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Opponents dominate pro-quarry meeting

Updated: January 5, 2014 6:47AM

A citizens group that supports the proposed limestone quarry and mine in Robbins, now on hold pending a Cook County Sheriff’s Department inquiry into the project, met with residents Thursday night in an attempt get its message out.

About 50 residents attended the meeting at Robbins Church of Christ, 3647 Midlothian Turnpike, that was hosted by Citizens of Robbins for Economic Advancement and Upward Movement, a newly formed group that intends to give residents “the truth” about the controversial project, according to a flier for the event.

Whether the audience wanted to hear the group’s view was a different matter. People blasted the project from the start of the meeting and didn’t let up. Resident Sharon Dyson said the village “backended” into the deal by signing a contract with the developer before securing enough money and promises.

“You do your deal when you’re dealing, not later,” Dyson said.

The SouthtownStar first reported that Robbins entered into a deal with Riverside-based ALM Resources in May to create a limestone quarry on 60 acres followed by a 169-acre underground mine, asphalt and concrete plants and a therapy horse ranch. More than 50 homes would be acquired and torn down to make way for the project.

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.

Darrell Mitchell, who owns Omega Tax and Accounting in Robbins, moderated Tuesday night’s meeting and told residents he came to support the development after initially opposing it. He said the development could bring the village as much as $3.5 million to $5 million in royalties annually from the limestone pulled out of the ground.

“That’s going to be money the village will have that it wouldn’t otherwise have,” Mitchell said.

Arnold Pugh, who owns property in the village, brought up a clause in the development contract that Sheriff Tom Dart had earlier questioned. It says Robbins will only receive the money if the aggregate removed is used for an Illinois Department of Transportation project.

Mitchell told Pugh that IDOT could use the limestone to build the Interstate 57/294 interchange.

“Pie in the sky is one thing,” Pugh said. “If it’s not in the contract, you can’t hold their feet to the fire.”

Former village trustee Richard Williams, who voted on the project in May, also answered questions from the crowd. He said ALM Resources wanted to acquire the land through quick-take because a lot of the property sought was vacant and the landowners were spread out.

Drawing jeers from the crowd, Williams acknowledged that he didn’t see any documents or reports demonstrating that ALM Resources could complete the project before he signed the development agreement.

“The fact is Robbins has been on municipal welfare for as long as I can remember,” he said. “And I don’t know anyone who is on welfare that is doing good.”

At the end of the meeting, Mitchell told the crowd he wanted to take all the residents’ ideas and present them to the village board to get a better, renegotiated deal going forward.

“The agreement is here,” he said. “The only thing we can do is make sure the agreement will benefit us.”

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