The City of Howell Planning Commission on a 5-2 vote approved plans for an expansion of the former Regal Recycling property now owned by PADNOS Iron and Metal during a standing-room only meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.
Parts of the plan — particularly the addition of an industrial shredder — caused great concern among area residents after information about problems with them surfaced on social media.
PADNOS representatives addressed concerns about traffic, noise, vibrations, air quality, and fires.
Keith Noblett of PADNOS said the company uses a world-class inbound inspection process that minimizes the risk of fires.
Entry and exit to the site via Latson Road is preferred, and should not increase or congest downtown Howell, according to staff review with the team from PADNOS. Vibrations at the PADNOS facility in Holland was from a 1970s-era machine; newer machines have better controls and monitoring. Noise ratings are expected to be 40-60 decibels, which is somewhere between conversation and vehicle traffic.
Mark Robinson, executive director of Livingston County Catholic Charities, located at 2020 E. Grand River Ave., expressed concern about the industrial shredder since LCCC facilities are located so near to the PADNOS facility. He said that LCCC has rented its facilities since 1999 and has plans to purchase them; however, the expansion of the PADNOS site and the installation of the industrial shredder makes purchasing a harder sell.
“I don’t know that I can ask my board of directors and the people who donate to us to spend the money to make that kind of investment,” Robinson said, citing concerns that the agency’s clients will be put at risk because of “whatever is floating” in the air because of outdoor processing, as well as the increase in traffic.
Donald Parker, chair of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, spoke against the project at the meeting. He is representing a builder who emerged with plans to construct a housing development near the PADNOS last week. (You can read the WHMI story about the development proposal by clicking here.)
Parker also reportedly heads up a group called Protect Livingston, which Howell Mayor Nick Proctor called a “shadowy” organization during the meeting. Protect Livingston has been opposing the PADNOS plans on its Facebook page, which was created just a month ago.
Proctor moved to approve the site plan with conditions — including state air permit, ZBA approvals, construction meeting standards, utilization of the right equipment, including industrial fans, no burning on site, details on storage, no vehicles viewable from property on roadway, city design standards to be met, hours restricted to 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The motion carried 5-2, with Robert Spaulding and Maryann Vunkovich voting against it.
— Kathryn Tuck contributed to this report