Expansion approved: Compost Oregon must still meet conditions

December, 2010 Posted in News

By Mary Owen

A request by Compost Oregon for approval to expand a pre-existing recycling depot and add food waste to material recycled at the facility was recently approved by Aumsville City Council, subject to a list of conditions.

“This was the toughest decision to come before the council in a very long time,” Maryann Hills, city administrator, said of the 5-1 vote on Nov. 22. Nico Casarez was the dissenting councilor.

Hills commended councilors for “digging into the issue to find out what was the bigger picture” as well as what was best for city residents.

About 80 people turned out for the meeting, many citing concerns over the Aumsville’s Planning Commission’s earlier approval of Compost Oregon’s project.

The council meeting lasted until a few minutes after 2 a.m., Hills said.

Public hearings were held on Aug. 18 and Oct. 6 by the planning commission, which approved the conditional use and site development review for the project at its continued hearing. On Oct. 21, Aumsville resident Rex Lucas filed an appeal of the commission’s decision. The council chose to do a DeNovo hearing, allowing for new evidence to be presented and considered by council members.

The two lots involved in the application are both zoned industrial, with one involved currently in the processing of composting material.

Approval of the plan would change the recycling depot’s approval from non-conforming, pre-existing use, to an approved conditional use to conform to a development ordinance changed in 2001.

The proposed improvements include an additional area for composting piles, settlement and aeration ponds, a new maintenance shop, additional paved areas, an internal access road, a large area with winterized surface for compost piles, and bioswales.

A separate application and review is required for approval of a flood plain development permit.

“The council took input and testimony of the parties involved and further modified the requirements of the approval,” Hills said. “The adoption of findings and final Notice of Decision comes back to council for final adoption on Dec. 13.”

Concerns addressed at the meeting include odor issues, visual nuisance, increased dust, increased pest population, and possible water contamination.

Written testimony was received from resident Robert Mathews opposing the application, covering a range of issues from odor, noise and impact on the existing flood plain.

John Rasmussen, a civil engineer from Marion County Planning, brought to the council’s attention the applicant’s responsibility of not infringing on the public right-of-way, including maintaining the integrity of the roadway during potential construction.

Rasmussen also noted that no new driveway would be allowed and additional storm-water discharge points to the Aumsville Highway roadside ditch would have to pass an approval process by both city and county.

“We want to make sure any industry located in Aumsville will be a win-win for all involved,” Hills said.

Hills said Compost Oregon still has hoops to jump through to meet the conditions of approval.

“One of the conditions is to get a flood plain development permit,” she said.

“And once local land use approval is finalized, Compost Oregon will have to apply to the DEQ for a compost permit,” she said.

Other conditions to be met include submitting and receiving city approval for all storm water improvements, and accurately mapping the location of all proposed modifications to wetlands and a wetland permit through Division of State Lands.

The conditions placed by the city also include some stringent requirements governing odor complaints.

Hills said the city council did incorporate some of the conditions proposed by the appellant.

These included the exclusion of cannery waste, limited commercial access to the site, and increasing the Type 3 Feedstock tipping fee to the city.

The conditions give the city more control over the operation of the business, she said.

“The city council’s approval may still be appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals,” Hills said.

Hills said all industry brings to cities their own issues that have to be addressed in the best interest of residents.

Quarterly meetings between the applicant and the city should help abate any problems and keep Compost Oregon in compliance with the conditions of approval.

“The city council did a good job in addressing any negative impacts,” Hills said. “That took a lot of courage.”
Adoption of the modified findings and finalization of the Notice of Decision is scheduled for Dec. 13.

The public hearing of the required Flood Plain Development Permit is also scheduled for that night.

For information, contact city hall at 503-749-2030.

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