Rezoning for battery recycler OKd

WEIRTON – A battery recycling plant cleared a hurdle on the way to development within the city Wednesday, with the Weirton Planning Commission approving a rezoning request by a 7-1 vote. The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle had made its initial request in May for the rezoning of several parcels of land, including and around the old Jimmy Carey football stadium, in the city's downtown from R-2 single family and two family residential to M-2 heavy industrial, light industrial, commercial district. The Planning Commission tabled the matter, requesting additional information. Article Photos DETAILS PLANS — Officials listened to John Patterson, owner of Metal Conversion Technologies, LLC, as he detailed his company’s plans for the old Jimmy Carey football stadium site during the regular meeting of the Weirton Planning Commission Wednesday. — Shae Dalrymple   The family-owned Georgia-based business Metal Conversion Technologies, LLC, which recycles and processes lithium ion batteries from electric vehicles into a “remelt alloy” used in stainless steel products, is looking to purchase and expand on the property, which currently is owned by the BDC. Owner John Patterson said their plans include constructing a warehouse where the stadium sits to be used for product collection and an addition on the existing building there, which would house an induction melt furnace. That furnace was the primary reason the use of the site could be considered “heavy industrial” instead of “light,” according to Chief Code Official Rod Rosnick. His assessment two months ago was based on definitions within the city's Unified Development Ordinance. Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh and Ward 4 Councilman George Ash Sr. both spoke in favor of the rezoning on Wednesday. Ash said previous reports and conversations on social media inaccurately portrayed him as being opposed to the measure. “All I'm asking is will the stacks be high enough so emissions don't go into homes? I also have to ask you to consider the noise,” he clarified. “If those things are addressed tonight, I see no reason to vote it down.” Ash noted that after discussions with City Attorney Vince Gurrera and Patterson, he felt confident there would be no problems with the business setting up shop in his ward. Marsh said his research on the company leads him to believe “we've had a lot worse here in town.” “When I was a little kid I asked my grandmother why she would always sweep the porch. She was from Eastern Europe. She told me 'No dirt on the porch, no bread on the table.' We really need to send a positive message here to make sure everybody knows that Weirton is open for business and we have a place for those interested in locating here,” Marsh said. Patterson said their choice to move to Weirton was not random. “We have a history here and family around here. I grew up here in the summers, and my relatives all worked at Weirton Steel,” he said. “We want to be connected to a community. We had opportunities to relocate to Columbus, Dayton, Springfield or Canton, Ohio, but it was just too far removed from family.” Patterson said his company's location in Georgia is also near residential neighborhoods, and there have never been any significant disruptions to those residents. “We're very mindful of hours, 7 to 3:30 p.m. usually. Everything is stored inside, under roof, nothing outside. We intend to put a fence around the property to protect the playground nearby. There will be about two to three trucks coming in and out per week. We want to make as little noise as possible and just do what we do,” he said. “We operate in a growth industry. This will be the first electric car vehicle service center in the Northeast… In coming here, we see an opportunity both for us and for the City of Weirton. It's a good, clean business.” Patterson said the company could create about 13 jobs immediately with the potential of adding up to 22 total new jobs over time. “It's a highly regulated industry. We have air permits. It is monitored and tested. If something is wrong or fails, it must be corrected or fines are levied and we get shut down. We haven't had that incident in our current operation for 12 years. Everything that comes out of the stacks goes through advanced filtration systems. It's just hot air, and it's very clean,” he added. “Our customers, such as Honda, trust us with the environmental liability. They want to see us, and they know us.” Following the vote, Commission member William Dalrymple cited concerns for the extended future of the property as his reason for opposing the rezoning.