The Metro Nashville Health Department on Feb. 24 issued a permit for Jones Bros LLC to begin operating a hot-mix asphalt plant at 771 Burnett Road in Old Hickory — about 1,600 feet from Old Hickory Beach. The health department’s decision comes despite resistance from many Old Hickory residents, who wrote more than 400 comments during the permit’s extended public comment process — citing concerns about air quality, pollution, odors and disruption to local wildlife.

Alongside the permit, the Metro Nashville Health Department published reports addressing residents’ concerns. The department also conducted two studies to model the effects the proposed plant would have on air quality — effects they now say are negligible by federal air quality standards. In an email sent to individuals who submitted public comments, Air Pollution Control Division director John Finke stated that “due to the overwhelming concern for adverse health effects from both criteria and hazardous pollutants, Air Pollution Control (APC) conducted two different modeling studies, normally reserved for much larger sources. Both studies showed minimal impact from the proposed plant.” 

“APC has found no reason to indicate the proposed facility will not be able to comply with all applicable air pollution regulations,” Finke continued. “Therefore, there was no legal basis for denying the issuance of the Air Pollution Construction Permit.” 

While many residents spoke about odor concerns, Air Pollution Control stated in their report that they could only respond to odor complaints if they were linked to a public health issue. 

While some Old Hickory residents hoped to block the plant through the pollution studies, Councilmember Larry Hagar — whose District 11 contains Old Hickory — also hoped to block the plant through a “buffer bill,” legislation he passed in 2012 which restricts the zoning of asphalt plants to more than 1,250 feet from residences and 2,000 feet from parks and community facilities. 

While Hagar initially hoped his bill could block the Jones Bros plant, he recently told Old Hickory residents that an earlier lawsuit prevents the buffer zone from applying in this specific instance — partially because a previous asphalt plant operated in the same location until 2017. “I did all I could do to prevent this, and that’s all I can do,” he told WKRN on Tuesday. 

Jones Bros LLC did not respond to the Scene’s request to comment.

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