FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne’s Plan Commission meetings are usually a mundane affair.
In fact, between members, dissension is rare, so rare that even one of the commission members learned Monday night that five votes were needed to pass or reject an item on the agenda.
Disagreements with the public attending the meetings are usually rare as well.
So it was uncommon when Plan Commission President Connie Haas Zuber had to threaten to call security on some public attendees who were vocally opposed to a new recycling plant on Fort Wayne’s southeast side.
The proposed 76-acre recycling plant will include a 140-foot smelting tower and six other buildings higher than the 50 feet allowed by ordinance.
It’s planned by ExUrban, a UK-owned firm that purchased a plot of land for the facility at Adams Center and Paulding roads, across from the Sheriff’s Training Facility.
But much to the disappointment of those who were opposed to it, it passed through the Plan Commission Monday.
“We’re like the bottom of the barrel, anything they don’t want they put Southeast,” said Jessie Jackson, who spoke in opposition during the meeting
He became verbal during the meeting once it passed, asking if he and others could voice their opinion before a decision was made. When he was told ‘no’, he said that the public was disappointed with what was going on before getting up to leave.
Jackson expressed his opinion that everything the plan commission didn’t want to see they “put on the southeast part of town.”
In response, President Zuber threatened to call security before Jackson and others left the meeting.
“They’re not telling everyone the truth,” Jackson said afterward. “There’s a lot of pollutants and cancer-causing things that are in this recycling plant that they’re talking about building.”
Ty Simmons also walked out of the meeting following the passage of the recycling plant.
He was upset that the council discussed whether to allow a new location for a Famous Taco restaurant rather than the new recycling plant.
“They put more emphasis on an amendment for a taco joint than they do for pollution in our community.” Simmons said. “It’s disrespectful, the way they went at each other over a taco place rather than talking about people that are going to live in this environment, it shows no respect.”
Members of the Plan Commission stated they were not making decisions based on environmental standards.
“I think the big factor that was mentioned tonight were the environmental factors which we can’t really control,” said Tom Freistroffer, at-large city council member and Plan Commission member. “IDEM has to give the quality of air permit in the future, which it has not given right now.”