Crain’s Chicago Business

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration recently granted the family that operates a controversial scrap metal recycling yard along the North Branch of the Chicago River new three-year permits to keep operating there, defying an onslaught of complaints from area residents and ducking an alderman vying to force it out of the neighborhood—who says he was blindsided by move.

A venture affiliated with General Iron Industries, which last summer announced a plan to move from its Clybourn Corridor plant to a newly built facility on the city’s Southeast Side by the end of 2020, won permits from the Chicago Department of Public Health in February for special operating hours that run through February 2022, according to public records. The new waivers were granted two months before the end of the mayor’s term to a venture controlled by Twinsburg, Ohio-based industrial recycling company Reserve Management Group—which is partnering with General Iron to open the new facility—and updated permits set to expire this August, records show.

The Class IVB recycling facility permits for General Iron’s operations at 1441 N. Magnolia Ave., 1909 N. Clifton Ave., 1066 W. North Ave. and 1800 N. Kingsbury St. give members of the clout-heavy Labkon family, which owns the property and business, clearance to continue metal-shredding and other processes on the quickly gentrifying North Branch as it moves forward with its intended relocation. The permits are special waivers, typically renewed for three-year periods, that allow General Iron to operate its shredders from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, longer hours than the 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. rules for most scrap yards.

The awarding of new permits came as news to 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins, who deems the riverfront plant a threat to public health and has led a long-standing but mostly fruitless charge to oust the company from the riverfront between Lincoln Park and Bucktown.

Hopkins, who was stonewalled by other city officials in September when he pushed to reduce General Iron’s operating hours, said he was preparing public meetings to discuss the waivers ahead of their August expiration and was unaware the new permits were already granted until asked about them by Crain’s late last month. He accused the previous administration of quietly approving them “in the darkness of night.”

Read more online at Crain’s Chicago Business’ website.