Sometimes a little caution goes a long way in development

        City Councilmember Robert Zwolak has every right to be concerned about a recent influx of recycling facilities opening here or proposing to do so.

          He’s been around long enough to remember past city development projects that ended up as environmental disasters.

          The one freshest in memory was the medical waste incinerator in which its original developers promised smokestack emissions would be 99.9 percent clean. That turned out to be a lie, and it took activists here several years to get the attention of county and state officials to close it down.

          Before that the city had a horrible experience redeveloping a former paint plant site. Long story made short, it ended up costing taxpayers several million dollars to fix.

          Now that we have two recycling plants about to begin operations and now two more in the works, Zwolak wanted to put the brakes on one of the facilities, for just a few weeks, in order to take a closer look at the possible consequences of its operation, environmentally-speaking.

          Last week the council was asked to sign on to a host agreement with a new company called Vincent Christopher LCC. The company is proposing to recycle construction and demolition debris from housing and commercial buildings.

          The plant would be located at a vacant site on Vincent St. – next door to a residential neighborhood.

          Considering that the city has dragged its feet for over two months in deciding on whether to rezone a former industrial site on St. Aubin and was asked last week to decide on the spot about the recycling proposal, well, waiting another two weeks didn’t seem unreasonable.

          But his colleagues on council decided to agree to the host proposal. That’s OK, but we had the same impulse Zwolak had.

          These types of development proposals all seem to have the same boasts of being environmentally friendly and a boost to the local economy. How perfect can that be?

          Well, it’s worth taking a closer look at these proposals because what we learned from the medical waste incinerator fiasco is that it takes much longer to undo mistakes than it does to make them.

One Response to Sometimes a little caution goes a long way in development

  1. Only the facts

    April 23, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I agree that caution should be exercised in this matter however Hamt. needs all the tax base it can generate at this time. For a long time some in Hamt. have had a vision that it will become the next Royal Oak and in my opinion,as attractive as that may be,reality seems to indicate that Hamt. will continue to be what it always has been…An industrial type community made up of blue collar working people. There have been opportunities that have been missed by the city ,such as getting American Axle World Headquarters here,only to be lost due to what I perceived at the time as bureaucratic red tape.
    And as far as the fiasco with Acme Paint Co. goes that was a oversight on the cities part in as much as they didn’t require a performance bond in the contract with the demolition Co. as I remember it. This was,after all a factory where they produced White LEAD Paint! If a stipulation in the demolition contract had been put in place for the demolition co. to remove all contaminated waste,and followed up on by a inspection of the site,the citizens of Hamt. would have never been saddled with the huge expense of securing the toxic waste at the site. Just think of what those millions of dollars could have been used for.
    I also remember a time when a developer offered to build on the site of the abandoned ice rink in Veterans Park. I think a multiple rink ice skating complex was offered and was shot down by those that thought the park was more valuable as green space. Well,now I ask….How much is that section of the park being used? Stop and think what the city may have done with the taxes that complex would have brought in.
    The city needs income!!! And if there is any chance it can get taxes from a new business it needs to be seriously considered.

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