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Archive for Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Time is up

City officials have been too patient with a local company that appears to be making no effort to address multiple serious fire code violations.

July 21, 2010

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What will it take for Lawrence city officials to close down MagnaGro International?

The company, which produces fertilizer, has been cited by the Environmental Protection Agency for dumping improper waste into the city’s sewer system. The city disconnected sewer and water service to the company’s facility at 600 E. 22nd St. in 2007 so it has been operating illegally without those services for more than two years. It is in violation about a dozen fire codes and has refused to allow a full fire inspection of its premises for years.

The city has documented that the firm is illegally storing large quantities of flammable materials, which could pose a public risk in case of a fire or explosion. The fact that two MagnaGro workers died in April after being overcome by fumes while mixing material at the site provides strong evidence that something is amiss at the plant.

And yet, city officials continue to say that the owners may be allowed to continue operating their business after Thursday’s deadline if “they are moving toward compliance.”

This company has had plenty of time to “move toward compliance.” The only way the city of Lawrence will get the attention of MagnaGro’s owner is to shut the business down and require all city code violations to be corrected before it can resume operation.

Part of the problem, city administrators say, is that the city’s codes aren’t specific about how long companies should be given to correct violations. It’s certainly appropriate to give businesses a reasonable amount of time to correct code violations, but the city’s patience shouldn’t extend for more than two years, during which there has been no evidence MagnaGro is trying to address its problems.

Lawrence city commissioners need to take another look at enforcement provisions in the city codes to make sure officials have sufficient authority — and a clear deadline — to force code compliance. If the laws don’t have the teeth to allow property enforcement, they need to be corrected.

In the meantime, the city manager and his staff need to let MagnaGro’s owner know that his grace period has run out. The company has had ample time to correct violations while remaining in operation. It’s time to close this business down until it corrects all of its code violations, opens its doors to the appropriate inspectors and demonstrates it can function as a responsible corporate citizen in the city of Lawrence.

Comments

littleindia15c 4 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for this astute and timely piece. MagnaGro has demonstrated little regard for our city workers and citizens. Furthermore, lax oversight does little to attract the "green" businesses some members of the City Commission have articulated they wish to attract to the City.

phoglight 4 years, 5 months ago

Time is up for MagnaGro, could not agree more! The big question is WHY did the city treat them differently?!? How long do they normally allow business not to be in compliance? A friend of mine could not open his doors for business until he had passed ALL inspections! MagnaGro made fertilizer…..I smell manure coming from City Hall!

Lathrup 4 years, 5 months ago

Now if I was back in Chicago, I would know EXACTLY why the company is sneering at the rules. They payed off everyone necessary to get what they want. Done all the time. But here in Lawrence I have been assured That just doesn't happen! So there! I am sure the men and women running the city are Honorable and of good intent. However, after roudabouts, this desire to build libraries when the city is broke and us worker bees are about to be slammed with huge taxes, I am forced to question thier sanity. I'm beginning to agree with Wilber.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 5 months ago

The City of Lawrence has far better things to tend to.

Like making sure you shovel your driveway and sidewalks, and keep your lawn mowed.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

"This company has had plenty of time to “move toward compliance.” The only way the city of Lawrence will get the attention of MagnaGro’s owner is to shut the business down and require all city code violations to be corrected before it can resume operation."

Absolutely!

"In the meantime, the city manager and his staff need to let MagnaGro’s owner know that his grace period has run out. The company has had ample time to correct violations while remaining in operation. It’s time to close this business down until it corrects all of its code violations, opens its doors to the appropriate inspectors and demonstrates it can function as a responsible corporate citizen in the city of Lawrence."

Absolutely!

Where does the investigation stand regarding the 12th and Haskell salvage yard? The owner was quoted as alledgedly saying city hall does not bother him.

Maybe we know why?

beatrice 4 years, 5 months ago

Isn't this where people should be writing "It is their business and they should be able to do what they want. The employees don't have to work there. They know the risks and they can just quit and find another job."? Isn't that the conservative argument here?

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