The Common Council on Tuesday followed the urging of North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr. and voted to deny a license for a North Buffalo scrap metal recycling facility, prompting promises of lawsuits from the affected parties.
Golombek said he received more than 400 letters from neighbors about a proposal from Ben Weitsman & Son to purchase a former junkyard at Hertel Avenue and Military Road and accept scrap metal for recycling. About 12 tractor-trailers a day would arrive at the site to pick up metal to be crushed and shredded at the Owego-based company’s other locations, known to the public as Upstate Shredding.
“I’m in support of the community in denying this license,” said Golombek, who cited traffic and noise issues.
The other eight Council members followed Golombek’s lead, but Niagara Council Member David A. Rivera questioned the process, saying that it sends the wrong message to businesses for the Council to deny a project that had already received support from certain neighborhood groups, the city Planning Board and the city Environmental Management Commission.
The West Hertel Association opposed the project, but the Black Rock Riverside Good Neighbor Planning Alliance and the Grant-Amherst Business Association were mostly in support of it.
The city Law Department told lawmakers that there was no legal reason to deny the license.
The Weitsmans’ plan to purchase land around the former junkyard and operate on the entire property gives the city a legal basis to deny the license, said lawyer Adam S. Walters, who was retained by competitor Niagara Metals, which operates a half-mile away.
The competition does not believe that the Council’s actions will prevent Upstate Shredding from locating somewhere in Western New York, said Jon Marantz, vice president of Niagara Metals, but that location was not a good fit.
Adam and Kim Weitsman, who own Upstate Shredding, planned to spend $7 million to improve the site but now will file a lawsuit, said their lobbyist, Joel A. Giambra.
Property owner Peter Adornetto, who planned to sell to the Weitsmans, was upset with the Council’s decision and said he, too, will file a lawsuit. He said he will reopen his auto salvage yard, Auto City of Buffalo, which he closed in May.
In other business Tuesday:
• At the request of West Village residents, the Council voted to rename a pocket park at 33 Whitney Place in memory of Police Officer Patricia A. Parete, who died Feb. 2 after being wounded while on duty in 2006.
• The Council approved a demolition moratorium in the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor until the corridor adopts a plan or a year passes, whatever occurs first.
• The Council voted to allow the city to transfer a $500,000 state Restore grant to Creative Structures Services for its renovation of the former Fairfield Library, 1659 Amherst St.
• A memo from a coalition of food truck owners seeking lower permit fees was referred to the Legislation Committee in advance of the April 1 sunset of the applicable ordinance.