Petition for review of order of Pollution Control Board.
JUSTICE GREEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
The extended proceedings giving rise to these appeals are so complex that we summarize only the portions thereof which are necessary to our decision. They began on July 1, 1980, when respondent, Pioneer Processing, Inc. (Pioneer), made application to respondent, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (the Agency) to develop a 177-acre site in La Salle County as a hazardous-waste disposal site pursuant to section 39(a) of the Environmental Protection Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1039(a)). Pioneer or its predecessors had obtained prior permits in regard to the use of the tract or portions thereof, and it sought a modification of that authority. On December 22, 1980, the Agency issued a document permitting Pioneer to develop the entire tract for solidified, special, and hazardous wastes. Various parties appealed that decision to the Pollution Control Board (Board) which entered an order on February 16, 1982, affirming the granting of the permit.
Appeals from the decision of the Board were taken to this court and the decision was affirmed on March 8, 1983. (People v. Pollution Control Board (1983), 113 Ill. App.3d 282, 446 N.E.2d 915.) Then the supreme court granted leave to appeal, consolidated the case with a related case from the Fourth District, and reversed. The matter of Pioneer's request for expanded use of the tract was remanded to the Agency with directions to hold a hearing conducted according to the contested-case provisions of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 127, par. 1016(a)). The supreme court held reversible error occurred when those procedures were not followed at the hearing pursuant to which the questioned permit had been issued. Pioneer Processing, Inc. v. Environmental Protection Agency (1984), 102 Ill.2d 119, 464 N.E.2d 238.
Upon remand from the supreme court, the Agency was faced with a difficult question as to how to proceed. Subsequent to its original issuance of the permit, but more than two years before the supreme court opinion, section 39(c) of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act (Act) was amended, effective November 12, 1981, to provide that a permit for development and construction of a new regional pollution control facility could not issue to entities, except a few sanitary districts, "unless the applicant submits proof to the Agency that the location of said facility" had been approved by a certain local governmental body, which, in this case, was the county board of La Salle County. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1039(c).) The Agency concluded that the new provisions of section 39(c) were applicable to the case on remand. Then, despite the mandate to hold a hearing, the Agency decided to determine first whether the proposed facility was a new regional pollution control facility and, if so, whether Pioneer had submitted proof of county board approval.
After examining Pioneer's original petition for the permit in issue and other documents before it, the Agency concluded that Pioneer sought authority to construct a new regional pollution control facility. On August 30, 1984, the Agency sent a letter by certified mail to Pioneer discussing statutory changes which had taken place since Pioneer's petition had previously been granted and telling Pioneer of the Agency's finding that Pioneer sought authority for a new facility. The letter pointed out various claimed procedural deficiencies of Pioneer's pending petition, the most serious of which was that Pioneer had made no showing that the county board of La Salle County had approved issuance of the permit as section 39(c) then stated to be necessary if the facility was a new regional pollution control facility. The letter concluded that Pioneer's petition was being denied as incomplete but that Pioneer could reapply upon submitting a new petition with additional supporting documents.
Pioneer made no response to the August 30, 1982, Agency letter. Rather, on October 4, 1984, it appealed to the Board (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1040). On January 24, 1985, the Board denied the petition of La Salle County and private citizens, Rosemary Sinon, Marie Madden, and Joan Benya Bernabei, for leave to intervene. On February 7, 1985, the Board denied the Agency's motion for judgment on the pleadings. After a hearing the Board issued an opinion and order ruling that: (1) the Agency's failure to follow the supreme court's mandate to hold a hearing violated the order denying the permit; and (2) the record furnished by the Agency was incomplete. Separate notices of appeal to the court have been filed by the Agency (No. 3-85-0264), La Salle County (No. 3-85-0262), and the interested citizens (No. 3-85-0265). The cases have been consolidated.
