Noise complaints over Indeck power plant continue in Niles

Published 2:38 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023

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NILES — Dozens of Howard Township residents showed up again at Monday’s Niles City Council meeting to ask the city for help in getting relief from the plant noise and vibrations that continue to plague them. 

City officials again expressed sympathy and Mayor Nick Shelton vowed to stand with them to find a solution. 

Monday’s meeting was at least the third meeting this year where Howard Township residents came to voice their concerns. The Indeck plant is located at the north end of the city’s Industrial Park and is surrounded by Howard Township. The noise from the plant had been expected to stop last summer when the plant began operating but has not. 

“Let’s start the conversation with Indeck,” Shelton said at the end of Monday’s meeting. “I did hear that they were putting up a wall barrier and we had hopes that it would work but I’m hearing from you that it didn’t. I know it’s frustrating. I ran for mayor to represent the people and I will fight for you.” 

Earlier in the meeting, he told residents to continue to come to the council and report what’s going on. 

“Indeck was invited to come tonight and they’re not here,” he noted. “We have an agreement with them and will hold them to it. This has to stop. I will help spearhead a meeting with Indeck and will continue to hold them accountable until they fix it.” 

Shelton wasn’t the only city official vowing to stand with the Howard Township residents. Three council members also spoke out and commiserated with those being bothered by the noise from the plant. 

Councilmember John DiCostanzo said that while he understands it can take time for a company to pinpoint the cause of a problem, he thinks Indeck needs to be more open and the problem needs to be permanently fixed. “Thank you all for taking the time to share your pain with us,” he said. 

“I think this is terrible that you have had to endure and tolerate the noise,” Councilmember Georgia Boggs said. “We’re behind you, we’re with you. We know your lives are just in an uproar with this. We’re willing to work as hard as we can to fix the situation.” 

Councilmember Gretchen Bertschy said she drove through the Misty Acres subdivision near the plant. “It was not as much about what I could hear but what I could feel,” she said. “I’m trying to understand how we can fix it. A sound study becomes a moot point, it is a vibration issue more than a decibel issue. There needs to be a vibration measurement.” 

For their part, residents said they plan to continue to come to meetings and would like to be able to sit down with Indeck officials. They said the company is responsible for permanently fixing the situation even if it means shutting down the plant temporarily. 

Laurie Gregory lives in South Bend but often stays with her elderly mother. She said the noise heard at her mother’s home on Creek Road is ongoing and terrible. “This is insane, I haven’t slept in three days,” she said. 

Chris Edinger lives in Misty Acres. “Some nights it sounds like a jet engine,” she said. “If they want to be a good neighbor, they would do something about it, at least at night. I don’t believe it that Indeck doesn’t know what’s causing it.” 

John Fairres lives on Thompson Road near the plant. “I’m very frustrated and sleep deprived,” he said. “It’s been unbearable for almost two years. It used to be a nice neighborhood to live in. If I sell my house now, I will lose money.” 

Melody Van Lue had similar concerns. “It’s like a vacuum clean running day and night on your front porch,” she said. “I’ve got no chance to sell my property, who would want to live there? 20 years ago, it was wonderful, peaceful and quiet. This noise never stops. I would like the company to come and listen, I don’t think they care.” 

“I would like you to ask Indeck to talk to us,” Diane Hill said. She lives in Sumnerville but her elderly mother and aunt live in Howard Township. “We want to get our questions answered … I hear the stress in people’s voices who live there.” 

“The noise is very irritating, it’s just a constant hum,” Norm Shefsick said. “… I’m probably going to be downsizing and I don’t think I’ll get my money out of my home. I hope you take this seriously and not think we’re going away. I’m also not enthused about the lighting, their lights brighten up the whole sky.” 

Vicky Jurgonski said she was among those opposing the power plant over two decades ago when they enlisted the help of Muhammad and Lonnie Ali to their cause. “We contacted people who lived near the Indeck plant in Illinois and noise was a problem then,” she said. “I was hoping things would be better now with more modern technology.”