"You have the aesthetic issue ... An ugly scrap metal yard across the street from Chico's finest structure, Sierra Nevada Brewery." said Ron Angle, a member of "Move the Junkyard" and a Chapman-area resident. "You have an environmental issue, there's reports of both sides of the spectrum on whether or not it's producing hazardous material into the atmosphere .. And you have Chapman School which is right down the street."
Back in 2006, the city of Chico adopted the Chapman-Mulberry Neighborhood Plan which expanded residential construction as the city annexed southward. Part of it was to get rid of industrial businesses.
"we developed a plan to remove Chico Scrap Metal, then put in houses for Habitat for Humanity and a small commercial strip." said Angle. "Many residents, my self and my wife spent hundreds of hours, a lot of money" said Angle.
The scrap-yard was asked to relocate by 2011, but city council pushed the deadline to 2014- and eventually decided to let them stay indefinitely.
"It's been all closed session, no community input, kicking the can down the road," said city councilmember Karl Ory.
This has been going on for decades now and Chapman area residents say, it's time for something to change.
"It's over-due; there was a promise made when the city sighed off on the general plan, there was a promise made that CSM would be removed form our area," said Angle.
The community group, "Move the Junkyard" headed by councilmember Karl Ory took matters into their own hands, calling for a referendum, and collecting 9,200 signatures.
Instead of putting it on the ballot, the city decided to sue the group, and their own councilmember.
"It's been a tough year, I don't know what to say except it's been tough to face the city attorney every day knowing he's been taking depositions, digging through my emails. The city's wasted tens of thousands of dollars to keep this off the ballot ... they're grasping at straws." said Ory.
"The arguments today were about whether the petition was in the right form (we think it was) and whether the subject matter was that which you can actually put on the ballot," said attorney James McCabe for Ory and the "Move the Junkyard" group. "when thousands of of voters sigh a referendum to repeal an ordinance, it goes on the ballot. That's what's supposed to happen."
If the judge sticks with her preliminary decision, city council will have two options: reverse the ordinance and put the business out of compliance, or put it on the ballot for residents to have a say.
The final ruling is set for next Tuesday.