FRISCO - No doubt, you've heard of cheese heads. How about people with smokestacks attached to their heads? It may sound silly, but their message is a serious one.

A growing group of neighbors in Frisco want the Exide battery recycling plant shut down. They are concerned about lead. They are turning to history for new ammunition in their fight.

A citizens group, called Frisco Unleaded: Exide Out, tried to put pressure on the city council to initiate a legal process called amortization, where cities can remove undesirable businesses. The City of Dallas used amortization in the 1980's to effectively shut down lead smelter RSR.

Why I'm here tonight is to urge council to get out of the purgatory it seems to be in for the last six months, and take action to start the amortization process, said Jimmy Schmer, an attorney representing a Frisco homeowner.

Some Frisco residents carried signs. Others wore smokestacks on their hats. Those who spoke, told council members they're concerned about health.

The bottom line is, how informed is the city council on the effects of lead, cadmium and other arsenic being emitted by Exide, said Shibby Matthew, a Frisco homeowner.

Frisco Unleaded: Exide Out has been going door-to-door to solicit support.

I'll leave you with approximately 500 letters from citizens supporting amortization, said one of the group s members. They are personal letters. Get this plant taken care of and out of here.

Jim Schermbeck, of environmental advocate Downwinders at Risk, criticized council members for not being more aggressive in their fight against the battery recycler.

And certainly in this case, all levels of government let the citizens down, Schermbeck said.

Exide wants to make $20 million in upgrades at their Frisco plant. But city leaders say they first must get zoning approval.

Exide officials say if the city tries to stop them, they ll go to court. Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said tonight he's annoyed by those threats, vowing the city won't be bullied.


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