Residents near a controversial recycling plant in Stonecrest told city leaders and media outlets they were concerned work was still taking place on the site, possibly in violation of a recent court order.
They said they were seeing dust kicked up by large trucks and heard noise coming from the 50-acre site. However, an attorney representing the recycling company said all work actively being done is legal.
Matt Benson, an attorney representing Metro Green Recycling, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution his client is actively utilizing its site in Stonecrest that’s located near residential neighborhoods. He said the work being done does not require the use of a permit that’s the focus on a longstanding lawsuit ― a permit that was recently suspended by a Superior Court judge until the case comes to a close.
“Metro Green is not doing anything on its property in the City of Stonecrest that would require the use of the solid-waste handling permit issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD),” Benson said in an email. “E.g., It is not handling solid waste.”
Metro Green, which operates at least three other facilities in Georgia, is also working on a project located near Snapfinger Woods Drive and Miller Road. The project quickly prompted protests and concerns about noise, dust and health problems from residents of surrounding neighborhoods.
Since August 2020, Metro Green and the EPD have been entangled in a lawsuit over whether the recycling company properly obtained its solid waste handling permit, which allows the recycling of concrete and other construction materials.
The City of Stonecrest, DeKalb County and a grassroots activist group called Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment allege the company received improper approval by circumventing county regulators. In September 2021, a judge ruled all work utilizing the permit must cease until the lawsuit is over. The case is scheduled to go to trial the week of June 13.
“Metro Green has always and at all times complied with all applicable ordinances and legal requirements relating to its operations in the City, including, specifically, all orders of the Dekalb County Superior Court, and it will continue to do so,” Benson said.
In a recent statement, Stonecrest said it is investigating Metro Green’s site to make sure the recent activity does not violate the court order.
“Stonecrest is conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation into the alleged activity, including inspections of the property and information-gathering from affected residents, in order to uncover any operations at Metro Green in violation of the court order or which require a certificate of occupancy,” the city’s statement said. “Stonecrest will utilize all available legal remedies to stop those unauthorized operations.”
In addition, the city and its construction board of appeals denied Metro Green a certificate of occupancy, meaning the company can’t utilize any new buildings it has constructed. Metro Green has appealed that decision to the county’s Superior Court.
Stonecrest said any concerns about Metro Green and work being done at the site should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nov. 8, 2016
Residents in south DeKalb County voted to form Stonecrest. Jason Lary would soon be elected as the city’s first mayor.
June 17, 2018
Metro Green Recycling contacted Tracy Hutchinson, the DeKalb Sanitation Division Director, to pitch a construction and demolition recycling facility project. She denied the request, saying it isn’t consistent with the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan.
Oct. 31, 2018
Michael Harris, Stonecrest’s former city manager, wrote a letter to the state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) that said Metro Green’s plans complied with the city’s zoning laws and county’s solid waste plan. Lary previously sent letters approving the project in May 2018.
Dec. 3, 2018
The EPD received Metro Green’s application for a solid waste handling permit, which includes references to the Stonecrest letters of approval.
Oct. 1, 2019
The EPD, overseen by Director Richard Dunn, issues the permit.
July 1, 2020
Lary issued a stop-work order on the construction on Metro Green. However, he removed the stop-work order 13 days later, citing fears of potential legal action.
Aug. 6, 2020
At the request of the City Council, Stonecrest filed a temporary restraining order lawsuit against Metro Green and DeKalb County to try to stop ongoing construction. The EPD and Dunn would be added as defendants in September.
Dec. 30, 2020
The Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment (CHASE), a citizen advocacy group, was added as a plaintiff.
Feb. 5, 2021
CHASE files a motion for a temporary restraining order, attempting to stop current and future construction at the Metro Green site.
Sept. 15, 2021
DeKalb Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie granted CHASE’s motion for a temporary restraining order, preventing Metro Green from continuing work on the site until the case concludes.
Oct. 28, 2021
Judge Barrie set a trial date for the week of June 13, 2022.
Dec. 8, 2021
The Stonecrest Board of Appeals denied Metro Green's appeal for its certificate of occupancy, leading the company to file an appeal in DeKalb County Superior Court. That appeal remains pending.