Village created dumping ground

Visitor Question: We were annexed into the village and then the village created a dumping ground for dirt piles with dump trucks going in and out next to the home at even very early hours, creating dust and noise and causing our time outside to be miserable. Even sleeping and restful time within the home is disturbed. Not to mention letting our dog outside is a problem. Is there anything that can be done?

Editors Reply: Yes, we think you should immediately contact the village and ask them about the project. Ask obvious questions, such as what is happening, why, and when they plan to complete this action. That may or may not set your mind at rest.

If there is an indefinite answer about when the project will be completed, or if their answer gives you the impression that this is something that they are accustomed to doing whenever it suits them, that is when you have every reason to be angry. (We always advise though that no matter how angry you are, you should remain civil and respectful with your officials. After all, they are human beings too, and if you insult and belittle them, that will not do anything to inspire kindness, consideration, and leniency on their part.)

But you could and should ask why you were annexed into a "village" as a residential property if the intent was for the village to have an operation next door that is more akin to industrial land use than to a residential environment. Unless you have a complete assurance that this is a temporary situation, ask to have this operation moved to a different location.

One possibility is that this use can't be moved because it is actually an environmental cleanup of some sort, in which case this trucking operation may go on for a number of months as contaminated or possibly contaminated soil is replaced with clean soil. One of the authors of this site has personal experience of living near a plot where a house including a dentist's office burned down. The resulting clean-up of the soil has taken many months now. These clean-ups can last just a few months or stretch into almost a year, but they may be required before the property owner can sell the property.

Alternatively the village could have taken ownership of some problem property with the intent to clean it up.

So find out what is happening before you plot a course of action. If your village has zoning, check out which zoning district you live in, and which one applies on the lot next door. Learn what zoning regulations, if any, are in effect for the neighboring parcel. You wouldn't think the village would violate its own zoning, but anything is possible.

Ask what the future plan for this land is, and try to get a commitment about the timeline for when this will be accomplished.

Lastly and most importantly, after you are armed with a few of these facts, make some noise around town. Talk with people you know who live in the village, and get them in agreement to help you. Then when there is a meeting of the village board, go there with some friends and complain. Bring photos so that elected officials and the audience can see exactly what is going on. Video taken on your phone also could be effectively passed around the board if the village meetings are small and informal, as is often the case. Also make note of the hours when this activity is occurring; even if it turns out to be legitimate and temporary, there is no reason to have this happening during normal sleeping hours. Report these exact times to your village board.

Remember to remain polite and factual as you complain, but "facts" also include the impact on your property and on your health and well-being.

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