Scheduled hearing could determine future of controversial Stonecrest recycling plant

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

Credit: Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment

The virtual hearing is scheduled for Sept. 15 at 1:30 p.m.

After months of inaction over several pending motions, a DeKalb County judge could rule on a controversial concrete recycling plant.

The case over Metro Green Recycling’s plant, which is being built on a 50-acre property near neighborhoods in Stonecrest, has languished for more than a year. Several competing motions have slowed the case to a crawl, and no real action has taken place since August 2020.

On Monday, DeKalb Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie announced a hearing would take place via video conference call on Sept. 15 at 1:30 p.m. She previously said in May that she hoped to make rulings in the case soon, but she delayed making a decision.

“I have heard everyone. I’ve gotten my questions answered. I’ve reviewed all the documents,” Barrie said after a six-hour hearing May 19. “So the court will start decompacting the information and prepare some resolutions as quickly as I can do so.”

ExploreJudge delays decisions on controversial Stonecrest recycling plant

A citizen activist group and Stonecrest are trying to stop the site, located near Snapfinger Woods Drive and Miller Road, from becoming fully operational. They claim the company improperly received authorization from the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to move forward with a facility that could expose residents to pollution. Metro Green and the EPD dispute those allegations and have their own countermotions to dismiss those claims.

The crux of the case revolves around whether Metro Green properly received a solid waste handling permit. Tracy Hutchinson, director of the county’s sanitation division, denied the company’s request for a permit, claiming the facility wouldn’t comply with the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan.

Instead, the newly founded city of Stonecrest wrote a letter of approval to the EPD. An activist group, Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment (CHASE), DeKalb and Stonecrest all argue that the city’s leaders didn’t have the authority to write that letter of approval. Metro Green and the EPD claim the proper procedures were followed.

Metro Green is also suing the citizen activist group for libel, citing a few social media posts and signs that say their facility handles toxic materials, which it disputes. CHASE’s attorneys argue the speech is protected under the First Amendment and that Metro Green is trying to intimidate concerned neighbors from protesting the plant.

ExploreFuture of controversial Stonecrest recycling plant remains in legal limbo

Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment has held several protests over the past year, and several of its members have called the facility’s construction “environmental racism.” Stonecrest, where the plant is being built, is more than 93% Black, and the activist group worries the plant would expose nearby neighborhoods to air and noise pollution.

Matt Benson, Metro Green’s attorney, has refuted pollution claims and said no evidence was presented to the court about potential environmental or health determinants.

  • 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.

  • April 27, 2021

    A lengthy motions hearing took place, but DeKalb Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie didn’t make a ruling on CHASE’s motion. On May 19, another motions hearing took place with a similar result.

About the Author

ajc.com

Editors' Picks