FRISCO — Frisco city leaders heard a plea Tuesday night — not from homeowners fearing a battery recycler could sicken them, but from employees of the lead-emitting battery plant.
Frisco's City Council rejected Exide's appeal to upgrade its plant using decades-old laws. And it could be the first step in booting the battery recycler out of town.
The Council took the first step toward forcing Exide Technologies to shut down. The next step is coming up with a deadline.
The Board of Adjustment will conduct two public hearings to determine a date by which Exide must comply with all city health and safety guidelines — or stop operating.
Most of the people at the Council chamber Tuesday night were Exide employees. They believe they're fighting for their jobs.
"Are you all going to find us jobs? Are you all going to feed us? Are you all going to pay my bills?" asked Randy West, an employee.
Exide officials came to the meeting to appeal a Planning and Zoning Commission ruling. The lead battery recycler wanted to be grandfathered so it could operate under the same 1964 regulations that were in place when it opened.
"Presumably to save money by disregarding 50 years of advances in regulations that reflect improvements in technology, safety and best construction practices," said Richard Abernathy, Frisco’s City Attorney.
Frisco leaders argued that Exide should comply with the latest health and safety guidelines. The council denied the company's appeal.
Long-time Exide employees like Richard Conner told News 8 they fear their jobs are in jeopardy. "We are trying to do everything we can to try to make these improvements," he said.
Exide officials told the Council the company is committed to spending $25 million to lower lead emissions, including building a wall around the plant.
Employee Laurel Johnson had some direct questions for city leaders: "If Exide is a bad neighbor, why then did you build a high school just south of our property? Why did you build the brand new police station and the detention hall? You've built million dollar homes around us."
The battle between Exide and the City is only beginning. The next fight may be in a courtroom.