HALL COUNTY, Ga. -- Some call it the smell of success, but neighbors near an expanding local business in Hall County say its just plain smelly - and potentially dangerous.
Now, the debate is on over whether the longtime family-owned business will be allowed to expand operations right off of Lake Lanier on Brown's Bridge Road.
Mincey Marble has grown significantly over the past 40 years. Now some neighbors say the company doesn’t belong near their mostly residential area.
The peaceful shores of Lake Lanier are a popular refuge for those seeking water, nature and beautiful views.
But some say what you can’t see is the smell that comes along with all this beauty - the smell of styrene gas coming from the plant on Brown’s Bridge Road.
"It’s a chemical smell to me. A lot of people describe it as a sweet smell," Jeffrey Daigrepont said. "I describe it more like a cleaning product; definitely a chemical. It’s not a normal smell."
Daigrepont opposes rezoning.
The chemical is used in production of cast marble shower stalls the company sells to hotel chains across the country.
It’s labeled potentially hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but is allowed to be released into the air in certain quantities.
"The EPA is giving us a permit for 100 tons and we’re only at only at 58 percent of that," Company president Donna Mincey said. "So the EPA thinks were safe where we are."
Mincey’s parents founded the company 40 years ago by themselves.. it has now grown to nearly 300 employees and is asking the county to rezone a vacant Browns’ Bridge Road property to replace an old, outdated building nearby.
"We have an older facility we want to close and we want to move those people across the street," Mincey said. "That will be more modern and it will be beautiful."
She contends the new facility will produce fewer odors. But residents like Daigrepont aren’t convinced. He said the plant has been a good neighbor, providing jobs and making significant contributions to the community, but he opposes any plans to expand in an area that’s now zoned agricultural and residential.
"I think they should continue their operation as they have been now and just look at growing in places more conducive to that type of industry," he said.
Hundreds of people have signed an online petition opposing the company’s expansion but Mincey said many others support her plans.
The Hall County commission is scheduled to vote on the issue Oct. 13. Officials are expecting a packed house with hundreds - both for and against Mincey Marble - likely to speak out.
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