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Lawyer: Proposed West Midtown concrete plant near the Beltline isn’t harmful

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Community members worry the proposed facility could pollute the environment and further congest traffic

a picture of northside tavern.
Iconic dive bar Northside Tavern has survived amid the development boom in West Midtown.
Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta

West Midtown residents have recently worried aloud about a proposed concrete-mixing facility in the Blandtown neighborhood, citing concerns of pollution and burdens on local traffic.

But according to the company planning to build its new facility in the area, the neighbors’ concerns are misguided.

One key point: Concrete is not the same as cement, as a lawyer for Smyrna Ready-Mix Concrete pointed out to Curbed Atlanta recently.

“Cement and its manufacturing process is very different from concrete and the preparation of ready-mix concrete products,” wrote G. Douglas Dillard, an attorney with Pursley Friese Torgrimson.

“Cement is manufactured through a closely controlled chemical process,” he continued. “Ready-mix concrete preparation involves the mixture of various ingredients to form concrete.”

Site of the proposal.
Google Maps

West Midtown residents had cited research by the Environmental Protection Agency that suggested cement plants were "significant sources of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide emissions.”

According to SRM's legal team, concerned neighbors have been wrongly conflating concrete and cement.

"The proposed ready-mix concrete facility will not have any negative environmental effects upon surrounding neighbors," said Dillard.

But some neighbors, such as Nathan Lee, just aren’t buying that.

“Concrete plants carry their own unique potential for environmental impact,” Lee told Curbed. “Specifically, air pollution from the aggregates, sand, cement, and admixtures during the transfer from delivery to the facility, during the mixing process, and from wind erosion.”

As for worries of concrete trucks clogging traffic on major West Midtown thoroughfares—SRM predicts the proposed plant could see trucks make around 60 roundtrips per day—Dillard pointed to tractor-trailer parking, which the property has been used for lately.

The company has conducted a traffic study, according to Dillard, that indicates the new project would not burden the area more than its previous occupant.

"The traffic study concluded that the proposed concrete plant use will not significantly change or impact the level of service on surrounding streets or intersections," Dillard wrote.

Lee said he and other Blandtown neighbors haven’t seen the study Dillard is referencing.

“Additionally, Fairmont Avenue crosses over the future Beltline,” Lee wrote in an email, referring to one of the streets SRM’s trucks would be using frequently. “This will also put additional traffic onto Howell Mill Road at a time when the City of Atlanta, Upper Westside CID, residents, and businesses are working tirelessly to find traffic solutions for Howell Mill.”

While the project site is zoned for heavy industrial use, Lee contends that doesn’t mean it must be used as such.

“For example, TopGolf and The Works—an 80-acre retail, commercial, and residential development—are just two projects in the immediate vicinity of the proposed plant on land zoned as I-2 (heavy industrial),” he wrote.

Lee continued: “So, while SRM’s attorneys have approached the issue from the perspective of ‘CAN the facility be located here?’, the job of the surrounding residential and commercial neighbors is to decide ‘SHOULD it be allowed to?’ locate here.”