The city of Flint is instituting a new scrap metal ordinance in an attempt to cut down on blight and the widespread theft of material from the city’s thousands of vacant and abandoned homes.
The new law would require all individuals or entities that sell scrap metal to obtain a permit from the city. The permit would include photo identification. The city would also create a website with local scrap sale information that can be monitored by the public, City Attorney Peter Bade said at a news conference today.
“Anyone who wants to review what’s going into scrap metal sales will be able to log on,” Bade said. “It will afford a level of transparency that hasn’t previously existed.”
Churches, homes and area businesses have all fallen victim to a rash of scrap metal theft in Flint, prompting a crackdown that led to the city partnering with the Citizens Nuisance Task Force community group in researching ways to prevent the illegal activity.
The Flint ordinance change is part of the task force’s recommended reforms. Bade said the group “played a huge role” in the effort to cut down on theft.
City manhole covers, construction equipment and air conditioning units are just some of the materials that have been targeted by thieves, officials have said.
One of the most notable changes would make the sale of aluminum siding in Flint a crime.
Bade noted that outlawing aluminum siding sales would likely create waves in the scrapping community, but said, “The destruction of scrap metal theft in our community is so great it was best” to implement the law.
The target date for the ordinance to go into effect is Dec. 1 in order to give the city time to develop the website and inform scrap dealers of the changes to the law, Bade said.
He said the city is also reaching out to neighboring communities, asking them to pass the same ordinance changes to prevent thieves who steal in Flint from selling their stolen materials across city limits.
“It undermines our efforts to stop this problem,” he said.
Scrap sellers would have to purchase a temporary permit or an annual permit from the city, depending on how often they sell scrap material. The amount of the permit fee has not yet been determined, he said.
The ordinance would require Flint scrap yards to match a seller’s permit with another form of photo identification before making any exchange, Bade said. Scrap yards would also be required to post information on scrap sales on the new website, which will be accessible to the public.
The website and permit-making equipment will be paid for out of $20,000 in fees donated to the task force and kept in trust at United Way after the Flint City Council authorized enforcement action against two scrap metal dealers accused of accepting stolen materials, Bade said.