'Stink zone': Controversy surrounds new composting facility being built in Des Plaines

FOX 32 NEWS - Not in my backyard!

That’s the rally cry of some north suburban neighbors who say something stinks about plans to build a large composting facility on land owned by the Chicago Archdiocese.

The site is an old landfill just north of Central Road in unincorporated Des Plaines. Developers say the composting facility will actually help the environment.

"Any time you're dealing with organic waste, you've got odor,” one man said.
These residents say they were stunned to learn last week about plans to build a 25 acre organic recycling facility on an old landfill near the Des Plaines River. They say 12,000 people live within a mile and a half of what they call the "stink zone."

"This is a huge amount of waste, you're gonna have odors. And it's gonna come into my neighborhood and it's gonna affect me,” said neighbor Rob Sulski.

FOX 32: The residents around here are concerned this is gonna create a smell. Will it?

"Well we work very diligently to avoid that,” said environmental engineer John Lardner.

Developers John Lardner and Matthew Smarjesse say the facility will take in grass clippings and leaves, along with vegetable waste from restaurants and turn it all into 100-thousand cubic yards of fresh compost each year.

And they say the composting process they plan to use produces little or no smell.

"I'm an expert in the field. I'm a certified compost facility manager, and I feel like I know what I'm doing,” Lardner said.
But residents say they're being blindsided.

"It's not anything we were able to vote on. It's not anything we were asked our opinion. There wasn't even a referendum. They're just doing it,” said neighbor John Truncale.

But developers say the project is "socially responsible.”

"This project is actually pro-environment. It's to prevent stuff from going into the landfill,” said Smarjesse.

"We're all about being green and that. This is not the space for it,” said neighbor Joe Pollina.

On Wednesday, the Cook County Board of Zoning Appeals approved the project. But that's before residents had an opportunity to make their voices heard. They say they'll be loud and clear on the issue before the full county board when they vote on it sometime in the next couple months.

FOX 32 reached out to the Chicago Archdiocese, which is leasing the property for the composting facility, but so far they have not responded.