By Jessica Mathews /

Although a lawsuit seeking to stop a controversial industrial shredder project in the City of Howell was dismissed, an attorney says the order was still in their favor.

Padnos Iron & Metal on Lucy Road already has needed state and local approvals to construct an industrial car shredder and more recently worked out an agreement with the City to extend water service to the site.

The City’s Board of Zoning Appeals had originally denied variances related to the metal shredding operation, which Padnos appealed. Padnos and the City eventually reached a settlement, in which Padnos dismissed the appeal and agreed to comply with City’s zoning ordinances.

Attorney Jamie Stewart represents Matem LLC and Livingston County Catholic Charities. Matem owns a nearby office building that the non-profit leases. Both were intervening parties in the lawsuit, which Stewart said the court dismissed over their objections.

Then in June of 2021, Stewart said her clients filed a lawsuit against Padnos alleging public nuisance and that proposed plans did not comply with City ordinances. They argue the shredding operation was not fully enclosed nor was the shredding equipment, and the enclosure did not constitute a building because it didn’t have a roof.

The City was not a party to that lawsuit.

An order dismissing the complaint was entered this month by Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Suzanne Geddis.

Stewart attended Monday night’s Council meeting and spoke during call to the public. While the case was dismissed, Stewart said the opinion was still favorable as the court found her clients did have standing to bring claims and that damages would be different for them versus the community at large.

Stewart asserted the claim was ultimately dismissed because Padnos had not started construction yet and she wanted to bring it to the attention to the City. She questioned what the City intends to do and asked if it “intends to continue representing to the public that Padnos plans to comply with the ordinances when it is now abundantly clear that they do not”.

The full order, which is attached, states the complaint was dismissed without prejudice “so as to allow Plaintiffs to return to this Court should Padnos commence construction on the project, or operate the facility, in a manner that is not in compliance with the applicable Zoning Ordinance”.

City Manager Erv Suida told WHMI the City had no official remarks to Stewart’s comments.

It has been noted at meetings that air and water quality, along with noise and odor issues, are all regulated extensively by the EPA and the state of Michigan, not the City.