presentation showing elevations of what the proposed facility would look like. The facility would be a 24-hour a day operation, 365 days a year and would have approximately 125 incoming waste hauling vehicles each day...The trucks would turn east on to 43rd Street from Cicero Avenue and then proceed north on Keating to the facility, where they would discharge their loads onto a 14,000 square food indoor concrete tipping floor where recyclable materials would be sorted and placed into containers. The remaining material would be loaded into 25 trailers for transport to permitted landfills. The building would be an open span building with over-sized truck entry doors and a retention pond built to catch the runoff from the cleaning of the scale. In other words, no sewers. Additionally, as anybody traveling Cicero Avenue has experienced, the intersection of 43rd and Cicero is always extremely congested with the addition of 250 more truck trips. Plus all of this additional traffic would have an adverse effect on the homeowners directly down the block from 43rd Street---where prior to the real estate bust, $385,000 to $425,000 two story single family homes were built.

"Our civic association had no idea of the magnitude of this proposed operation. Otherwise, we would have circulated more meeting flyers to a larger part of the neighborhood. Even more startling at the meeting was the revelation that restaurant food waste would also be brought into the facility. With the 100-degree temperatures we have experienced this summer, one could only imagine what odors might be emitted from the open-span building and the retention pond, let alone the rats, other rodents, pigeons and lake gulls such refuse would attract. When asked if junk cars would be brought into the facility, the owners stated thata t present they would not have the capability to handle cars, but would not (rule out such a practice) in the future. From the presentation made by the operators and questions asked by the residents that attended the meeting, it became very apparent that a full-blown garbage station was being proposed for the site."

AHCA officials further noted that one of the Sleepy Hollow homeowners attending the meeting, Mary Ammons, took the lead and worked with officials at the nearby Warren Oil Company, 4243 South Knox, to gather over 150 signatures (from local residents and businesses) in opposition to the proposed zoning change. In mid-August, the AHCA and a small delegation of local residents and businesses brought the petitions to Alderman Burke to enlist his aid.

The Southwest Chicago Post has reached out to the attorney representing Midway Transfer & Recycling and awaits a response.

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Also at the meeting, AHCA officials made several pitches for membership enrollment, which is $10 per year. Simple registration forms can be found in the ACHA’s monthly newsletter, a six-page publication packed with updates on the group’s effort to fight crime and blight and promote a safer and more prosperous community.

To learn more about the AHCA, call 773-843-2232 or attend the next meeting, set for 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 10th at the UNO Veterans Memorial Campus, 47th & Kildare. Guest speakers will be candidates for various political offices.

AHCA meetings are always the second Wednesday of the month, with the exception of July and August, and always start at 7:30 p.m. All Archer Heights residents are encouraged to attend.

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