Environmental Justice Prevails in Atlanta Zoning

This week Fulton County Commissioners passed an Environmental Justice Zoning amendment that will require additional scrutiny of new businesses seeking pollution permits near environmentally-stressed residential communities in unincorporated South Fulton County.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 
Media Contact:
MaKara Rumley
GreenLaw Attorney
404-659-3122 
 

 
Environmental Justice Prevails in Atlanta Zoning
Atlanta-area zoning amendment adds environmental justice reviews

 
July 18, 2013 (ATLANTA) – This week Fulton County Commissioners passed an Environmental Justice Zoning amendment that will require additional scrutiny of new businesses seeking pollution permits near environmentally-stressed residential communities in unincorporated South Fulton County.  
 
The legal amendment, the first of its kind in the United States, adjusts the zoning ordinance application process.  New businesses categorized with "environmentally adverse uses" may be required to undergo an environmental justice review if their location negatively impacts environmentally stressed, Fulton County communities.    
 
“We applaud the Fulton County Commissioners for taking this brave step; improving the law to protect overburdened citizens from additional pollution exposure,” said GreenLaw Environmental Justice Attorney MaKara Rumley. “Sometimes government must step in to protect the health of communities that are zoned adjacent to industrial activity.”
 
Currently the majority of businesses with permits to pollute in Fulton County are located in predominately African-American and linguistically isolated neighborhoods. This distance inequity was pointed out in GreenLaw’s “Patterns of Pollution” Report in 2012. 
 
The report was cited by Fulton County District 5 in a survey regarding minorities living closer to pollution points than other residents of the county.  According to a special report by Fulton County District 5 Commissioner Emma Darnell, “an environmentally-stressed community is defined as a residential area where any part of its property line is one-half mile from an environmentally adverse activity.” 
 

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GreenLaw is a non-profit law firm serving environmental and community organizations that have been adversely impacted by pollution. Since 1992, GreenLaw has provided free, high-quality legal and technical assistance to environmental organizations and community groups throughout Georgia. For more information, visit www.greenlaw.org and follow @greenlaw_GA on Twitter.

This release was republished on Southeast Green.

Tags: Environmental Justice Zoning · Fulton County Commissioners · Makara Rumley · South Fulton County