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State and Local Government Roles in Reviewing New Facilities

In Illinois, local governments have the authority and responsibility to approve the location of new facilities proposed for their communities. This is done through local zoning or siting process.

Local Government Decisions

These decisions are made through municipal or county zoning ordinances, village or county boards, zoning boards of appeal, and economic development or planning departments. Local zoning decisions are often based upon factors such as land use, property value and the local economy. If you have land use or zoning questions, you should contact the local zoning authority for more information.

Local Siting Decisions

Illinois law requires local governments to follow a "siting review process" when considering proposals for facilities that commercially manage waste-including waste storage sites, sanitary landfills, waste disposal sites, waste transfer stations, waste treatment facilities, and waste incinerators. "Siting" does not apply to factories, power plants, and other facilities that do not manage waste.

"Waste management facilities" are required to obtain "siting approval" from local governments. As a component of Illinois' siting review process, local authorities are to consider, among other criteria, the effect of such a facility on quality of life issues in the community such as:

  • Traffic patterns
  • Adjacent property values
  • Noise/odor impacts
  • Compatibility with the character of the surrounding area

Local siting authorization does not relieve the developer from meeting and securing all necessary zoning approvals for a proposed facility. A more in depth explanation of the local siting process is provided in the brochure, "Siting a Pollution Control Facility in Illinois." The City of Chicago is exempt from the state siting process described in this brochure. Please contact the City of Chicago for further information at (312)744-5000.

Illinois EPA Permit Decisions

Facilities that are required to have pollution permits must obtain them from the Illinois EPA before construction and operation can begin. Illinois EPA's role is to determine whether the design and proposed operations of the facility comply with environmental regulations. Illinois EPA is not allowed to consider quality of life issues in permit decision-making.

Examples of issues that Illinois EPA considers, depending on the type of permit, include:

  • How much pollution is released to the environment compared to what is required by environmental regulations.
  • Whether the pollution control equipment meets standards.
  • The structural integrity of tanks, containers or other waste-containing units.
  • Proximity to a flood plain or geologic fault.

More information concerning the applicable environmental regulations for a specific type of facility is available on the Illinois Pollution Control Board web page.

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