Smyrna City Council voted unanimously at its July 15 meeting to purchase the property formerly operated by Lance Oil Company for $435,000 with special purpose local option sales tax funding to build a recycling center.
Angela Ellis, who lives behind the property, says she didn’t know about the plan because the council meeting’s agenda did not list an address for the proposed site.
“Nobody knew that this was happening,” Ellis said. “The neighborhood did not have a chance to voice our concerns.”
She’s concerned about the potential for an increase in traffic. The new center will be about half a mile off of South Cobb Drive near Concord Road, but Ellis says residents attempting a left turn on the six-lane highway will opt for a shortcut through her neighborhood.
The sights, noises and smells associated with a recycling center also have her worried.
“We would prefer the soundtrack of our children’s upbringing not be breaking beer bottles in the backyard,” Ellis said.
Councilman Corkey Welch, who represents the area on the council, says there’s a need for a new recycling center because the existing one is too small and difficult to drive around.
The existing recycling center is typically manned by one person and includes about eight trash bins.
“We just need something a little larger with better access,” Welch said.
The property was previously operated as a gas-distribution facility, he said, and the new use should be “less bothersome.”
But Pete Ryder, another nearby resident, disagrees.
“You never saw any traffic coming in and out of there,” said Ryder, who has lived a little more than a half a mile from the site for the last seven years.
The oil company kept to themselves, he said, and selected that location decades ago. More homes and businesses have popped up in the surrounding area and it’s not an appropriate location for what the city has planned, he said.
“It’s not even like it’s a commercial business,” Ryder said. “It’s not like it’s a coffee shop. It’s a dump.”
Welch said he has received one complaint and plans to meet with concerned residents at the site, at 3475A Lake Drive, Smyrna, at 7 p.m. Wednesday for a tour.
He doesn’t think it will have a negative impact on the neighborhood.
“The facility that we’ve got now has been there for many, many years,” Welch said. “It’s very clean. It’s well kept.”
A nearby building will be converted into an office for Keep Smyrna Beautiful employees, he said, providing a buffer between the recycling center and adjacent homes.
Still, Ellis and Ryder maintain they were purposely not informed.
“We should have been notified by our councilman. Our councilman should have been representing us,” Ellis said. “It’s almost like, ‘Let’s just do this and nobody will be the wiser. Too bad if you have a problem with it.’
“Corky Welch sponsored this legislation to put garbage in his own constituents’ backyards.”