Arc is due in environmental court next month for storing sulfuric acid in tanks at its facility on the Mobile River without prior approval.
The company is expected to enter a plea during a hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2 on the fines levied by the city, Planner Bert Hoffman announced to members of the Planning Commission at its meeting Thursday.
Earlier this month, the city announced it would levy the harshest daily fines allowed of $298 per day from when Arc began storing the acid in mid-February to when they secured planning approval on June 4 and picking up with the City Council’s overturning of the approval about a week ago.
The total amount of the fine is over $30,000, Planning Commission attorney Doug Anderson said. He confirmed an environmental court judge will have the final say on the fine amount.
During a discussion of Arc, Planning Commission members said they had no knowledge the acid was being stored illegally.
Member Nick Amberger said the commission was “not led to believe” the material was on site, at the time the tanks were approved by the board. Member Don Hembree added that the applicants talked about what had to be done to get the tanks, which had previously stored petroleum, ready for storage of acid.
“I hope our fines are stiff on this,” he said.
Joel Daves, who represents the City Council on the commission, said Arc had plenty of opportunities to notify councilors before the appeal vote and chose not to.
“Their actions are as close to a lie as you can get without telling a lie,” he said.
Planning Commission member Shirley Sessions said she attended a question and answer session with citizens the week before the appeal vote. At the meeting, she said Arc officials never brought up that acid was already being stored on the site. Sessions said it was “very disrespectful” not to mention it.
Arc now has 30 days to remove the acid from the tank, following a hearing with Circuit Court Judge Jay York, Anderson said. City attorney Ricardo Woods said Tuesday that Arc would also have to submit to weekly monitoring of the site.
Commission Chairman Jay Watkins announced a business meeting to further discuss above-ground petroleum storage tanks will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of Government Plaza. The meeting will work out differences commission members have on a proposed ordinance for zoning of new tanks in specific areas of the city.
In other business, the Planning Commission approved the rezoning and subdivision applications of the Historic Restoration Society, which would allow for two Mardi Gras float barns near the intersection of Dauphin and South Broad streets. Daves and Sessions did not participate in the vote and discussion of the issue.
Sam Parker, a nearby resident complained to the commission that the large float barns wouldn’t fit in with the rest of the district. He said he was also concerned with traffic and drainage.
Casey Pipes, an attorney representing the Historic Restoration Society, said the group received previous approval for the rehabilitation of a historic building they hope can become a meeting space.
The issue passed by the Planning Commission gave permission to construct the barns, which will house floats for one or more Mardi Gras societies, he said. Plans also include a special event space.
The commission also approved rezoning to allow for a two-story mixed use building at 456 North McGregor Avenue. The first floor of the building will be used as a gift shop boutique, while the top floor will be used as office space.
The commission denied an application to change the zoning on a portion of Dogwood Drive from residential to commercial. The rezoning would’ve allowed for a fast food restaurant. Planning staff had recommended the application be withdrawn until Map For Mobile comprehensive planning is complete.