A bill that would halt a Stafford-area composting facility is close to approval

A bill that would prohibit the construction of a controversial composting facility in the Stafford area has reached Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s desk after receiving concurrence in the state Senate on June 18. PARRISH

As of press time, it was unclear as to when the governor might sign or reject the bill, but state Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, felt confident that the legislation would eventually pass its final hurdle.

“Because the bill is supported in a pretty broad bipartisan fashion and it passed both chambers without much opposition, there really should be no reason the governor shouldn’t sign the bill,” Parrish said.

Senate Bill 462 sets new rules for planned composting facilities, requiring applicants to hold a conference and public hearing before they can submit any land use applications that involve selling products and require a permit from DEQ.

At the urging of Parrish and state Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, the bill was amended to prohibit the construction of any compost disposal site within 1,500 feet of a school.

The proposed S&H facility, at 3036 SW Borland Road in the Stafford triangle, was slated to be constructed near Stafford Primary and Athey Creek Middle schools, and just 400 feet from Athey Creek’s soccer field.

The plan has been a source of controversy since a Clackamas County hearings officer approved the facility’s design application for the Borland Road site.

In a series of public meetings since then, residents have expressed concerns about the facility having a negative effect on the community’s health, businesses and property values. Residents continally raised concerns about noise, dust, traffic and health impacts.

When the bill to halt construction gained momentum in the state Legislature, S&H decided to suspend its Oregon Department of Environmental Quality application and pursue an extension of its current lease at Clackamas Compost Products.

Yet, even if Clackamas County — which owns the Clackamas Compost Products property at 11620 SE Capps Road in Clackamas — approves a lease extension, S&H would still need an updated DEQ permit to continue operations.

Parrish, meanwhile, has concerns now about how S&H will use the Stafford property if the composting facility is not built.

“I think the bigger lift now might be how we circle back with S&H to have the conversation about what should or can go on that site,” Parrish said. “And what we may need to do down here (in Salem) in a subsequent session to make that happen.”

That concern, however, doesn’t mean that there isn’t cause to celebrate for those fervently opposed to the facility.

“I’m really pleased that the effort paid off,” Parrish said, “and that we’ll get something that really impacts our community overall in a positive way.”

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