Recycling company wins exception for Falk Steel Road

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A special exception to store scrap metal on property at Falk Steel Road was granted to Keyes Recycling by the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday, but the company faces more hurdles.

The city action came after months of public hearings at which local residents and church members opposed the business. Next, Robert Keyes, owner of Keyes Recycling on U.S. 61 North, will have to obtain a permit from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and Federal Emergency Management Agency. A city privilege license will not be issued for the 45-acre site without the permit because the land north of the downtown area is in a flood zone.

Keyes will also have to pave the gravel driveway of the business, install 17 trees to provide a natural buffer between the scrap storage area and surrounding neighborhood and comply with all the other requirements of the business site plan approved by the Site Plan Review Committee. Keyes will have 12 months to meet the requirements or he will lose the special exception.

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“The special exception reflects the comments and concerns of everybody and takes into account (Keyes’) legal right to use this property, but basically the privilege license will be held until all requirements are met,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens.

About 15 residents of the Falk Steel Road area and members of two neighborhood churches attended the hearing to show opposition, as many have done at the two previous public hearings.

If Keyes meets all requirements, he may receive deliveries of scrap from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Scrap stored on site must not be piled higher than the 8-foot fence or the natural buffer zone he is required to install around the property. 

Keyes will not be allowed to crush, recycle or shred materials on the property. However, he has said he will pursue a second phase of the site plan, which includes opening the facility to the public and adding a metal shredder. Separate board approval will be required for such expansions.

Keyes said he felt the restrictions put too much of a burden on him and would restrict him from doing such things as receiving a delivery via train or keeping enough scrap on the property. 

Leyens has contended Keyes could successfully sue the city if he were denied the special exception, but said the city has done all it can to address the concerns of all parties involved.  “I don’t want to tie up any more staff time splitting hairs,” he told Keyes. “If you want to appeal it above us, you’re certainly able to do so. I think this is a workable solution for both sides.” 

Keyes initially was denied an exception by the zoning board on Sept. 2. He appealed to the mayor and aldermen, who toured the site in October and tabled a final decision on Nov. 3. Since, officials have wrangled with Keyes over the specifics.


Contact Steve Sanoski at