Robbins officials to reassess quarry, mine project
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org October 22, 2013 10:44PM
Updated: November 24, 2013 6:48AM
Under increasing fire for approving a controversial redevelopment plan, Robbins trustees on Tuesday night applied the brakes.
They voted unanimously to not request that the Illinois Legislature pass a bill that would allow the village to move quickly to acquire land needed for a limestone quarry and mine, key elements of a huge industrial project.
And Mayor Tyrone Ward said the village would renegotiate its agreement with the developer in light of residents’ concerns.
“We’re going back to the table,” Ward said. “It means we’re going to begin to negotiate. This (quick-take) is done, and now we’re moving to the next step.”
The meeting at the Robbins Community Center, which was packed with hundreds of residents, came a day after a hostile town hall meeting between representatives of the developer and angry residents concerning the proposed redevelopment and the secretive manner in which it had advanced.
The village board in May reached agreement with Riverside-based ALM Resources to redevelop about 20 percent of the small village for a large industrial complex that would include a 61-acre quarry and a 169-acre mine and would remove up to 50 single-family homes and other properties.
ALM Resources wanted to acquire the land through a “quick-take” process, using Robbins’ power of eminent domain, which allows it to take private property for the public good. Such a process requires legislative approval, and many residents feared such a bill could pass in the Legislature’s upcoming veto session.
Paul Stewart, a spokesman for ALM Resources, said he wasn’t aware what impact the village board’s vote would have on any quick-take legislation proposed in Springfield.
“It was never about getting it done quickly,” Stewart said, adding that he would not speculate as to the details of any changes to the original redevelopment contract. “We still believe in the project fully, and we still believe there is a benefit to the community and to the residents in spite of the tremendous inconvenience to some of the residents.”
ALM Resources managing partner Jim Louthen appeared at Tuesday’s meeting with Stephen Davis, president of Rib Mountain Aggregate, which was selected by ALM to operate the quarry and mine. Louthen left shortly before the meeting ended, and Davis stuck around to speak with residents.
“We’re just going to slow down and work with the people of Robbins,” he said. “I want ... total transparency, and at the end of the day I want this to be a good deal for the people of Robbins.”
Prior to the meeting, Trustee Shantiel Simon left a stack of fliers on a table near the entrance to the board room, outlining his support for the redevelopment project. Simon, who later voted against the quick-take plan, wrote in the flier that if quick-take is not used, the project will be abandoned and “the community will lose out on an opportunity to grow and advance.”
“Let’s go talk to the residents first,” Simon said after the meeting, adding that he still supports the project. “We’re in a work in progress. Things are always changing.”
During the comment portion of the board meeting, many residents were critical of the village’s plan. Resident Larry Holmes wondered why the village board had agreed to the deal in May and not publicized the project.
“Looking at that plan, I don’t know where your guys’ heads were to let these people come in here and let these people take all that percentage of that pie,” Holmes said. “All that money is going to those guys. We should have a lot more coming into the village.”