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Exide to cease operations in Frisco: Company, city reach $45 million agreement
The long, emotional fight over the future of Exide Technologies' lead-acid battery recycling plant in the heart of Frisco is nearing the end.
On Thursday morning, the city agreed to purchase the 180-acre buffer zone surrounding the plant for $45 million. The property sits on the east side of the Dallas North Tollway, just south of Frisco High School.
As part of the deal, Exide will cease operations no later than Dec. 31. After the plant is closed, the company will retain ownership of the 90 acres of land the plant occupies. Exide will be required to remove the majority of structures on the property and clean the land to ensure it meets all standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said the 180 acres should cost the city less than $1 million to clean and prepare for sale to developers. He said if the deal was not made, the city and Exide would likely have ended up in court, where neither side would be able to predict how a judge would rule.
"First and foremost, this is a great opportunity for the city of Frisco to [purchase] prime land right in the heart of our city," Maso said. "As we continue to grow, it can be very functional in our growth. Second, we clearly heard a lot of concerns from our residents. ... When [City Manager George Purefoy] and I went and met with them, they were willing to discuss what was best for all of us moving forward."
The land was purchased using funds from the Frisco Community Development Corporation and the Frisco Development Corporation, entities that are funded through sales tax revenue, not out of the city's general fund. As a result, Maso said there should be no impact on the city's property tax rate, which is one of the lowest in the area.
While the property may not seem attractive due to its proximity to a the plant, which doesn't currently meet federal emissions guidelines for lead, Maso said the city has done its homework and doesn't feel the property will be difficult to sell after clean-up work is finished. He said since the announcement of the city's purchase of the land was made, he has already fielded two calls from developers interested in the property, including one group interested in putting a children's medical facility on the site. Other areas of the property will likely be used for municipal purposes, as well as public parks, the city said.
The announcement came after more than a year of public meetings and hearings regarding the future of the plant. Frisco residents have led the charge to remove the battery recycling plant, which began operations in Frisco in the early 1960s. City Manager Purefoy said while the plant may have been a good fit in the past, it doesn't fit in modern-day Frisco.
"Exide has been a good corporate citizen of Frisco for more than four decades," Purefoy said in a release. "This agreement recognizes that Frisco has changed from a rural community of about 1,100 people into one of the fastest-growing, most dynamic cities in the nation, with a current population of more than 125,000 people."
After the announcement, Exide President and CEO Jim Bolch said the sale was in the best interest of both parties.
"This agreement was a difficult one to make as Exide is committed to its employees and continuing to provide the critically important environmental service of recycling spent lead-acid batteries," Bolch said in a release issued by the city of Frisco. "... I want to thank our loyal and hardworking employees who have continued to remain dedicated to Exide and the valuable service we provided throughout the years. As we work through this process we will provide our employees with all the necessary support and career guidance."
The plant employs about 135 workers, and Maso said the city will work with the Texas Workforce Commission to help workers find new jobs and receive any state assistance they may be eligible to receive.