SOUTHWEST FORSYTH — Residents who live near a southwest Forsyth recycling center are mounting opposition to a proposed expansion of the facility.
Advanced Disposal, a privately owned waste management company, is seeking Forsyth County’s permission to enlarge its recovered materials processing facility on Shirlee Industrial Way in the Midway community.
According to the application filed with the county in October, Advanced Disposal wants to add a building that would more than double the size of the operation, from about 34,000 to 76,550 square feet.
But that plan, which has yet to reach the county’s planning board, doesn’t sit well with some who live near the 9-acre site.
After learning of the proposal at a public participation meeting Advanced Disposal was required to hold, Natasha Turner started a Facebook page and online petition called “A Smelly Plan.”
“I was really kind of appalled at how low the turnout [at the meeting] was … how people were really not aware of what is … literally going to be right in our backyard,” said Turner, who lives about a mile from the site.
Her online opposition efforts have quickly gained traction.
“We just started the petition [on July 24] and we already have nearly 400 signatures,” she said.
According to Turner, she and other neighbors worry that an expanded facility would attract more rats, cockroaches and vultures.
“That’s going to be on such a larger scale that it’s going to attract even more vermin and vectors … that is our concern,” she said.
Turner added that the expansion would also allow Advanced Disposal to include municipal solid waste with the recyclables currently handled there.
“Basically what you’ll have is all that garbage from people’s kitchens — like containers with yogurt and milk, and all those things — and they’ll have to separate the garbage out so they can then package those recyclables and sell them.”
Marcie Kreager, community affairs manager for Advanced Disposal, said the expanded facility would handle small amounts of such waste before sending those items to a landfill.
“Thus far we have been bringing in recycling that’s pre-sorted,” Kreager said. “[With the expansion] we’ll be bringing in recycling that will not be pre-sorted. We’ll sort it when it gets to our facility.”
Turner said she and some neighbors also worry about more traffic coming into and out of the facility if it’s expanded.
“Highway 9 is congested as it is and they’re going to have all these additional trips a day with 25-ton garbage trucks,” she said. “What is that going to do to the integrity of the road, the traffic, the air quality?”
Kim Regan, whose father owns a day care center near the site, expressed similar concerns.
“There’s probably 500 or 600 homes within a quarter mile,” she said. “The increased traffic, the smell, the nastiness of it all — to put that in an area with residential and retail makes no sense at all.”
Eventually, Turner, Regan and others who are concerned will be able to voice their opinions about the site to the county’s planning board and later the county commission, which has final say on the application.
However, no dates for public hearings on the matter have yet been set, although county planning staff said the first public hearing will likely be soon.