A proposed metal recycling facility has come under scrutiny as the business built a structure without the proper permits.
In an email to the town planning board, project attorney Marissa Weiss explained the scale that will be used to weigh scrap metal and vehicles was installed in fall 2018, before the submittal of the application for the special exception use permit for a recyclable handling and recovery facility/automobile recycling facility.
The scale is for ASAP Scrap Recycling, LLC, a new use for the existing metal shelving recycling business at Headzup Inc. on State Route 208. Headzup CEO and Founder Edward Alicea thought he did not need a building permit and associated gravel in order to install the scale because the scale is not a building in the traditional sense, Weiss said.
However, the town zoning code defines a building as “a structure with a roof supported by columns or walls and having a horizontal area of more than 50 square feet.” By this definition, Alicea should have received a building permit from town building inspector Walter Schmidt and associated site plan amendment approval from the town board prior to installation, Weiss said.
Weiss said Schmidt inspected the site in fall 2018, after the scale was installed, so Schmidt was aware of the scale’s installation. Schmidt determined he would not issue a violation as long as there would be no further site work completed until the required special exception use and site plan amendment is obtained from the planning board.
Weiss said Alicea is taking full responsibility for the mix-up. Weiss, an associate with Jacobowitz and Gubits, LLC, was contracted after the incident.
“We understand that we did mess up, but we are trying to take full responsibility of that as we continue with the planning board application,” Weiss said in a planning board meeting on Aug. 12.
Alicea said ASAP will aid in the extension of the existing business with Headzup, which designs and installs warehouse shelving systems. Headzup recycles old shelving by cutting off the damaged sections, which are immediately discarded. Currently, to discard its metal, Headzup uses third-party scrap companies to collect steel cut-offs.
Alicea said Headzup will be one of ASAP’s largest customers because Headzup will be able to process its cut-offs on-site.
The site is also open to the public and accepts any scrap metal and cars.
Once each truckload of scrap and crushed cars are full, it will be immediately shipped out. Alicea said cars and other scrap metal will not be at the site for long periods of time because the business has an economic incentive to ship materials to the mill as fast possible.
“We’re not keeping any of the stuff, we’re simply a transfer station for the mill,” Alicea said.
Cars will be processed through the Enviro Rack. ASAP Scrap Managing Partner George Sanchez said cars will be loaded onto the rack, drained of all fluids and crushed. The rack includes a catch basin, a 249-gallon pan and a 360-gallon tank to catch any spills. The rack is air operated to avoid sparks and accidents.
Crushed cars will then be loaded onto concrete pads until a full load is reached, according to planning board documents. Batteries will be placed on a pallet with a carboard bottom and stacked three high. The shrink-wrapped bundles will be placed in a sea container until ready to ship. Tires will be removed from the cars and placed in enclosed containers until full.
Residents have expressed concerns at several planning board meetings about environmental impacts of run-off to the Wallkill River, which is adjacent to the site.
The Orange County Planning Department also expressed concern about potential pollution to the Wallkill in an email on July 22, recommending the developer install an impervious membrane to prevent contamination.
“We question the location of the proposed vehicle crushing aspect of the project at this site, as this site is nearly adjacent to the Wallkill River (the site is only separated from the river by State Route 208 and a small strip of land) . . . Although the Enviro Rack is designed to contain fluids drained from vehicles to be crushed, it is not clear that the vehicles will be stored in an area that will contain any additional potential fluid leaks, should there be any remaining fluid left in the vehicles,” the email states.
Weiss responded to the planning department, stating the concrete pads installed at the site will provide an impervious membrane to prevent groundwater and surface water contamination. All fluids will be removed before vehicles are crushed and residual fluids will be removed with a vacuum wand.
All material storage and processing areas will be installed on concrete pads to prevent stormwater run-off and to allow any potential leaks or contaminants to be quickly identified and cleaned up. All concrete pads will be monitored daily for leaks and spills, according to planning board documents.
Material processing areas—including the precious metal storage and sorting area, storage of flatbed trailers full of recyclables waiting to be removed and from the site, and the Enviro Rack—will be kept under enclosure to prevent precipitation from creeping in.
Alicea said the business will be a service to the community and a benefit to the environment because it promotes recycling and gets junk off people’s lawns.
The company is committed to protecting the environment, Alicea said.
“I’m very much in tune with concerns about the environment and we’ve been taking our time to do things right,” Alicea said.
ASAP Scrap Recycling will return to the planning board on Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at town hall, 110 Bracken Road, Montgomery.