Saturday, December 3, 2011

How about some asphalt recycling?

Don’t get me wrong:  I thoroughly believe that recycling is a good thing.  However, I have problems with certain types of recycling being so close to residential neighborhoods.

Earlier in the year, the Village of Cary de-annexed some land on Route 31 to Lake in the Hills.  Now, Bluff City Materials  is petitioning the Village of Lake in the Hills to install an asphalt recycling plant on the property.   Bluff City is petitioning Lake in the Hills for the following:
  • Rezoning of the land from “agricultural” (AI) use to “manufacturing” (M1) use
  • Reduction in the “perimeter landscaping requirements, screening requirements, parking lot landscaping, and tree preservation requirements" 
  • variance to include parking lot and vehicle storage 
  • Variance to hold materials without being covered
The problem with asphalt recycling is the fact that it can have a negative impact on the surrounding environment.  Smell is always an issue with asphalt recycling, that is for sure.  Since asphalt shingles are made from petroleum, the recycling of such materials can also release dangerous substances into the air.  According to the Ohio EPA, the seven most dangerous substances associated with asphalt recycling are hydrogen sulfide, benzene, chromium, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cadmium and arsenic.  These can be released into the air or leached into the groundwater.  The biggest concern is asbestos. Even a study done by the asphalt recycling industry in 2007 acknowledged that that there are
“potential harmful environmental emissions of asbestos minerals that could possibly be contained in the shingles during asphalt shingle processing. Historically, asbestos minerals have been used in a number of roofing products, and thus may be present to some degree in roofing debris. A secondary concern is the release of PAH compounds, a group of organic chemicals that naturally occur in petroleum, many of which are known to have detrimental human health impacts at elevated levels of exposure. (Environmental Issues Associated With Asphalt Shingle Recycling,  Construction Materials Recycling Association, p. 11)
Asbestos is a major potential problem with asphalt recycling.  The problem is that much of the shingles brought in for recycling may have asbestos, especially if they come from older sites.  And there is no way to tell beforehand. 

Bluff City Materials is located in Bartlett and has locations throughout the area.  Their main business is gravel, but they have branched out into other ventures.  Earlier this year they were cited by the Illinois EPA for the illegal storage of salt in one of their facilities that was leaching into local water sources.  Currently, McHenry County is conducting an investigation for illegal construction on the site and for the dumping of materials.  Recently, the owners put up a chain-link fence around the property.

Residents of Fox Trails are already being adversely affected by the Meyer gravel pit.  This could further impact the subdivision.  However, this proposed asphalt recycling plant will also affect other residents of Cary, most notably those closer to the site.  That would include the Cambria and Greenfields subdivisions.  Depending on the wind, even more of Cary can be affected.  Crystal Lake, too.

Particulates and odor are not the only concerns.  In a study done by the Blue RidgeDefense Fund in 2002, it was reported that property values of homes near asphalt plants suffered losses up to 57%.

Why didn’t you hear about this?  Lake in the Hills only requires that residents within 250 feet of the site be notified.  That means no one in the subdivisions of southern western Cary ever received the notice (View it here).

Here is the proposed site:

(More pictures can be viewed here, including the tiny "Public Notice" sign at the site)

What can you do?

On Monday, December 12, Bluff City will make their case to the Zoning Board of Lake in the Hills.  The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. in the Lake in the Hills Village Hall, 600 Harvest Gate, Lake in the Hills.

Although Cary residents are not taxpayers in Lake in the Hills, we do shop there.  And we deserve to be heard.

Please consider attending this important meeting.

You can send your concerns to Tom Stock, the Zoning Commission Chairman via the Lake in the Hills “Speak Out” form:

More to come.

Links cited:
Asphalt Plants Contaminants of Concern.  Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meyer's Operations Hurting Local Business

Darren Rivchin owns Trinity Auto Center on Route 31 just across from Meyer's current operations.  Having cars clean and presentable are a major part of his business.  However, with Meyer digging just across the street, this is an impossibility.  He can no longer display convertibles and is forced to wash the cars now several times a week just remove the dust.  Before Meyer won approval to extend the pit, dust and dirt were not a problem.  Now it is.  Big time.

It costs him an extra $3000 a year to keep his cars presentable.   The cars need to be washed every few days whereas they could go weeks between washings before Meyer extended the pit.

During the extension debate back in 2007-08, Meyer publicly claimed that they would do good to their neighbors, that they would be "ethical."    They even offered to compensate Darren and other small businesses for any negative impact the pit would have on their businesses.

So far, that hasn't happened.  After numerous letters and even three meetings with Meyer officials, Meyer has refused to live up to what they promised.  They even claim that the dust is not from them, even though Darren and others have seen the billows of dust blowing across Route 31.