The Agency contends that the Board erred by: (1) interpreting the supreme court mandate to require the Agency to hold a hearing; (2) finding the Agency record incomplete; (3) finding that the Agency had suppressed debate; (4) abusing its discretion by refusing to decide the issues before it on appeal from the Agency; (5) denying the Agency's motion for judgment on the pleadings; and (6) permitting certain testimony. La Salle County contends that it should have been permitted leave to intervene before the Board. The interested citizens have adopted the briefs of the Agency.
We affirm the order of the Board reversing the decision of the Agency and remanding the case to the Agency for a hearing. We also affirm the decision of the Board in denying La Salle County leave to intervene.
Analysis of the issues involved must begin with the question of whether the Agency was required by the mandate to hold a hearing or whether it could first rule upon whether the previously filed application upon which it had previously issued a permit was then in proper form. The question is inherently intertwined with the question of whether the new provision of section 39(c) requiring county board approval was applicable on remand. If that new provision were applicable, the Agency was in a somewhat awkward position. The parties agree that section 39.3(c)(i) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 111 1/2, par. 1039.3(c)(i)) would control the hearing. That section speaks in terms of a "complete application" initiating the requirements for a hearing. The Agency considered Pioneer's petition to then be incomplete because Pioneer had not furnished supporting documents to negate the Agency's contention that county board approval was required. For reasons stated subsequently, we hold that the stated new provision of section 39(c) was applicable on remand but the Agency was required by the mandate to hold a hearing.
Our determination that the new section 39(c) is to be applied on remand is based upon the combined application of the following rules. In Maiter v. Chicago Board of Education (1980), 82 Ill.2d 373, 415 N.E.2d 1034, the court held that in determining the statutory requirements for selecting school superintendents in the Chicago public schools, legislation effective after the litigation was commenced was, nevertheless, determinative. The court stated:
"When a change of law merely affects the remedy or law of procedure, all rights of action will be enforceable under the new procedure, without regard to whether they accrued before or after such change of law and without regard to whether or not the action has been instituted, unless there is a saving clause as to existing litigation. [Citations.]" (Emphasis added.) 82 Ill.2d 373, 390, 415 N.E.2d 1034, 1042.
The Martin opinion further explained that, as set forth in Hogan v. Bleeker (1963), 29 Ill.2d 181, 187, 193 N.E.2d 844, even changes in procedure or remedy are to be applied only retrospectively when a constitutionally protected vested right is involved. In Dworak v. Tempel (1959), 17 Ill.2d 181, 161 N.E.2d 258, a statutory change imposing further exposure to liability upon dramshop operators was held to be a change of substance and not of procedure, while in Orlicki v. McCarthy (1954), 4 Ill.2d 342, 122 N.E.2d 513, an amendment decreasing the time in which a cause of action might be brought was held to involve merely a procedural matter not involving vested rights.
• 1 Section 39(c), which states the procedure by which a permit may be granted, sets forth a remedy. One seeking a permit has no vested right in the permit until a final conclusive determination is made as to the issuance of the permit. The amendment to section 39(c) was remedial in nature and can be applied upon a rehearing by the Agency. Such a rule makes sense in a case of this nature because, if the legislature, in the interval between original determination and rehearing, has decided that further restrictions upon granting permits are necessary to protect the public, those restrictions should be applicable to the issuance of new permits.
• 2 Indications in the amended version of section 39(c) and the provisions of section 39.3(c)(i) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 111 1/2, par. 10039.3(c)(i)) that the questions concerning county board approval will usually be determined prior to hearing do not supersede the requirements of the supreme court mandate. The clear intent of the mandate was to return the case to the stage where a hearing should have been held and not to return it to the stage where the sufficiency of the petition is in issue. Where, as here, the mandate of a court of review is precise and unambiguous, the mandate must be followed by the tribunal to which it is issued. (City of Springfield v. Allphin (1980), 82 Ill.2d 571, 413 N.E.2d 394.) A hearing ...