Marietta-based LMG Capital asked the city of Marietta in February to issue a special land use permit for a site in Airport Industrial Park, 2042 Airport Court, to operate a transfer station for paints, oils and other solvents.
But nearby residents claimed the business would pose a threat to both the environment and their property values.
Kevin Moore, attorney for the company, said the application was withdrawn on Tuesday, the day before it was scheduled to be considered by City Council. He did not offer further comment.
If the application had gone before City Council and been denied, another request could not have been filed for six months. Withdrawn applications can be refiled at any time.
Jason Ibarra, president of the Caswell Overlook Homeowners Association, called the withdrawal a step in the right direction and said the group plans to work with the property owner to find a tenant they feel is more suitable for the industrial park.
The neighborhood of about 150 residents and townhomes ranging from $400,000 to $1.5 million would have seen their property values fall, Ibarra said. Perhaps more worrisome was the potential threat to the health and safety of homeowners if the hazardous waste operation had been allowed in the park.
“I don’t think it’s rocket science,” Ibarra said.
The neighborhood is about half a mile from the site that was proposed to contain paint, oils and solvents near the intersection of U.S. 41 and Windy Hill Road just south of Dobbins. It’s also about 1.4 miles away from where the new Atlanta Braves stadium will be opened in 2017.
That could make for a dangerous combination, Ibarra said, bringing additional traffic into an already congested area that would have become a corridor for the transportation of hazardous materials.
Diane Serra, HOA treasurer, said the roads in and out of the Caswell neighborhood are already narrow and traveled frequently by truckers.
“It’s always a close call,” Serra said. “Those guys are good drivers, but accidents happen.”
And accidents could wreak havoc on the environment and surrounding community, Serra said, if a truck was to wreck while carrying multiple 50-pound drums of paints, oils or solvents.
“Let’s face it. If there’s a spill, the entire area gets affected. Not just the park, the entire area,” Serra said.
Where to put industry?
Airport Industrial Park is designated by the city of Marietta as a light industrial area. Operations involving hazardous waste must happen in an area designated as heavy industrial. If the application had been granted, the transfer station would have been allowed to operate in the light industrial area under a heavy industrial special land use permit.
“We’re not against the business side of it,” Ibarra said. “It’s not a heavy industrial park. A special land use permit isn’t going to work.”
Tony Rogowski owns a storage building next door to the site and said the industrial park has had its problems. Portions have been devalued and others added to a flood plain.
“It really has not much going for it other than the fact that it has a terrific location,” Rogowski said.
The park is mostly used for storage, trucking hubs and showrooms and is sometimes referred to as “automobile row.” He said it’s just not the right spot for hazardous materials.
“Who in their right mind willingly introduces hazardous waste into a flood zone?” Rogowski asked Tuesday before the application was withdrawn.
And the area isn’t immune to mishaps, Rogowski said, pointing to the 1989 crash of a U.S. Navy jet at Dobbins that exploded in the air killing five passengers and crashing about a mile away.
“This is not theoretic stuff,” Rogowski said.
Councilwoman posed concerns
Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly, who represents the area, voiced concerns at a Feb. 12 meeting and ultimately asked the request be tabled and more information provided.
Kelly expressed concerns about the station being located in a flood plain and asked for contingency plans should a spill take place.
“We tabled it just because I have quite a few questions about their spill containment,” Kelly said.
Before City Council postponed making a decision Feb. 12, the request had quietly made its way through the application process getting just one dissenting vote on Feb. 4 from the Marietta Planning Commission, which makes recommendations to council. Stephen Diffley, who represents the area on the commission, was the only vote in opposition.
“Since then, our inboxes have been flooded with probably 20 to 30 residents,” Kelly said.
Recycling center also proposed
City Council will consider an unrelated special land use permit at its meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at City Hall for a computer, electronics, glass and plastics recycling center proposed to be operated on a 1.5-acre site at 925 Industrial Park Drive near Interstate 75.
It’s not the first time the request has come before council.
The application made by Toronto-based Electronics Recycling Services was denied in August after former county chairman Earl Smith opposed the request expressing doubt the company could operate without polluting the air and groundwater.
Smith owns a property across from the proposed site.
Applications that are denied can be refiled after six months.