Archive for Friday, March 23, 2012

Town Talk: Large salvage operation slated for N. Lawrence site; 12th and Haskell Recycle Center submits new plan to ease city’s concerns; B.A. Green Construction likely to lead library project

March 23, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• Let the junk wars begin. For years there largely have been two outlets in town if you want to sell your scrap metal and other such material — Lonnie’s Recycling in North Lawrence and the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center.

But now a large national company is looking to enter the Lawrence market. Advantage Metals has filed a site plan to locate a recycling center at the old Kaw Valley Salvage Yard site at 1545 N. Third Street, which is just west of TeePee Junction in North Lawrence.

Plans call for the company to remove the three northern-most buildings on the old Kaw metals site, and replace them with a new 14,000-square-foot building.

Advantage Metals is based in Kansas City, but also has locations in Topeka, Fort Scott, Columbus, Emporia, and several cities in Missouri. (That’s right Mizzou fans. Those are actually salvage yards, not art galleries.)

But according to the company’s Web site, Advantage Metals is actually part of a much larger national company. Advantage’s parent company is the David J. Joseph Company, a fairly large scrap broker/processor based in Cincinnati. DJJ’s parent company, in turn, is the Charlotte-based Nucor Corporation, which generally is considered to be the largest purchaser of ferrous scrap metal in the U.S.

An executive at Advantage Metals didn’t return my call on Thursday, so I don’t have all the details of what its Lawrence operation may include. But based on the company’s Web site, it appears the business will accept about any type of metal — including cars, appliances, lead acid batteries, electric motors … well, if I list everything made of metal this is going to take awhile. I’m not seeing anything that suggests the company will take other types of recyclable material such as paper, plastic and electronic scrap such as cell phones and computer monitors.

Advantage is seeking a special-use permit to operate the salvage yard, which means the project will need to win both Planning Commission and City Commission approvals.

• I mentioned the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center earlier. If you remember, it has been embattled of late. Neighbors have complained about noise, odor and other issues related to the facility. City commissioners, thus far, have sided with the neighbors and ordered the city’s staff to take enforcement action to shrink the size and scope of the facility.

Well, there’s a new development on that front. Recycling center owner Bo Killough and his Lawrence attorney Brad Finkeldei have submitted a new proposal to modify the facility. Among the changes they have proposed:

— Move the intake operations to the east side of the building, which will allow the loading and unloading of materials to be done farther from the neighborhood than the current configuration.

— Build a specially designed sound wall — perhaps as tall as 24 feet — around the metal loading area.

— Construct a “few additional structures and enclosed containers” to reduce the amount of outside storage of materials and limit the amount of movement of material within the site.

— Eliminate all access points on 12th Street, meaning that all traffic to the center will have to use Haskell.

— Add landscaping along the facility’s south edge, which is closest to the neighborhood.

Finkeldei also is pointing out to commissioners that the center does have a community of supporters. He has presented a petition of 600 names of individuals who support the center, and he noted several of those signatures come from residents of the nearby neighborhood.

But the new proposal won’t please everyone. I briefly checked in with Andrea Repinsky, who has been among those leading opposition to the scrap yard. She told me she still believes the existence of a salvage yard at that location is contrary to what city code allows and the operation has not received the necessary city permits to operate on the site. She’s still lobbying for the center to move to a new location.

The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals is tentatively scheduled to hear an appeal from Killough at its April 5 meeting. Finkeldei is urging city commissioners to accept this latest proposal as a resolution to the case against the center. As Finkeldei put it in his letter to city officials, acceptance of the proposal will “avoid the costly and time consuming litigation that will arise out of the pending enforcement action.” In other words, the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center doesn’t plan to go quietly into the night.

No date has been set yet for city commissioners to consider the new proposal.

• Get your hardhats out. The Lawrence Public Library expansion project is about to take another step toward construction. City commissioners at their Tuesday meeting are scheduled to select Lawrence-based B.A. Green Construction as the construction management firm for the $19 million expansion. The decision will mark a victory for the Lawrence construction industry. B.A. Green was the only local construction company to get an interview from the city selection team. Somewhat surprisingly, the city chose not to interview Lawrence-based Gene Fritzel Construction or Lawrence-based First Management Construction for the project.

City staff members are recommending B.A. Green because of its experience in completing local government projects — it built the Community Health Building several years ago — and its relatively low fees compared to the Kansas City and Topeka firms it was competing against.

As for the fees, the company will receive a $37,250 upfront payment to oversee preliminary work that must be done before construction actually begins. The company then will receive a construction services fee of 2.5 percent of the bid amounts of subcontractors and a 3.5 percent fee for the general site work that the company will conduct itself. In other words, about 6 percent of the construction costs of the project will go to the company.

As the construction manager, B.A. Green will be the closest thing to a general contractor on the site. The company will oversee the construction and will lead the city’s efforts to secure subcontractors for the project. One of the key things B.A. Green will do is create various packages of bids — such as electrical work, concrete work, etc. — that area construction firms will then compete for.

