Republic Services appealed the Benton County Planning Commission’s unanimous decision to reject its proposal to expand the Coffin Butte landfill.
Commissioners voted 6-0 on Dec. 7 to reject the company’s request for a conditional use permit that would allow the expansion. The rejection started the clock on a 14-day period during which appeals could be lodged with the County Board of Commissioners.
Republic appealed on December 20 and asked that the appeal not be heard until March 21.
Republic also said, in a report filed by Area Chairman Ryan Lawler, that it “reserves the right to present new evidence, testimony and argument to the Benton County Board of Commissioners.”
The Republic needed the Conditional Use Permit to extend the current storage cell south beyond the current Coffin Butte Road route, which would be closed. A new private road would circle the new disposal area and end at a locked gate at Soap Creek Road.
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Republic also proposed to build a new road north that would connect the Soap Creek Road/Tampico Road area to Highway 99W via Robison Road in an effort to replace freeway access lost with the Coffin Butte Road closure. Residents would continue to have access to Highway 99W via Tampico Road.
The Phoenix-based company said it needed the expansion because the current landfill will reach capacity in about four years. The adjacent Knife River quarry will not be available to receive waste for perhaps another eight to ten years.
The quarry, Republic officials said, has a potential lifespan of 15 years. In total, Republic said, permit approval would add 30 years to the life of the landfill.
The main conclusions of the commissioners in their five-page report on the decision were that the proposed use of the property, including the closure of Coffin Butte Road, would create an “undue burden” on the surrounding neighborhood and that Republic had not answered questions effectively. of the community on the noise, odor, air quality and other public health impacts of the expansion as well as its effects on the environment and wildlife.
Republic, in its response, challenged virtually all of the Planning Commission’s findings. The main objections included:
• That the evidence does not support the commission’s conclusion regarding odour, air quality or noise…and that the landfill has always been in compliance with the air quality permit regulations required by the State Department of Environmental Quality.
• That improvements at Robison and Tampico will ease the closure of Coffin Butte Road.
• This Republic will address required wildlife impacts as part of its DEQ permit.
County officials were not available to comment on the appeal or whether it will be stayed and heard in March at Republic’s request. Such a decision will be handled administratively, rather than requiring a vote by the Board of Commissioners.
The denial of the request also set a clock ticking over the possible closure of Coffin Butte and the insertion of a massive question mark into the state landfill equation.
“It is highly unlikely that the state will approve a new landfill in the Willamette Valley,” Benton County Attorney Vance Croney said.
This means closing Coffin Butte would send all regional waste more than 200 miles to the massive waste management facility in Arlington along the Columbia River. The extra distance trucks would have to travel, Croney said, would have an obvious impact on rates.