Hearing set to consider steel plant rezoning

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON – Whatever the future holds for the former McLouth Steel property on West Jefferson, the next step may be revealed at a rescheduled hearing before city planners next month.

City Administrator Jim Wagner said that last week’s public hearing was postponed until April 13, at which time the Planning Commission will consider a request to rezone the property from mixed-use to an industrial designation, paving the way for developers for Trenton Land Holdings – on behalf of the Detroit Steel Co. – to make full use of the site.

The 276-acre property at 1491 W. Jefferson, which had ended full-time operations since the 1996 bankruptcy of McLouth Steel, has since 2005 seen limited use as a storage facility. Plans to restore operations on the site have been often contentious, including last year’s court hearings. Although legal challenges resulted in a March agreement to move forward with the project, little progress has been made since.

Wagner said next month’s hearing may determine if the proposed rezoning can find common ground or reflect a continued deadlock. City officials said the hope is to find “a business change,” Wagner said, rather than further litigation.

Detroit Steel previously requested use of the complex for the storage of manufacturers transporting materials. In 2014 proposals stalled when early development work was initiated without the proper permits.

Mayor Kyle Stack said last month during her State of the City address that the former McLouth site was – along with the nearby Riverside property also on West Jefferson – among the final large parcels that continued posing both development and legal challenges to the city.

The two parcels represent more than 500 acres of property that offer considerable benefits if developed yet have posed a variety of problems – including crime and blight issues – that stand in the way of progress.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 13 at City Hall, 2800 Third St.
(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)