Darren recently spoke at the Zoning Board meeting and had this letter published in the Northwest Herald:

Re: Meyer Material’s request for a mining extension:

As all are aware, the Cary Zoning, Planning and Appeals Board rose to the occasion for its residents. It rightfully voted against Meyer’s requested extension. I attended the meeting, as I own The Trinity Auto Center facility across the street from the mining site.

Back in 2008, there were several meetings about concerns about the damage caused by Meyer’s mining in this area. People at the meeting last night complained of mud being created from large amounts of dust from the site, forming mud in their pools and clogged furnace filters.

My facility is much closer than these homes are to the site, and the repercussions of Meyer mining here has cost me many thousands of dollars. I expressed my concerns two years ago to Tom Kierna and the village, and wrote several letters. They had promised that the village and Meyer would be good neighbors, and small businesses and neighbors would be compensated for damage.

The old regime failed to do so. Meyer has been to my site several times only to prolong and dance around the subject. With the new Cary trustees in place and new team members who seem sincere and dedicated, perhaps we can duplicate the efforts made at the meeting.

Let’s get Meyer to step up and pay for their long overdue responsibilities. Meyer is two years behind on what they owe for compensation to my facility. Please correct this situation in a timely manner.

Darren Rivchin
Lake in the Hills

The point here is that Meyer's operations are not just impacting home owners.  This is not something we should forget.  Meyer claims to be "a good neighbor," yet fails to live up to obligations promised when they wined and dined the village into getting them the right to mine within Village boundaries.

Now, they want to mine longer and avoid paying the fine.  They certainly don't want to pay the $6000 they owe Trinity Auto Center for the extra detail work on their cars.  And their refusal to do so should be an indication as to how sincere they are in regard to their "ethical" responsibilities.

They need to live up to their promises to businesses like Trinity Auto Center.  We need to remain vigilant.  Even though they received a unanimous "no" from the Zoning Board, that vote was merely a "recommendation."  The Village Trustees will soon be holding public hearings on this and you can bet Meyer will double down on their efforts to extend their time without paying the fine.
And homeowners in Fox Trails, remember this:  they haven't even started mining yet near the subdivision.  They are currently extracting from cells close to Route 31.  Consider Darren's words a warning as to what will come when they move closer to Fox Trails.  

Stay tuned.  This is not over.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not over yet......

Last night's unanimous "NO" vote for the Meyer time extension is good news to be sure.  Dozens of concerned Cary citizens spoke out against the extension.  In fact, other than the completely irrational and inappropriate outburst by Joe Tournier, it was a calm meeting.  People were determined and spoke forcefully.  They knew that they had the moral upperhand:  Meyer had signed a contract.  End of story.

But it is not the end of the story.  This vote was just a recommendation, that is all.

Meyer can (and most likely will) bring the petition to the Village Board in the coming weeks.  The Trustees of Cary will have to make a decision.

Last time, Mayor Lamal worked out a deal with Meyer that resulted in the pit.  I have a feeling the same thing will happen.  Mayor Tom Kierna sees Meyer as a "good neighbor." After all, Meyer was awarded the 2009 Community Relations Award.  And the mayor was there to pose with them.

Tom Kierna (Left) poses with representatives from Meyer Material after being awarded the 2009 Community Relations Award.

Stay tuned.  This is not yet over.

This is what Meyer does.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Typical Village of Cary.....

Big Zoning Board meeting tonight to discuss the request by Meyer Material Company to extend the time they want to rip gravel from the ground next to the Fox Trails subdivision.  The meeting is being held at the Holiday Inn, Crystal Lake at 7 pm. 

Or, at least I think so.

The problem:  there is no information at all on the Village website in regard to this meeting.

Not only that, there is no information regarding the Zoning Committee.  No agendas.  No list of those who are even on the committee.


This has been  a problem with the Village Board in the past.  And not much has changed.  In fact, it appears to have gotten worse.  At least back in 2008, there was a page on the site dedicated to the Zoning Board committee.

Not anymore.

So I called the Village and was transferred to Jacob Rife.  He was very nice and gave me the members of the committee.  It's basically the same people who were there in 2007-08.  Joe Tournier is still the chairperson.  And the committee still includes Jim Graziano, Frank O’Laughlin, Patrick Jasper and Patrick Khoury. There are two new members, Holly Kelps and Alyssa Pelican.

Due to his association with Meyer, Frank O'Laughlin has recused himself.

The Village has to do a better job with its website and access to information.  I thought that was what much of the last election was about?

See you tonight.  Don't forget, we'll be live-blogging the event here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meyer Material Zoning Meeting

On Thursday, November 10, the Village of Cary Zoning Committee will hear the new petition from Meyer Material asking for an extension of their mining privileges within the borders of the Village. The meeting will begin at 7 pm in one of the large rooms at the Holiday Inn, Crystal Lake.  Hopefully, you can make the meeting.  The more people the harder it will be for Meyer to get the board to roll over this time.

Hope you can make it.

