Kroot given OK to expand

A long-time scrap metal operation on State Street has approval to expand into 7 acres west of its current facility.

Kroot Corp., which has been in operation at 2915 State St. since 1965, plans to use the additional property as flexible space that allows for future processing and storage, said attorney Jeff Rocker, who represented the company in its hearing before the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday.

The acreage adjacent to the current Kroot facility borders a Faurecia plant and a Cummins office building and testing facility at the back of the site.

Describing the scrap metal business as an outdoor factory, Rocker told board members that Kroot owners need flexibility to move things around on the nearly 19-acre landlocked site.

Under Columbus’ zoning ordinances, Kroot must obtain a conditional use permit to operate and expand the scrap metal facility in the I-3 zoning area, which is for industrial manufacturing, production, assembly, warehousing and research and development facilities.

Operating under state and federal standards which Kroot officials say the company exceeds, nonferrous metals are stored inside buildings, and ferrous metals are sorted and stored on concrete pads or within concrete-lined bins, the company’s application stated.

The application offered a possible site plan with some new buildings indicated, but Kroot does not yet know what the configuration might be. As proposed, Kroot is planning a new processing and storage area and two future building areas on the expansion acreage and a possible building addition to an existing structure just south of Behren Court.

Kroot received a waiver to a buffer yard that would have been required along the northwest property line, which separates Kroot from the Faurecia and Cummins buildings.

There are existing wooded areas on either side of the back of the property, leaving about 350 feet of lawn that zoning ordinances would require to be filled with a tree or shrub buffer, city planning staff said.

Rocker explained the 7-acre area is substantially lower than the surrounding property, including Kroot’s property, and that the shrubbery would not effectively screen the scrap metal from the adjoining property. The uses at nearby businesses are industrial in nature, he said.

Catina Furnish, real estate manager for the Columbus-based Cummins, asked if Kroot was considering building a fence between Kroot’s expansion property and the other industrial neighbors for security reasons.

Furnish said there is the possibility that someone could attempt to access the property from Cummins’ parking lot, although that lot is monitored by company security.

Art Kroot, who owns the scrap metal facility, said the company has depended on Cummins’ and Faurecia security monitoring their buildings and lots, and its own security personnel, to keep people out of the Kroot facility. City planning officials said Kroot would not be required to build a fence under zoning rules — only the buffer.

Planning officials told the board in their evaluation that waiving the buffer would not be detrimental to the public health or general welfare of the community as the area is not visible from the road. But the area could be more visible and create more noise for the Faurecia and Cummins properties, the report noted.

Zoning appeals board members approved the waiver, with the caveat that Kroot must keep the wooded areas that already shield Cummins and Faurecia from the scrap metal yard.

After the hearing was over, Art Kroot walked over to Furnish in the audience and pledged to work with Cummins about any concerns regarding the expansion and the waiver of the buffer requirement.

About Kroot Corp.

Address: 2915 State St.

History: In continuous operation since 1900, founded in Edinburgh, moving to Columbus in 1907. The company has been operating at the State Street location in Columbus since 1965.

What it is: Scrap metal facility where ferrous metals are sorted and stored on concrete pads or within concrete-lined bins and non-ferrous metals are stored in buildings. The company is required to meet state and federal environmental standards in addition to local oversight involving zoning.

Bordered by: Cummins and Faurecia on the west, Airgas and Sterling Garage Doors on the east, State Street to the north, and Premier Ag, Becker Electric, Louisville & Indiana Railroad and Toyota Industrial Equipment to the south. A rail spur allows the company to transport scrap to minimize street traffic from the facility.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.