Metro Green ruling reversed by appeals court

A Georgia appeals court reversed a ruling on July 13 that previously halted Metro Green Recycling operations at a proposed plant in Stonecrest.

The new ruling from a Georgia appeals court states that the permit Metro Green received from Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) was a valid permit for building and operation.

The former court ruling, which was a summary judgment by DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie in June 2022, argued that Metro Green didn’t obtain its solid waste recycling permit through the correct procedures. DeKalb County government is the only entity permitted to recycle solid waste in the county. However, DeKalb County originally denied Metro Green’s permit request for a solid waste recycling center in Stonecrest.
Stonecrest city leaders then signed off on the permit along with Georgia’s EPD, without consent from the county government.

Through its summary judgment rulings, the trial court granted Stonecrest’s request for declaratory relief with respect to EPD and its director Richard Dunn, concluding that Dunn acted outside of his authority by awarding a solid waste handling permit to Metro Green and declaring the permit null and void.

Specifically, the trial court found that Dunn “abused his discretion in failing to investigate and reach a decision on the plaintiff’s request that EPD revoke Metro Green’s permit.”

EPD and Dunn challenged these findings on appeal, arguing that Stonecrest failed to exhaust its administrative remedies and that other plaintiffs had no clear legal right to mandamus relief. “We agree,” the appeal court judges wrote in their summary.

A spokesperson for Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), which represented residents in the case against Metro Green, stated that they and their “partner Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment (CHASE), and the many concerned neighbors who have continued to stand up against this facility in their backyards and across the street from their homes for years are disappointed in the court’s decision and are evaluating their options.”

“We are disappointed in the decision but remain committed to protecting our neighbors and families living in Metro Green’s shadow, and to fighting the unjust pattern and disproportionate impacts of polluting industries in and around communities of color,” said CHASE President Renee Cail.

Stonecrest officials issued a stop work order July 1, 2020, but removed it citing the possible legal jeopardy the city could have faced. City officials then filed a temporary restraining order against Metro Green Recycling—which also owns and operates a recycling facility on Pleasantdale Road in Doraville—and Barrie heard the case.

Residents of Stonecrest protested the Metro Green development several times since June 2020 and throughout the original court proceedings.

SELC officials joined the case and represented plaintiffs and helped secure an injunction from Barrie that forced Metro Green Recycling to stop handling solid waste and crushing concrete at its Stonecrest plant.

SELC officials argued that Metro Green Recycling needed an approval letter from DeKalb County—the governing authority for solid waste handling in Stonecrest—for its application to the EPD.

Metro Green Recycling officials said they later received a letter of approval from the city of Stonecrest, and EPD officials used the letter from Stonecrest to grant Metro Green Recycling’s permit.

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