The Mitchell City Council approved a plan to build a new recycling facility that will serve as the city’s new transfer station.

Designing the recycling facility is the first phase of the project, which is estimated to cost roughly $95,950. During Tuesday's meeting, the council unanimously backed the proposal to construct the new $1.2 million facility that will be built next to the city's landfill.

According to Public Works Director Kyle Croce, the new recycling facility would make for a more efficient operation and cut costs from the current operation. In addition, the existing building that the city currently uses as its recycling transfer station and facility at the old landfill site is in “poor condition.”

Currently, the city's recycling facility is located several miles from the landfill. With the move to build the recycling facility at the landfill, Croce said it will help reduce costs significantly, estimating it could save up $40,000 in operational costs. Under the existing setup, the city’s recycling crew have to sort the recycled material at the facility and haul any items that are not considered recyclable to the landfill at a different location, adding expenses.

While Council member Steve Rice approved the plan to build a new facility, he pointed to the 35% reduction in recyclable tonnage that's been collected in the first year of the city's new single-stream recycling program as an area of concern.

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Under the city's previous recycling format, a private Aberdeen-based sanitation company was collecting upwards of 1,100 to 1,200 tons per year. As part of the city's contract with Dependable Sanitation -- which ended a year ago when the city took on its own recycling program -- the company would collect both commercial and residential recycling.

"We did 778 tons this year, which is 65 tons a month, and with Dependable we were doing 100 per month. We were told this was going to get 200 tons collected per month, and we are nowhere near that," Rice said, pointing to commercial recycling as the area that saw the reduction in 2020.

Croce agreed the commercial collection is an area that the city's program needs improvements. He also noted the city currently does not have an ordinance in place to require commercial recycling like several other cities do. Larger big box retail stores, schools and businesses are a few examples of commercial recycling accounts.

Croce noted the city plans to utilize available grant funds from the South Dakota Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. If the project materializes, it’s planned to be built in 2022.

The facility would mark the latest addition to the city’s new recycling program that was implemented roughly one year ago in January 2020. Since its implementation, city officials have been pleased with the success of the program.

Corn Palace Inn housing project withdrawn

A pair of local developers’ plan to transform the Corn Palace Inn hotel into an affordable housing complex has been withdrawn.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Justin Thiesse, one of the Mitchell developers who was intending to complete the housing project, updated the council on the reason for withdrawing the application. After learning of the regulations and building codes that needed to be met in order to make the project materialize, Thiesse said the costs were too expensive.

“After finding out all that we had to do with the fire codes, it just got a little too expensive,” Thiesse said.

The plan entailed renovating the Burr Street hotel to make way for up to 78 apartment rental units. While the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the plan, the board attached a contingency that stipulated the developers must comply with the state’s fire safety regulations, which could potentially require installing a sprinkler system throughout the complex.

Thiesse and Jordan Hanson, the other local developer leading the project, were planning to purchase the hotel from the current owners to make the affordable housing units come to life.

Currently, the hotel is primarily being used for extended monthly stays similar to the format the local developers planned to follow.