Waste Not appeals ordinance change
By HANNAH HOFFMAN
Of the News-Register
Waste Not of Yamhill County announced Thursday its intent to appeal a recent Yamhill County zoning ordinance change that will allow landfills in farm use zones to expand onto more farmland.
The group, which has led the fight against the proposed expansion of Riverbend Landfill for more than two years, filed the appeal with the state Land Use Board of Appeals on behalf of a broad coalition of Yamhill County residents who oppose the idea of the landfill expanding.
The announcement of the appeal does not list the grounds and Waste Not spokeswoman Susan Watkins did not respond to the News-Register's request for elaboration.
County commissioners Kathy George and Leslie Lewis voted Sept. 8 in favor of amending the county's ordinance to match state law and allow existing landfills to expand onto farmland.
Commissioner Mary Stern recused herself because her husband works for Riverbend parent company Waste Management Inc. Stern has recused herself throughout the Riverbend process.
The county's ordinance previously allowed landfills in public works safety zones only, and the first time Riverbend applied to expand in 2008, the county required the landfill to take a goal exception to convert farmland to a PWS zone.
But LUBA and later the Court of Appeals decided that wasn't acceptable. If the county wanted to allow a landfill expansion, it could match its ordinance to state law, which allows landfills in farm use zones.
After much debate and testimony, which the commissioners heard in conjunction with the planning commission, the board decided to change only the part allowing existing landfills to expand. State law allows new landfills in farm zones as well, but George and Lewis opted against adding that to the county ordinance.
The planning commission voted 5-3 against changing the ordinance because most members thought legally allowing expansions was tantamount to approving the landfill expansion itself.
Chair Daryl Garrettson, who voted in favor of the change, said the real question was whether Riverbend should have a legal process by which to apply for an expansion, as all businesses do.
He said allowing Riverbend to apply didn't mean it would be approved.
It's unclear what Waste Not will argue before LUBA, but its members have contended that the new ordinance would create a monopoly for Waste Management in Yamhill County, since it applies to only one landfill.
However, the group also opposes the idea of allowing new landfills to be sited in farm zones, which state law explicitly allows.
Waste Not also has argued the new ordinance would allow Riverbend unregulated, unmitigated expansion.
The Yamhill County Planning Department, however, has cited a long list of reasons why it does not, including the provision the expansion must be onto contiguous parcels, that the county controls the site design review and size and that the county ultimately has the authority to deny the expansion entirely.