A Wabash-based metal recycling business requested a $1.3-million, five-year tax abatement to assist in purchasing equipment for their new location in Marion.

Metal Source LLC recently purchased the former Earthwise Plastics building at 2703 W. Ninth St. and appeared before Marion City Council Tuesday.

Chris Lochner, president of Metal Source, said the company is eager to begin operations and the first piece of equipment has already been delivered to the facility.

“You mentioned that you already have machinery coming in,” said council president Deb Cain. “What can you not do without this tax abatement?”

Lochner explained that the abatement would only help the company to grow more jobs quicker “and be better stewards and neighbors.”

“There is nothing that could be prevented by the abatement,” Lochner said.

Marion City Council voted to approve eligibility for the abatement, and hold a public hearing at the next council meeting before granting the abatement.

However, council members expressed hesitation regarding the impact the business will have on surrounding residents including noise, truck traffic and visual appeal.

Councilwoman Robin Fouce initially requested that the request be tabled until the next meeting, allowing her time to discuss the issues with the nearby residents.

“I’m on the fence, this is my district,” Fouce said. “I certainly encourage and want to support new business. My first allegiance is to the citizens that live there and will be impacted.”

Though Fouce was told that all nearby residents were told about the plans, Fouce said she got the impression from the residents that they did not know about the project.

Ten acres of the property, including the building location, exists within city limits, while 12 acres remain on the county-operated side. Lochner said the company plans to install a truck scale on the county side.

After Lochner admitted to not having done a study of the current flow of traffic in the area, Councilman Brad Luzadder requested that Lochner return with a plan for a truck route.

Council president Deb Cain said she had visited Metal Source’s Peru and Wabash locations, and saw large piles of metal and heard loud machinery.

Lochner assured the council that he had no plans of creating piles of metal outside of the building.

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Lochner also responded to a concern from a local farmer regarding drainage.

“We like to work with our neighbors. We want to listen to our neighbors. We want to be within the law so that you guys can communicate that we are doing things fairly,” Lochner said.

Charity Bailey, the Senior Director for Economic Development Services of the Grant County Economic Growth Council, explained that a tax abatement is “a phasing in of real estate and or property taxes over time with the understanding that the project benefits the community.”

“The abatement is based on the assessed value, so if the project does not increase the value, then it does not qualify for the abatement,” Bailey said. “So in this particular case, the abatement is going towards equipment.”

Metal Source began as a five-person family owned business 19 years ago, and has grown to employ 255 people. The company cleans, sorts and recycles metals to be reused in the automotive industry. Lochner said he hopes to employ 50 nearby residents in the next two years.

The next city council meeting is Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the first floor Chambers of City Hall.
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