The owner of a metal shredding business says he has “smoking gun” evidence he hopes will help reverse a city decision made last year to deny the company a permit based on pollution and health concerns. Will get

Eld. Lawyers for the scrap metal operation said this week that Susan Sadlowski Garza provided the business owner with previously unpublished internal city communications that showed the city was preparing to issue a draft permit for Southside Recycling in April 2021.

Southside Recycling is the relocated, rebranded and rebuilt general iron car and metal-shredding business that was denied city approval last February to open on East 116th Street along the Calumet River.

The owner of the operation, Reserve Management Group, is challenging the decision in the city’s administrative court.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwadi, appointed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, denied the permit last February. Company attorneys say a document provided by Garza titled “Arvadi Remarks at Press Conference – Draft” suggests the city was preparing to conditionally approve the facility.

There is no date on the document other than the handwritten “4/22/2021,” which is about two weeks before Lightfoot, at the urging of President Joe Biden’s administration, paused the permit process to analyze the impact on community health. Ordered impact assessment. Excess pollution on the heavily industrialized southeast side.

Terence Sheehan, an attorney for Reserve Management, said at Wednesday’s hearing that the memo and other internal communications were a “smoking gun” that proved the company’s argument that the permit denial was unfair.

Responding to the hearing, city attorney Bradley Wilson said the documents showed nothing more than discussions prior to a final decision. He said they were not relevant and called them a “distraction”.

Administrative Law Judge Mitchell Ax denied Reserve Management’s request to enter into evidence the documents in the case.

Lawyers for the business say the documents will inform their questions to witnesses called in future hearings.

Reserve management contends that Arwadi did not follow the city’s own rules regarding permit applications. According to the company’s lawyers, the health assessment conducted to determine the impact on residents from the additional pollution was inappropriate and outside those regulations.

The southeastern part suffers from poor air quality. When plans to move scrap metal operations from Lincoln Park to the Southeast were made public in 2018, community groups organized a year-long opposition campaign that included hunger strikes.

“Many advocates and community members want us to reject the permit outright,” the Arwadi draft document states. “But Southside Recycling has sought a permit under current law, which requires that a permit be granted if legal standards are met.”

Arwadi and other city officials declined to comment.

Eld. Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10th) lashed out at Mayor Lori Lightfoot last year for denying a permit for a relocated General Irons in her ward.

After the permit was denied last year, Garza, the outgoing alderperson of the 10th Ward, attacked Lightfoot, Arwadi and others, saying the permit decision was political and not objective.

Asked about providing the document to reserve management, Garza told the Sun-Times, “I have no comment.”

Reserve management is also building a case for a state court lawsuit that is temporarily on hold.

The company has said it had a contract to comply with the city’s timeline to remove its North Side location and move to the East 116th Street site.

Reserve Management built its new operation and expects to begin operations in early 2021. It has said it spent $80 million to build the facility and continues to rack up hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business.

Lightfoot’s administration is also negotiating with federal housing authorities, who found that the city’s role in plans to relocate Common Iron from white, wealthy Lincoln Park to a low-income community of color on the Southeast side was discriminatory.

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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