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Robbins residents urged to keep fighting quarry/mine plan

About 200 people filled an elementary school cafeteriRobbins Thursday evening hear from Cook County Sheriff's Department officials who urged residents

About 200 people filled an elementary school cafeteria in Robbins Thursday evening to hear from Cook County Sheriff's Department officials, who urged residents to stay alert in fighting a controversial project to create a limestone quarry and mine in the village. | Nick Swedberg/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 14, 2014 6:41AM



The contract signed by Robbins officials regarding a controversial project to create a limestone mine and quarry in the village was illegal, and residents should stay organized if they want to prevent the project, Cook County Sheriff’s Department representatives said Thursday.

About 200 people turned out for the community meeting, most strongly opposed to the project, to hear about the findings from an investigation by the department that concluded that the proposed mine and quarry was not in the best interests of the village or its residents.

Sheriff Tom Dart told the crowd that the inquiry, which ended in January, found several “ethical issues” and perhaps criminal violations surrounding the project.

Dart said a notable one was that about $5,000 in political contributions were made to Robbins Trustee Shantiel Simon’s political committee in 2012 from companies and an employee connected to the developer’s manager. Simon also admitted to investigators that he no longer lived in Robbins, which disqualifies him from being on the village board.

A copy of the investigative report was forwarded to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office for its review and possible criminal charges, Dart said.

A year ago, Robbins trustees approved a contract with Riverside-based ALM Resources to create a limestone quarry on 60 acres, followed by a 169-acre underground mine and asphalt and concrete plants. More than 50 homes would need to be acquired for the project.

A SouthtownStar story weeks later revealed the massive development, creating a major controversy in the village and drawing the interest of Dart and others in his department. In November, Dart announced his investigation and urged village officials to delay the project in light of various concerns about the contract and project plan.

Village trustees voted Nov. 26 to halt the project, pending the results of the sheriff’s department’s inquiry, and it has been on hold since. Dart said Thursday that it was unlikely that ALM Resources would try to proceed under the current contract.

“In our opinion, based on our investigation, it wasn’t a legal contract,” said Cara Smith, a top aide to Dart.

A new contract between ALM and Robbins would need to “start from scratch” and involve a higher degree of transparency as it is drafted, Smith said.

A community group, United Citizens of Robbins, organized Thursday’s meeting, and members indicated they would make sure that residents are better informed regarding the project from this point on. They said another public meeting will be held in several weeks for residents to hear from a geologist and an economist from the University of Illinois.

They will speak about what minerals are beneath homes that may be affected by a quarry and what those materials are worth, said Sharon Doyle of United Citizens of Robbins.

“We’re hoping they (residents) will get pretty charged up again” to fight the proposed development, Doyle said.



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