Friday, March 12, 2010

Plans for compost plant canceled

Company withdraws application amid complaints

Express Staff Writer

A proposed commercial composting project in the Bellevue Triangle stalled on the eve of an application hearing before the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission.

Slated to bring a conditional-use permit application before county officials Thursday evening, Wood River Organic Recycling announced earlier in the day that it was canceling the meeting and withdrawing its application.

The compost processing plant was proposed for a 70-acre lot on Baseline Road, about a mile west of Gannett Road and two miles east of state Highway 75.

Neighbors caught wind of the proposed project through mailings from the county informing them of the upcoming application hearing. Of the 13 letters the county received on the issue, 11 were in opposition to the project and its location.

"While [Wood River Organic Recyling] stands by the appropriateness and benefits to be derived by its processes and technology at the proposed location, the company places significant value on being a good neighbor and an asset to the community," project manager Jim Garrison wrote in a news release. "[The company] wishes to locate its facility in an area where the neighbors are supportive of its operations and procedures it creates."

As proposed, the operations of the composting plant would have taken up five to 10 acres of the lot, with the possibility of adding about five acres over the next five years. Included would have been eight long, narrow "windrows," half of which would be covered, of organic waste. Materials included for composting would have been yard waste, food waste from commercial sources, wood waste, produce, coffee grounds, sod, grain and paper packaging.

The application stated that the company anticipated composting about 10,000 tons of waste per year during the beginning of the operation.

In an interview, Baseline Road resident Mike Bordenkirchen said the odor and traffic could be especially problematic.

"The company just doesn't need the battle," Garrison said in an interview. "Instead, we're going to look to partner with the residents of the area, who have offered to assist in finding a more suitable site."

Garrison did not say when he expected the company to turn in an application for an alternative site, but that Wood River Organic Recycling would continue to educate the community on the technology that would be used and the process for composting.

"The Baseline Road location could be revisited, but frankly I don't think it will be," Garrison said. "We will move along with our plans, but right now we have no ideas for an alternative site."

Jon Duval:

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