An environmental group is taking on the fight of Magnolia Park residents in Brunswick who are not happy about the planned expansion of a nearby waste and recycling operation. They say it could increase the potential for health problems in the area.
Linda Mincey, who is not a Magnolia Park resident but is a member of the Glynn/Brunswick Environmental Justice Advisory Board, said her organization is watching the expansion of Liberty Roll-Offs and Recycling closely and said it could create future issues.
Liberty Roll-Offs and Recycling, at 5032 Habersham St. in Brunswick, wants to grow, but neighborhood residents like Spanline Dixon say it’s a bad idea. They expressed as much to the Brunswick City Commission at its meeting Wednesday.
“I live in Magnolia Park, Mr. Wainwright does not,” said Dixon, referring to Liberty’s general manager, Devant Wainwright.
Dixon said Liberty Roll-Off representatives have not reached out to them about their concerns.
“The smell is like rotting cabbage,” Dixon said. “This is a community where we live. The older people there have respiratory problems and the equipment is noisy with a lot of bumping and thumping. We deal with this on a daily basis. We pay taxes but it’s like we’re thrown away. We asked for a park and we got a dump. Rats and other animals are attracted to the dump. We would be happy if they moved to another area.”
Concern was also expressed about whether hazardous substances exist beneath the dirt at the recycling plant.
Wainwright addressed residents’ concerns Wednesday saying that methane gas was found during testing but added, “I can’t say 100 percent that no hazardous waste comes to us. We have a guy trained to recognize asbestos. It’s handled according to code. Lead goes straight to the landfill and does not come to us. We’re adding 25 feet to where the garbage is. Less air will come in contact with it. We keep rat poison in the garbage. We’ve heard the rat complaint before. There are four acres of woods between us and Magnolia Park.”
The facility, a 36.52 acre parcel, owned by Jackson Smith and John Jones, is a full-service recycling center. The site abuts industrial property to the west, commercial properties to the north and Magnolia Park subdivision to the south.
Construction waste material that can’t be recycled is stored there until it can be shipped to a landfill.
“I’m not against recycling, but why put it in a neighborhood where it can cause health concerns for the community with all the dust and other stuff there,” said Terry Mack. The deodorizers they use doesn’t help. It smells like garbage.”
Proposed expansion includes the existing sorting facility, the addition of staff parking, construction of a 30 foot by 50 foot office building, construction of a concrete slab to accommodate a new sorting line for building material recycling, the addition of a fueling station with an above-ground storage tank, a vehicle wash area and construction of a vehicle maintenance building. An area is also designated for future construction of a building to house a composting facility.
“The concerns that you have not reached out to this community ... residents have a valid concern,” said Brunswick City Commissioner Felicia Harris to Wainwright. “You don’t live there so you don’t have to suffer the consequences of your facility.”
Wainwright responded saying they’ve had an open-door policy.
Several telephone telephone calls were made to Wainwright for comment but he could not reached on Friday.
Harris asked Wainwright if they’ve made an attempt to bridge communications with the Magnolia residents.
“Whenever we’ve had a complaint, I’ve done everything we can do,” Wainwright said. “If I smell anything, we do everything to stop the odor as quick as we can. I can knock on doors but really don’t know what else I can do.”
Commissioners deferred the matter to May 18.
Mincey hopes Liberty Roll-Off will meet with the community before then to discuss the issue.