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On Jan. 4-5, the Land Use and Development Committee of the McLean County Board met to deliberate and take testimony regarding the Solid Waste Action Plan put forth by the Ecology Action Center (EAC). In the plan, there was language referencing the use of mandatory recycling ordinances if certain recycling goals were not met.

After hearing the testimony of Michael Brown, executive director of the EAC, two facts became evident. The first was that many of the recycling goals depended on the passing of mandatory ordinances. Thus, the Solid Waste Action Plan, while arguably not requiring the passing of mandatory ordinances, its authors clearly envision mandatory ordinances as the most likely way to meet the goals.

A second fact became evident after listening to Mr. Brown’s comments before the committee. He stated that if the ordinance language was removed from the plan, it prevented him from introducing those mandatory ordinances to local government entities and working with them to develop their ordinances. 

The Land Use and Development Committee then was confronted with the following issues. Do we leave the recycling goals as they were and take out the preference of mandatory ordinances to meet those goals? Secondly, do we prefer Mr. Brown being allowed to introduce, develop and push before local governmental entities mandatory ordinances to be made law?

Most committee members felt as a matter of principle that if proposed mandatory ordinances had sufficient merit to be brought to local government entities, they would not need Mr. Brown’s introduction, development and push.

As to the first issue, member Ryan Scritchlow, with my consent, wanted to remove the preference of mandatory ordinances from the plan. When presented to Mr. Brown, he responded with a plan that took out the preferred mandatory ordinance language and he also reduced the recycling goals. Mr. Scritchlow then, again with my consent, took Mr. Brown’s revised recycling goals and made them part of his amendment. This amendment was presented at the Jan. 4 hearing.

It became apparent to me during this meeting that a small majority of the members wanted to leave the original recycling goals in the plan. They were not opposed to the goals, instead, it was the means of mandatory ordinances to meet the goals which created their opposition.

So, the next day, Mr. Scritchlow submitted a revised amendment leaving in the original recycling goals, but taking out the reference to mandatory ordinances if the recycling goals were not met. The Land Use and Development Committee decided to pass the Solid Waste Action Plan without reference to mandatory ordinances.

At the county board meeting, the board decided to pass the original plan as presented by the Ecology Action Center without the amendment that took out the language referencing mandatory ordinances.

Moving forward, it is hoped that the business, agricultural and rural communities will take note of any push for mandatory ordinances and hopefully this next round, their voices will be heard because they were arguably silent this first round, except for the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, which in the end, did state that mandated recycling ordinances were a cause for concern for its members, as they should be for all reasonable people.

Finally, the requirements and penalties proposed in any proposed future ordinances should include the requisite feedback from all perspectives and be inclusive of the entire community.

Chuck Erickson is chairman of the Land Use Committee; he represents District 10 on the county board.


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