The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 4, 2012

Residents oppose scrap yard permit at Joplin City Council meeting

City issued license by mistake, allowing operations to begin

A metal scrap yard that has set up shop on West Seventh Street has residential neighbors voicing objections, causing the Joplin City Council to delay action Monday night on a permit for the operation.

USA Metal Recycling has applied for a special-use permit to operate a metal collection and processing operation in a former steelyard at 2000 W. Seventh St., property that has long been zoned for heavy industrial use.

The recycler has seven similar operations in Missouri and Arkansas, and it plans to open two more sites soon. Other area cities where the company is doing business include Neosho and Reeds Spring in Missouri, and Lowell and Fayetteville in Arkansas.

The company began work in September to set up shop in Joplin and has been operating for several weeks without the permit because a city business license was issued by mistake, the city staff told the council.

Attorney Dan Whitworth, appearing on behalf of company officials, asked the council to table action on the permit request to allow time for a meeting with residents who spoke against the company’s operations when the permit application went before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The commission recommended 7-0 that the council deny the permit.

The permit would require the company to store its materials in a screened yard, and provide parking for its vehicles and its customers. The council also can set requirements in the permit such as operating hours, which were in dispute Monday night.

Troy Bolander, the city planner, told the council that although the company had asked for its request to be tabled, the public hearing had to be conducted because it had been advertised.

The company wants time to meet with residents to address how complaints about the operation’s noise and dust could be reduced. Company officials have told the city that they plan to build a fence and earthen embankment to try to reduce the noise and dust, and they want to meet with residents to outline their plans.

Seven residents spoke Monday night against the request.

“While we understand the need for the facility,” there are several problems with the operation, said Dave Cunningham, 2104 W. 10th St. “Noise is the biggest problem we have,” and there is increased traffic in an alley between the scrap yard and homes with trucks bringing metal scrap to sell.

Councilman Morris Glaze asked Cunningham if the neighborhood already experienced noise from an existing industry, Thermal Engineering. Cunningham acknowledged that Thermal Engineering creates noise, but he said that happens periodically and not on a daily basis. Cunningham said he bought his house knowing that Thermal Engineering was nearby, but that the recycling plant was not in operation then.

Council members discussed the scrap yard’s hours of operations and were told they are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“The noise is horrendous, and it’s not just at 8 a.m.,” said Gary Youngblood, 1907 W. 10th St. He said the noise starts as early as 6:30 a.m. Another resident, Mary Henson, 2025 W. 10th St., said the noise has started as early as 4 a.m. some days.

John Reynolds, 2101 S. Annie Baxter Ave., said he owns four lots near the plant, and though some are zoned heavy industrial, “I couldn’t give them away if this goes in” because of the noise.

“It gets very aggravating, the noise,” said Rick Porter, 2111 W. Ninth St. He said he cannot leave his windows open even at night because of the noise generated into the late hours. “I understand the need for jobs, but would you want this in your backyard all the time clanging and banging?” he said.

Daniel Horn, of Galena, Kan., an employee, said the company has cleaned up a homeless camp that had existed at the site, along with the remains of methamphetamine labs and other dangerous items. He said the company’s operations would improve the neighborhood by eliminating the camp and its risk of a campfire spreading to neighboring yards and houses.

Glaze made a motion to table the request that was approved by a vote of 7-1. Councilman Jack Golden voted against it. Councilman Bill Scearce was absent.

Councilwoman Trisha Raney then asked how the company could continue to operate if the permit was not issued.

Bolander said a business license that does allow operations was issued by the city staff by mistake.

City Attorney Brian Head said city ordinances permit the city to suspend plant operations until the permit is issued, but since the business license was mistakenly issued, “the city has some culpability” if the company challenged the suspension in court. “We thought it was more prudent to allow them to operate pending tonight’s discussion,” Head said.

The council asked the city staff to reschedule the permit for action at the council’s next meeting, which will be on June 18.

In other business, the council approved the vacation of utility and sewer easements on property being developed for the new Sisters of Mercy Health System hospital at 50th Street and Hearnes Boulevard, and on property on McClelland Boulevard for construction of a new Irving School. Both projects will replace buildings lost in the May 2011 tornado.

New Taco Bell

A NEW TACO BELL could be standing within four to six months at 2601 S. Main St. as a result of council action Monday night. The restaurant was destroyed by the May 2011 tornado. The plan calls for a landscaped outdoor eating area to be constructed along Virginia Avenue behind the restaurant as a buffer to residences east of the site.

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