By Jessica Mathews /

A local non-profit is now an intervening party in a lawsuit filed against the City of Howell by a company that wants to install and operate a new metal processing facility that would include a scrap metal shredder.

Padnos Iron and Metal located at 645 Lucy Road was granted site plan and special land use approvals by the City Planning Commission last November but the project has been held up due to COVID-19 and litigation. However in February, the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) unanimously denied all variance requests from Padnos. The BZA does not have authority to reverse the Planning Commission’s earlier decision granting approvals. Two of the variances requested to keep storage areas and driveways gravel as opposed to needing to be paved, while the third was for the allowance of an industrial shredder to be kept outdoors, and not in an enclosed building. Padnos filed suit against the City following the BZA denials. There’s been community opposition to the project with concerns raised about air and noise pollution and groundwater contamination.

The project site is behind Livingston County Catholic Charities facility at 2020 East Grand River. On Thursday, Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Suzanne Geddis ruled that LCCC could intervene in the lawsuit. Officials maintain that if plans to build the shredder were allowed to proceed, LCCC’s mission to care for members of Livingston County’s vulnerable population would be negatively impacted.

LCCC Executive Director Mark Robinson spoke during Wednesday’s virtual Planning Commission meeting, where members voted to grant Padnos a one-year site plan and special land use extension for the project – essentially while things play out in court. Robinson says they’ve provided critical services to vulnerable adults who need protective care at their facility for many years and it is worrisome that such a disruptive and potentially hazardous shredder could be built behind their building. Robinson says they’re seeking to join the lawsuit to support the City of Howell “as they fight off this attempt by Padnos to ignore the will of so many area residents.” A press release from LCCC is attached.

Meanwhile, Howell City Manager Paul DeBuff told WHMI they have not had a chance to review the very recent ruling and therefore could not comment at this time.