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South Chicago, East Side

General Iron’s Owner Applies For Final Permit Needed To Bring The Metal Scrapper’s Operation To East Side

News of the permit application comes one week after federal officials asked the city to withhold the final permit until an investigation into a civil rights complaint — triggered by General Iron's exit from Lincoln Park — is complete.

Vehicles with metal arrive at General Iron Industries, unaware that the facility was closed after the explosions on May 18, 2020.
Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
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EAST SIDE — Reserve Management Group, the corporate owner of controversial metal recycler General Iron, has formally applied for its final permit required to operate in the East Side neighborhood, city officials announced late Tuesday.

General III, LLC, of which RMG is a majority owner, has submitted its application for a recycling facility permit to open Southside Recycling at 11600 S. Burley Ave., a spokesperson for Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed. The Labkon family, which sold General Iron to RMG in 2019, retains a minority stake in the planned East Side operation.

News of the application comes one week after a federal housing official asked the city to withhold the final permit until the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development completes an investigation into the city’s zoning policies.

Officials from the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, a division of HUD, asked city leaders to respond by Tuesday whether they planned to comply with the request to withhold the permit.

On Thursday, two days after HUD’s requested deadline, Law Department spokesperson Kathleen Fieweger confirmed to Block Club the city would respond “in due time.”

City officials did not answer why they quietly issued RMG’s first permit one month after neighbors filed a civil rights complaint, as the city has “no comment on the ongoing litigation.”

RMG’s application will be posted to the city’s dedicated RMG expansion website Wednesday, according to the spokesperson. Information on a community engagement process around the permit review will be available by the end of the week.

Chicago Department of Public Health leaders promised in October to “provide more prompt, thorough community notifications of new activity” around RMG’s plans, after failing to uphold an earlier promise to notify the public when RMG applied for both permits it needs to operate Southside Recycling.

An air pollution control permit was quietly issued in September, though public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady promised in a July town hall to notify neighbors when the company applied for its permit and when documents were available to review.

Though notification about the recycling facility permit was given Tuesday, health officials did not immediately confirm Southside Recycling submitted its application that same day. RMG spokesperson Randall Samborn also would not confirm the date of the application, deferring to city officials.

“We expect that the Chicago Department of Public Health will conduct its own rigorous review of the operating permit application, ensuring that the state and local government bodies with the closest interests and best information have and will engage in a fair process,” Samborn said in a statement.

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