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Officials incensed over recycling plant planned for residential area in DeKalb

The Metro Green recycling plant would process construction and demolition debris like concrete.
The Metro Green recycling plant would process construction and demolition debris like concrete.

Credit: Laura Skelding

Credit: Laura Skelding

Several state and local elected officials said they are frustrated with how Georgia and the city of Stonecrest OKed a new recycling plant in a largely residential area.

The furor surrounds a new Metro Green facility in the northeast corner of Stonecrest, where the company would process concrete and other debris from construction or demolition. The property on Snapfinger Woods Drive covers more than 50 acres and borders several neighborhoods, some of which are just outside Stonecrest city limits.

Because the land is already zoned for an industrial use, the Stonecrest City Council did not get to vote on the proposed plant. However, state officials who approved a permit for the plant said the mayor’s office had issued a letter stating the project could move forward.

During a virtual town hall meeting Thursday hosted by state Rep. Doreen Carter and Sen. Emanuel Jones, Stonecrest city council members said they felt they were left out of loop about the project. They also said members of the community were not properly informed about the project.

The council members said the city recently issued a “stop work” order on the project, citing permitting issues.

“You can be assured that we’re going to investigate this thing to the fullest to stop this process going forward,” Stonecrest Councilman Rob Turner said, adding that he would not have voted in support of the project if it had come before the council. “It’s not going to be good for our community.”

Metro Green is based in metro Atlanta and has plants in the Norcross area and northwest Atlanta. Bernie Tokarz, a representative for the company who spoke during the town hall, said the company sought out the Stonecrest location because it is along the I-20 corridor and the land was already zoned for industrial use.

In accordance with Georgia Environmental Protection Division laws to discuss the plans for the construction waste recycling plant, Metro Green held a public community meeting last summer, Tokarz said. One person showed up. The company later obtained a permit from the EPD to operate the plant.

William Cook, who works in solid waste management at the EPD, said during the town hall that the permit was issued to Metro Green after the state received a letter from Mayor Jason Lary and city staff signing off on the project. DeKalb County, however, said the plant would not be in compliance with their solid waste management protocol, Cook said.

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The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company plans to install a large berm with trees to surround the property and lower noise, Tokarz said, adding that they do not take in any hazardous material.

“We want to be a good neighbor. We’re here to listen, we’ve followed the process,” he said. “We’re confident that neighbors won’t see or hear anything that is going on on the site.”

Jones called for an investigation into whether the permit was rightfully issued. The senator also said the community was “blindsided” and said the company should have done more to inform residents about their plans. Dozens of Stonecrest residents tuned into the town hall.

“I don’t want to say we were left in the dark, but there were some things that didn’t come to light,” Councilman George Turner said.