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CHDS Mulch Fire 6/4/23

The following statement was made by Mayor Kraly at the Village of Round Lake Board Meeting on 6/5/23 and posted to the village's social media platforms:

The Village is aware of the incident that occurred yesterday, June 4, 2023 at approximately 10:15 am. Fox Lake Fire Protection District responded to a fire occurring at the southwest corner of Rte. 120 and Wilson Road. Several agencies responded quickly and worked very well to get things under control in a timely manner. We thank our emergency responders for their quick response and assistance. According to the Fox Lake Fire District, the cause of the fire is undetermined. The fire is contained to the property however, the material will likely smolder for at least a week. Safety of our residents and the surrounding properties is the Village’s top priority. We are reviewing the incident to determine legal options. If you have any questions, please direct them to the Village Administrator Steve Shields at sshields@roundlakeil.gov.

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What Happens Next?

The Village Board will need to receive an official report from fire inspectors to see if they can determine a cause for Sunday's incident and what, if any, blame should or can be assigned. Price tags would likely be associated should such an outcome occur.

Baxter will need to be reimbursed for the cost of the water used to put out the flames. Their well is private and was tapped without their permission. Even though the situation was an emergency, an apology is likely owed to Round Lake's biggest employer.

CHDS and the Village have a lease agreement on the property at Wilson Rd. through 2027. Trustee Schottland warned that we do not want to see ourselves as taxpayers involved in a decade of legal battles with Mr. Powell as Hawthorn Woods did, no matter who is at fault first. 

Therefore, whatever measures are taken in the future by the board regarding the property or the running of CHDS as a business will need to be done with legal counsel and in consideration of the lease agreement. Trustee Brubaker did have several starting points and suggestions at the June 5 meeting. 

Regardless, it should be noted that CHDS is closing the composting part of their business and will no longer have a permit for that portion of the property which is the subject of the below lawsuit and violations. 

Final decisions on what this means in terms of monitoring the site are unclear. No permit could mean no monitoring, at least from the IEPA.

Staying involved with Village Board meetings and decisions is now even more important.

2023 CHDS Fire Facts

June 4 is not the first time the Fox Lake Fire Department has been called upon to respond to a fire incident at CHDS this year, or in past years. Recent fire incidents include April 2023 and October 2022. This incident, however, is the largest, and likely the most expensive in terms of manpower, equipment, and resources. 

According to Trustee Brian Brubaker, it is estimated that the Fox Lake Fire Department has been to CHDS eight to ten times in the last year, issuing fines totaling around $500 which have gone ignored and unpaid. 

The cost for this incident will be into the six figures. Why? A total of 16 fire districts responded to this incident with 15 hours of onsite work meaning a loss of resources and apparatus for each of those departments for that entire time. A rough estimate would be one firetruck per district, three firefighters per truck totaling 48 personel.

Trustee Brubaker estimated one million gallons of water were used Sunday, with roughly 500,000 coming from the Village of Round Lake and another 500,000 coming from the private well of Baxter. The Round Lake Area Fire Department made 28 tanker truck trips at 3500 gallons each for 10 hours (the current water rate for the village is $1.80 per 1000 gallons). 

While CHDS does have a 1000 gallon tanker truck on site, it would not have been enough to supress this event. Trustee Brubaker also stated that Mr. Dan Powell, owner of CHDS, feels arson is the cause of Sunday's incident. However, without security cameras, and knowing that Mr. Powell has continuously operated other areas of his business out of compliance in terms of compost pile height, spacing, monitoring, etc. arson will be difficult to prove.

 

Again, while an official cause has not been determined at this time, Trustee Brubaker believes it is possible that the mulch pile at CHDS was too high, not being routinely turned over and maintained in a way to lessen the fire danger, and too close to other materials which subsequently lit up as well. 

Finally, Trustee Brubaker called around to other munipalities with mulch centers in the area (Grayslake, Fox Lake, Lake Zurich, etc) and while they may have one small smoldering fire from time to time, they do not have three to four large flaming events within a 12 month period as we have seen with CHDS. 

