EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — Plans to relocate a 32-year-old family-owned recycling business to the former Hall China Co. pottery in the city’s East End were put on hold after a public hearing Thursday.
The Board of Zoning Appeals voted 4-0 with member Karl Fife absent to table a request by the pottery’s owner, HLC Holdings, for a special exception that would allow for the recycling operation in an area zoned M-3, General Industrial.
The decision came after slightly more than an hour of testimony from both owners of Six Recycling Corp., which is planning to purchase the property and move its salvage/recycling operation from 50 Maple St. to the former Hall China site, as well as residents opposed to the move.
No one spoke in favor of the move, including officials of HLC Holdings in attendance, who also declined comment after the hearing.
According to Ray Six, one of the owners of the recycling business, it was started 32 years ago by a handful of family members “taking out second mortgages to live the American dream.” The business has grown considerably since then, he said, and has outgrown the two to three acres on which it operates. Also, the electrical service available at the current location is not adequate for the equipment now used.
This led to the family starting to look 10 years ago for an alternate location “because we’re bursting at the seams and stuff gets piled on top of each other,” Six said. “We would like to grow our business, but the only way we can is to move.”
He explained that “recycling” is not precisely the nature of the business, which actually buys, packages and loads items in trucks to send to facilities where they are melted.
“We don’t melt anything,” Six emphasized, saying the sorting and separation process at the business is labor intensive and that the current location only allows so many employees, causing piles of material to grow high. With a larger building, the current 17-member workforce could easily be doubled, he said.
While the company has never looked at anything other than metals, Six said it would like to consider other materials if able to relocate.
He outlined for the board and a roomful of residents the company’s plans for the former pottery, including razing the back portion of the existing building and concreting the ground where the scrapping process would take place, which he said the public would never see. Berms at least six feet tall with trees planted on top would be built around the perimeters to further hide operations, he said. Plans also call for using an adjacent building on the property for a multi-sport complex, which he said is needed in the area, based upon his own experience with four daughters involved in athletics and travel teams.
“It’s a perfect site for us to move to. It will be a multi-million dollar investment,” Six said. “We’ve been in this community a long time and we’d like to invest that money here if you’d let us.”
Gallery images include Ray Six of Six Recycling offering testimony, resident Rita Evans, East Liverpool Board of Zoning Appeals members, the former Hall China property and the exterior of Six Recycling Corp. on Maple Street.
When asked by board members where trucks would enter and exit the property, Six said off Pennsylvania Avenue to the rear of the property. Trucks would travel to scales in the front and then around to the Harvey Avenue side, traveling through the building.
There are 12 acres under roof on the site, and Six said the majority of work would be housed under roof.
“Every developed community needs a scrap yard there,” Six said, giving as an example someone’s water tank going bad and it needing disposed of. “They can bring it to us and get paid for it, or it can go over a hillside,” he explained. “People see scrap yards and think negatively, but they keep a community clean.”
If granted the special exception to purchase the pottery site, the Six Recycling location on Maple Street would be vacated and then be made available for development or sale, Six noted.
The first resident to speak, David Hager, Stagecoach Road, set the tone for all those who commented, saying, “I’m happy Mr. Six is living the American dream, but he’s causing people in the East End to live the American nightmare. No one wants to live next door to a junkyard.”
Although he lives outside the immediate area, Hager owns property in the Klondyke neighborhood and attends Boyce Methodist Church, located 50 feet from the former Hall China pottery.
“If you allow this, I predict our church will close within a year,” Hager told the board. “WTI (Heritage Thermal Services, which operates a hazardous waste incinerator in the East End) promised us tipping fees and what happened? No one is going to benefit from this but Sixes. We don’t need this here, fellas. No one wants it.”
Rita Evans said her property on Harvey Avenue is 15 feet from the former property.
“I’m going to bear the brunt of it,” she said. “I’ve been in my house 49 years. There are plenty of other places they can take it. I don’t want it in my neighborhood.”
Board member Reece Kelly asked Evans about living next to the pottery. Evans said, “We’ve had no problem with Hall China Co. No smell. We didn’t see it.”
Evans questioned who actually owns the property and whether it has already been sold to the Six family. Board member Dan Painter pointed out the owner on the request is HLC Holdings, whose address is the same as Homer Laughlin China Co. in Newell, W.Va.
“I don’t have any control over who they sell it to,” Painter said.
Evans responded, “It’s a family affair” without elaborating.
Harvey Avenue resident Joseph English added his opposition, saying he had bought his home as a young man, raised three children there and has invested considerable money in improvements.
“I don’t want a junkyard in my back yard,” English insisted, saying he formerly worked at Hall China and now is employed at Homer Laughlin Co. He said Six Recycling has experienced fires and explosions over the years.
While Six’s ideas “look good,” English allowed, “I guarantee nothing like this is going to happen,” and asked the board to think about its decision.
Residents questioned how the high berms would affect the view of passing traffic on Harvey and Pennsylvania where there are sharp curves. They inquired about the additional smell, noise and possible environmental impact the recycling/salvage operation could have on the area, and whether an environmental impact study has been done.
Others expressed concern of the effect any potential impact could have on the health of residents and their children, considering the high rate of cancer in the city and its proximity to other manufacturers they consider potentially dangerous to their health.
“Are you really trying to kill us?” asked Roberta Pratt who lives on Ohio Avenue. Pratt said her daughter has had cancer four times and her son has allergies.
“This does not need to happen,” she said. “You’re adding fuel to the fire. You can’t control what’s already there.”
She encouraged the board to “research it and then disapprove it.”
After listening to the comments, board Chairman Brian Vaughn referred to a list of issues the board is expected to consider in deciding whether to grant a special exception. Issues include any potential detriment to the public welfare, to the neighborhood character and neighboring properties, whether it will impact traffic congestion or increase the danger of fire and other items.
“The cons outweigh the pros,” Vaughn said. “We are a city starved for business, but we are also a city starved for residents. We’re almost down to a village (in population). You don’t usually see residential and business butted up against each other as you do here. There are too many cons. I hope the Sixes finds a solution to expanding their business, but I have to see it from the residents’ eyes too.”
Kelly said he was in favor of implementing recommendations made by city Planning Director Bill Cowan for fencing and requiring all the conditions placed upon Six Recycling being completed within nine months and holding the company to all it is promising.
Member Mario Hernandez said he would like more information about the truck entrances, flow of traffic and how high the berms will be but said, “Having a business move in is something the community needs and having jobs is something the community needs.”
It was decided to table the matter until additional information is obtained, and Cowan advised the board has 30 days in which to hold a second public hearing. Again, residents within 200 feet of the Hall China property will be notified by letter of any public hearing.
Hall China last operated the pottery in March 2021, and used the property for warehousing until December last year, according to the original zoning application submitted by HLC Holdings on Dec. 8.
Pictured at top: East Liverpool resident Joseph English spoke against the proposed Six Recycling project at the former Hall China Co. property. None of the residents attending Thursday’s public hearing were in favor of the project.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.