JOPLIN, Mo. —
A contested special-use permit for a metal recycling operation on West Seventh Street was granted Monday night by the Joplin City Council.
The council’s agreement came as the result of company officials meeting with residents to address their concerns and placing voluntary restrictions on the operation.
The permit for USA Metal Recycling to operate in the former General Steel building at 2000 W. Seventh St. was granted by a vote of eight council members in favor. One member, Trisha Raney, was absent. Action on the permit was tabled at the council’s June 4 meeting when company co-owner Tom Smith offered to meet with residents who had complaints or concerns. That meeting was held last week, the council was told.
The effort did not make peace with all the residents in the area.
Norm Wininger, 717 S. Roosevelt Ave., told the council Monday that he has lived in his house nearly 20 years and that his neighborhood has been a good one. He said he formerly lived in Lorain, Ohio, where he worked in a steel mill for 11 years. He said operations such as steelyards or metal recycling sites create dust and rust — or graphite — that can accumulate on surrounding buildings and ruin them. He said it was his experience in Ohio that neighborhoods surrounding a steel mill were vacated over time.
“I don’t think I should have to move out just because they’ve got more money than me” to operate the scrap yard, Wininger said. He said General Steel was a quiet operation compared with the scrap yard.
Resident Ashley Cole, 801 S. McKinley Ave., said she was not notified of the meeting last week. She said that regardless of the owner’s stipulations, the noise complaints that will be generated will cost the city money to resolve. “Even if we put all the restrictions in force, it will lower property values,” she said. She said she believes the council had an obligation to protect the residents rather than the scrap yard.
Some neighbors who had previously spoken against allowing the operation did not repeat their opposition this time.
Smith told the council that some of the noise late at night may have been caused by trash trucks or other businesses in the area. He said he has installed a battery of security cameras so that if there is a complaint, the videotape of the time frame can be reviewed. He stipulated to operating only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays to keep noise down at night. Neighbors are to be provided information about how to contact a company representative about concerns.
To try to reduce noise and dust, the business will erect a privacy fence, pave its driveways and parking lots, and keep containers screened from the neighborhood, Smith said.
Told by Councilman Bill Scearce that the use of tractor-trailer beds for signs was a violation of the city’s sign ordinance, Smith said he will remove them. “Our intention is to be a good steward of the community,” he said. “Every problem that comes to us will be addressed.”
Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg said he grew up in a family recycling business, and that he once owned Missouri Steel Castings and understands the business. “It’s important to have recycling, and it will be more important in the future,” he said. He made motions to issue the permit with the voluntary restrictions, and the council approved.
In other action, the council approved a request to use federal grant funding to hire a storm recovery coordinator.
Troy Bolander, the city planning and development director, said a grant of $342,000 was received by the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council and the cities of Joplin and Duquesne for economic development recovery work as a result of the May 2011 tornado. From that fund, a project coordinator is to be hired by Joplin and Duquesne to serve the two towns at a salary in the upper $50,000 range. Another is to be hired by the Truman Coordinating Council for the rural areas beyond the two cities that were hit by the twister.
Bolander said duties will be agreed upon by Joplin and Duquesne officials, and will include coordinating grant opportunities and implementing projects conceived by the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team and the future master developer.
THE JOPLIN COUNCIL APPROVED a contract for $122,839 with CDL Electric for replacement of 1,223 street signs and 659 poles destroyed by the May 2011 tornado.