It appeared as if more bad news was on the agenda for the parties involved in the ongoing Saia saga, with last night's meeting previously set as a for a forced annexation of surrounding property if an agreement could not be reached.
However, the board passed a motion to have staff begin drafting an annexation agreement of the property and will possibly vote on it at the May 23 board meeting, after a public hearing takes place.
“I'm very pleased,” said Chestnut Hills resident representative Steve Less, outside of the Village Hall. “We were finally able to reach an agreement between all three parties – we just want our wall.”
Less added that when forced annexation was first proposed in June of last year, he did not think it would be almost a year-to-date when mitigation measures finally began.
Although the residents of Chestnut Hills subdivision, the Village of Burr Ridge, Saia Motor Freight and Saia's land owner had appeared to reach an agreement last month, it was announced that land owner with certain aspects of the proposed annexation - specifically whether the property should remain in perpetuity or be subject to a sunset clause.
Negotiations fell apart when Rogulic said he wanted two years to find a new tenant should Saia leave. Under a forced annexation that period would be six months, and the Village had earlier agreed to allow one year.
Tim Dwyer, who is representing Rogulic said his client doubted that Saia would leave, but “10 years ago I couldn't have predicted General Motors would go bankrupt” and that his client just wanted some protection.
Attorney Scott Hargadon, who has represented Saia for the past 10 months, said that while his client was not directly involved in the current dispute over the sunset clause as they are just the current lease holder, it was still in Saia's best interest that an agreement be made. He said he doubts Saia will leave the current property.
However, it was the residents of Chestnut Hills who had the final say, informing the board they were fine with two years and simply wanted an agreement struck so work could begin on a sound mitigation wall.
The board, at the urging of resident spokesman Less, attempted to set a date for construction to begin. However, Hargadon said due to the extensive costs of sound mitigation, “until the dotted line is signed” Saia will not begin any actual construction. But adding that if an agreement was drawn up promptly, something could be underway in late June.
Other agreements will place a moratorium on any new sound studies for two years, however, Mayor Gary Grasso said it is not a two-year pass for Saia to operate as normal and the annexation agreement will include timelines for some of the mitigation measures to begin.
Hargadon said that silencing the dock plates has proved difficult because the items are not readily available on the market for doing so and also asked that residents and Village staff be patient with operational changes that Saia has agreed to make.
He said that incorporating a best-practice employee program for sound abatement could take time.