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Landfill expansion on track for `15

Land use — Waste Management submits expansion plans this month, commission hearing Dec. 4

In response to community input, Waste Management Communications Manager Jackie Lang said the company has decided to decrease the size of its expansion of Riverbend Landfill.

“When we first started talking about an expansion of some type, we were talking about 98 acres with significant increases with height as well,” Lang said. Photo Credit: WASTE MANAGEMENT - Under review - The new Riverbend Landfill application submitted by Waste Management will expand the landfill by 37 acres, as opposed to the original plan for 98 acres.

The new plan, submitted to Yamhill County Nov. 6, expands the landfill by 37 acres with no height increases.

“As we’ve reached out for community input, it’s gotten smaller and smaller,” she said.

This is in part a compromise with opponents to the plan, including the Stop the Dump Coalition.

“The Stop the Dump Coalition strongly believes that the rezoning of the Riverbend Landfill to masquerade as farmland violates Oregon land use law,” said Isla Perse, coalition board president in June. “We will continue to fight expansion of the dump with every means available to us. We believe we have a strong case against the dump and ultimately we will prevail.”

Stop the Dump filed a petition in May with the Land Use Board of Appeals to stop the zone change needed for expansion, but it was denied on procedural grounds after they missed the petition deadline.

The recent application for Riverbend is a result of the zone change.

“We have (made) fundamental changes in this plan to be a better community partner and so that the landfill will fit in better into the community,” Lang said.

The new plan adheres to the natural barriers in place — Highway 18, flood plain areas and the south fork of the Yamhill River.

“You could say we’re boxed in by Highway 18 and natural barriers,” she said. “This plan allows us to use the available space within those boundaries in a way that’s smart and will allow for about 15 years of continued operations.”

The original plan, which was approved by the county in 2009, would have relocated part of the river in order to expand. It would have also kept the landfill running for 25 or 30 years.

“The company has made considerable concessions to get to this point,” Lang said. “Riverbend would be permanently closed (after 15 years) and planted with grasses and shrubs. Waste Management would continue to manage the property and maintain the environmental system for a minimum of 30 years, but we would not be accepting waste at the site.”

As a part of the application process, Waste Management held a community meeting Nov. 11. The information was presented to community members in attendance as well as answering questions about the project.

Lang said one of the main concerns was if Riverbend would expand again in the future, considering the sizable differences between the current and former expansion plans.

“To go beyond this plan at some future point would be quite complicated and is not of interest to the company,” she said.

The meeting, Lang said, was a mixed group. There were some people who came to ask questions and others who maintained their objections to any expansion.

“I think the meeting was most productive for those people who came to listen and ask questions as opposed to people who came to again say they will not support the landfill operation under any circumstances,” Lang said.

Stop the Dump had previously posted on their blog concerns for oral testimony given at the community meeting. In a post about the then-upcoming meeting, the coalition urged attendants to only submit written comments and hold oral testimony until the Planning Commission meeting, to ensure it would be entered into the record.

The next step in the application process is a Dec. 4 hearing before the Yamhill County Planning Commission. Mike Brandt, county planning director, said the meeting will be primarily a presentation, with the commission likely to make a decision in January.

He said comments are still arriving, days after the meeting.

“In the last few days I’ve received emails and letters from people,” Brandt said. “I am sure that will continue for the next few days.”

If approved by the commission, the Riverbend application must be reviewed by the Department of Environmental Quality for a construction permit. Lang said if everything goes as planned, construction could begin sometime in 2015.

To view the Riverbend Landfill application, visit www.co.yamhill.or.us/content/riverbend-landfill.

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