The People
vs.
CHDS, LLC

Read the Full Lawsuit Here
Law

On August 15, 2022 The State of Illinois and the Lake County State's Attorney filed suit against CHDS, LLC for conducting a waste disposal operation in violation of a permit and for violations of a Compliance Commitment Agreement.

See 2019 Documents Below for Reference

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FOIA Requests

In an effort to provide transparency to our community, we spent hours in partnership with Kenneth Ashman of Ashman Law to explore any means available to stop the Village of Round Lake from approving Dan Powell's Ski Hill proposal. The first step was the annexation of the property. If the board had voted to annex the property at Fairfield and Route 120, it would have come with Dan Powell and CHDS, LLC as the developer of 85 acres of the parcel.

Here you will find links to all of our documents, from the Snowflex website and emails exchanges with the company, to screen shots of  publiclly available tax and property information. We have also included the FOIA documents we received from the Lake County Health Department as well as the FOIA request itself. Please know that personal email addresses and phone numbers have been redacted for privacy. 

You will also find Mr. Ashman's letters and exchanges with Village of Round Lake officials including supporting evidence involving the "pay to play" politics side of the past. Other pertinent information includes the fact that current Mayor Kraly was the Village Administrator under former Mayor Dan MacGillis until the spring election of 2015 when Mr. Kraly became a Trustee, and then finally Mayor himself in 2021 when Mr. MacGillis stepped down. 

On September 19, 2022 Mayor Kraly made reference to two documents he had received from Snowflex to prove Dan Powell had been in contact with their US representative based in Wisconsin for the past 10 months in relation to the design of his proposal and that size of his planned retention pond was adequate according to their calculations. You can listen to the audio from the meeting (1:09:35).

The Original Purpose of Wilson and 120

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We want commercial development in the Village of Round Lake.

We need to be prepared for CHDS to walk away from Wilson Rd. and leave us with the clean up bill.

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Read the FOIA Documents Regarding Village Inspections

When CHDS, LLC violated its original permit in July 2019, it sent an apology to the Lake County Health Department, but it did not fix what was wrong. By December 2019, CHDS entered into a Compliance Commitment Agreement (CCA). The failure of CHDS to abide by the terms of the CCA is one of the reasons the State is now suing CHDS.

According to the CCA, the village engineer is to inspect operations at CHDS at least monthly. The village does not employ an engineer and outsources this responsibility to engineering firm Baxter & Woodman.

The Cost of Doing Business with CHDS

As Round Lake residents and taxpayers, we need to ask our village leaders to answer the following questions:

  • How much of the $11,000 per year spent on paying Baxter & Woodman to monitor CHDS is part of normal village operations and how much is due to monitorning necessitated by the failure of CHDS to follow their compliance agreement?

 

  • Should CHDS bail and walk away from their lease at Wilson Rd if their permit is not renewed in 2024, how much will it cost to restore the site to its original condition in order for it to be ready for commercial use?

 

  • Has the village or Baxter & Woodman ever issued CHDS a violation, fine, citation, stop work order, or any kind of corrective or punitive reprimand for its operations on the property at Wilson Rd? 

According to the village's 2022 Budget, Round Lake's operating expenses start exceeding revenues after 2023 (page 8). On the following page, rent payments from CHDS increased from $60,000 to $125,000 for 2022. Any potential replacement for business on Wilson and 120 should generate $125K without costing $11K in monitoring. Our community should be working together with village officials as a committee to explore and expand our resources to bring in ACTUAL developers, not impersonators. 

Also, requests were made for documents pertaining to potential clean up costs relating to the CHDS site at Wilson and Rt. 120. A memo was completed by Baxter & Woodman and submitted to the Village on July 2, 2022 (20 days before the public hearing with the Planning & Zoning Commission regarding the Ski Hill project).

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