Company asks for application fee refund from Gibson City

GIBSON CITY – Eco Manufacturing, which announced that Gibson City was its preferred site for a plasma gasification plant in February, has now asked for a refund of its application fee.

Council members voted unanimously at Monday night's meeting to refund $15,737 of the $20,000 that Eco paid in April under the town's pollution control facility siting ordinance.

The application fee was designed to cover the city's costs to conduct public hearings to determine if the city would approve the site. The siting approval would have been the first step in a process governed by Illinois EPA regulations.

The refund represents what is left over after some initial engineering and legal fees were spent, according to city officials.

"It's their money and they want to have use of it," Mayor Dan Dickey said of the remaining balance. Despite the request for a refund, officials remain hopeful the firm will reapply.

"They do have plans to reapply," Dickey told council members. He said he has been in contact with company officials, but doesn't know when they might reapply.

The firm intended to build the nation's first commercial plasma gasification plant, designed to vaporize hazardous waste and turn it into nontoxic byproducts by using extreme heat.

A 105-acre tract on Gibson City's west side under option by Eco from Warfield Enterprises was annexed into the city limits in January and rezoned from agricultural to commercial use.

By late June, however, the firm announced it was withdrawing the siting application, but officials indicated then they would reapply.

Company spokesman Garrett Gates indicated then that the company wanted to address issues of land values and environmental concerns being raised by a small group led by Erika Brewer, a New York City resident who owns large acreage near the site. But Brewer repeatedly has indicated she is unwilling to talk to company officials, Dickey said.

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