PERTH AMBOY - A private developer has won approval from Perth Amboy's mayor to tear down the defunct American Smelting and Refining Co. buildings that residents say are both an eyesore and environmental hazard.

The Commercial Development Co., the developer, will demolish outdated industrial buildings at the site and rebuild to accommodate warehousing, manufacturing and distribution, said Mayor Wilda Diaz. The revamp will also create jobs, she added.

ASARCO had used the buildings as part of its copper refining business from 1901 to 1978.

The city and the state won a lawsuit in 2009 requiring ASARCO to pay for the cleanup of lead, asbestos and arsenic that leaked into the ground. A second site nearby has already been cleared.

As a result, the focus on the new construction is to be environmentally friendly, Diaz said.