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Menahga residents upset about auto business noise

Schaefer Auto in Menahga has been busy this spring with high scrap metal prices causing an overflow. Nearby residents have been complaining about noise and smell coming from the business.

High scrap metal prices have inundated a Menahga recycling business, prompting complaints from nearby residents about noise and smell.

Several residents attended the Menahga City Council meeting Monday to voice their concerns about Schaefer Auto, located in the city's industrial park. Cars and other metal scraps are crushed at the business. Residents who live near the auto recycling center say it is too noisy.

The city's noise ordinance simply states that excess noise is a violation. There are no time restrictions for noise.

This spring, scrap metal prices peaked at $170 per ton for scrap metal and $180 per ton for prepared metal, said Kelly Schaefer, owner of Schaefer Auto, in an interview.

Since the price peaked, the scrap metal price has decreased to $120 per ton. Prepared metal has stayed at $180 per ton, she said.

The high prices have caused business to boom and the crushing has become backed up. Some of the extra metal is now sitting outside the fenced area. This weekend another fence will be constructed to surround the new storage area, Schaefer said.

City administrator Teri Osterman said she has been in contact with Schaefers about the complaints and putting up a fence.

Residents are concerned about crushing early in the morning and late at night. Also, they are concerned about the smell of rotting gasoline.

"We've been in the industrial park for three and a half years," Schaefer said. "We haven't had complaints to this extent before."

For some people, selling scrap is a means of income, she said.

"People are cleaning up their yards by bringing their junk in to recycle," she said.

Crushing starts as early as 7:30 a.m. and sometimes runs until dark, Schaefer said. Scrap is accepted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Gasoline cans are emptied and crushed when there are enough of them, Schaefer said. The smell residents complained about is probably from those days, she said.

"We try to make sure we don't crush the cans on windy days," she said.

The council asked Osterman to send a letter to Schaefer Auto relaying the complaints and asking that those complaints be addressed.

Schaefer said that the recycling business is in the industrial park and there will be noise.

"The industrial park has businesses that create noise," she said. "There's no way around that."

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561