Landfill suit ends in county win
IDEM ruling helped in victory over
a contract dispute with Waste Management
By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor
CROWN POINT - Lake Superior Court Judge James Richards ruled last
week that the Lake County Solid Waste Management District did not
illegally break a contract with Waste Management to construct and
operate a landfill in Eagle Creek Township.
Richards issued his ruling Aug. 30. It resolves a
suit brought by Waste Management in 1998 after the county waste
district's Board of Directors declared a 1996 landfill contract
When it nullified the contract in June 1998, the
board majority argued the Indiana Department of Environmental Management
had invited the action with a ruling that the contract's 30-year
landfill was too big. The state agency said it would only approve a
landfill with a 20-year lifespan.
The board's decision also reflected intense political
pressure from south Lake County residents opposed to the landfill.
Waste board President Gerry Scheub, also a county
commissioner, said last week that "we are pleased that the court
ruled in favor of the district and found that the district's action to
terminate the landfill contract was justified. We are very pleased with
the judge's decision."
The written statement was the only one Scheub would
make, "due to pending litigation." That "pending
litigation" is a lawsuit filed by Hickory Hills Development, LLC,
the original landfill development company, against Waste Management, USA
Waste Services-Hickory Hills, the Lake County Solid Waste Management
District, Scheub, Crown Point Mayor James Metros, and waste district
Executive Director Jeffrey Langbehn.
The lawsuit claims damages as a result of the
landfill not being constructed. It alleges the various defendants worked
illegally to overturn the contract.
Cedar Lake finalizes phase II sewer
IDEM officials approve permits for construction of sewer taps
By Kathie Godfrey
SOUTH LAKE COUNTY - "We're getting the taps - 200 of them,"
said Cedar lake Town Council President Bob Brannon (D-4th) after his
meeting with Indiana Department of Environmental Management officials in
Indianapolis last week.
Brannon said the long delay in releasing the promised
sewer taps is over. When Cedar Lake finalizes its schedule for Phase II
of its sewer improvement project to remove additional inflow and
infiltration and "buy back" capacity from the treatment plan,
IDEM officials have agreed to approve construction permits and issue the
taps, he said.
"Things are moving along as planned. It's
business as usual." said Brannon, who added that he was delighted
that the meeting with Cedar Lake Sewer Engineer Ron Bonar and IDEM
officials Matt Rueff and Felicia Robinson last Thursday had proved
fruitful at last.
"After an hour we were ready to close the
deal," he said. "IDEM was eager to get things worked
Brannon said he though a recent face-to-face talk
that Lowell Town Council President Robert Hatch (R-3rd), had with
Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon might have had some positive impact on
his request for sewer taps promised by the state. In any case officials
in both towns who've been frustrated by the delay in ending the
two-year-old sewer ban are hopeful that the end is now in sight.
Hatch said his Aug. 24 meeting with O'Bannon was
prompted by his disappointment over the loss of this year's construction
season in which Lowell had hoped to regain some ground lost during the
long sewer ban.
"Like Bob (Brannon) said, there are 16,000 people
being affected by this decision. They're a government agency and are
supposed to serve the citizens."
Hatch said it had been his understanding with IDEM
State Revolving Fund Section Chief Bruno Piggott, that when litigation
between the two towns was dropped in July, sewer taps would be
"This was a communication breakdown," he
said. "The people we had talked to didn't talk to people from
enforcement and one hand didn't know what the other hand was
Matt Rueff, IDEM assistant commissioner of water
programs at IDEM, said Lowell would be issued taps following their
reclassification as a partially combined storm and sanitary system
within the next few weeks.
"Their reclassification will increase their
capacity significantly," Rueff said Tuesday. "Once their
National Pollutant discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit process
is complete, we'll modify their agreed order and issue the
Rueff said a proposed agreed order was being drafted
for Cedar Lake this week that would outline performance steps in a plan
to reduce Cedar Lake's flows to the sewer plant.
"Once the agreed order is signed, we will issue
construction permits," Rueff said. "When performance steps are
complete, the sewer hook-ups can be made."
Rueff said although Cedar Lake's agreed order would
have a final completion date of June 1, 2001, he expected their sewer
rehabilitation project to be completed this fall.
"We've been making some positive moves,"
Rueff said of his recent meetings with officials in Lowell and Cedar
Lake. "We have a positive relationship with the towns and have got
everyone on the same page.