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Republic hosts outreach session on Coffin Butte expansion proposal

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Garbage trucks could keep rolling into the Coffin Butte landfill for the next 30 years if Benton County officials approve proposals for an expansion of the site north of Corvallis. Republic Services held a public outreach session on its expansion plan on Wednesday night.

Republic Services held a one-hour virtual community meeting on Wednesday night to discuss its proposal to expand the Coffin Butte landfill north of Corvallis.

Local Republic officials made brief presentations on the project and then took questions for the final 45 minutes. The event was moderated by Ginger Rough, a Republic public affairs executive based in Indianapolis.

“In a perfect world landfills will not be needed,” said Julie Jackson, local municipal relations manager for Republic. “But we’re not there yet.”

Republic has submitted an application with Benton County for a conditional use permit that would allow the company to expand Coffin Butte and extend its life for perhaps another 30 years. The proposal has sparked community concern and led to four letters to the editor, all in opposition.

The Benton County Planning Commission originally had scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 7 to consider the application, but Republic asked for extra time to modify its proposal. The Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing for Nov. 2, with county officials noting that it is unlikely commissioners will deliberate and make a decision that day.

The county’s Solid Waste Advisory Council discussed the project Tuesday night and voted 5-1 to send a letter the commission recommending that the commissioner approve the expansion request, although the advisory board plans to include conditions and stipulations regarding the plan.

Questions asked by participants in Wednesday’s session hosted by Republic focused largely on road and traffic issues, although hydrology, geology, road trash, recycling and accepting trash from outside the designated six-county area of Benton, Linn, Lane, Polk, Lincoln and Marion.

Republic’s proposal would close Coffin Butte Road to through traffic, although trash haulers and residents looking to use the landfill would use the same access road entering the landfill.

A new northern route into the area west of the landfill would connect Robison Road with Tampico and Soap Creek roads.

The question and answer period and its chat scroll were largely civil, although a couple of participants criticized Rough for the way she “paraphrased” questions and the local officials for only having estimates for things such as the capacity of the proposed expansion area.

Republic plans to route Coffin Butte Road south of the expansion area, which also will include two leachate ponds. The company says it needs the expansion because the current landfill site will fill up in approximately four years, with the adjacent Knife River quarry not available to accept waste for perhaps another eight to 10 years. The quarry, officials said, has a potential lifespan of 15 years before it reaches capacity.

Approximately 70% of the trash at Coffin Butte, which is a "regional" landfill, comes from the six-county area, with the remainder imported from the Portland area and “other” sites. About 12% of Coffin Butte trash comes from Benton County, with Republic officials estimating that the Linn County figure is slightly higher based on its greater population.

More Benton County news

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@lee.net or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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