If the thought of living next to a food composting facility wasn't bad enough for some Stafford Hamlet residents, the smell could get much worse. Instead of the composting and land mining facility, they could be getting hundreds of cattle and a manure composting operation.

S and H Logging - a landscaping supply and recycling company that lies between Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn - wants to build a composting facility and land mining operation on 25 acres at 3036 S.W. Borland Road. However, Stafford Hamlet residents are putting up a fight and are in the process of appealing the conditional use permit.

The proposed composting facility would process yard debris, food scraps and manure into compost, which can be used in products sold at S and H's retail site.

Members of the hamlet have been raising funds and have already allocated an attorney to help them with the appeal. Neighbors have expressed concerns about the noise, smell, traffic and dust that would be generated at the site.

The residents were warned recently, however, that if that permit is denied, the property owners, Duane and Loretta Stroupe, would use the land to operate a contained animal feeding operation (CAFO).

'If the proposed uses are not possible, their plan is to develop and operate a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO), raising several hundred head of beef and several dozen pigs. Composting of all manure would be a part of the manure management plan required by the CAFO permit. No conditional use permit would be required for this operation,' wrote Will Gehr of S and H Landscaping Supply and Recycling in a Feb. 20 email to hamlet resident and board of directors secretary Sally Quimby.

'It's hard to interpret it in any other way than a threat,' said Dave Adams, Stafford Board of Directors president.

The CAFO could be a backdoor for the Stroupes to still operate a composting business at the site.

Because the property is zoned as agricultural, the Stroupes could run the property as a farm and as a CAFO, where animals are kept and raised in confined areas. They could then use the manure produced from the animals to create and sell compost.

'It's a very controversial farming practice these days,' said Adams.

According to Wym Matthews, state CAFO program manager, most CAFOs do not turn their manure into compost to sell. Many do compost the manure, but to use it on their land and fields.

However, Gehr said other CAFOs in Clackamas County are creating and selling their compost.

'We would not be doing anything new,' said Gehr. 'It's a manure management technique.'

Though Gehr thinks no special permit would be needed for the CAFO, county senior planner Gary Hewitt disagrees. Because the property is labeled as high value, the county would need to sign off on a Land Use Compatibility Statement. Hewitt said he would not sign off on a composting operation on a CAFO property.

'A CAFO is one thing, a composting facility is another thing,' said Hewitt.

According to Hewitt, the Stroupes have already submitted a CAFO application for another property at 24800 N.E. Boones Ferry Road with the intention of composting there as well. Hewitt said he will not be approving the composting portion of that application.

Gehr said the Stroupes want to get higher returns on their property than what the Christmas tree farm earns.

'I would like to assure you that, no matter which activity the Stroupes ultimately place on this property, we have every intention to do things right, minimize any possible impacts, and be good neighbors,' wrote Gehr in the email.

Stafford residents have their doubts and are not willing to give up their fight.

'If anything, it's accelerated our efforts,' said Adams.

Despite opposition from neighbors and a staff recommendation of denial, a Clackamas County land-use hearings officer approved a new compost and land mine site in Stafford back in December 2011.

Besides the attorney, members of the hamlet also have a petition against the conditional use permit signed by more than 400 people.

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