Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said Tuesday that he opposes the proposed relocation of a concrete plant from downtown to the city’s Five Points West community, and he called for the City Council to rezone the property in question to prevent future industrial use.
Last week, the council voted to oppose Sherman Industries’ announced plans to move its concrete batch facility from its current address of 1100 Second Ave. S. to 3240 Fayette Avenue, near the Birmingham CrossPlex Village.
That vote came after numerous neighborhood leaders expressed concern about the health impacts the plant could have on their community, as well as frustration that Sherman had not attempted to engage residents about the proposed facility.
In response to that controversy, Jefferson County Health Officer Mark E. Wilson said he would extend the comment period for the property’s pending air permit to allow for more input. The comment period now will last until June 6, with a public hearing scheduled to take place that evening at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
But on Tuesday, Woodfin said the company had failed in its “civic duty and moral duty to engage residents,” which he said existed despite the company already owning the property and the land already being zoned for industrial use.
“I want to firmly state as mayor that we are against Sherman Concrete Industries moving and/or relocating to this site,” Woodfin said Tuesday as he was flanked by seven members of the Birmingham City Council. “I have been against this from day one (and) this council has been against this … . I think (Sherman Industries owes) this community an apology for having the opportunity to share and have a conversation with (residents) and failing to do (so).”
Woodfin said he would urge the council “to exercise their power (to) rezone this property to make sure it fits in with the quality of life and economic issues in this area … . We as officials stand with our residents.”
In an email Tuesday morning, Wilson said that, while he understands residents’ concerns and frustrations, “the environmental impact of (Sherman’s) proposed operation is quite minor as far as air permitted operations go … . They are simply planning to transport gravel, sand and (already-produced) cement to the site where it will be stored and then conveyed into concrete mixer trucks, along with water, to make ready-mix concrete,” he wrote. “These batch facilities tend to be placed near areas where construction is anticipated, because they can only transport concrete so far before it starts setting up.”
According to an Environmental Protection Agency report, the only pollutant “of concern” emitted by concrete batch plants is particulate matter, which consists “primarily of cement dust but (includes) some aggregate and sand dust emissions.” Those emissions are largely controllable, the report adds.
Wilson added that the health department would “do more to make sure communities are notified of new minor source permit applications going forward.”
Residents are invited to submit comments for the June 6 hearing to firstname.lastname@example.org.