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Burns & Hansen, PA

Land Use Permit at Issue in Minneapolis Scrap Metal Case

Earth Day is less than three weeks away. But controlling pollution and honoring the Earth while also protecting commercial property rights is no easy matter.

Minneapolis real estate attorneys and land use lawyers are monitoring a dispute about pollution limits and regulatory permits that illustrates this point.

The case pits the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) against Northern Metal Recycling, which operates a metal shredder in North Minneapolis.

Northern Metal is seeking to ease restrictions on the types of materials it is allowed to shred at the site. It would also like to raise limits on some of its emissions and have to submit to pollution testing less often.

The MPCA opposes these requests. The result is litigation that is headed for the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Specifically, what is at issue is an air pollution permit for the metal shredder. The MPCA was weighing whether to require an environmental impact statement (EIS). Northern Metal asserted that the agency was taking too long and sought a court ruling to force a decision.

A Ramsey County judge did issue an order directing the MPCA to decide about the EIS. The MPCA disagreed with the judge's order, however, and appealed it to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Further proceedings in the MPCA permitting process have been stayed until the Court of Appeals makes a decision in the case.

The plant is located near the Lowery Avenue Bridge. The metal shredder was installed in 2009, after a previous legal battle over emissions of mercury and other chemicals.

Source: "Battle over north Minneapolis shredder goes to court of appeals," Randy Furst, Star Tribune, 3-26-12

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