If you can't make the meeting, but would like to know what's going on, I'll be "live-blogging" the meeting.  I'll be posting comments in real-time, which you can view below.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Here comes the Meyer Material sob story.....Get your Kleenex.

In June, Meyer Material went to the Village Board and presented the company’s annual status report regarding their operations in the Village of Cary.  Spokesperson Randi Wille set up the entire argument that Meyer will be making to the zoning board on November 10: he said that this past year has been a “challenge” for Meyer Material because of the “weak economy.” 

There it is:  Meyer Material is experiencing some problems in this economy, therefore they need more time to extract the gravel from the land adjacent to Fox Trails.

Here is what he is not going to tell you:

1.     Meyer Material is owned by Aggregate Industries, which is owned by Holcim, LTD.  This is the second largest producer of concrete in the world.  They employ over 80,000 people worldwide and operate in more than 2,500 locations in 70 countries.

2.     This is a foreign corporation, headquartered in Switzerland.  

Holcim LTD is not hurting, despite what will be stated at the meeting.  Let’s look at their profit over the last couple of years:

Net Income for Holcim, LTD (taken from the 2010 annual report):  

2009            1.958 billion CHF  ($2.27 billion US)
2010            1.621 billion CHF  ($1.88 billion US)

Yes, they lost money from 2009 to 2010.  But, so far in 2011, Holcim has seen a 29.7% increase in profit for the first half of the year and they are set to surpass their 2009 performance. (Source)
How many of us can say that?

The CEO of Holcim is Markus Akermann.   In 2010 he made 8,713,996 CHF (source).  That is equal to over $10 million US.

And they want to continue mining in Cary for another 6 years? 

That’s another six years of low property values.

That’s another six years of dust and noise.

That’s another six years before they come to the village again with another request to extend mining operations.

You can see that coming, right?  When will it stop?

Meyer Material wants to change the agreement they made with Cary in 2008.  Yet how many of us can change the terms of our mortgages so that we don’t have to pay a penalty?  How many of us would like more time to pay off loans? Try calling your credit card company and asking to be free from the penalty that you will be receiving because of a late payment.  How sympathetic would they be?

Here is what needs to happen:

Meyer needs to finish mining by June 1, 2016.  If they can’t do it, then they need to pay the $100,000 penalty per month beyond that date.

End of story.  They signed an agreement.

If they don’t want to do that, here’s a novel idea:  hire more workers and get it done in time.  Then, if they can’t sell the material at the moment, store it for a later date.  After all, gravel doesn’t go bad. 

See how easy that was.  And I don't make $10 million a year.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just in Time for Halloween: The Return of Meyer Material!

We all knew this was going to happen--it was only a matter of time.  Over the last couple of days, Cary residents near the Meyer Material gravel pit have been receiving letters via certified mail.  The content:  Meyer Material wishes to extend their mining operation in the village of Cary until the year 2022.

Yes.  You read right:  2022.

Back in 2008, the Village of Cary voted unanimously to grant Meyer Material Company a "conditional use permit" to extend their current operations by making their gravel pit even bigger.  There was much opposition, as many of you remember.  However, greed won out and our mayor, Tom Kierna, commented on how he was "looking forward to a prosperous relationship with Meyer."  Here is what I wrote three years ago in regard to this issue:
I wonder what this "long-term" relationship includes? Perhaps further extension of the pit into Hoffman Park? All that has to happen is the Cary Park District sells that land to Meyer and we are going through this all again. Only this time there will be less opposition, because people will know that the concerns and well-being of the community are secondary to the whims and wishes of a faceless corporation.

Meyer Material is owned by Aggregate Industries, one of the largest mining companies in the world headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland.

And now they want to continue mining until 2020 with the "recreation area" being completed by 2022.

Here's the thing:  back in 2008, they signed a deal with the village that would allow mining on the property for only until June 1, 2016.  Then, if they fail to meet that deadline, they will be charged a fee of $100,000 a month for every month they extend beyond that deadline.

Meyer Material should be forced to live up to the original agreement.  Currently, Fox Trails residents near the pit cannot open their windows during the summer months due to the amount of dust.  Now Meyer wants to continue this for another 4 years?  What happens in 2020?  Will Meyer come to the board again with another extension request?

There has been talk that Meyer wants to install a concrete mixing facility on the property as well.

What will Cary do?  We know what they should do: say "no" and collect the fees.  That was the original agreement.  Stick to it.

But will they?  We know how the mayor feels.  Here's a nice cozy picture of him with the Meyer people and their 2009 "Community Relations" Award.  What a joke.

There will be a public hearing on this November 10, 2011.  As usual, the meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake.

Hope you can make it.  In the meantime, let the village board know that Meyer needs to stick to their original deal.

Tom Kierna
Duane (Rick) Dudek
Robert Bragg
Raymond Chisholm
Bruce Kaplan
Jeffrey Kraus
Karen Lukasik

More to come.