Since Stonecrest incorporated in 2017, the concrete recycling plant has been a point of contention, with activists and politicians saying it improperly obtained a crucial work permit. Metro Green, which operated two plants in the Atlanta area at the time, began the process to open a third location near Snapfinger Woods Drive and Miller Road, a 50-acre site abutting neighborhoods.
Metro Green pitched the project to city and county officials, both of whom initially denied the proposal. However, Stonecrest’s founding mayor and former city manager would later endorse the project, prompting the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to grant a solid waste handling permit, which allows facilities to take in unsorted construction debris for processing and recycling.
The issued permit sparked backlash — and eventually legal action — from DeKalb, the Stonecrest City Council and environmental activists. In August 2020, Stonecrest began a lengthy lawsuit that now involves the city, county and Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment (CHASE), an activist group that represents residents living near the plant, suing Metro Green, the EPD and its director.
April Lipscomb, an attorney for CHASE, argued Tuesday that Metro Green’s continued concrete crushing presented a health risk to residents and that it would not be allowed under Stonecrest’s zoning code, which Benson disputed. Lipscomb said the only way Metro Green can crush concrete outdoors is if their solid waste handling permit remains in place, which is the critical question of the pending lawsuit.
“The only way that activity could possibly be allowed is as an accessory use to a permitted use, but crushing concrete cannot be considered an accessory use to solid waste handling if the permit is revoked,” she said. Barrie’s previous stop-work order specifically suspended all work that required the permit.
The judge said that the spirit of her previous order was to stop all work that concerned neighbors until the case could be settled.
“If CHASE ultimately succeeds on its claim and if Metro Green’s permit ultimately gets revoked, Metro Green will not be able to crush and stomp out concrete unless and until it gets a new business license from the city of Stonecrest that allows it to operate as a recycling facility instead of a materials recovery facility,” Barrie said, adding that the city rejected Metro Green’s business license and certificate of occupancy applications for 2022.
The case is scheduled to go to trial the week of June 13, but several summary judgment motions are pending and could settle the lawsuit before a trial takes place. After about three hours of discussion Tuesday, Barrie ended the motions hearing and said she’d try to schedule another one soon