Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) officials and the owners of a controversial metal recycling site in north Minneapolis have extended the timeline for negotiating the facility's move out of the city.
Meanwhile, a little less than 50 miles northwest of Minneapolis, officials in Becker are hoping that once negotiations are complete, their city will be chosen for the facility.
The MPCA has been in negotiations with Northern Metal Recycling since the fall in an effort to settle two legal actions against the company. MPCA officials said in January that they expected an agreement by the end of the month. They've since requested an extension until the end of February from the administrative law judge who ordered the mediation.
Under the resolution, Northern Metal would have to move the facility by summer 2019. They'd also have to pay a settlement that includes a civil penalty, the MPCA's legal fees and court costs, a reimbursement for previous and ongoing MPCA monitoring at the site and funds for community projects that benefit the environment.
The delay in reaching an agreement won't change the timeline for carrying it out, said Sarah Kilgriff, manager of the MPCA's land and air compliance section.
"We just needed a little bit more time for the finer details to be ironed out," she said.
Northern Metal Chief Operating Officer Scott Helberg did not respond to a request for comment.
The facility and its metal shredder, located south of the Lowry Avenue Bridge, has long provoked air quality concerns. Residents have spent years trying to get it out of Minneapolis' Hawthorne neighborhood.
The ongoing negotiations stem from an MPCA move in May 2016 to revoke Northern Metal's air quality permit. Investigations at the site had revealed the company was not following the permit and had omitted information during the permit process.
Becker city officials are aware of those problems, but said they are undeterred.
The site they have in mind is in an industrial park that encompasses several hundred acres and is separated from area homes by railroad tracks and Hwy. 10, said City Administrator Greg Pruszinske. The park has a lot of space to fill, he said, and city officials have been courting Northern Metal for about a year.
"It's really a good setting for that type of business," Pruszinske said. "We're confident that the PCA and the company are going to come to an agreement on how the permit's going to be executed in the future."