Stanislaus County approves limited recycling

Noisy operations OK'd to continue three hours a day

kcarlson@modbee.comAugust 20, 2013 

— Stanislaus County leaders agreed to let a recycler in south Modesto continue to process scrap metal — for three hours a day — while the business talks with planning staff about a land-use permit application.

The board decision, on a 4-1 vote Tuesday evening, continues an appeal hearing until Sept. 10 and raises the prospects that Central Valley Recycling will be able to continue its metal recycling operation at 524 S. Ninth St.

The county declined to renew a business license for Central Valley last year because of neighbors' complaints about noise, dust and foul odors, and it ordered the business in April to cease the operation.

The business owners requested Tuesday's appeal hearing, but before it could get started, their attorneys said the company agreed to seek a use permit as requested by county staff.

Supervisor Dick Monteith made the motion to continue the hearing in order to defuse emotions, he said. But the decision lit the fuse of Rebecca Harrington, a neighbor who's complained about the car-crushing business.

"They had a year to act in good faith," she fumed. "What they have done in the last three years has impacted our community to the point we cannot enjoy our homes. ... I am appalled."

Supervisor Jim DeMartini, who represents the area, said the business should not be allowed to recycle metal while applying for the permit. He said he didn't think the noise, dust and other problems can be mitigated.

Central Valley said it will limit its car-crushing operation from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The business has moved the scrap metal toward the center of the property and directed certain activities away from nearby residences.

On Sept. 10, supervisors will consider the terms of an agreement between Central Valley Recycling and the county Department of Planning and Community Development, which apparently will stipulate what's required for a use permit.

The process of seeking the land-use permit and developing measures to soften the impact on neighbors, could take six months to a year.

After the meeting, board Chairman Vito Chiesa said the permit process "sets the bar really high," meaning it will require Central Valley to meet the county's standards and follow regulations.

In 2009, county planning officials approved a business license for Central Valley to process scrap metal in addition to cans, bottles and cardboard. A large mechanical claw at the site tears apart cars, trucks and other vehicles and stacks the metal on a large pile.

Residents complain that the heavy machinery shakes their homes, covers their property with dust and spreads the odor of diesel and other engine fluids.

County officials refused to renew the license for Central Valley Recycling last year after verifying the neighbors' complaints.

In April, the county's code enforcement division ordered the business to cease the operation, and the decision was upheld in June by the Nuisance Abatement Hearing Board, which declared the property a nuisance.

Central Valley has said that forcing the business to move would eliminate the jobs of 23 employees, some of whom attended Tuesday's meeting wearing company uniforms. According to materials submitted to the county, the company's payroll is $528,000 a year.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.


BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WATCH

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors took the following action Tuesday evening:

• Approved purchase of a containment vessel for the sheriff's bomb team from NABCO Inc. It will allow the bomb squad to detonate high explosives inside the vessel, which is designed to contain the shock wave and shrapnel. Part of a Homeland Security grant will fund the $335,800 purchase.

• Approved an agreement to implement this year's countywide economic development and marketing plan.

• Heard a report on efforts to work with community partners to improve public health.

— Ken Carlson

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