DOWNTOWN — Pure Metal Recycling's plan to open a massive metal shredder in Pilsen has hit another delay.
At a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Friday, Pure Metal Recycling asked to put off its request for approval to build a $30 million factory on 15 acres of land along Loomis Street just south of Cermak Road. Company officials said they did so at the request of Ald. Danny Solis (25th).
The alderman asked for the delay so the community had more time to consider the company’s proposal.
“The Alderman has received concerns from the community about the Pure Metals proposal and would like the community to have more time to discuss the project and thoroughly review the proposal before it is able to move through the Zoning Board of Appeals,” said Stacy Raker, Solis' spokeswoman.
The delay comes a week after the company, at a community meeting, said it had “no intention of postponing” Friday’s zoning hearing, saying previous ones had already cost the company a significant amount of money.
At that same meeting, members of the group Pilsen Alliance asked that the company to delay the zoning board of appeals hearing. However, at Friday’s hearing, that same community group changed its tune and pushed to move ahead with the hearing.
Pilsen Alliance Executive Director Nelson Soza said he no longer saw a reason for the delay and said he felt he had enough community support present Friday to stop the metal shredding company from getting zoning approval.
Soza also pointed to Solis, alleging the alderman deliberately delayed the zoning meeting so he could use “backdoor” deals to ultimately get the metal shredder into the neighborhood.
“We are outraged at the fact that Ald. Solis has once again put this off because we feel that he knew that he was defeated on this,” Soza said.
Soza also referenced the $34,500 in political donations the alderman has accepted from Acme Refining.
Pure Metal Recycling is largely owned by Brett Baron, whose father, Larry Baron, is president of the Bridgeport-based Acme Metal Refinery, which was recently raided by agents from the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.
But Pure Metal Recycling President Mark Swedlow said the claim that the two companies are connected is inaccurate.
Pure Metal Recycling agreed to the delay as per Solis’ request, said Swedlow, who acknowledged his company had the right to move forward with Friday’s hearing, but said he was also concerned about vocal opposition from Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO).
PERRO's Jerry Mead-Lucero said his organization met with Solis several weeks ago and asked the hearing be delayed.
“We’d like them [PERRO] to have a better understanding. There’s a lot of misconceptions of the industry as a whole,” Swedlow said Friday after the hearing. “It’s not something we’re looking to plow forward against the community.”
A representative for Sims Metal Management, an existing Pilsen metal shredder at 2500 S. Paulina St., also objected to the hearing delay Friday.
Pure Metal Recycling's zoning board of appeals hearing has been rescheduled for Jan. 17, 2 p.m. at city hall.