Velazquez told residents: “I’m concerned you have an expectation this board cannot meet.”
He explained: “We need to look at a plan presented to us, consider as it relates to existing zoning and determine whether or not it fits. That’s our job. We’re not going to rewrite zoning here today. That’s not what we’re here to do.”
Planner Richard Button said he understands the concerns of residents, but added: “This is not the place to discuss that.”
Residents could attempt to appeal the decision of the city’s zoning officer regarding the use of the property to the Allentown zoning hearing board, suggested Button and Michael Hefele, the city’s planning director.
Schneider was seeking preliminary/final plan approval from the planning commission.
But the commission decided to table the plan until it is “cleaned up.” If that is done, Toth said: “It will be in our best interest of our commission to approve that plan at next month’s meeting.”
Toth announced that Mayor Pawlowski sent a letter to the planning commission opposing the proposed plan. Toth said that while the mayor “does concede that the use presented is consistent with the city’s zoning ordinance, he nonetheless opposes the use based on the changed landscape of this portion of Meadow Street.”
More than once, Schneider replied “I don’t know” or “I’ll get back to you” when questions were put to him.
When asked by planners for an explanation of the purpose for the proposed buildings, Schneider initially replied: “Could you be more specific?”
Then he said: “We will be serving a couple of our customers. We’re going to do additional manufacturing to their co-products, so the product is suitable to be shipped to another facility to be melted.
“We package and size it so it can go on through the economic food chain to be re-melted. Sizing means you cut it to a specific size.” He said no melting of materials will be done at the Meadow Street operation.
Button asked for an explanation of “co-product.”
Schneider indicated it is types of metal that are very valuable, but too big to go into a furnace to be melted down for reuse. “It will be cut. It needs to be sized and kept in a secure place prior to shipment.”
He said cutting will be done indoors, using a cutting torch, plasma torch or an air chisel. “The residents won’t hear the noise.”
Smith said Schneider has been operating his business for many years on the former Lehigh Structural Steel property beneath the Tilghman Street Bridge, but has to leave because that property is scheduled to be redeveloped.
Schneider plans to put eight-foot-high chain link fence around the 801 N. Meadow St. property, with automated gates, surveillance cameras and security patrols. He also said the premises will be alarmed. “The public is not allowed on this property.”
Commented Schneider: “We have a huge problem with security on Sumner Avenue. They’re coming in nightly and taking our stuff.”
He said he will not be doing scrap metal processing, storage or shipping at the Meadow Street facility.
“The products we are gong to handle there are defined as co-products, not scrap. ‘Scrap’ denotes something that’s obsolete. You cannot come to Meadow Street and sell me your aluminum cans, your old screen door, your old swing set or anything that has outlived its usefulness.”
Smith said the site now is vacant “and kind of overgrown.” He said another industrial facility on the site was torn down several years ago.
Much of the property closest to Meadow Street on the west side of the property will remain undeveloped, according to Smith.
In addition to trees along Meadow Street, he said evergreen trees will be planted along that side of the property to serve as a buffer between the planned facility and homes across the street.
Smith told planners Schneider has no immediate need for that western part of the property but does not want to subdivide it in case he wants to develop it in the future, which would involve returning to the planning commission.
Resident Richard Lake said he was told the site where Schneider wants to build his recycling plant once was a dye manufacturing plant and that 55-gallon drums of dye were put underground.
Hefele recalled there were environmental issues with the property and that the state Department of Environmental Protection or federal Environmental Protection Agency had been involved there many years ago. He said he will check into that.