But first in line for B.A. Green will be an analysis of the project to determine how much money could be saved if the library collection temporarily leaves its current location during construction. That would require the library to find temporary space elsewhere in the community because library leaders have promised that library services will continue to be offered throughout the construction project.


irvan moore 6 years, 2 months ago

it's strange that the city would choose not to interview 2 lawrence based companies, is that legal?

gccs14r 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm surprised that the EPA isn't involved in the 12th & Haskell mess, since at least one building is collapsing into the creek, and it's a near-certainty that fluids are seeping into the water table. The whole complex needs to be condemned and removed and the property made into a greenspace buffer to protect the creek and reduce flooding.

repaste 6 years, 2 months ago

I would think the harassment from one or two busy-bodies has resulted in testing of the soil. Members of the sustainability committee might be more interested in a recycling center than being able to pick fruit whilst walking on the trail. Maybe the adjacent lot where the city trash trucks are cleaned/maintained could be checked into a little more.

Joe Adams 6 years, 2 months ago

Do you have a vested interest in the property being made a greenspace buffer to protect the creek? If you do, and when you bought this vested interest, did the 12 & Haskell property exist already?

MarcoPogo 6 years, 2 months ago

So if a person does not have a vested interest in the site or did bought it at a certain point in time, they cannot raise concerns about the location?

Nice. Okay, everybody, you can all shut up about everything now.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 2 months ago

That was supposed to have a stupid smiley face on the end. Oh well.

Joe Adams 6 years, 2 months ago

I wasn't trying to say that their point wasn't valid. I just feel like someone who has an interest in the property right next door should let us know that. Personally, I was trying to determine if the comment

"The whole complex needs to be condemned and removed and the property made into a greenspace buffer to protect the creek and reduce flooding."

was coming from a neighbor that would benefit from that change.

Wasn't the original argument from the recycling center that they should be grandfathered into the location? Was an answer determined in that regard? If they believe that and they are doing what they can to make the site more appropriate, is that not an acceptable solution? Did the council determine that they are not in fact entitled to the zoning they thought they had?

gccs14r 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm blocks away and in no danger of flooding from the area, but it's still not a good idea to run a salvage operation next to a waterway. Also, my understanding of the grandfathered non-conforming use was as a boutique collection point for neighborhood recyclables, not as a car-crushing operation. There's a huge difference between Grandma rolling up on her Rascal with a 4-gallon bag of cans and a neverending stream of flatbed trucks unloading wrecked cars.

Joe Adams 6 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for commenting back gccs :) That's really all I was trying to figure out! Anyway, I really don't know enough history to make a decision about whether the location should be closed or not and I don't live by it to offer an opinion of whether or not it is too loud or doing things it shouldn't be. I was just curious to if you lived around the center.

bevy 6 years, 2 months ago

Hey Wilbur - there was a salvage operation there for YEARS, and it never bothered anyone much. In fact, we missed it when it was gone! It is all fenced in anyway, and the part of North Lawrence they are talking about is not exactly the "entrance to the city" from anyplace other than Jefferson County.

windjammer 6 years, 1 month ago

There was a salvage operation there for years but nothing like this toxic industrial operation. Untill you have been in the neighbors homes you don't know squat. Running a huge industrial track loader within 100 feet of ones windows can not be tolerated. By the way don't think the Ray family didn't bother anyone much. Why do you think there is a fence around the property? The Ray family polluted the property but in a different time when the general population was not as aware. We know some of us have been here over 50 years.

Brook_Creek_Resident 6 years, 2 months ago

Actually, Brad has not presented any petition with 600 signatures to the city. His letter claims such support, but it's not in the packet material the city has. Did you just go by what his letter said, or have you actually seen these 600 signatures?

pace 6 years, 2 months ago

I miss Kaw Valley Salvage, did a lot of business with them, it was a local family business, decent people. I like Lonnies, find them square, willing to work with the community. Our neighborhood school has an account with them, where you can drop off your cans or metal and donate it to them. A community our size needs salvage yards, I think they are beautiful, prettier than a box building, but each their own. My guess is it wouldNOT be an eyesore from the road and I know it would be an asset to commerce and homeowners. The cost of transporting cars and metals to Topeka or Kansas City doesn't fall on the "I don't see it guys" but the average homeowner with metal, on construction cost, a lot of stuff will be cheaper to trash than recycle if we didn't have salvage yards. I will continue using Lonnie's and fear this chain will put them out of business, but I would not block them because I like local. I will just keep giving my business to local firms.

guess_again 6 years, 2 months ago

I am confused Chad.

Does this mean the application to the BZA for April 5 for the 12th & Haskell situation has been removed, or changed?

Chad Lawhorn 6 years, 2 months ago

Not yet it hasn't. But perhaps it might get a deferred to allow the city to consider this latest proposal. That's just speculation on my part. Thanks, Chad

lawrence_citizen 6 years, 2 months ago

(That’s right Mizzou fans. Those are actually salvage yards, not art galleries.)


Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

12th Street Recycle noise can be heard blocks away.

Yes I would imagine there is toxic contamination in the soil. Bo has no respect for environmental codes or city codes.

The fact of the matter the owner cannot be trusted to operate a business within codes. Several years of evidence have taken place.

Bo started with a small quiet retail front. Then moved on to industrial without permission if my memory serves me well.

Brook_Creek_Resident 6 years, 2 months ago

"In other words, the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center doesn’t plan to go quietly into the night."

Neither does Brook Creek Neighborhood. Brad and Bo must think that just because we live on the poor side of town that we're stupid. Well, we're not. And we hope City Staff isn't either.

I am disappointed that Chad just assumed the petitions were part of of the material submitted to the city just because Brad referenced them. How about a little due diligence with the reporting? Don't assume everything an attorney says is the truth...that's how we got here in the first place.

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