Despite a victory for opponents of the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center, city enforcement action against the east Lawrence salvage yard likely won’t occur for at least another month.
Scott McCullough, the city’s director of planning and development services, said the city won’t be in a position to force changes to the business’ operation until after a city zoning board takes a procedural vote on the matter in early May.
The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday upheld a decision by city staff that the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center was operating outside of the city’s zoning code. But the zoning board on Thursday did not formally adopt any findings of fact related to its ruling.
Instead, the board opted to have city attorneys craft those findings for approval at the board’s May meeting. McCullough said that until those findings are adopted, the board’s decision won’t be final and the city won’t be in a position to order the recycling center to either close or dramatically change its business operations.
The owners of the recycling center can still appeal the Board of Zoning Appeals’ decision to Douglas County District Court. An attorney for the recycling center said he hoped the city and his client could enter discussions over the next month to reach a compromise that would avoid a lawsuit.
“We definitely have optimism that some resolution short of litigation can be had with the city,” said Brad Finkeldei, a Lawrence attorney for the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center.
The city received complaints from several neighbors that allege the center, which deals heavily in salvage cars, appliances and other metals, created problems with noise, odor and had become a general nuisance for the residential area.
Finkeldei had presented a plan to city officials to significantly change the layout of the existing center. The plan included a large sound wall between the operations and the neighborhood, a relocation of the center’s entrance, and changes to how the property stores its scrap metal and other materials. The Board of Zoning Appeals did not consider that proposal Thursday.
McCullough said his staff also is not expected to spend much time with the new proposal.
“We’re still open to helping him be compliant with the code, but I think it is pretty clear that reducing it to the levels he has presented to us won’t make the property compliant.”
Finkeldei said the business is open to other discussions with the city. There has been speculation the city may have an interest in purchasing the property at 12th and Haskell, which is adjacent to the lot where the city keeps its trash trucks.
Finkeldei said the city has not yet approached his client about a possible sale.
“We have continued to work with the city for the last two years to find a mutually acceptable resolution short of litigation,” Finkeldei said. “If indeed one of those options included some assistance in moving, my client certainly would consider that.
“But he has a 6-acre plot of land that he bought with the understanding the city would allow him to operate there. He is not willing to walk away from that property unless a better situation arises.”