Smyrnans irked with councilman
by Nikki Wiley
August 16, 2013 12:11 AM | 2332 views | 5 5 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMYRNA — Critics of a trash recycling center the city plans to put in their neighborhood say they aren’t satisfied with their councilman’s reason for choosing the spot across from a city park.

About 50 residents of the Lake Drive community near South Cobb Drive met with Smyrna City Councilman Corkey Welch on Wednesday night to ask questions and tour the center.

Some of those who attended say their minds haven’t changed, and Welch says he thinks opponents went into the meeting with a negative outcome in mind.

“It doesn’t need to be on our street,” said David Chanaberry, who lives two houses down from the center at 3475A Lake Drive, Smyrna.

Angela Ellis, who lives behind the property, points to the residential nature of the neighborhood and the park across the street. She says non-violent inmates will work at the center.

“We are not OK with that across the street from a playground,” Ellis said.

The recycling center operating now, about a mile away from the future site, has seen between 1,700 and 1,900 users each month this year.

That’s just too much traffic for a residential community, Ellis and Chanaberry say.

They plan to speak out along with their neighbors at the council’s next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday at 2800 King St., Smyrna.

Residents: We were kept in the dark

What used to be Lance Oil Co., will become the new location of Smyrna’s recycling center. City Council members unanimously approved purchasing the property July 15 for $435,000 with special purpose local option sales tax funds.

Ellis thinks the city intentionally kept the community out of the loop and the city is “hell bent” on following through.

“The bottom line is pretty clear,” she said. “They’re going to do whatever they want to do.”

The address of the property was not listed on the meeting’s agenda and the city’s website listed the property as being in “Ward X.” That ward does not exist because the city’s wards are numbered one through four.

Welch, who represents the area, says there’s a simple explanation for that. The council decided to place it on the agenda at an evening work session. The following day, the city clerk, who usually updates online items, was not at work. The deputy clerk did not know what ward the property was listed in and did not list a ward.

The city’s software, Welch said, defaulted to an “X.”

Little recourse available for opponents

Residents of the Lake Drive community have few options.

The council has already voted to purchase the property and while the sale is waiting on an environmental assessment to be finalized, Welch says going back would take a council member presenting the item to the full board again for another vote to reverse the original decision.

And Welch doesn’t plan on doing that.

“I really don’t feel like I changed anybody’s mind about the relocation of this facility,” Welch said.

Chanaberry says he wants to get his neighbors on board to vote Welch out of office.

“We voted him in office and everyone was sitting there (at Wednesday’s meeting) saying, ‘When are elections coming up? Because we’re going to try to vote you out of office,’” Chanaberry said.

But that’s unlikely to happen.

Though Welch is up for re-election in 2015, Lake Drive will no longer be in his constituency. In Ward 4 now, most of the Lake Drive area will become Ward 3 when re-districting takes effect in the beginning of 2015. Re-districting follows the 2010 census and is being done in local governments across the state to balance populations with their representatives.

That has some thinking Welch doesn’t have their interest in mind because they won’t be able to vote him out.

When asked if redistricting was part of his decision, Welch said he wasn’t aware the area is slated to change wards.

“The decision that I made to put the center in this location had absolutely nothing to do with redistricting,” Welch said.

Chanaberry says some residents and Realtors at the meeting offered to help the city find what they would consider to be a more suitable location, but those offers fell on deaf ears.

“Pretty much Smyrna feels like they can do whatever they want,” he said.

Supporters say location is ideal

The current location lends itself to traffic problems, Welch said, and the new site will have room for a circular drive allowing visitors to enter and exit easily.

About 650 feet from South Cobb Drive, he says it’s in a central location.

Ann Kirk, director of Keep Smyrna Beautiful which oversees the center, says there were few locations that were both affordable and met their needs.

She says the center will be respectful and “very good neighbors.” The property will be landscaped, she said, and feature a decorative fence.

“Really, until you get into the driveway of the site you shouldn’t be able to see the containers,” Kirk said, adding the containers will be covered and shielded from rain.

Kirk has overseen the recycling center since 1991 and says she hasn’t gotten any complaints despite its location near two neighborhoods.

“We don’t have an odor problem,” Kirk said. “We don’t have a rodent problem because we don’t take trash or yard waste.”

The site also contains an office building that will be used to house three Keep Smyrna Beautiful employees.

“I would just like to re-emphasize my support for this location and this project in general,” Welch said. “I believe that we’re going to be good neighbors … in time we’re going to show the neighbors that we are good neighbors.”

Comments
(5)
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not happy
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August 18, 2013
Yes, I did expect a negative outcome from the meeting. Who wouldn't? The new recycling center will be in my backyard. So yes, I'm upset by that. And yes, I'm frustrated that we were given no notice, no options, and pretty much told there is no room for discussion. The new location is adjacent to a quiet, pretty neighborhood, huge dog park, and big playground. The current recycling center is across from a skating rink. Of course no one complained… no one lives there.
Robert M
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August 16, 2013
I was at that meeting and Welch wouldn't answer a single question or make any attempt to address the concerns. He was asked about the redistricting map at that meeting and said that it took effect in '15. He was asked when he was up for re-election and hr told a crowd November of '14. That's why we all left ready to vote his *ss out. How sad. Did he not think we'd find out the truth? This guy clearly can't be trusted.
outraged voter
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August 16, 2013
Do Ms. Kirk and Mr. Welch regard moving the recycling center to MY neighborhood as a "community mprovement"? The oil company was bad, but trash is worse. I suggest those who are not familiar with the present recycling center drive by and take a look at it and see if they would want something that looks like this in their neighborhood or across from a park they use. We were sold out by uncaring and unresponsive public officials and as a result our homes will depreciate in appeal and value. THANKS FOR NOTHING.
irked voter
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August 16, 2013
Ann Kirk and Welch don't have to live with the facility so its easy to just brush off the concerns of those of us who do. We WILL be in someone's district and we will not vote for ANY incumbent that treats us this way. I am offended by their secrecy in the decision making process and their cavalier attitude now that it has been exposed. Ms. Kirk and Mr. Welch deliberately chose to keep us in the dark when all this was being planned and I resent it. I guess they think they have become too important to bother with us.
SC Observer
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August 16, 2013
Just because they will not be in his ward doesn't mean that they can't work to throw the Welcher out of office.

Someone needs to follow the money trail. Nothing happens in Smyrna without a little "grease" easing the way.
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