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Battle over Blandtown concrete plant fizzles, but legal melee could ensue

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Neighbors of the proposed West Midtown project say it could increase traffic and be a cancer for the environment

a picture of northside tavern.
Northside Tavern, an iconic West Midtown dive bar, has withstood the area’s onslaught of development.
Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta

Blandtown residents’ efforts to thwart plans for a concrete-mixing facility in their neighborhood appear to have paid off.

In December, neighbors of the proposed concrete plant told Curbed Atlanta they worried the project could bring pollution and undue stress on local roads, as dozens of trucks would be ferrying concrete to and from the site daily.

Soon after those complaints arose, a lawyer representing Smyrna Ready-Mix, the company that intends to build its plant at 1521 Huber Street, contended that concerned residents misunderstood exactly what was planned.

A concrete plant is not as detrimental to the environment as a cement production plant, SRM attorneys said. The proposed ready-mix concrete facility, per attorneys, would have no “negative environmental effects upon surrounding neighbors.”

The proposed site.
Google Maps

If SRM has its way, the West Midtown plant could provide easy access to crucial building materials for the myriad developers working on major construction projects in the fast-evolving area.

But at the beginning of March, perhaps partially due to the activism from Blandtown neighbors, the City of Atlanta’s Zoning Review Board opted to deny SRM a Special Use Permit that would allow the development to proceed.

Now, the proposal sits in limbo with the Atlanta City Council’s zoning committee, pending the completion of a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) review by the Atlanta Regional Commission, according to Keyetta Holmes, the city zoning office’s interim director.

For some Blandtown residents, that might have seemed like the end of the fight against the concrete plant, but the battle is not yet over.

“It’s definitely not over, but certainly slowing down,” resident Nathan Lee told Curbed.

Regardless of the zoning committee’s decision, the debate could find its way to court, he added.

If SRM obtains the Special Use Permit, Brock Built, a developer working on a townhome project adjacent to the Beltline’s planned Northwest Trail nearby, would go to bat against the concrete plant.

If SRM moves the project forward, Brock Built would “vigorously fight it,” said Steve Brock, the company’s founder and president, according to a spokesperson.

However, if SRM’s bid for an SUP is ultimately shot down after the ARC review, the company is ready to litigate as well.

It’s “not a surprise” that Brock Built is angling to contest the concrete plant project, said Doug Dillard, an attorney with Dillard Sellers, the firm representing SRM.

“We knew we were in for a fight when we took the case,” he said. “We satisfy all the criteria for approval [for an SUP].”

The site in question sits between a Topgolf and Monday Night Brewing Garage along the Beltline’s planned West Midtown trail.

ARC officials could not be reached by press time. This story will be updated if responses to inquiries are provided.

This story was updated on April 23, 2019 at 12:27 p.m. to indicate that Doug Dillard has started his own law practice and is no longer with Pursley Friese Torgrimson.