Last-Minute Information Stalls Decision On Scrap Yard Variances

The City of Howell Board of Zoning Appeals has held off making a decision on variances for a local scrap business as last minute documentation needs to be reviewed.

Roughly 45 were in attendance, Wednesday night, for the BZA’s meeting where officials were expected to make decisions on 3 variance requests from Padnos Iron and Metal, off of Lucy Road. Two of the variances related to gravel driveways and storage areas, and the other is for being allowed to operate an industrial shredder outside, and not in an enclosed building. This shredder, along with the variance requests, has drawn opposition from Livingston County Catholic Charities, whose offices are located down the street from the scrap yard, a group known as Protect Livingston, and neighbors. BZA Chair Sean Munsey opened up the meeting informing the crowd that those decisions would not be made at that meeting. Munsey said that they received a packet of informational material from Protect Livingston and attorney Alan Green that was over 100 pages long earlier in the day, calling it likely a delay tactic. Coming in so close to the meeting, Munsey said board members did not have the appropriate time to review it.

Though it was the only business item on the agenda, Munsey still opened public comment. Several in attendance were on topic, though many used their time to vent frustrations with Padnos and the city for going through with approvals, and what it might mean to their existing quality of life.

BZA Member Randall Mattson at one point spoke out to tell the audience that they had limited power and couldn’t reverse Planning Commission decisions. The BZA only has the power to approve or deny the variance requests.

Most in attendance were against the granting of the variances, particularly the one about allowing the industrial shredder to operate outdoors. They are worried about noise pollution, air pollution, and fluids getting into the water supply. Air quality permits are required by the state for uses like this.

Alan Green, the lawyer who drafted the 100-page packet, apologized for its late delivery, saying it wasn’t meant to be used as a delay tactic. While saying he wasn’t representing them in this, Green said neighboring Genoa Township and Marion Township officials are united in wanting the City of Howell to hold Padnos to adherence of the zoning regulations with no variances. County Board of Commissioners Chair and attorney for Protect Livingston, Don Parker, asked the BZA to consider that the zoning ordinance is in place for a reason, and that reason is to protect the residents. Parker also represents a developer who wants to build homes near the site. Marc Robinson of LCCC showed the Board an example of an industrial shredder being worked indoors in Minneapolis, and asked the BZA to look deeper into it.

The BZA tabled the decisions until their next meeting, which is not yet scheduled. When a date is decided, it will be posted on the City of Howell’s website. (MK/JK)

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