Recycling center withdraws request

Published 9:25 pm Thursday, June 17, 2010

A company that had hoped to start a recycling center in a downtown Suffolk neighborhood withdrew its request after opposition from nearby residents, but says it was “maligned” by the community.

Mid Atlantic Recycling Solutions, LLC hoped to operate a recycling center at 425 S. Saratoga St. that would accept and package various metals to be shipped to other facilities for recycling. The land formerly was a prison and a junkyard, which nearby residents say brought rodents, snakes, noise and heavy truck traffic to their neighborhood.

However, the Suffolk Planning Commission voted to recommend denial of the conditional use permit request at a May 18 meeting. The issue first arose in the commission’s April meeting, and it was tabled for 30 days to give the owners and community time to meet. That meeting never happened, which became a primary reason the Planning Commission voted against the proposed business in May.

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“We got maligned at that [Planning Commission] meeting,” Mid Atlantic Recycling’s attorney Steve Romine said in Wednesday’s public hearing. “We were kind of painted with a brush that was not right.”

Romine said he came to the City Council meeting, even though the request was withdrawn, because he “felt it was important to set the record straight.”

“This tenant was an ideal tenant for this property,” Romine said. “We got labeled as a junkyard, and there was little dialogue [from that point].”

Romine said company representatives tried to contact community members to set up a meeting, and got no response for two weeks. When a meeting was finally set, the company ran into scheduling problems and had to cancel its appearance.

“We feel it was very unfortunate the process failed in this instance,” Romine said. “We’re still seeking a win-win situation.”

Two nearby residents of the area spoke against the center at the public hearing, even though the request had been withdrawn. The Rev. Wayne Mitchell, president of Saratoga/Philadelphia Civic League, said the business would cause harm to the neighborhood.

“They want to bring an eyesore back in the community,” Mitchell said. “We feel it would really damage our area.”

Doris Lynch, a 71-year resident of the neighborhood, also spoke out against the project.

“We have trouble with what he calls a recycling center,” she said. “It’s nothing but a junkyard. We don’t want it in our backyard.”

After a discussion, the City Council voted to direct city staff to perform a cost analysis of making a comprehensive plan for the entire Saratoga area.