Muñoz Debuts Environmental Notice Proposal at Fiery Town Hall Meeting

Published July 13, 2018
Illinois 1st District State Senator Antonio "Tony" Muñoz announces State Bill 3623 at the Tuesday, July 10, town hall meeting.

At his town hall meeting on Tuesday, July 10, Illinois 1st District State Senator Antonio "Tony" Muñoz announced a proposed state bill to mandate notice of new community sources of pollution, a response to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's flubs in conducting timely outreach about the new MAT Asphalt plant project at 4010 S. Damen Ave.

If passed, State Bill 3623 would mandate that the agency send notice to elected officials within 15 days of application of a permit for "any type of facility, equipment, vehicle, vessel or aircraft that will impact air or water pollution." Currently, the agency notifies community leaders as part of their environmental justice program using internal procedures and standards without force of law. Because of an oversight at the agency, only two weeks were provided for community notification about the MAT Asphalt plant project before its permit was granted.

 
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Buy, sell, or rent  your McKinley Park home from Expert Realtor Jim Hankes.

Announcement of the bill took place at the start of an emotional and very well-attended town hall meeting, which packed over 100 residents and community stakeholders into the basement of Blessed Sacrament Parish church. In addition to Muñoz, numerous other community leaders attended, including representatives of the new Neighbors for Environmental Justice group, 12th Ward Independent Political Organization President Billy Drew, 9th District Police Commander Randall Darlin, MAT Asphalt partner Joe Haughey and 12th Ward Chief of Staff Samie Martinez, who engaged Muñoz in heated discussion about the October 2017 environmental justice letter from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Although Muñoz' office is listed as a recipient of this letter, Muñoz said at the town hall meeting he never received it.

Town Hall Meeting 20180711 Drew speaking12th Ward IPO President Billy Drew replies to an audience member at the town hall.Outbursts from audience members punctuated parts of the meeting, although several community members had a chance to speak on issues and ask questions, all surrounding the asphalt plant. A major area of concern that audience members identified was increased traffic from asphalt trucks. A representative from the National Latino Education Institute, which lies adjacent to the asphalt plant, spoke of the negative impacts that the increased traffic is having on their facility and enterprise.

Many audience comments and outbursts were critical of the asphalt plant project and the role of 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas. Haughey answered several audience questions about MAT Asphalt and noted, as he has at past community meetings, the fully permitted, inspected and approved nature of the plant; the project's state-of-the-art equipment; the 100 percent private funding of the project; the use supported by existing zoning; and the environmentally responsible nature of the plant's operation. He estimated that full production would begin within days of the town hall meeting.

Muñoz announced that this will be the first of several town hall meetings, with dates and details to be shared by his office once they become available.

Town Hall Meeting 20180711 audienceAudience members fill the front half of the packed meeting room at the town hall meeting as MAT Asphalt partner Joe Haughey answers questions about the plant's operation.


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