Opponents of a Lithonia gasification plant approved by the Board of Commissioners in June have not given up.
“The broader goal is to stop this plant,” said Peter Olson, an attorney with Jenkins, Olson and Bowen of Cartersville, who is representing Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment (CHASE). “My lawsuit is one tool in the toolbox.”
Formed to fight the proposed facility, CHASE has filed a lawsuit against DeKalb County to prevent the construction of a proposed 10-megawatt facility to be located on 21 acres on Rogers Lake Road outside the city limits of Lithonia.
Two residents who have properties on Maddox Road adjacent to the proposed plant, Mildred Banks and Gerald Sanders, also joined in the lawsuit and are members of CHASE.
The lawsuit claims that the county engaged in “contract rezoning” when it granted a special land use permit for the facility after the county already had signed a contract with Green Energy Partners to sell wood waste for an estimated $200,000 per year.
“Therefore, DeKalb County had a financial incentive to approve the rezoning, and it was in a position to lose a financial deal worth at least [$4 million] over 20 years to the county if it denied the rezoning,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also states that the Board of Commissioners failed to require Green Energy Partners to address the possible adverse impact of noise, smoke, odor, dust or vibrations by the facility as required by the county zoning ordinance.
Green Energy Partners is planning to construct a $60 million plant to convert yard waste into renewable natural gas.
According to Green Energy officials, the plant will use a method called pyrolysis in which yard trimmings are placed in oxygen-free chambers. The chambers are then heated to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit with natural gas burners to produce syngas, which is turned into renewable natural gas (RNG).
“It’s sold as a green energy idea and it seems to have more emissions than a coal-burning plant,” Olson said.
John Evans, president of the DeKalb NAACP, said he is supporting the complaint because of a 1,000-signature petition against the facility and extensive community opposition.
“The county pays no attention to that.” Evans said. “That’s serious.”
Evans said county officials have a “blatant disrespect for the community.”
“The issue is disruptive for the community,” Evans said. “That’s paramount.”
Evans said the Lithonia area is already suffering from “a mess that is impacting the environment.” A gasification plant would add to the harm.
“We know it’s got to impact the environment,” Evans said.