Saint John could risk losing a $30-million metal recycling plant that is already under construction after city council blocked the construction of a high-voltage power line that bothered residents in a west-end neighbourhood.

Councillors voted to block  NB Power from building an overhead power line on any city-owned property to supply American Iron & Metal's expansion  at the Port of Saint John.

Herb Black, the president and chief executive officer of American Iron and Metal, said the city is jeopardizing the jobs and millions of dollars in economic spinoffs that the project could bring.

"We won't open it, that's all," he said.

If the metal shredding project doesn't go ahead, Black said it'll be the city's loss and not his.

He said it's a buyers' world and he has his pick of other places to go.

"You have no idea of how competitive it is today and how lucky Saint John is to have this. And if they want to block it, fine. I have no problem with that, let them block it," he said.

The company announced in January that it was going to proceed with a $30-million scrap metal shredder.

The expanded facility would increase output of the existing shredder by roughly 500 per cent. The company estimated the project could create 23 direct jobs and 20 spinoff jobs.

But Black criticized the local council for being difficult to work with.

"From all the places in the country that I operate, yours is the most difficult. It's sad, honestly, it's just sad," he said.

NB Power planned to build a high-voltage line along the Bay of Fundy coast and through residential neighbourhoods to supply power to the plant.

But council voted against the plan after hearing from homeowners who are worried the line will hurt their property values and block their views of the bay.

Melissa Morton, a NB Power spokeswoman, said it's unclear if the city actually owns the land in question and can block the plan.

But if it does, the utility will have to decide if it can get power to the plant any other way.

However, Morton said burying the line underground would be too expensive and difficult to repair.

Port officials who signed a 40-year lease with American Iron and Metal, the first major lease it's landed since the 1980s, could not be reached for comment.