After persistent opposition from Lithonia residents, a proposed composting company has decided not to open a plant there.
The decision comes approximately a week after the DeKalb County Planning Commission decided on March 6 to defer voting on Greenco’s application for a special land use permit to operate the facility.
The planning commission decided to wait until the Atlanta Regional Commission reviews the plans.
Tim Lesko, Greenco’s president, said he recently learned that the ARC must review Greenco’s plans because the agency has jurisdiction over metro Atlanta companies that process recovered materials.
“We did not know we had to go through the ARC,” Lesko said. “That was an oversight by the county. It was a surprise to all of us.”
The March 6 meeting was the third public hearing on the proposal and some Lithonia residents opposed Greenco at every turn.
Enna Hall, who started an online petition called “No to Greenco in Southeast DeKalb” on www.change.org, lives approximately three miles from the site and opposed the project “for health reasons.”
“We don’t want them in our community,” Hall said.
Greenco Environmental had plans to move its composting operation from Barnesville to an old rock quarry on Rock Mountain Road in unincorporated Lithonia.
Greenco collects food waste from schools, restaurants, hotels, manufacturers and grocery stores and combines it with yard waste to create organic compost. The compost is sold in bulk to farmers and manufacturers of bagged garden products.
Last year, Greenco composted four million pounds of food waste from DeKalb County customers, according to Lesko.
In February, Greenco’s proposal was unanimously rejected by the District 5 Community Council, which provides recommendations to the Board of Commissioners on applications for amending the county’s comprehensive plan, rezoning, special land use permits and zoning code text amendments.
Hall said she was concerned about the site’s proximity to Rock Chapel Elementary School and Rock Chapel Park and the smell the facility would have emitted.
“With millions and millions of pounds of trash, there’s going to be a smell,” Hall said.” I don’t want that in my community.”
Hall said she already has to deal with cats, raccoons and deer.
“What else is it going to bring?” Hall asked before Greenco’s decision to pull out. “It’s not going to raise our property values for sure.
I don’t see it as being a big asset to the Lithonia area.”
Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D-94) vowed during the meeting to help her constituents opposed the facility.
“I rarely get involved in local decisions because I respect the body, the Board of Commissioners, that we have set up to handle these issues, but this issue couldn’t be ignored based on attending the first meeting at Rockbridge Elementary,” Kendrick said in a statement. “I only have power because of the people and the people have resoundingly said “no” to a special use permit for Green Co.”
Lesko said it is “disappointing” that Lithonia area residents did not support Greenco’s endeavor which he said would have been good for the economy and environment.
“You don’t want to be somewhere where they don’t want you,” Lesko said. “They’re not against composting. They just don’t want it there.
Lesko said Greenco will look for a site elsewhere in DeKalb.
“You can’t open a composting facility that serves DeKalb County in Savannah,” Lesko said.