Last night, an otherwise sleepy Metro Council meeting saw an outpouring of constituent rancor over a proposed zoning change that would allow a new asphalt plant to be constructed on Franklin Limestone Road, which many speakers said would cause further harm to their already over-industrialized neighborhood.
Approximately 24 Antioch residents spoke out against the bill during a 50-minute public comment hearing to express concerns that the new plant would increase pollution, further depress home values by opening the asphalt plant too close to residential properties and threaten wildlife in nearby Mill Creek, which is the habitat of the endangered Nashville crayfish.
Patricia Griggs, a resident of Piccadilly Road, spoke of the negative health effects she's experienced living in an area home to two active asphalt plants and other heavy industry, the former of which rock the area with seismic blasts and emit into the air particulates that aren't fully understood, even by the Environmental Protection Agency.
"About a year ago, I developed breathing problems," Griggs said. "I have been to countless doctors in the last year trying to figure out what's wrong with me, and I don't know what it's from."
Despite the often heartbreaking testimonies of residents' pollution-related health problems, the bill — sponsored by Councilmen Duane Dominy and Robert Duvall — passed 22-15 on second reading. The bill will be heard on third reading at the next council meeting.
Dominy said he was "not committed" to the bill, however, explaining he would allow the bill to be amended on its third reading and that he "won't move on it under I visit a state-of-the-art [asphalt manufacturing] facility.
Only four people spoke in favor of the development, including registered Metro lobbyist Tom White, an attorney for the parcel's holding company, Hickory MC Investments, who said that the new "state-of-the-art" plant would actually reduce emissions in the area.
Antioch resident Karen Kelley, who is acting as a veritable grassroots organizer against the plant, told fellow neighbors in the hallway outside council chambers that they shouldn't be disheartened by the council's vote, and that they will continue the fight.