North Council Member Joseph Golombek signaled his opposition to a new scrap metal recycling facility at Hertel Avenue and Military Road on Monday, making its approval unlikely when the Common Council meets today.
In a two-page resolution, Golombek laid out his opposition to Ben Weitsman and Son of Buffalo’s proposal to buy a former junkyard and establish a new location for Upstate Shredding, a multi-site business based in Owego.
Golombek cited several legal issues, though a city lawyer told the Council during a pre-meeting caucus on Monday that there is no legal reason to deny the company the necessary licenses to operate.
“Different lawyers can take different interpretations of an item,” Golombek said. “I would rather err on the side of caution.”
The proposal has been the subject of intense debate in City Hall and in the neighborhood, as Upstate Shredding owners Adam and Kim Weitsman and Niagara Metals, which operates a similar business a half-mile away, have hired lawyers and lobbyists who have advocated for and against the project.
Property owner Peter Adornetto, who operated Auto City of Buffalo at 409 Hertel since May and planned to sell to the Weitsmans, said Monday he will file a lawsuit against the city.
“They’re preventing me from selling my property,” he said, adding that he plans to re-open his auto salvage business if the project fails in the Council.
Though the city Planning Board, which approved the site plan, did not see the traffic study the Weitsmans commissioned as a cause for concern, Golombek said one of his main issues with the project are the multiple tractor trailers that would visit the site daily.
“That one to me is the one the neighborhood would have the most issue with, ultimately,” Golombek said.
The Council traditionally defers to the lawmaker who represents the affected neighborhood, and Golombek said Monday he hopes his colleagues follow his lead.
“I think this is absolutely one of the most irresponsible legislative acts that I’ve witnessed,” said lobbyist Joel Giambra, who represents the Weitsmans.
The company planned to purchase the former junkyard from Adornetto and invest $7 million in improving the property, which is already zoned properly, according to the city. The company was not going to seek tax breaks, Adam Weitsman has said.
The business would purchase scrap metal and send it on trucks to another city to be crushed and shredded.
Kim Weitsman would operate the business in Buffalo, she said. But Golombek’s resolution raises the fact that her husband, Adam Weitsman, is a convicted felon, and the city prohibits felons from operating scrap processing facilities.
At every approval phase in City Hall, lobbyists, lawyers and engineers on behalf of the Weitsmans and their competitors have weighed in to influence decision-makers, while project neighbors have received automated phone calls and anonymous mail opposing the project.