MODESTO — A south Modesto recycling business has run afoul of Stanislaus County after neighbors complained about the noise and dust produced by scrap metal processing.
In the fall, the county notified Central Valley Metal Recycling that it would not renew its business license and demanded that it stop its scrap metal operations. The county said the business's operation no longer was consistent with the zoning for the area.
Central Valley continued to operate and hired an attorney, but the owners said they have taken steps to be a better neighbor.
The business is in the 500 block of South Ninth Street in an unincorporated section of Modesto. It takes in aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic, cardboard and metal.
Residents living in homes east of the business have complained about the noise and dust the recycler generates six days a week. The business is closed Sundays.
"You have to keep your doors and windows closed because of the noise and dust," said Terri Lujan, who lives on Bystrum Road behind Central Valley Recycling.
Problem worse in recent years
Neighbors say the dust from the heavy equipment processing scrap metal can leave a thick coat on cars and homes. Lujan and other neighbors said the problem has gotten worse in recent years after Central Valley ramped up its operations.
Central Valley has operated since 1992 on South Ninth Street. It added scrap metal recycling in 2009 when renewing its business license for three years, said Angela Freitas, county planning and community development director.
Freitas said after that, the county started receiving complaints about the business from residents living in homes east of it. She said before 2009, Central Valley mainly had been processing household recyclables, such as aluminum cans.
But Central Valley co-owner Rich Francis said his business has recycled scrap metal for about a decade. He acknowledged, though, that in recent years, Central Valley spent several hundred thousand dollars on equipment and upgrades and more than doubled its work force to about two dozen employees.
Central Valley Recycling and its attorneys have been meeting with county officials and will continue to do so. Freitas said she hopes that within a month, the county and Central Valley "are on a path to resolving this."
That path could include Central Valley taking measures to address neighbors' concerns as it continues operations on South Ninth Street, or the county deciding that Central Valley cannot continue its scrap metal business at this location.
The attorney who represents Central Valley said he believes a solution can be reached.
"I'm very optimistic that there are cost-effective measures that can be taken to reduce the impact on the neighbors," attorney Tom Terpstra said. "I know people are complaining, and we are willing to meet and talk with them to find a way to peacefully co-exist."
Central Valley operators say they have taken steps and are considering others to address the concerns:
They are watering the dirt on their three-acre site to cut down on the dust stirred up by the use of heavy equipment and large trucks.
A consultant performed a noise study for the business, which is looking at several ways to reduce noise, such as replacing the rear cyclone fence facing homes with a 12-foot-tall masonry wall that would buffer the noise.
"I'm not impressed," said Rebecca Harrington, a Bystrum Road resident and member of the county's South Modesto Municipal Advisory Council. "Would they want that same business across from their homes?
"Their attitude is if we don't like it, we can move. My dad has owned this property for 63 years. A lot of people in this neighborhood have owned their homes forever."
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.
Rebecca Harrington voices her concerns about the noise and dust generated by Central Valley Metal Recycling: