By Jessica Mathews /

A virtual public hearing is scheduled tomorrow on an air permit request tied to a controversial scrap yard expansion project and industrial shredder in the City of Howell.

Padnos Iron and Metal is proposing to install and operate a new metal processing facility at 645 Lucy Road. If approved, it would include a scrap metal shredder and systems to separate waste material from recyclable metals. The project has been on hold due to COVID-19 and litigation. It has drawn vocal opposition from the community, with concerns raised about air and noise pollution, as well as groundwater contamination.

The company had initially sought three variances for their site - which already had site plan approval and a special land use permit granted by the Planning Commission. In February, the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) unanimously denied all three requests, while also reminding residents it did not have the authority to reverse the Planning Commission’s earlier decision granting approvals. Padnos later filed a lawsuit against the City of Howell based on the BZA denial. 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. Most recently, the Planning Commission voted to grant Padnos a site plan and special land use extension, with the stated thought being that it was in the City’s best interest to grant the one-year extension so long as the litigation is open.

The proposed equipment associated with the project would have air emissions at levels requiring an air permit. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy or EGLE has been accepting comments on that permit request and a virtual meeting and public hearing is scheduled at 6pm tomorrow. The meeting will provide background information regarding the air permitting process, information regarding the proposed permit, a question and answer session and take comment on the record during the public hearing portion.

EGLE says all statements received during the public comment period will be considered by the decision-maker prior to a final ruling being made on the proposed permit. Once all comments are considered, then the decision-maker could approve the permit as written, approve with changes, or deny the permit. Information about how to access the virtual meeting can be found through the link.