Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lower Price Hill fighting proposed junkyard

The people of Lower Price Hill have heard that the City's Department of Community Development (DCD) has suggested that River Metals Recycling purchase acreage for a scrap metals recycling operation, and they're not happy about it.

In a letter to Councilmember Laketa Cole, Lower Price Hill Community Council (LPHCC) president Dr. Jack Degano has asked the City not to approve a junkyard for the 7.8-acre site at 1951 State Avenue until the neighborhood gets the opportunity to approve the plans.

At their Monday meeting, the LPHCC finally got the opportunity from representatives of River Metals and parent company the David J. Joseph Company.

Residents adamantly rejected the plan.

Degano says that his community is aware of a pre-development meeting between DCD and River Metals at the City's Permit Center, making him wonder if the City has already given 'tacit' approval to the operation.

"That company has done soil test borings at 1951 State Avenue; a landscaper is sought for street plantings, and a company spokesman told us that the junkyard may apply for permits before representatives come to the Lower Price Hill Community Council meeting on October 6," he says.

The business would meet Cincinnati Municipal Code definitions of a "junkyard" by accepting and storing a multitude of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal, and would also accept junked vehicles.

Spokesmen for the company said that shipments would remain at the site for between one to three weeks, and that the junkyard would be noisy during its hours of operation.

"If it were accurate that scrap metals that arrive one day, are gone within one week, why does River Metals Company need 7.8 acres of land?" the LPHCC says in a media release. "It is undeniable that mountains of scrap metals and junked vehicles would be on-site."

The neighborhood's mixed-use nature means that peoples' homes are nearby the site.

"Homes are a few feet from the proposed junkyard, as are a few small businesses," says Degano.

And residents are concerned about the concentration of such businesses in their neighborhood - including another junkyard already operating adjacent to the site.

"The people of Lower Price Hill are gravely concerned about a junkyard's negative impact on the health and safety of residents, and on the precarious environment of a neighborhood already the site of dozens of hazardous chemical waste-handling businesses, and the Metropolitan Sewer District," he says.

The citizens and taxpayers of Lower Price Hill want the City to find a non-residential, unpolluted, and willing neighborhood for the operation.

"To choose Lower Price Hill, an inner-city, minority, low-income neighborhood to dump a junkyard might fit it with the City of Cincinnati's hope to attract new business...ANY new business, but it is a decision that borders on human callousness and discrimination, and is a violation of the pending City of Cincinnati Environmental Justice Ordinance," says the media release.

In 1988, the acreage was proposed as the site for a new jail.

Hamilton County commissioners quickly withdrew that plan after fierce opposition from Lower Price Hill residents.

"It has been an honored tradition in Cincinnati that projects of questionable merit that affect a neighborhood are not approved by the city before residents of that community have had the opportunity to learn detailed plans, and given their consent to the project," Degano says.

A report from City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr is due before council by October 29.

Based in Fort Mitchell, River Metals Recycling is the largest scrap processor in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky with 11 processing facilities between Paducah and Xenia.

Photo credit: "Junk" by Flickr user