The six members present at the Feb. 13 meeting voted unanimously against the application, which goes next to DeKalb Planning Commission on March 6.
That hearing takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Maloof Auditorium.
The DeKalb Board of Commissioners will hear the application on March 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Greenco, a 4-year-old company that recycles food waste and yard trimmings into compost, is seeking to relocate from Barnesville, Ga., where it has had a checkered and contentious past.
It plans to lease a 22-acre site that has been quarried and is now 110 feet below surface level and has a pond to help keep odors down. Company attorney Michele Battle said that unlike the Barnesville site that is 500 feet from the nearest house, the Lithonia site is more than a mile away from the nearest homes.
She said the facility’s close proximity to homes and other start-up problems contributed to complaints about noxious odor in Barnesville.
She said the company has learned from its mistakes and has perfected its recipe and that its location in the middle of LaFarge’s 1,500-acre site will prevent a recurrence of those issues.
The company also is proposing that a list of conditions of operations be placed on it.
Battle said that the Greenco facility is being confused with a landfill, which buries trash. She said Greenco is diverting food waste and yard trimmings from the landfill.
She said Georgia generates 18 million tons of waste a year and 90 percent of it is going to the landfill.
“A landfill is burying waste and refuse,” she said. “It is just a big mound of trash.”
Battle said Greenco is turning food waste into compost that is sold in gardening centers.
Greenco already has removed 5 million pounds of waste from the Seminole landfill by composting food waste from Emory University and Agnes Scott College, Hormel Foods and Publix grocery stores in DeKalb, who are among its clients, she said.
She brought a small bag of the compost to show to the Community Council members.
George Johnson, a council member, said he saw no problem with the process of making the compost.
“The real concern for me is, is this the right location for it,” he said. “One thing that begs that question is the composting process. It’s a natural process but are you bringing in some extra that will offend. When you bring this next to neighborhoods, where is the assurance that you won’t be bringing offensive odors to the community.”
Battle said that they are not looking to repeat their mistakes.
“They are actually 100 to 150 feet below ground level. They are at a depth that is well below any homes and to the extent that there will be any smell, they will hit the people at the quarry first and will be capped at the ridge before it starts to dissipate out.”
Community Council members listened to Battle and Greenco co-owner Melia Lesko and nine residents speak before voting against the application.
Dwayne Hartman, who lives three miles from the proposed LaFarge site. said that he is opposed to the plant.
“We don’t need it. We don’t want it and we don’t support it,” he said.
Hartman told the council members that he collected 376 signatures of residents opposed to the facility at Greenco’s Feb. 9 meeting at Rock Chapel Elementary School.
At that meeting, more than 200 residents expressed opposition to the plant and said they will fight its location in Lithonia.
District 5 Commissioner Lee May, who attended that meeting, told residents that he is not supportive of the plant and will vote against it when it comes to the Board of Commissioners on March 27.
Gina Mangham told the council members that they just fought a biomass facility and the area already has four landfills.
“Why is this the only place that this can come,” she said. “I just don’t believe that there is not one other place in Georgia where they can bring this facility.”
She said the only track record for Greenco is the bad smell it has left in Barnesville.
“Who is going to monitor this company,” Mangham asked. “Who is going to make sure that we are protected. It shouldn’t be in our community. Our community doesn’t want it. You are our community board and you must vote no.”
DeKalb NAACP President John Evans said that it is clear that residents don’t want the composting facility,
“People are just dumping on us,” he said.
Beth Bond, the only speaker who supported the facility, said that DeKalb can’t claim to be the greenest county and turn down the composting plant.
“It’s very disconcerting that we cannot establish the difference between composting and landfill,” she said. “This isn’t a dump that is going to sit there forever. This is compost. This is a product that is going to be put into bags and taken out into the fields in Georgia to create better fruits and vegetables for you and me.”
Hugh Brown, who lives within a two-mile radius of the site, said there are already nine permits for handling solid waste.
“We have more than any county in Georgia,’ he said.
Lesko said that Greenco would only be running 15 trucks a day to the site and would create 10 jobs immediately. She said that two of the company’s Barnesville employees live in Lithonia and were excited about being able to work closer to home.
After the Community Council’s vote, Tim Lesko, Greenco’s other owner, said he was disappointed.
“There is a lack of education about composting,” he said. “This is not a landfill.”
Greenco is hosting a community meeting on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 2152 Rock Chapel Road in Lithonia.