Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald

SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Supreme Court last week ruled that courts must review the decision of a state agency, not a local authority, in pollution cases. In doing so the state's highest court became the fourth decision-making body in the state to pass judgment on the unsuccessful application by the city of Kankakee, in northern Illinois, for a solid-waste landfill. In the case of Town & Country Utilities, Inc. vs. Illinois Pollution Control Board (nos. 101619 and 101652) the Supreme Court overruled an earlier appellate court decision in favor of allowing the landfill. That decision deferred to the original decision by the city of Kankakee to approve an application to develop a solid-waste landfill on some newly-acquired city land. That approval was later overturned by the Illinois Pollution Control Board after hearing an appeal filed by opponents of the landfill. Those opponents were led by the county of Kankakee, which originally petitioned the board to review the city's decision. The Third District Appeals Court overturned the Board's ruling against the city and upheld the city's approval of the landfill. The Supreme Court first decided that the appellate court erred in reviewing the decision of the city and not the Board, as required by statute. Instead the court ruled that the "manifest weight of evidence" review standard must apply to the Board's decision. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that "the Board's conclusion ... is not against the manifest weight of the evidence," wrote Justice Thomas Fitzgerald in the court's opinion.

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