South DeKalb community wins another battle against recycling facility

A DeKalb County Superior Court ruled in favor of Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment (CHASE) Nov. 12 in a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP).

The hearing was in response to officials from Metro Green Recycling accusing CHASE of libel, but the claims were struck down by DeKalb Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie.

According to officials from Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC)—the group representing CHASE in its legal battle with Metro Green Recycling—SLAPP suits prevent citizens and community groups from speaking out in opposition to a developer’s actions. Georgia has an anti-SLAPP statute that allows courts to strike these types of claims early in the litigation process.

SELC officials said they filed the anti-SLAPP motion to protect CHASE’s First Amendment rights and to “strike Metro Green’s claims seeking monetary damages for slander, libel, and tortious interference with contractual and business relations.”

SELC officials said the argument they made stated that voicing concerns about the “environmental effects of a solid waste handling facility across the street from and in the backyards of Black neighbors is protected under the U.S. Constitution.”

The motion also details issues relating to the overall case. According to SELC officials, the Metro Green vs CHASE case revolves around Metro Green obtaining its permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division after DeKalb County declined to provide the company with the necessary authorization.

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision to strike down Metro Green’s attempts to prevent CHASE, our members, and neighbors in Stonecrest and south DeKalb County from expressing valid concerns for our health and wellbeing,” said CHASE President Renee Cail. “It is past time for EPD Director Dunn to hear what we have been saying loud and clear—he must exercise his authority to correct this injustice and revoke the permit for this facility.”

The anti-SLAPP ruling follows a decision the court made in October to grant CHASE’s motion for an injunction to halt Metro Green’s operation of a construction and demolition waste recycling facility in Stonecrest.

During the October hearing, Barrie set the trial date for the case regarding Metro Green Recycling’s proposed development in Stonecrest to begin the week of June 13, 2022.

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