FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – The Frisco City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve a deal that will shut down the controversial Exide Technologies battery recycling plant.
The vote was the last obstacle in the city’s ongoing battle with the plant. Under the deal, the city will pay Exide $45 million for the 180 undeveloped acres that surround it.
Exide will cease its operations by the end of the year. It will also tear down the plant and clean the site, but it still owns the 80 acres where the plant itself sits.
The battery recycling center was one of 16 locations in the U.S. that exceeded federal air quality standards for lead emissions, which have been proven harmful.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s initial report, issued in November 2010, reported finding unsafe lead emissions in the air south of downtown. The swath in question included several subdivisions, apartment complexes, schools and parks.
Community activist groups quickly called for the city to force the plant to shut down. They sent thousands of petitions to homeowners requesting support.
The city and the plant frequently butted heads regarding cleanup plans, eventually prompting Frisco to move forward with a process to legally shutter the nearly 50-year-old plant.
The deal the City Council OK’d on Monday will stop that from happening.
When Mayor Maher Maso announced the details of the deal last week, Exide spokeswoman Susan Jaramillo painted it as an economic decision rather than environmental.
“It was a matter of the city approaching us with what we felt was a fair value for our operations,” she told CBSDFW on May 31. “We decided from a business sense to move forward with this.”
More than 130 employees will lose their jobs, although Jaramillo said the company will work with them to find new positions. Exide Technologies also has recycling plants in Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania and California, but no others in Texas.
Prepared statements from city leaders issued after the approval vote say some the 86 acres that line the Dallas North Tollway will be sold to private developers while the rest of the land will be developed into parks “and other municipal purposes.”
“We’ve always done creative things, and this is another example of how the community took a positive approach that avoided adversarial legal proceedings, which could have loomed over development plans for years,” said Frisco Economic Development Corporation Chairman Allen Biehl in a prepared statement.
The release says the city will look for developments that will link the future Grand Park, Frisco Discovery Center, and the yet-to-be-built Museum of the American Railroad and Heritage Center.
Some land, the city hopes, will be used for office space.
Possible municipal use for the land include fire fighter training facilities and a new administration building, the release says.