The approval of a special land use permit allowing a controversial outdoor industrial shredder to be installed in the City of Howell has been formally appealed by the Livingston County Catholic Charities (LCCC) due to the harm it will bring to the community.
LCCC appealed because Holland, Michigan-based metal scrap company Padnos Iron and Metal Co. is seeking to build a large industrial shredder to rip apart cars, trucks and other metal objects on land recently purchased on Lucy Road, just behind LCCC’s Howell facility at 2020 E. Grand River Ave., just east of Lucy Road.
In a release, LCCC said that if approval of the shredder stands, its charitable care mission to the vulnerable population is at risk. LCCC alleges that approval of the special permit is in violation of several City of Howell restrictions, which are in place to protect neighboring properties just like LCCC and the residents who reside in the surrounding area.
“Livingston County Catholic Charities has provided critical services to vulnerable adults at our facility for years, so it is concerning that the City of Howell would approve the county’s first-ever installation of an industrial shredder just behind our building and so close to so many residents,” said Mark Robinson, Executive Director of LCCC. “We are asking the Howell Zoning Board of Appeals to reverse the approval of the shredder facility permit immediately.”
In the release, LCCC said it is fighting against the shredder on two issues: protecting Livingston County’s vulnerable adults, and errors on the part of the Howell Planning Commission:
Protecting Livingston’s Vulnerable Adults
One of LCCC’s key services is the Be Our Guest Adult Day Service (BOGADS), which provides therapeutic and social activities to adults with serious medical conditions such as dementia and provides caregivers a short break from 24-hour care they provide. LCCC also conducts outdoor programs at the facility.
The vulnerable adults participating in the BOGADS program will likely be impacted by the new, disruptive side-effects that typically come along with industrial shredders of this size, making an overall negative impact on the facility and other properties nearby.
Planning Commission’s Approval Errors
LCCC filed its Request for Review on Jan. 3, 2020, officially appealing the City of Howell Planning Commission’s Nov. 20, 2019, approval of a Special Land Use permit for Padnos to install the shredder. The appeal notes that the special shredder permit does not meet the standards of either the Howell Zoning Ordinance or Howell’s Master Plan because placing a large outdoor metal shredding operation near the LCCC, private homes and other adjacent planned mixed use/residential property runs contrary to the overall intent and purpose of those zoning and planning benchmarks. Issues include:
• The City of Howell’s Zoning Ordinance requires metal processing facilities to be located within an enclosed building with paved access roads.
• The City of Howell’s 2015 Master Plan envisioned the area to be a mixed-used area that would attract a variety of employment and business opportunities.
• An agreement under which the property was annexed by the City of Howell from Genoa Township required Howell to foster “quality economic development to benefit the respective communities” and protect adjacent residential properties in Genoa from adverse impacts. A similar agreement exists between Howell and Marion Township.
Instead, neighboring properties, including those located in adjacent communities, will be impacted by the hazards typically associated with such facilities including higher noise and vibration levels, hazardous fires and explosion potential, airborne emissions, noxious odors, smoke and shredded automobile remnants contaminated with mercury, gasoline, oils, lead, Freon, PFAS and PCBs.
Additionally, as many as 65-70 additional trucks transporting hazardous materials each day will be traveling on Grand River Avenue and unpaved Lucy Road, and could impede access to LCCC’s facility and become a traffic nightmare for everyone traveling west on Grand River. There does not appear to have been any Howell-specific testing or studies done in consideration of these issues.
Current Status of the Shredder Approval Process
LCCC filed an appeal of the special use permit with the Howell Zoning Board of Appeals on Jan. 3, 2020. No hearing on the appeal has been scheduled, but the first opportunity for public discussion is at the next meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals on Jan. 22, 2020.
Separately from the controversy over the special use permit, Padnos has requested three zoning variances from the Howell Zoning Board of Appeals that are currently scheduled to be discussed and possibly voted on at its meeting at Howell City Hall on January 22, 2020 at 7:00 PM. LCCC opposes granting these variances as well.