A Washington-based company would like to bring a composting project to the Bellevue Triangle that would eliminate the need for trucking organic waste from the mid-valley Ohio Gulch Transfer Station to the Southern Idaho Solid Waste District landfill in Burley.
On Thursday, Wood River Organic Recycling will present its plan at a public hearing before the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission at 6:30 p.m. at the Old County Courthouse in Hailey.
The recycling company has applied for a conditional-use permit for a proposed composting plant on a 70-acre lot at 307 Baseline Road, about a mile west of Gannett Road and two miles east of state Highway 75. The P&Z will make a recommendation on the application, which will then go before the County Commission.
Project Manager Jim Garrison said Wood River Organic Recycling would be an Idaho-based company, though the owner would be Stephen Banchero. Banchero is founder and CEO of Emerald Services, a Seattle-based recycling company, and founder and co-owner of its sister company, Cedar Grove. The latter company, also based in Seattle, has two compost processing facilities in Washington.
In an interview, Garrison said the Blaine County composting plant would take up about five to 10 acres of the lot, with the possibility of adding about five acres over the next five years.
If the project is approved, Garrison said, construction could begin this summer and be ready for operation in spring 2011.
As planned, the plant would include eight "windrows," long, narrow strips in which the composting would take place.
Four of those rows would be covered with a Gore cover, similar to the water-resistant Gore-Tex material used in clothing, to control the composting process and trap odor. The rows are set on a solid concrete base to keep any runoff from going into the ground.
Materials placed under the coverings would include yard waste, food waste from commercial sources, wood waste, produce, coffee grounds, sod, grain and paper packaging.
According to the project application, about 10,000 tons of compostable organic waste is trucked from the Wood River Valley to Burley every year. Garrison said an estimated 7,000 tons per year of additional organic material never make it into the waste system.
Garrison said that while covered in the first phase of the composting process, the waste is heated to about 175 degrees, speeding up breakdown of the material from about 13 months to 13 weeks.
During the second phase, the compost is uncovered and can be sold as certified organic compost, used by gardeners and landscapers. In addition, it can be blended with manure for high-grade fertilizer or topsoil.
Though the project has received letters of support, including one from the Ketchum Community Development Corp., a number of residents in the Bellevue Triangle are concerned that the plant is not suitable for a residential area.
Baseline Road resident Mike Bordenkirchen said the odor and traffic could be especially problematic.
"Originally, I thought composting was a great idea, but this is not a good location," Bordenkirchen said in an interview. "In my opinion, I'm not sure that this is a project fit for this valley. Do we want commercial composting next to residential areas?"
Bordenkirchen said he has been in contact with residents around the Cedar Grove composting plant in Everett, Wash., who have complained that the smell of the composting plant is noticeable as far as four miles away.
However, Garrison said the Everett plant processes about 250,000 tons of compost per year, more than 10 times the projections for the Wood River plant.
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