By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on May 31, 2019
This morning, the Jefferson County Department of Public Health announced that it is canceling a public hearing on an application submitted by Sherman Industries for a Title V Air Permit for two concrete manufacturing plants the company plans to operate at 3240 Fayette Avenue in the Five Points West community. This location is surrounded by several predominantly black residential neighborhoods and is directly adjacent to the City of Birmingham’s new $55 million state-of-the-arts CrossPlex recreational facility.
The scheduled June 6, 2019 public hearing was canceled at Sherman Industries’ request. The company stressed, however, that Sherman Industries has NOT withdrawn its application for an air permit at the Fayette Avenue location. It has merely suspended proceedings on this application for the time being.
In recent years, over $100 million in city government and private sector dollars have been invested into developing CrossPlex Village to stimulate additional development in the community. During the same period, the city invested vast dollars into the Parkside District in downtown Birmingham.
Sherman Industries has been asked to leave its downtown concrete manufacturing location because the predominantly white residents in the new and booming Railroad Park and Regions Field neighborhoods do not want to be exposed to its non-stop air pollution. To accommodate these residents, Sherman Industries decided to impose its unwanted presence and corporate will on the residents of Five Points West.
Jeff Sieg, a spokesman for Lehigh Hanson, Inc., U.S. parent company of Sherman Industries released the following statement this afternoon:
“Sherman Industries has been working closely with the City of Birmingham regarding our proposed concrete batch plant at Fayette Ave. The company intends to continue this approach in an effort to improve the city’s and the community’s understanding of the scope of our project and to attempt to identify a mutually acceptable solution at Fayette Avenue in Five Points West, or possibly an equally viable location.
Since these good-faith collaborative efforts are ongoing, Sherman Industries has voluntarily requested a temporary suspension of our pending air permit application and postponement of the June 6 public hearing. Sherman Industries remains optimistic that we will reach a mutually acceptable solution with the city of Birmingham. If our efforts to work with the city are not successful, Sherman Industries will resume processing of our pending air permit application. Sherman Industries is a responsible operator and has consistently remained in compliance with environmental regulations. Ultimately, our goal is to build and operate a state-of-the-art, environmentally sound and clean, concrete batch facility with a minimal environmental footprint.”
Lehigh Hanson, is an affiliate of the German-based concrete manufacturing giant, HeidelbergCement Group. This international conglomerate operates 3,000 concrete plants worldwide. The company was a known collaborator with the Nazis’ death machine during World War II.
Last Friday, Sherman Industries made it clear to the local NBC TV news that the company is moving forward with its application for a Title V Air Permit for the Fayette Avenue site. Today, the company's proceedings on its application has been temporarily suspended to give Mayor Randall Woodfin breathing room to find a mutually acceptable solution to this classic case of environmental racism.
If Randall Woodfin fails to solve this problem, Sherman Industries has made it clear that the company will resume the processing of its air permit application for the 3240 Fayette Avenue location in Five Points West.
Is this a veil threat by Sherman Industries? Yes. Will the company run over Mayor Woodfin and construct and operate its two concrete manufacturing plants at the 3240 Fayette Avenue location, if this corporate action is necessary? Yes.
PHOTO: Sherman Industries plans to construct and operate two concrete manufacturing plants in Birmingham's Five Points West residential community. The company has temporarily suspended its application for an air permit at this location to appease protesting neighborhood residents and city officials.