A judge is blocking work at a recycling facility in South DeKalb County after opponents of the project argued it’s an environmental justice issue for their communities.
On Wednesday, after DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie said she was granting an injunction to stop operations at the construction material recycling center, community members who live near the facility said they were excited.
“Over the moon,” said Pyper Bunch, who lives in a subdivision across the street from the project, and who has been organizing community members against it.
Bunch and others say the facility, which could handle hundreds of tons of concrete and other construction waste a day, threatens their health and property values.
“It’s just that this particular company is just too close to residential areas, and it just never should have been put in that position,” said Jennifer Wilson, another one of the community organizers, and a resident of the same subdivision as Bunch.
Wilson and Bunch are members of a community environmental group called CHASE, which is represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center in a lawsuit against the company that’s building the facility.
The construction recycling operation, owned by Metro Green, is in the recently-formed city of Stonecrest. The company received permission from the city and from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to build in the location, but critics say that permission never should have been granted; DeKalb County had said no to the project, and Stonecrest officials eventually reversed course, saying they did not have the authority to approve it.
Judge Barrie said she believed the lawsuit against the company could succeed, so for now, she is stopping work while the case continues.
She said that Metro Green should not be surprised about the controversy around the project, or by the injunction, which she had previously warned could be granted.
“The Court specifically said to Metro Green, ‘Hey, you’re building, you might want to be mindful because the Court might do this injunction and I don’t know what that would look like for you,’” she said in the Wednesday hearing.
Metro Green has not received its final permits, so it’s not yet accepting construction waste. Still, the facility is largely built, and Bunch said she can hear work happening at it.
“We can hear the noise coming from over there, sometimes we can smell something coming from over there,” she said. “And sometimes you can see the traffic, you can see the trucks that are going up and down our streets.”
Attorneys for Metro Green did not respond to WABE’s request for comment.