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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 12th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 49

Salvage facility faces opposition

SA Recycling's development permit is held up by an appeal

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Rusty old barbecues and flat-tired, coolant-leaking cars without the will to drive tend to sit around in yards. They can also be recycled—provided there’s a facility that can handle them.


READY FOR SALVAGE?
An old VW Bug sits in front of the empty buildings SA Recycling wants to turn into its newest recycling facility. The company is waiting for an appeal to be heard before Santa Maria City Council before it can move forward with its plans.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Plans to put an SA Recycling metal salvage facility in Santa Maria hit another snag after area residents recently appealed the development permit. The Santa Maria City Council is scheduled to review the matter at its meeting on Feb. 19.

Carol Anne Moore, Harold Johnson, and Jerry Porter filed on Jan. 2 an appeal to the Santa Maria Planning Commission’s December approval of the facility’s planned development permit for 1599 Betteravia Road. Along with the appeal came a petition sporting 117 signatures from residents of the Westgate and Paseo Del Sol housing developments, which sit approximately 850 to 1,100 feet from the proposed site.

Johnson said the group is concerned about possible environmental and health hazards and the potential for a reduction in their property values.

“We live in this area, which is going to be too close to this recycling center,” Johnson said. “That health stuff doesn’t matter to me because I’m 88 years old—it’s too late [for me]. I am worried about my children, grandchildren, and my neighbors.”

SA Recycling plans call for a metals recycling and California Redemption Value (CRV) facility on Betteravia Road. It would replace Smitty’s Towing and Oliverz Towing—both of which have already moved operations—and update the buildings, grounds, and fencing.

The facility would accept anything from scrap metal barbecues to dead vehicles and prep them for transportation to their larger processing and shredding facilities in Bakersfield and Los Angeles. The site wouldn’t conduct any materials processing. All hazardous materials, such as mercury switches and Freon, would be properly drained, stored, and removed from the area within 48 hours.

The site on Betteravia Road is the result of a second round of planning for a SA Recycling facility in Santa Maria. The first round was aimed at 700 W. Fesler Road, the home of St. Rudy’s Auto Dismantling, in the early part of 2012.

But after opposition from area residents caused the planning commission to postpone the permit decision in both January and March, SA Recycling started looking for a new site that would be a better fit.

Opponents to the Fesler location had concerns about noise, safety, and the environment.

City Planner Frank Albro said the city’s primary issue with the Fesler site was its proximity to residential developments (less than 50 feet) and Fairlawn Elementary School (less than 300 feet).

“With the proposed activity they were looking at, staff was concerned with the noise,” he said.

He said the Betteravia site is a more ideal one for the recycling facility because of its larger size—three acres as opposed to 1 1/2—and it’s surrounded by similarly zoned industrial properties.

Johnson and his fellow petitioners are concerned with environmental issues stemming from a Terminal Island metal-shredding facility explosion in 2007.

SA was hit with an environmental lawsuit—settled to the tune of almost $3 million—that charged the company with spewing hazardous particles into the air for weeks after the explosion.

Jeff Farano, Sr., who does corporate legal counsel and government relations for SA Recycling, said the accident occurred before they owned the facility.

“SA stepped up and worked with the district attorney to correct the prior problems and they spent considerable money updating the facility with state-of-the-art cleaning devices,” Farano said. “The shredder facility is a different type of facility then the local collection yard that is proposed in Santa Maria.”

Albro said the planning commission is satisfied with SA Recycling’s explanation of the resolution of prior issues and feels certain there won’t be any environmental concerns with the proposed Santa Maria facility.

Regardless of explanations concerning past environmental issues and the proposed facility going into an area that’s already zoned for industrial uses, Johnson feels they should move the facility farther west down Betteravia, farther from the residential areas.

He said they plan to have more than a hundred people show up at the Feb. 19 City Council meeting and thinks the mass of citizens can persuade city council to vote their way.

“We’ve been told that once it goes in, you can’t get them out,” Johnson said.

Contact Staff Writer Camillia Lanham at clanham@santamariasun.com.