Wednesday, November 28, 2012
A zoning ordinance amendment has brought an aluminum company’s noisy nighttime activities into the public eye.
At its regularly scheduled Nov. 13 meeting, Goose Creek City Council voted to change zoning from conservation open space to light industrial at J.W. Aluminum located at 225 and 201 Walkers Lane off Old Mt. Holly Road.
One issue facing residents in that part of town is the noise the aluminum company makes late at night. The plant itself is outside city limits and does not have to comply with city noise ordinances.
Some of the J.W. Aluminum property that was not being used is in the city limits, zoned as conservation open space. Now J.W. Aluminum wants to use that land to store industrial scrap metal. Before it can do that, the zoning has to be changed.
There will be a 150-foot wide buffer of trees and bushes.
The residential area of Walkers Lane is also outside the city limits. Several residents have spoken publicly against the noise at recent city council meetings.
Walkers Lane resident Delphine Walker asked if any studies on air pollution or water runoff have been conducted. Goose Creek Mayor Michael Heitzler said none of those studies have been conducted, adding it’s not relevant in regard to the zoning change.
Rick Vance of J.W. Aluminum said the company abides by all runoff regulation permits.
Councilmember Jerry Tekac made a motion to adopt the ordinance for its second and final reading. Councilmember Franklin Moore gave a second.
Councilmember Mark Phillips said the issue of noise at night coming from the company has been brought up at previous council meetings.
Vance said trucks stop being unloaded at 3 p.m., however forklifts and front-end loaders bring items in 24 hours a day. The use of forklifts does not violate city noise ordinances, according to Goose Creek Public Information Officer Jesica Mackey.
“The people of Walkers Lane, Genevia (Road) and Foxborough have been listening to backup noises, loading and unloading, PA announcements – they’ve been listening to that since the plant opened probably 25 years ago,” Heitzler said. “Zoning is not the cause of those problems. It’s not going to amplify those problems.”
“It will worsen the situation,” Phillips said.
“I will have to concur it won’t help any,” Hetizler said.
During a roll call vote all voted yes for the ordinance except Councilmember John McCants, who voted no. Councilmember Marguerite Brown was not present.
The second and final reading of the ordinance passed with a majority vote.
Another citizen who spoke during public comments said he hears booms and bangs that carry all the way to Silver Fox Lane in the Foxborough neighborhood. This echoed statements made by other residents at the September and October city council meetings about horrendous noises and dust.
Another citizen spoke to say they were at a Walkers Lane church on Halloween and heard loud noises that sounded like a dumpster being dropped.
“It’s a factory that makes stuff out of metal,” Heitzler said. “It’s a big noisy place.”
Phillips said he used to live on Huntsman Drive and heard the banging noises.
“It is a lot of noise at 2 and 3 a.m.,” Walker said in September. “It’s so loud if you are asleep it will wake you up.”
Walker said the dust has made people sick and called the scrap storage a junkyard.
“It’s just extra metal storage,” David Tracy of J.W. Aluminum said in September. “It’s not junk. It’s how we make a living. We recycle. It’s stackable.”
At the September meeting council tabled the original zoning change request until it could get more information. At the October meeting council passed the first reading.