Concerns over recycling business discussed

SALEM – Concerns about the operation of a recycling business on West Pershing Street will be discussed during an upcoming Rules and Ordinances Committee meeting, along with a possible change in the zoning code regarding scrap yards.

The meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. May 28 in city hall council chambers.

Councilman Clyde Brown, who has been very vocal about concerns regarding Downtown Metals & Recycling, raised the issue at the previous council meeting and brought it up again Wednesday night with both Mayor John Berlin and city Law Director Brooke Zellers during their reports.

Brown questioned Zellers about how the business came into compliance with the city’s zoning code, claiming the business remained out of compliance with the rules.

In April 2012, the city issued a letter to the business located at 423 W. Pershing St. saying it may be in violation of Chapter 1183.01 city zoning code which states the permitted uses within an M-2 Heavy Industrial Zone District.

According to the letter, that chapter refers to “manufacturing processes conducted wholly within an enclosed building consisting in whole or in part of cutting, forging, stamping, casting, extruding, drilling, rolling, welding, brazing, soldering, sawing, cleaning, sand or shot blasting, grinding, enameling, painting, galvanizing, finishing, heat treating or machining.”

The letter said “it was our understanding when metal recycling began, in 2009, at this location, it would consist of types of recycled metals that would be carried into the building with no exterior processing of metals. Our investigation has revealed that sometime in the last year, you began cutting up automobiles and other large metal objects on the outside of your building. This is a violation of Chapter 1183.01 (b).”

The letter ordered the business to come into compliance within 30 days of the date of the letter and noted “this shall consist of the processing of all metals ‘wholly within an enclosed building,’ in addition to advising this office of the product you are manufacturing.”

Since then, there have been several meetings between city officials and the owner of Downtown Metals and legal counsel for both. Earlier this year, Brown said he was told by Zellers during a council meeting that the city would likely be filing an injunction against the business and now he’s saying they’re in compliance. He questioned how.

“You were at the meeting where they were determined to be in compliance,” Zellers said to Brown. “I thought it was pretty clear at that meeting.”

The business has installed a fence, which Brown said makes it hard to see what’s going on outside. Zellers told him if he sees a violation, he needs to contact the zoning officer. He said he can’t file for injunctive relief without a documented violation.

Berlin noted that he recommended to Brown previously to take action with the Rules & Ordinances Committee and possibly revise the zoning code.

A resident who lives across from the property addressed council and said “there are violations going on all the time and nobody wants to do anything about them.”

He complained about his sidewalk being run over and said he’s talked to the police and the zoning people.

Council President Mickey Cope Weaver asked that the Rules & Ordinances Committee of city council schedule a meeting to address the resident’s concerns.

Brown said he’s not leading a charge against the scrap yard, but said he’s “simply supporting what the people ask me to do,” noting he’s been hearing complaints about the location since before he was elected back on council.