WARREN - Scrappers of copper pipes, wiring and aluminum siding would be required to have permits proving they had the authority to obtain the material they are selling or local scrap yards will not be able topurchase it, if proposed legislation is approved by City Council.
"We are trying to mitigate the financial reward for criminals to steal copper and aluminum siding from homes and businesses, which is causing millions of dollars worth of damage to property in our neighborhoods," Councilman Eddie Colbert, D-7th Ward, said.
"It may seem to be only $50 to $60 worth of copper and wiring, but by the time the investment is made to replace pipes and wiring and repair damaged walls, the cost could be $20,000 to $25,000 worth of damage in the property."
But a local scrapping business isn't sold on the plan.
"We're the only scrap yard in the city," Glenda K. Brooks, an administrator with Metalico Youngstown Inc., told City Council's legislative committee. "If this passes, and we do not take these scrap items, all the people are going to take them to another yard that do not follow existing laws.
"It will make it more difficult for us to stay in business," she said.
Brooks questioned whether the city's legislation supercedes state and federal laws, because her company already follows all of those requirements.
"We work closely with police departments and inform them anytime we believe someone is trying to sell illegal materials," she said.
Colbert said that over the last 10 years, the city has spent millions of dollars tearing down and replacing properties using Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants, Moving Ohio Forward grants and other program funds due to people stripping properties for scrap metals.
In the latest version of the proposed scrap legislation, Colbert narrowed the types of items for which recycling yards would have to obtain permits before they can buy the items from scrappers. The original proposal was for all metal items; the latest revision suggest the list be copper pipes, wiring and aluminum siding.
"Our goal is to try to save the city's housing stock," he said.
If it is the property owner is selling the items, they would bring their identification and something like a water bill proving they live at the residence.
Warren police detective Patrick Marsico questioned whether there was a certain bulk amount the legislation would require before a permit is required.
"You will not be able to scrap any amount with having a permit," Colbert said.
Brooks suggested there are a lot of people who legally scrap items that may not have permits.
"There are scrappers who like to go to only one place," she said. "If they cannot scrap their copper and aluminum siding at our place, they will take everything they have to someplace they are able to sell every they have. They are just going to take their items to a scrap yard that do not follow the law."
Mayor Doug Franklin emphasized the city wants to work with area scrap yards so that the legislation does minimum harm to their business while accomplishing the goal doing what the city can to protect its housing stock.
"We want to have a balance," he said.
Colbert said he realizes that the legislation would be most effective if all the communities in Trumbull county have the same rules.
Niles Councilman Stephen Papalas, who attended the meeting, said the idea of the legislation is good, but suggests the city invite other area recycling yards to future meetings discussing the issue.