The following video was filmed on the evening of March 2, 2009 at the Crystal City Elementary School.   It begins after the Alberici presentation.


(Originally posted March, 2009, Updated March 25, 2012) On Thursday, March 12, 2009 the city council of Crystal City passed a Conditional Use Permit that would allow an iron ore smelter in the city of Crystal City.  Council members Jason Eisenbeis, Dave Picarella, Dan Portell and Ben DeClue voted to pass the permit.   Council members Della Selmon, Debbie McKenna, Pam Portell and Terry Laburay voted against the passage of the permit.  The 4-4 tie was broken by the vote of the Mayor, Tom Schilly.

Prior to the vote the conditions of the previous meeting of Monday, March 9 were reviewed.  The conditions of that meeting were reviewed by the attorneys and rewritten.  

An audience of about 50 people sat in silence for about an hour while the council read the conditions.  After a lengthy discussion about the previously agreed upon conditions, the council went on to add more conditions to the permit.  The council then took a break while the attorneys reviewed the new conditions and rewrote them.  The council then reconvened and voted.

This permit was critical from a developer's perspective because there was an upcoming election on Tuesday, April 7 that could very likely tip the balance of power in the council.  The timing of the permit application and subsequent meetings and the format of the public hearings make it evident that the permit needed to be done by this date.

There are still many, many unanswered questions that were asked by the city's voters and the council members.   The most important of which was "who was putting up the money for all this" and "what are the hazardous emissions of this type of furnace"?  For more information about important unanswered questions check out this Trust Issue on the Trust Issues page.

Public Hearing for Council Held on Monday, January 26, 2009

(Originally posted February, 2009, Updated March 25, 2012) A public meeting was held on Monday, January 26, 2009 for the city council to review the plans for the proposed iron ore smelter in Crystal City.  The mayor announced that it was not an official public hearing and that another public hearing would be held in the future.  This meant that no public comment would be allowed.  

Bob Niemeier from the Alberici Corporation gave the same presentation that he gave to the P&Z Commission on the previous Thursday.   The city council was then allowed to ask questions about the plan.  The questions were cut short because of the weather.  But several council members said that they would deliver their questions in writing to Mr. Niemieir and the newly hired city engineer, Carl Vogt.

Here is the presentation that Alberici presented on Thursday, January 22.   The document is 4 megabytes so please be patient with the download.  The images that relate to the project phases are not very distinguishable.   The original document was not very good either and a copy of the original Powerpoint presentation could not be obtained.  There was a slightly different presentation delivered on Monday, January 26, 2009.  

Better plans and the more recent presentation are still available on the Crystal City website.  You can find them here.

Hearing for Smelter Permit Heard

(Originally posted February, 2009, Updated March 25, 2012) A public meeting was held on Thursday, January 22, 2009 to hear and review the plans for the proposed iron ore smelter in Crystal City.  The meeting was held to consider a permit application that was submitted on 12/31/2008 to the City of Crystal City.  

17 months after the announcement of the proposed iron smelter in Crystal City, Bob Niemeier from Alberici Corporation finally presented engineering plans to a large crowd of people at the Crystal City High School.  Alberici Corporation was hired in November 2008 to build the smelter.  Mr. Niemeier exposed some of the details about the proposed iron smelter and barge facility.  Several exhibits were displayed to illustrate where buildings, parking lots, storage facilities and conveyor systems would be located.  The plans included a slurry pipe to transfer iron ore all the way from the Pea Ridge Mine in Sullivan Missouri to the Crystal City site - a total of about 35 miles.  No routes or detailed plans were released about the slurry pipe.  

At the end of the presentation an Alberici associate showed a 3D fly over simulation of the proposed development.  One of the big selling points of the fly over was that the highest building in the complex (80 feet tall) would be at the same elevation as one of the nearby city streets - Chestnut Street.

The floor was then opened for questions to the members of the Planning and Zoning Commission.   The chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the decision to approve or disapprove the permit be tabled until the next meeting on February 19, 2009.  Another member of the Commission raised questions about why the Alberici presentation did not mention a "smelter" when the permit was for a smelter.

The floor was then opened to the audience.  Several questions were asked about the details of the smelter.  Questions were directed to the "induction furnace" that was described in the presentation.  It was admitted that there are no production versions of this type of furnace in existence in the U.S. today.  The fact that there was no organized labor involved in the current employment was also brought up.   Specific information about the toxic emissions were not available either.  Questions about how to deal with the carbon dioxide emissions were deflected as well.

Bart Velasco, the chairman of the Jefferson County Labor Club, then made the point that the smelter project would employ union workers according to recent meetings that he had.   A large crowd of union supporters were on hand to applaud.  Mr. Velasco went on to say that a competing development sponsored by Tom and Kathy Kerr would probably not hire any union workers and would probably employ minimum wage workers.  Mr. Velasco claimed that the Kerrs had never contacted or sought a meeting with the Jefferson County union representatives.  Mr. Velasco went on record in the publication the "Labor Tribune" nearly a year earlier to oppose the smelter project because of the exact same reasons.

The meeting closed with a heated argument between lawyers and a vote by the Planning and Zoning Commission to table the decision to approve or diapprove the permit.  The next consideration by the Commission was on Thursday, February 19, 2009.

Iron Smelter Conditional Permit Filed on 12/31/2008

(Originally posted January, 2009, Updated March 25, 2012) A conditional use permit was received by the Building Commissioner of Crystal City on December 31, 2008.   The requested permit requested that an iron smelter be able to be built on the site of the old glass factory in Crystal City.  A legal posting of the request (pictured on the left) was published in the local newspaper, the Countian, on January 2, 2009.  That is a total of two days between when the application was received and when it was published in the Countian.  And there just happened to be a New Year's Day holiday on one of those two days.

From a city perspective, this was the last hurdle that needed to be overcome by the iron smelter developer.   The city ordinances of Crystal City allow for certain conditional uses of property within Crystal City.  In order for Crystal City to allow this, a "conditional use permit" had to be filed, approved and issued.  

The notice in the Countian went on to say that the permit request would be heard by the Crystal City Planning and Zoning Board at a special meeting on Thursday, January 22nd.  It also says that the Crystal City council would address the Planning and Zoning recommendations on the following Monday, January 26th, 2009.  That is a total of four days between the hearing on recommendations and the council meeting to address the recommendations.  And there just happened to be a weekend in between those two dates.

At the Crystal City council meeting held on Monday January 12, 2009, there was vigorous discussion about why the timeframe of the permitting process has to be so short.  This is especially poignant when you consider that, at that meeting, there was still no new information about proposed production levels or technologies that would be used.