Wilsonville works to overhaul trash storage and disposal codes

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO - The city of Wilsonville requires enclosed areas for trash, recycling and grease storage receptacles. City regulations covering those enclosures are currently being examined to see if they need revision.It’s probably not the best-smelling job the city of Wilsonville’s public works and community development staff has undertaken. But sniffing out problems among the hundreds of commercial trash enclosures lining the city’s businesses can be a big deal for an entire community.

The city currently is engaged in a study of city code governing trash, grease and recycling receptacles on commercial premises. The study began after a developer brought forth questions about a requirement that new developments must have covered trash enclosures.

What the study found, however, has subsequently raised eyebrows at city hall.

“We have had a blast looking at trash enclosures throughout our community,” Martin Brown, the city’s building official told city councilors Oct. 21. “And in all seriousness, thank you for opening that door, because we’ve looked at these trash enclosures and discovered a whole array of other issues that we’d like to address down the road.”

Roofing over trash enclosures was intended to reduce the amount of polluted runoff entering the city’s stormwater system. It took little time, however, to find a roof barely makes a difference.

“We found that only 6 to 10 percent have an issue,” Brown said. “But the regulation dealt with 100 percent of businesses, and really is small piece of what was going on out there.”

In fact, food establishments actually were discovered to be a much bigger problem with regard to waste disposal. In particular, the storage and collection of cooking grease is both a challenge and a headache for restaurants. Many establishments sell used cooking grease to companies that manufacture biodiesel and other biofuels. But the storage of the grease prior to that is where the city is affected. If spills occur, problems can quickly mount.

“It draws rats and creates a real community problem,” Brown said. “Even the drains won’t drain when they get clogged, and a roof wasn’t doing anything for this.”

Additionally, the city’s size requirements for trash enclosures were shown to be insufficient, with receptacles regularly found outside enclosures.

The city, Brown added, has met with Republic Services, which currently holds the city’s waste disposal franchise, to discuss these and related issues. But, crucially, that company does not handle disposal of cooking grease. Instead, individual establishments contract with third-party vendors for that service.

As a result, city officials now are planning a major rewrite of the portion of city code dealing with trash enclosures. The section mandating roofing over the enclosures likely will be scrapped, Brown said. But plenty of other changes will be considered, including increasing the size of trash enclosures required of new businesses. He added that any changes probably won’t be retroactive.

“We’re going to start with new development only,” Brown said. “It takes up parking, and parking is a big commodity. We’re hoping not to create a bigger problem for them.”

City Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar urged the council to act soon because of ongoing commercial development.

“If we do see issues, we’d like to work with them voluntarily,” she said. “(Waste) management practices are probably what’s most important here. We feel like you should do something, since we have development applications coming in regularly.”

City staff now will return to rewriting the applicable code before returning to the council with a draft ordinance in the near future.

Josh Kulla can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 113. Follow him on Twitter, @wspokesman.

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