By KAREN LA PIERRE

klapierre@dailynews.net

A collective sigh of relief went up from the audience at the Hays Area Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Wednesday morning when the board voted 5-0 against allowing F&F Iron Metal Co. a special-use permit for installation of a full-service recycling facility located on East 13th at 1201 General Custer Road.

Von Fahrenbruch, owner of the company, sought approval to locate his business -- which recycles cars, refrigerators, hot water heaters, electronics and paper -- as well as other items.

Speaking to a packed room, Fahrenbruch described the recycling venture to the board. He also has business locations in Norton and Garden City.

Inside the building, they would process nonferrous metal, non-metallics such as paper and plastic and are considering the possibility of electronics recycling. There would be no burning, melting, battery breaking, smelting or shredding activity. That type of material would be stored inside the building.

Outside would be baling scrap, appliances and car bodies -- hydraulically compressed -- which are shipped out to larger cities on flat-bed semis. They would have a vehicle lift for draining fluids from vehicles, and other equipment such as a mobile baler.

The recyclables would be baled or put on pallets for shipping.

"It's quieter than you might think simply because the heavy iron makes more of a clang noise while appliances and sheet metal are baled inside the baling chamber and it does muffle the sound considerably," Fahrenbruch said about the noise level. "There are no activities that require the operators to have hearing protection."

Pictures of the F&F facilities in Garden City and Norton were shown. There were large piles of baling wire and stacked, compacted cars, estimated by Fahrenruch to be 15 feet high.

They would have a 20-foot sheet metal fence around the property in conjunction with the warehouse sidewall. He also said they would be proactive to deter metal theft.

"We utilize the latest technology to aggressively combat metal's theft with all transactions electronically recorded from beginning to end with scanned customer information, jpegs of every scale weight with time and date," and customer pictures, Fahrenbruch said.

F&F wants the company to be recycling only.

"If we can't recycle, we don't want it," he said.

The facility would be all new construction with a fence.

"We do need that business," said Jerry Sonntag, board member. "The concern is where it is (located) at."

Board member Thomas Lippert noted Fahrenbruch appeared to be an upstanding member of the community.

Chairperson Lou Caplan allowed the audience to speak, but requested they not say the same things again and again. Audience members voiced their opinions, and all of them were against having the facility at that location.

Bruce Arnold lives on 13th Street, and his concerns were about water contamination and safety of the water supply.

"We're subject to the Clean Water Act with the handling of fluids," Fahrenbruch said.

Connie Mermis, who also lives on 13th street, was concerned about blowing paper.

Other individuals were concerned about loss of property values, vermin, blowing dust and mud carried out of the business on truck tires, and traffic overall.

"Please vote as if it were your home," another woman said.

The location is zoned for heavy industrial businesses. The board members were unanimously against allowing the special-use permit.

Caplan urged the city commission to review zoning to make sure the zones are in conformance with new city planning to avoid problems.

Jesse Rohr, planning inspection and enforcement superintendent for Hays, explained with a special-use permit, the property was zoned as a "I-2" Heavy Industrial Zoning District, which is proper for the business.

"I'd have to look at records to see why it was zoned that way 30 years ago," he said.

In final business, the board:

* Approved a request from J-V Rentals LLC for a special-use permit to construct multi-family housing.

* Approved a request from Lanny Jones and Brian Deibert for a special-use permit to construct a duplex with the central business district.