Proposed metal recycler in southeast Fort Wayne raises questions, concerns | Local

About a dozen residents of southeast Fort Wayne and New Haven spoke against a metals recycling plant at the Fort Wayne Plan Commission public hearing Monday.

Opponents of the plan for the northeast corner of East Paulding and Adams Center roads said they are uncomfortable with the potential for pollution, environmental damage and truck traffic brought by the facility, proposed by Exurban, metals recycling company based in Europe.

The company plans to use the 76-acre property for a first-of-its kind process to recycle e-waste – metals and plastics in electronic devices, including automotive parts, computers and cell phones. The material can then be reused for other purposes.

Exurban is seeking approval of a primary development plan and waivers of development standards of height for five buildings – a building up to 140 feet tall, a warehouse up to 75 feet, a tank house up to 90 feet tall, an e-waste building up to 115 feet tall, a leach plant up to 80 feet tall, and what are described as “Cu-Line Buildings” up to 80 feet tall. Cu is the chemical symbol for copper.

The site is zoned general industrial, which allows projects of the type proposed, so no rezoning is necessary. However, the general industrial zoning limits the buildings to 50 feet in height.

The land also is in part of a district that requires approval from Fort Wayne International Airport officials in several categories, including height. Developers said they have received airport approval, but no one from the airport spoke at the public hearing.

Wes Adams, representing Exurban, said developers needed the height for better noise control in the buildings. He said project is planned as a “zero waste” facility and that will bring 150 new jobs in three shifts to Fort Wayne.

Adams said the city was chosen after a nationwide search and with the aid of Greater Fort Wayne and economic development officials. A selling point was that other companies in the metals recycling business are located here, he added.

“There is a big opportunity for Fort Wayne to be a leader in this specialty,” he said.

Area residents raised questions about placing the facility in southeast Fort Wayne. The area is already straining from economic hardship, along with past experience with a landfill that is now closed and a proposal for a new jail across the street from the smelter location.

Ty Simmons, a resident, said the commissioners should investigate the company’s environmental and other records.

“They don’t talk about potential risk,” he said. “I think you should postpone the vote until you can do more research.”

Maia Pfeffer of Fort Wayne said she supported the company’s overall purpose but was skeptical of the details.

“I believe it is incumbent on local officials to look out for our health,” Pfeffer said.

“If they are able to deliver on their promises, I think they would be a wonderful addition to our community,” she added. “Is it fair southeast Fort Wayne should be asked to bear the brunt of this again?”

The plan commission is expected to discuss the proposal and take a vote at its business meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Citizens Square.

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