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Compost bill signed by governor

Legislation halts a controversial Stafford-area facility


A bill that prohibits the construction of a controversial composting facility in the Stafford area was signed by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber on June 26.

The bill moved to the governor’s desk back on June 18 after receiving concurrence in the state Senate. It was passed by the House by a 37-16 vote on June 13.

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.

PARRISH

At the urging of Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, 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 Landscape Supplies & Recycling 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.

“The screening should be done (this week),” S&H regulator and compliance director Will Gehr said. “Then we will know what risks are associated with the site, and that will then help us know what kinds of changes we need to make, and we’ll figure out with the county if they can accommodate us for a few more years at least.”

Parrish, meanwhile, has concerns now about how S&H will use the Stafford property now that the composting facility is off limits.

“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.”

Gehr had no comment on what S&H is planning for the Stafford site.

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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