Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon.
Simon L. Friedman, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied February 4, 1983.
We affirm in part and reverse in part.
This is an action for declaratory judgment brought by Pioneer Processing and Pioneer Development for a determination of their rights to continue development of a hazardous waste site located in Ottawa Township, La Salle County. The trial court entered a final order on March 2, 1982, and an appeal has been taken by each party.
On July 1, 1980, plaintiffs applied to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the issuance of a development permit for the construction of a hazardous waste disposal site on a 177-acre tract of land in La Salle County. Two tracts of land contained within the 177-acre parcel are in dispute and will be referred to as the "well segment" and the "Naplate segment."
The "well segment" is a 44.2-acre tract lying along the northern area of the parcel and within 1,000 feet of several off-site private water wells. The "Naplate segment" consists of an area of 27.6 acres on the eastern part of the site located within 1 1/2 miles of the village of Naplate.
Pursuant to section 21(g) of the Environmental Protection Act, "[i]n counties of population less than 225,000 no hazardous waste disposal site shall be located * * * (2) within 1000 feet of an existing private well or the existing source of a public water supply measured from the boundary of the actual active permitted site and excluding existing private wells on the property of the permit applicant." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1021(g).
According to Charles Russell, a registered professional engineer and plaintiffs' consulting engineer, under the plan submitted to the EPA, the area within the 1,000-foot restriction was not to be used by plaintiffs for the disposal of hazardous waste but was intended for office buildings, laboratories, parking lots and the disposal of non-hazardous waste. On December 22, 1980, the EPA issued a permit to plaintiffs allowing the development and construction of the site, but subsequently plaintiffs' attorney wrote the agency requesting instructions from them on whether they could properly use the well segment area in view of the language of the statute prohibiting a site within 1,000 feet of off-site private wells. Plaintiffs estimated expenditures of $8,000,000 on the site and desired clarification of the question. On January 22, 1981, the agency responded that it was unwilling to take a position on the issue and that plaintiffs would be proceeding with the construction at their own risk. Count II of plaintiffs' complaint requested the court to declare its rights to utilize the well segment under section 21(g) of the Environmental Protection Act.
As indicated, the Naplate segment which consists of an area of 27.6 acres is located within 1 1/2 miles of the corporate limits of the village of Naplate. Section 21(g) of the Environmental Protection Act provides:
"In counties of population less than 225,000 no hazardous waste disposal site shall be located (1) within 1 1/2 miles of the corporate limits as defined on June 30, 1978, of any municipality without the approval of the governing body of the municipality in an official action." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1021(g).)
This requirement became effective on January 1, 1980, and in August and September of 1980, Russell approached the village board concerning their approval of the site's location. On October 20, 1980, the village of Naplate adopted a resolution approving the location of the site within 1 1/2 miles of the village. This resolution was then sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, and the agency issued a permit to plaintiffs on December 22, 1980. On the same day, but later in the evening, the village board of Naplate held a special meeting and rescinded their previous resolution granting approval to the site. In plaintiffs' letter of January 20, 1981, to the EPA they also requested that the EPA issue an opinion of the effect of the village's resolution. On this question, the EPA replied that no opinion would be given and that plaintiffs would proceed at their own risk. In plaintiffs' complaint for declaratory relief they alleged that substantial and permanent improvements would be taking place on the segment and prayed for a determination of the effect of the village's action under section 21(g) of the Act.
On March 2, 1982, the trial court entered its final judgment order following hearing on the merits. The trial court concluded that section 21(g) which prohibits disposal within 1,000 feet of a private well was clear on its face and prohibited plaintiffs from the location of any part of the site within such limit. On the Naplate segment, the court held that the municipality could not rescind its consent once approval had been granted to plaintiffs and they had substantially relied on that authority. The trial court found that plaintiffs had substantially changed their position in reliance on the municipal resolution.
Plaintiffs have appealed from that portion of the order prohibiting the use of the site within 1,000 feet of the off-site private wells, and the defendant has cross-appealed from the court's finding that plaintiffs had substantially relied upon the consent of the village of Naplate to locate the site within 1 1/2 miles of the municipal boundaries.
We first consider plaintiffs' appeal from the trial court's order prohibiting the location of any portion of the site within 1,000 feet of an off-site private well. Plaintiffs argue that the intention of the General Assembly in passing section 21(g) was to protect the public health and safety by providing a buffer zone of 1,000 feet between the actual disposal sites and an off-site private water source. They urge that such a concern for public safety is not affected where the activity taking place within the 1,000 feet is not the actual disposal of hazardous waste but is the location of administrative buildings, laboratories, and the disposal of non-hazardous waste. Plaintiffs contend that such an intention is clear from the unambiguous language of the statute and becomes even more apparent when extrinsic and intrinsic aides of construction are applied. Defendant likewise argues that the ...