About a dozen residents of the Lake Drive community asked council at their Monday meeting to go back on their unanimous July 15 decision to purchase the property at 3475A Lake Drive for $435,000 using special purpose local option sales tax funds.
Angela Ellis, who lives next to the future recycling center, said the group tried to get on the council’s agenda but needed a councilman to sponsor them.
That sponsorship didn’t happen.
David Stone, also a Lake Drive resident, says he was kept in the dark about the city’s decision to turn the former location of Lance Oil Co. into a recycling center. The site also contains an office building that will be used to house three Keep Smyrna Beautiful employees.
The address of the property was not listed on the meeting’s agenda and the city’s website listed the property as being in “Ward X.” That ward does not exist because the city’s wards are numbered one through four.
“It’s my understanding you sent something out to this effect to Ward X and I don’t think we got a Ward X and you should have proofread what was put out in your name,” Stone said speaking to his councilman, Corkey Welch. “Not the mayor. You.”
Welch, who represents the area, has said it was a clerical error. The council decided to place it on the agenda at an evening work session. The following day, the city clerk, who usually updates online items, was not at work. The deputy clerk did not know what ward the property was listed in and did not list a ward.
The city’s software, Welch said last week, defaulted to an “X.”
The council has already voted to purchase the property, and while the sale is waiting on an environmental assessment to be finalized, Welch says going back would take a council member presenting the item to the full board again for another vote to reverse the original decision.
And Welch doesn’t plan on doing that.
The recycling center operating now, about a mile away from the future site, has seen between 1,700 and 1,900 users each month this year. Critics say that’s too many cars for their neighborhood.
Though Welch is up for re-election in 2015, Lake Drive will no longer be in his constituency. In Ward 4 now, most of the Lake Drive area will become Ward 3 when re-districting takes effect at the beginning of 2015. Re-districting follows the 2010 census and is being done in local governments across the state to balance populations with their representatives.
That has some thinking Welch doesn’t have their interests in mind because they won’t be able to vote him out.
“I am personally still supportive of this site, but I’m willing to take some extra precautions to take care of some concerns,” Welch said adding he’d “work very hard” to address those worries.
Teri Anulewicz, who represents Ward 3, will become the area’s council member in 2015 due to redistricting. She told residents Monday she supports the relocation.
“I believe that we have addressed resident concerns regarding noise, traffic flow, the appearance of the recycling center, as well as several assertions that are absolutely not based on facts, like the allegations that the center smells, that it is a dump, that it is a waste transfer station, and that it is staffed by violent criminals and sex offenders,” Anulewicz said Thursday. “These allegations are not grounded in reality and, frankly, are incredibly insulting to the thousands of hours of hard work put in every year by Keep Smyrna Beautiful staff, the KSB board, countless community volunteers from companies like IBM and, yes, even community service workers.”
Supporters say the current location causes traffic problems, and the new site will lend itself to a circular drive allowing visitors to enter and exit easily.
About 650 feet from South Cobb Drive, Welch says it’s in a central location.
Ann Kirk, director of Keep Smyrna Beautiful, which oversees the center, told the MDJ previously there were few locations that were both affordable and met their needs.
She said the center would be a good neighbor and landscaped in a way that the recycling containers wouldn’t be visible from the road.
Kirk has overseen the recycling center since 1991 and says she hasn’t gotten any complaints despite its location near two neighborhoods.