City Council to consider complaints about metal shredder at NU Steel and Recycling

NEW ULM – The New Ulm City Council will meet today at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The Council will consider having the City investigate the metal shredder at New Ulm Steel and Recycling for compliance with the City code and ordinances, which would require New Ulm Steel to hire the firm IEA, Inc. to test the area.

New Ulm Steel’s metal shredder was installed in January. It can break down anything from a toaster to several school buses. It also separates ferrous and non-ferrous metals to sell in bulk. It stands on a 17-feet deep concrete slab and can process up to 100 tons of material in an hour.

The complaints about the shredder are the noise, vibration and any potential hazard from debris being sprayed from the machine. The City has responded to three explosions on the New Ulm Steel grounds in the last few months resulting from the shredding process. Complaints included vibrations and noise being felt on the surrounding properties, including a day-care facility. Although City officials have found metal material that flew from the machine onto surrounding properties, it could not be determined if the material originated from the explosions or the normal operations of the shredder.

City codes cited in the council agenda state that New Ulm Recycling’s industrial area requires this type of property to be a good neighbor by muffling noise so it’s not objectionable to other properties. The code requires preventing vibrations from being felt on other properties for more than three minutes in any given hour and taking reasonable protection against any fire or explosion hazard.

The agenda urges the Council to require testing of the facility for the vibrations and noise. It notes that the investigated, larger explosions are problematic due to shockwaves and sound emanating outward for three to four blocks.

However, the agenda urges the Council to also make determinations on what it considers “reasonable precaution” against the explosions and how many explosions over what time period are acceptable. There may have been smaller explosions that did not cause problems. It also requests the Council to consider these questions in context of what is reasonable for adjacent property owners to endure.

The cost of the testing is estimated at $3,400.

In other business, the Council will hold a public hearing for the Denoff Companies LLC’s request for a modified TIF district for its 50-unit senior housing project with Martin Luther College at 1520 Sunset Ave. in New Ulm. If it is approved, the unit must provide 20 percent of its housing as low-income units.

The Council will also consider a request to the Double Anniversary Committee and the Hermann Monument Society to allow a celebration, cannon fire and fireworks for the “Double Anniversary Celebration” of the 125th anniversary of the Hermann Monument Cornerstone and the 150th anniversary of the New Ulm Battery on Sept. 7 at Hermann Heights Park. The request includes serving alcohol at the event.

Also, the Council will consider authorizing the solicitation of bids for replacing the 1996 condenser/air conditioning unit at City Hall. The replacement will cost between $40,000 and $50,000, but the money is in the budget.

Finally, the Council will consider closing its DARE account and transferring the remaining balance to General Fund 101. The DARE program, which focused on avoiding use of drugs, was implemented in the 1990s. It has been replaced by the Character Counts program. The account has a balance of $59,570.

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at

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