New Ban Puts Winnetka on Track Toward a Cleaner Future

Tonight the Village Council of Winnetka stood firm with many of their residents and against heavy lobbying by the coal tar sealer industry. After nearly 2 hours of public comment, they passed a ban of coal tar pavement sealers with a vote of 4 to 1.

Winnetka is Illinois’ second community to pass a ban. South Barrington did a few years ago. Yesterday the Chicago Tribune spoke with a South Barrington public official about that ban:

“The coal tar industry reps were at one half-day seminar that I attended to listen to the research,” South Barrington Village President Paula McCombie said. “They presented, in my opinion, no factual evidence to dispute the research when they spoke. There is factual research on the hazards of coal tar sealants.”

Uncertainty was the tenor of decision-makers leading up to the vote. After months of discussion by both the Village Board of Trustees and Environmental and Forestry Commission and voluminous information from advocates for a ban and industry representatives, more testimony was given which was reported to be an even split between residents speaking for the ban and industry reps speaking against it.

Some Village Trustees saw this as a clear way forward for the community. Others saw it as a overreach of their authority. In the end it passed with one council member absent.

The actual ordinance is scheduled to go into effect in 2015 with a citizens’ communication plan to start in the in the fall of 2014. It will require all applicators, with the exception of homeowners, to be licensed with the Village and to certify that no coal tar sealers have been used.

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