A salvage yard operator in Howell is preparing for a hearing on a proposed industrial shredder while a local charitable organization continues to oppose the project.

In November, Padnos Iron and Metal was granted preliminary site plan approval and a special land use permit by the City of Howell Planning Commission to add a tower building and scrap shredder to their property at 645 Lucy Road. Howell Community Development Director Tim Schmitt says the Holland-based company is set for a hearing January 22nd with the local Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) for a hearing and decision on three items related to the site: the use of gravel in the storage area, the use of gravel in the parking area, and the allowance of equipment outdoors. Schmitt said, “That’s all they’re reviewing. They can’t overturn the Planning Commission’s decision. Even if they were to turn down the variances, the applicant can make changes to meet the code and it’s still approvable.”

Unhappy with the approvals and prospect of an outdoor shredder, Protect Livingston and Livingston County Catholic Charities are protesting the decision. Schmitt said that Padnos believes that what they are proposing to have outdoors doesn’t meet the definition of a shredder, and so he and the City are waiting to see how they approach it.

In a Facebook post, Protect Livingston, a group formed by Livingston County Board of Commissioners Chair Don Parker, is asking residents if Livingston County should be the place other counties send their junk cars and metal waste. Parker also represents a developer who wants to build houses near the site. They are against the potential BZA approval to allow the scrapper to be run outside, citing less protection for residents from fires, noise, explosions, and air pollution. Schmitt says that Padnos has provided the City with a great deal of information on how they try to avoid those problems. He said many environmental concerns will be addressed by the air quality permit that state issues, and that there is already a lot of ground water monitoring on the site from its former use as a landfill. Any issues, should they occur, Schmitt says, will be caught “very quickly.”

Livingston County Catholic Charities appealed the special land use permit, but was denied. Located at the corner of Grand River and Lucy Road, Executive Director Mark Robinson says their concern is two-fold; one is about the amount of traffic that would dramatically increase if the vehicle shredding operation were approved and secondarily, the potential for noise, air and water pollution that would have a negative impact on their clientele, most of whom are dealing with vulnerable conditions like mental health challenges, dementia or drug addiction. He says they are currently leasing their facility, but had been planning on purchasing the property. But if the shredder operation is approved, they may have to consider looking for a new space, which most certainly require additional funds, which in turn could negatively impact their services. He also says their current location is ideal, as it is almost the dead-center of the county, easily accessible off of Grand River and less than a mile from the county's East Complex at Grand River and Chilson Road, where many of their clients also receive services.

The BZA meeting with Padnos will take place at 7pm on the 22nd, at Howell City Hall. Both Schmitt and Robinson will be guests this Sunday morning at 8:30 on WHMI’s Viewpoint. (MK/JK)