The Cass County Redevelopment Commission voted to allow into the Cass County Agribusiness P an industrial plant that would turn electric arc furnace dust into zinc and iron.
The Redevelopment Commissioners unanimously gave use approval for a zoning overlay allowing Waelz Sustainable Products to locate in the park on tracts 2-4, near Clymers.
The Redevelopment Commission had already approved the acceptance of tract 1, and this was done because the other tracts have since been purchased, said Arin Shaver, Executive Director of the Logansport/Cass County Planning Department.
The commissioners’ vote means that the business won’t need to go to the Board of Zoning Appeals to be let into the Agribusiness Park, said Shaver.
The park is zoned as county gateway, which allows unambiguously agricultural businesses like fertilizer companies to go in without going before the commission, she said.
This use approval rule allows the commission to review other tenants coming in.
The four parcels are about 136.5 acres total, and they’ll be classified as a heavy industrial zoning. The parcels don’t have direct access to the Hoosier Heartland Highway as others in the park do, Shaver said.
The Waelz development is planned to use kilns to convert the electric arc furnace dust by-product from steel mills into zinc and iron for use in other industries, said Ali Alavi, Senior Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel for Heritage Environmental Services, earlier this week at the County Commissioner’s meeting.
The Commissioners had met Monday and approved extending the Tax Increment Financing plan to cover all the parcels.
Parcels 2 and 4 were north of the park and zoned agricultural and were part of the TIF district but not part of the TIF plan, Shaver said.
At Monday’s meeting, residents spoke against the plan and said it would bring excessive and harmful pollution to the area.
Muncie recently rejected this sort of plant in its area, Lora Redweik said.
Some speakers were unhappy that Waelz hadn’t filed for permits with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management yet but were moving gravel on the site.
However, at Thursday’s Redevelopment Commission meeting, there was no public participation, although people did showed for the meeting. The meeting attendance was limited to 10 audience members because of restrictions on gatherings due to the coronavirus, and a sign at the Cass County Government Building entrance announced the quota had been as reached before the meeting started.
Some people still waited outside the meeting room doors to listen in. However, Redevelopment Commission President Dave Arnold closed the doors at the meeting’s start despite objections from those in the hall.
Cass County Commissioner Ralph Anderson later came into the chambers to ask if they can’t have the door open, and Arnold replied, “no, sir.”
Two people were able to get in with green numbered cards from Anderson that allowed attendance.
Redevelopment Commission Vice-President and Council Commissioner Jim Sailor said the doors were closed because current COVID-19 safety rules limit gatherings to 10 people, and if they were open, people would just walk in.
“This is a business meeting, and we had things to take care of,” Arnold said. “We don’t like doing it for 10 people, but it’s the rules.”
Resident Cynthia White said she and three others were outside and unable to hear the meeting, although they asked to have the doors remain open. “I don’t know who else left because they were turning people away downstairs,” she said.
Also at the meeting, the Redevelopment Commission deleted three agenda items because they were not essential to address during the current social distancing directives. Those included two project updates and maintenance and mowing for the Agribusiness Park.
County dealings on the Waelz project will continue this week.
At 9 a.m. on Friday morning, the Cass County Council is supposed to address other matters concerning the Waelz project.
It’s unclear from the council’s posted agenda whether resolution 20-02 authorizing economic development revenue bond proceedings will address the Waelz project.
The Council offices phone wasn’t answered yesterday afternoon, and neither was the Commissioners’ office phone.
In other business, the Redevelopment Commission accepted three bids for a water tower in the Agribusiness Park. Maguire Iron Inc. of Sioux Fall, South Dakota, bid $2.05 million with a $100,000 deduction for the alternative option. Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors LLC of Avon bid $1.82 million with a $128,408 deduction for the alternative option. Caldwell Tanks Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky, bid $2.16 million with a $175,000 deduction for the alternative.
The bids were turned over to HWC Engineering of Indianapolis for review, and the Redevelopment Commissioners approved going ahead with a favorable review from the firm if meetings are cancelled because of quarantine.
The tower will serve the six existing businesses in the park and two in Clymer, said Arnold.
“All the businesses out at the park, their number one priority is fire protection,” he said.
However, the county has been working on it for about seven years because of a lawsuit a former Logansport mayor’s administration instituted against Cass County.
The county won the suit, Arnold said.