Trinity Recycling can continue business, but clock is ticking
Trinity Recycling, the metal recycling operation located in west Eagle, can continue its operations but a deadline has been set for the business to move out of the largely residential area where it is located.
The debate surrounding the operation reached the Eagle Town Board earlier this year when Trinity owner Josh Thompson was instructed to seek an amendment to the special use permit that allows the business to operate in a large commercial building located along Castle Drive. Trinity obtained a special use permit to open the shop but over time, operations at the metal recycling center grew to the point it bi longer complied with the activities allowed. The amendment specified allowed uses including limited outside storage, operation of a metal baling machine and a collection trailer on site.
“I would like to come to a compromise position. I am reluctant to throw an existing business out on its ear.”
Eagle Town Board
When Thompson appeared before the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission for the permit hearing, a large contingent of his neighbors showed up to voice concerns about the overall operation and town staff agreed that the facility was not compatible with the neighborhood in the long term. The planning commission agreed and recommended denial of the amended special use permit citing the business’s incompatibility with the surrounding residential neighborhood.
But when Thompson appeared before the Eagle Town Board in late January, members were impressed by his efforts to work with neighbors and his pledge to move the business to a more suitable location. The town board members voted to allow the special use, instructing staff to prepare the corresponding documents for formal approval.
However, when the formal documents arrived before the town board on Feb. 10, so did a contingent of neighbors to protest the decision. They noted they had attended the planning commission hearings and thought the special use amendment proposal was dead. Instead, they learned that the town board reversed the planning commission decision. The town board decided to re-advertise a public hearing on the issue and open up the matter for debate on Feb. 24.
Reaching a compromise
Tuesday night a number of Thompson’s neighbors noted that the business isn’t a good fit, even though they appreciate his efforts to reach out to them and to mitigate impacts.
“They have done an awful lot to try to fix a problem,” said resident Andree Shy. “But this is a problem that started long before they got there.”
“I am concerned about it being a huge junk yard. It is not safe. It is a huge industrial use,” said neighbor Louis Carter.
Neighbors noted the large building, which attracts heavy commercial or light industrial uses is a white elephant in the area. Resident Lisa Schoeber noted Trinity is just the wrong business for the location.
“But I am not for shutting down a business tomorrow and having 12 people lose their jobs,” she said.
Thompson noted he has placed the building up for sale and he is looking for a new, more compatible location for his business.
“We have had several people come look at the building. We are very ambitious to get the building sold, but no one has signed a check yet,” he said. “We realize where we are. Let’s call it the way it is. It isn’t a good fit.”
In their discussion of the matter, town board members noted that if they denied the special use amendment, the net effect would be the business could continue to operate, but the baler could not be used and the collection trailer would have to go. They noted an alternative would be to approve an amendment that would shorten the term of the existing special use.
“The concerns that have been expressed by the neighbors are legitimate,” said town board member Sarah Baker.
“How do we make sure this incompatibility doesn’t happen again,” asked town board member Andy Jessen.
Town board member Anne McKibbin noted that the Trinity neighbors testified that conditions had slightly improved at the site.
“I would like to come to a compromise position. I am reluctant to throw an existing business out on its ear,” she said.
McKibbin also applauded Thompson’s outreach efforts. “This is the first time I have seen this level of communication between an applicant and his neighbors,” she said. ‘That part of this process has been very refreshing.”
Likewise, the board applauded the neighbors for their willingness to work through the issue. “I have rarely seen the civility that you have demonstrated. I applaud you for that,” said Baker.
Ultimately the board unanimously approved the special use amendment, setting a two-year deadline for the business to move away from the site.