The owner of a recycling plant was denied for a second time a special use permit to operate at a former manufacturing plant.
The Washington Planning and Zoning Commission Monday night voted 6-2 to deny the request by Jeff Gardner, owner of Franklin County Recycling and Salvage, LLC, for a special use permit to open the business at 1699 W. Main St., the site of a former Sporlan Valve plant.
Planning commission members who voted in favor of denying the request were Mark Kluesner, Tony Gokenbach, Mark Hidritch, Carolyn Witt, Samantha Cerutti Wacker and Mayor Sandy Lucy.
Those voting against the motion to deny the request were John Borgmann and Chuck Watson. Commission chairman Tom Holdmeier abstained from the vote.
The permit request must still go before the city council. A public hearing is slated for May 21, but the request will not be up for a vote this month, according to Sal Maniaci, community and economic development director.
The property has been vacant for a number of years. It is zoned M-2 heavy industrial, but given the nature of the proposed use and the requirement for outdoor storage of equipment and materials, a special use permit is required to obtain occupancy for the use, including for outside storage.
To the east of the site is the River Oaks subdivision where there are 47 homes with about 115 residents. Also nearby (south) is Mount Carmel Estates where there is one home already built and another under construction, and 10 lots for sale. It is owned by Shawn Mayall, of S-K Contractors.
According to Gardner, he has outgrown his current location at 6365 Bluff Road, Washington, and purchased this property to expand.
This is the second request for a special use permit to operate the recycling center. In January, the planning commission voted 5-3 to deny the request. Gardner pulled the request before it reached the city council.
Then, in April, the council approved a request to divide the 17-acre Sporlan Valve lot. Gardner explained that because his special use permit request failed earlier this year, he has to sell a portion of his land to pay his bills.
Ray Frankenberg II, an engineer with BFA Civil Engineering and Land Surveying and a River Oaks resident, speculated that the intent of dividing the property is to create a buffer between the lot where the salvage yard would be located and the 185-foot radius in which neighbors would be required to be notified for conditional use permits.
Monday night, Frankenberg said he was representing many of the residents of River Oaks subdivision.
“We raise our children and grandchildren here,” he said. “The discharge of this junk is going to be running into our backyards.”
Frankenberg claims Gardner was “bullying” residents stating that there could be less appealing uses on the property, such as a pig farm, if his permit was not approved.
Gardner also used rope to mark the property line between his lot and the homes in River Oak, Frankenberg added. He stated that the property line was not professionally surveyed, However, Gardner later pointed out that 21 Design surveyed the property.
Frankenberg further stated that a recycling plant does not fit in with the surrounding property, and the noise and water runoff created would be a detriment to the neighbors.
“These residents are in the vicinity,” he said. “You can’t separate it 185 feet and say they are not.”
Frankenberg showed commission members a photo of Gardner’s current business, stating that the vehicles openly stored are easily visible over an 8-foot barrier, and the proposed 12-foot fence at the Sporlan site would not shield neighbors from the cars stored outside to be recycled.
“There’s quite a few of them — this looks like the mainstay of the business,” Frankenberg said. “I don’t think the homeowners should be asked to tolerate this.”
Gardner noted that the image was taken after he had just received a large amount of cars and had not yet began the salvage process.