MIDWAY — Community concern over the proposed expansion of a south Forsyth recycling center seems to be growing.
Commissioner Todd Levent, in whose district the Advanced Disposal facility is located, held what he called a town hall meeting on Thursday night to discuss the matter with residents and business owners.
Held at Levent’s retail business in the Midway Community off Highway 9, the meeting drew a standing-room-only crowd of about 200.
Everyone there seemed to be against the proposal by Advanced Disposal, which if ultimately approved by the county commission, would expand the privately owned waste management company’s recovered materials processing facility on Shirlee Industrial Way.
The current building, which sits on nearly 9 acres, is about 34,000 square feet. The expansion would bring the facility’s size to 76,550 square feet.
Advanced Disposal first applied for a smaller expansion in October and came back with the current plan this summer. The revised request also seeks permission to handle not just pre-sorted recyclables but municipal solid waste, such as kitchen garbage.
Marcie Kreager, community affairs manager for Advanced Disposal, has previously 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,” she said. “[With the expansion] we’ll be bringing in recycling that will not be pre-sorted. We’ll sort it when it gets [there].”
No one from Advanced Disposal came to Levent’s meeting Thursday, although Forsyth’s director of planning, Tom Brown, did attend to offer information about the application and county planning processes.
Levent said he wanted to hold the meeting to better understand the concerns over the proposal, which Brown said likely will go before the county’s planning board sometime in the next couple of months.
He said staff members are waiting on Advanced Disposal to submit the last of required documents for the file on the proposal.
About a month after it goes before the planning board for a hearing, commissioners will vote to approve or deny the application.
Levent said he wanted to hold the meeting after receiving numerous emails and phone calls from the residents of District 3.
“It’s hard to answer all the emails when you [get] 300, 400, 500 [of them] … so I called a town hall meeting,” he told the gathering. “This meeting is not necessarily my meeting, it’s your meeting.
“I’m not putting my opinion in here today. I’m really supposed to not have an opinion until the day of the meeting.”
Those in attendance spent the next two hours asking questions about the project, the county’s planning processes and requirements. But mostly, they expressed opposition to the proposal.
Among the concerns voiced were increased vermin such as vultures, rats and insects due to the higher volume and different type of garbage at the site, as well as thickening traffic along Hwy. 9 as a result of more garbage trucks going in and out of the site.
Many said they would like to see impact studies conducted by the county or the Environmental Protection Division to address traffic and environmental problems they feel a larger facility may cause.
Still others expressed fear that an expanded operation would cause disturbing noises and smells, as well as more light during overnight hours.
Levent said he would be looking into their concerns before the matter reaches the commission.
He also encouraged attendees to contact the other four county commissioners about the project, since they will also have a vote on the issue.