Facing an ongoing lawsuit, the company behind a planned e-scrap smelter near Fort Wayne, Ind. has decided to look to build elsewhere.
Metals recycling startup Exurban USA had signed a deal to purchase 77 acres from the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission so the company could build a smelter.
Founded by principals with past experience at Aurubis, Umicore, Glencore and other metals companies, Exurban is planning a roughly $350 million smelter and refinery allowing it to to domestically process printed circuit boards and other scrap materials that are usually exported.
But a family that owns farmland across the road from the project site filed a lawsuit in state court, seeking to have a judge overturn the Fort Wayne Plan Commission’s approval of a development plan for the project. The plaintiffs, the Bulmahn family, argued that the local zoning code doesn’t allow such a use.
Exurban insisted the legal action was without merit. The judge never had a chance to rule on the lawsuit, because the legal action essentially ran out the clock on the land purchase deal.
The agreement to buy the 77 acres from the city of Fort Wayne included a due-diligence period giving Exurban a period of time to perform site testing and finalize project engineering before the property sale would be completed. It also gave the city the right to take the property back if construction didn’t begin in a timely manner. TV news station WANE reported the purchase agreement expired at the end of January as the parties were arguing in court. The parties could have renewed the agreement but chose not to.
On Feb. 20, plaintiffs and defendants filed a joint motion in Allen Superior Court asking the judge to invalidate approval of the development plan. The judge did so on Feb. 22.
In a statement to WANE, Exurban said that it terminated its purchase agreement and “elected to move to a more suitable site after several community leaders in other Indiana cities and counties expressed their interest in hosting our project.”
The company is still eying Northeast Indiana to build its facility, Exurban told WANE.
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