The city of Katy’s administration announced during a Feb. 25 special Katy City Council meeting that it has ordered Katy Scrap Metal to shut down due to multiple code violations observed on the …
The city of Katy’s administration announced during a Feb. 25 special Katy City Council meeting that it has ordered Katy Scrap Metal to shut down due to multiple code violations observed on the premises. The issues at the facility were initially brought up by neighboring property owner, Betsy Riley who presented her complaints regarding debris and noise during the meeting.
“The noise is so incredible, that I’ve not been able to rent out my buildings (next door to Katy Scrap Metal),” Riley said.
City Planner Anas Garfaoui said the city had reviewed Riley’s complaints and various city departments had inspected the Katy Scrap Metal facility at 27239 Highway Blvd. in Katy, which is owned and operated by Luis Fajardo. The resulting violations led the city to provide the owner with an order to shut down operations by March 10.
“Our investigation showed that (Katy Scrap Metal) did have high piled stock as well as other hazards,” Garfaoui said. “We also pulled from the Katy Scrap Metal website that (the owner) was accepting vehicles, which is a direct violation of the City of Katy ordinance. This is not permitted anywhere in the city, regardless of a special use permit.”
Riley said the facility, while listed as a metal recycling plant and in an industrial zone in the city that allows metal recycling, is exceeding its permit and causing dangers to neighboring buildings and those working in them. Citing Katy’s zoning ordinance, she said the plant does not just take in basic scrap metal for recycling, as allowed under its city permit. She and her tenants have witnessed automobiles, refrigerators and other items that exceed the permit being taken in and crushed. The crane with a claw attachment lifts the vehicles what she estimated was 30 feet in the air and drops them into a railroad car-like bin, then crushed by the claw attachment on the crane. The din of the crushing process, as well as debris and fumes such as those from unemptied refrigerators, has caused dangerous and unworkable conditions for her current tenants and she has been unable to rent out remaining spaces in her three neighboring buildings as a result. Vehicles and refrigerators release various harmful gases if not properly prepared for crushing, she said.
“One, of course, is Freon gas (which) is being distributed into the air, which affects all of us,” Riley said. “And I looked that up and Freon, if you breathe a big whiff of it will kill you deader than a hammer.”
According to Healthline.com, Freon is a mostly odorless gas that, when inhaled deeply, can cause breathing problems, fluid buildup in the lungs, organ damage or sudden death. Anyone exposed to Freon should call 9-1-1 or the National Poison Control Hotline at 800-222-1222.
One of Riley’s current tenants, Kyle Dull of Dull’s Detail, said he had even had to send a staff member home at one point because a crushed refrigerator had not had the coolant removed which wafted into the garage and caused his staff member to become ill with a severe headache.
Riley also said her tenant at Old Katy Car Care was forced to sweep the parking lot regularly as a result of flying debris to ensure customers’ tires weren’t punctured by debris and that she had been forced to
Garfaoui said the city had found other concerns associated with the operation of Katy Scrap Metal. Multiple city departments were involved including Code Enforcement, administration, Public Works and the city’s legal counsel, he said.
The results of the investigation showed several problems, Garfaoui said. In addition to the piled stock metal which exceeded the safety requirements of no more than 12 feet in height, the original 2012 permit application indicated that only basic recycling would be done at the facility. Drainage concerns were also identified at the recycling center. Additionally, various other unspecified hazards were identified. Additionally, permits required by the Texas Commission on Environmental quality and with those violations combined, the city had opted to issue the order resulting in the closure of Katy Scrap Metal.
The Katy Times reached out to Fajardo for his response regarding the situation, but a reply was not received in time for press time. This story will be updated if a response is received from him.