Potential trial date set for Stonecrest recycling plant case

This is an aerial photo of the Metro Green Recycling plant site in Stonecrest.

Credit: Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment

Credit: Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment

This is an aerial photo of the Metro Green Recycling plant site in Stonecrest.

A potential trial date has been set in the contentious battle over a concrete recycling plant in Stonecrest.

The case — which involves Metro Green Recycling, the city of Stonecrest, DeKalb County, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and a grassroots activist group called Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment — is now scheduled to be tried the week of June 13.

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie made the decision during a Thursday afternoon hearing conducted via Zoom.

Metro Green, which operates at least three other facilities in Georgia, began construction on its new plant in the city of Stonecrest in early 2020. The project — which sits on 50 acres near Snapfinger Woods Drive and Miller Road — quickly prompted protests and concerns about noise, dust and health problems from residents of surrounding neighborhoods.

At the request of its City Council, Stonecrest filed a lawsuit trying to stop Metro Green in Aug. 2020. CHASE, the resident-led activist group, later joined on as a plaintiff.

The heart of the issue is how Metro Green obtained the EPD’s authorization for the new facility, which would recycle concrete and other construction materials.

According to court documents, Metro Green originally pitched the project to Stonecrest city leaders, who said they didn’t have the authority to recommend the EPD grant it a solid waste handling permit The city referred the company to DeKalb, but county officials denied the proposal because it didn’t comply with its Solid Waste Management Plan.

Metro Green then pitched the project — again — to Stonecrest. The city administration signed off that time, and the EPD followed suit.

Metro Green argues it followed proper channels to get permitted but, last month, Judge Barrie ordered construction on the plant to cease until the legal case is resolved.

Given the schedule Barrie laid out during Thursday’s hearing, that may not be until next summer. But another important ruling could come down in the next two weeks.

That’s the timeframe in which Barrie said she intends to rule on a counterclaim filed by Metro Green.

The recycling firm filed that counterclaim against CHASE in January, effectively accusing the community activist group of committing slander while raising concerns about the new plant.

CHASE, which is represented by attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center, has moved to dismiss the claim under Georgia’s anti-SLAPP — or “strategic lawsuits against public participation” — statute.