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Landfills Measure 37 claim riles neighbors

Cooper Mountain residents hope to pack county hearing Tuesday morning

Cooper Mountain neighbors are lining up to fight a Measure 37 land-use claim that could expand the Lakeside Reclamation Landfill on Southwest Vandermost Road.

Dozens of residents around the landfill have met for several weeks to discuss their challenge to the claim by Howard P. Grabhorn, whose family has owned most of the landfill site along the Tualatin River since July 1944.

Neighbors hope to pack Tuesday morning's hearing before the Washington County Board of Commissioners in Hillsboro. Even then, they're not sure what they can do to block the Measure 37 claim that could allow the landfill to expand.

'We don't think it has any validity at all,' said John Frederick, who has lived on his 40-acre farm on the northern edge of Grabhorn's property for 43 years.

'This is a big issue,' said Dick Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards, a Cooper Mountain business that has been near the landfill for two decades.

'There's lots of reasons to resist it. The question is making the right arguments before this hearing. The impact of a lot of people attending this hearing will have some effect.'

Grabhorn's landfill has operated since 1952, taking mostly construction and demolition waste. In 1972, the state gave the landfill an environmental permit to operate. It also operates in an exclusive farm-use zone under county regulations.

The landfill covers about 40 acres of Grabhorn's 132-acre property that stretches from the Tualatin River north along Vandermost Road. The landfill is south of Scholls Ferry Road and west of 175th Avenue.

Voices heard

Measure 37, approved by voters in November 2004, requires local governments to compensate longtime landowners when land-use regulations reduce the value of their property.

Jurisdictions can either waive the land-use restrictions, allowing development, or pay the landowner for the lost value.

In his Nov. 30 Measure 37 claim, Grabhorn's attorneys said he wants to continue to operate the site as a landfill and expand the operation to another, larger tax lot on his property.

Attorneys Jill S. Gelineau and Steve C. Morasch of Portland told county officials that Grabhorn wanted a waiver of land-use regulations to allow the landfill to expand, he also wants to be allowed to transfer the property rights to a new owner, who could continue to operate the landfill.

Grabhorn estimated that his land-use claim was worth about $5 million.

Grabhorn and his neighbors have wrestled for decades over the landfill. Although most area residents don't like the landfill, its odor and operation noises, Grabhorn has weathered many county and state challenges to his permit and use of the property.

The unlined landfill operates legally, although the state Department of Environmental Quality is keeping a close eye on possible contamination.

Ponzi said neighbors hoped to pack Tuesday's hearing to get across the message that they want the landfill closed.

'The people who will be there are going to be very vocal and are going to make themselves heard,' he said.

County commissioners, however, might not be sympathetic. A board flyer sent with each Measure 37 claim notice outlines what the county will consider in the claim hearing.

That boils down to whether the property meets the criteria for a Measure 37 claim.

Commissioners won't address impacts on surrounding properties or roads. Those issues are dealt with in the land-use application process.

Golf course

Grabhorn's land-use claim is one of several that will be heard next week by the board of commissioners. The hearings are on the commissioners' agenda beginning at 10 a.m. in the Shirley Huffman Auditorium of the county's Public Services Building, 155 N. First Ave., Hillsboro.

Also on the agenda is a claim by the Crescent Grove Cemetery Association of Tigard, which wants to develop 74.65 acres between Southwest Scholls Ferry Road and 175th Avenue.

The cemetery association hopes to divide the vacant land into 20,000-square-foot lots for construction of single-family homes. The group also asked that the county reconsider its realignment of 175th Avenue, which could cut north through part of the property.

Another claim on the agenda is one for 12 acres along Scholls Ferry Road owned by the Lolich Living Trust of Tigard. Frank F. Lolich Jr. has asked the county to allow him to build a nine-hole golf course and a driving range on the property just north of Vandermost Road.