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East Dundee, Barrington Hills Spar Over Plan For Auto Auction Yard

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Two neighboring northwest suburbs have been battling over a business that one village said is a potential threat to the safety of the area's drinking water.

Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) has announced plans to relocate its auto auction yard to the only section of East Dundee that sits in Cook County.

CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports that land borders a Barrington Hills subdivision, and residents of Barrington Hills have expressed concerns the proposed auto auction yard would threaten their health.

In a month or two, the rolling prairie behind Terri Holt's back yard could be replaced by row after row of totaled cars, waiting to be sold overseas by IAA.

"It's gonna be a hundred feet [away], which is nothing. It's right there," she said. "It's gonna just destroy our way of life, in so many ways."

But Holt, her neighbors, and Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud said aesthetics surrounding the proposed yard - which actually sits in East Dundee - isn't their primary worry.

Abboud said the bit worry is possible water contamination, because the entire village depends on well water. There is an aquifer running right underneath the proposed site, and that aquifer feeds into wells for nearby homes.

Abboud said he's worried gasoline, oil, antifreeze, and other fluids from the damaged cars that would be stored at the auto auction yard could eventually seep into the well water.

"Imagine if your well was right here. Would you want your children drinking from that water for the next 25 years?" he said.

But East Dundee Village Administrator Robert Skurla said he believes the plan poses no risk to local water wells. He said environmental studies have shown the ground water will be safe.

Skurla also said IAA officials will implement safeguards, like a monitoring well, 200 feet of blue clay to prevent seepage, and regular water tests to check for contamination.

"I am not insensitive to the concerns of Barrington Hills, nor the residents," he said. "It's not any more dangerous than a parking lot."

IAA officials also said the business is safe, but that's not enough for Barrington Hills officials and residents, who also noted the parcel of land IAA would use sits next to a nature preserve.

They've taken their concerns to Cook County Commissioner Gregg Goslin (R-14th) and have planned on attending a Cook County Forest Preserve District board meeting on Wednesday.

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