NORMAL — Normal officially signed off on a new McLean County solid waste plan Monday over the objections of a member who questioned why it suggests ordinances to boost the local recycling rate.
The Normal City Council voted 6-1 to support the plan, which passed the McLean County Board last month after a fight over suggested local laws requiring some businesses to recycle and others to offer recycling services to customers, employees and tenants.
Council member Scott Preston voiced the same concerns Monday before voting "no."
"That specific language in this plan promotes an ordinance that hasn't been drafted yet," said Preston. "I've wrestled with that quite a lot."
Preston and Normal City Manager Mark Peterson both noted that passing the plan doesn't require a municipality to pass any related ordinances and removing the language wouldn't prevent a municipality from passing one.
"What the plan attempts to do is lay out a variety of alternatives ... to move the needle on our recycling performance," said Peterson, noting the county recycling rate has stagnated in recent years. "An ordinance is one option."
The town is, in fact, already working on two such ordinances: one requiring recycling of construction and demolition waste, and a second making landlords offer recycling services to renters at multifamily facilities. Both could be discussed by the council as soon as next month.
Preston questioned how effective a multifamily ordinance will be and how much the construction-and-demolition ordinance could cost local businesses.
Michael Brown, executive director of the Normal-based Ecology Action Center, said some ordinances have a "safety valve" to address cost concerns.
"If the cost of using a ... recycling facility is 10 percent more than landfilling the materials, an exemption would kick in," said Brown.
Brown said multifamily landlords told the EAC, which designed the plan, that they actually support an ordinance making them all offer onsite recycling.
"Currently there's some but very few that offer recycling to their tenants ... but this was met surprisingly with a high level of support," he said. "This levels the playing field for them. Offering the service universally will help."
Peterson noted the plan is unlikely to help the McLean County Landfill, which "is pretty much done" and expected to close this spring. Brown said the plan is instead "about cost controls going forward" as the community begins paying to haul waste to landfills in Pontiac, Clinton and elsewhere.
"The details of how those work out and how those might be implemented ... is where there will probably be a lot more discussion," said council member Jeff Fritzen of the ordinances.
Every County Board member who voted to remove ordinance language from the plan was a Republican. Preston has announced he's considering running for chairman of the county Republican Party.