New owner wants to expand metal recycling at Elmira site
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New owner wants to expand metal recycling at Elmira site

Saying scrap is scrap, an Elmira recycler wants to expand beyond processing old cars to accept all kinds of metals. The township, however, isn’t buying the argument, calling instead for a lengthy rezoning process to allow for expanded uses at the former Paleshi Motors site on Arthur Street.

The stance doesn’t make sense to the site’s new owner, who sees the additions as a way to reduce noise, pollution and hours of operation at the metal recycling operation.

“Scrap is scrap. Whether you salvage a car or a bicycle, the end result is still scrap metal,” argued Frank Rattasid of 86 Auto and Metal Recyclers in bringing his case to Woolwich councillors Tuesday night.

Rattasid purchased the property and the auto salvage business – currently operated by Alex Auto Parts until the end of the month – planning to expand the metal recycling options. The site will need to process 50 tonnes of metal daily to be viable, he said. That translates into 50 cars being crushed each day. If other forms of metal are accepted there – residents could sell or drop-off unwanted metal items – then there would be less need to truck in cars for processing.

If the operation simply deals with cars, as permitted under the existing salvage licence, it will create more noise and the inevitable leaking fluids from the vehicles, he stressed. Junking 50 cars a day will require longer hours, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, rather than the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours he keeps at his larger operation in Listowel, for instance.

A recycling facility would not only be cleaner, but would employ 25 people rather than the five in a straight auto salvage yard, he added.

“We don’t know why staff is opposing our plans to open a much-needed recycling facility,” said Rattasid. “Why does Woolwich Township have a restriction on this property? We don’t understand why we can’t recycle steel. There is no change of use or change of material.”

Township planners maintain the property’s current zoning allows for the processing of only salvaged vehicles. The M-1 classification has a site-specific exemption for cars dating back to 1987, explained director of planning John Scarfone.

“It’s staff’s position that the use of salvage other than motor vehicles would require a rezoning.”

Preliminary discussions with Rattasid raised questions about the nature of the changes, including potential contaminants, noise issues and suitable uses given that the property is in a floodplain, he added.

Going through a formal rezoning application would provide a chance for the owner to make his case for the recycling operation, said Scarfone.

“It’s an issue that we need to get a better handle on.”

But Rattasid said he’d rather put the money needed for a rezoning bid, complete with various studies, into improving the site.

He noted that he’s already made a $1-million investment in acquiring the business and land, and is planning to spend another $2 million on new equipment. If his bid for wider recycling is successful, he’ll make improvements to the site, including efforts to make it more attractive by painting and installing new fencing, calling the current setup an “eyesore.”

With no formal application, council took no stance on Rattasid’s request

“The town of Elmira has a history of businesses that have been irritating to residents. I think it’s prudent of staff to take a cautious approach,” said Coun. Mark Bauman.

Rattasid has the option of applying for a minor variance, a much less cumbersome process rather than the full rezoning bid.

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