A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council nixes Santiam Road ‘bottle drop’

Written February 12th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
Stephanie Marcus of the Recycling Cooperative answers a question from the council.

Stephanie Marcus of the Recycling Cooperative answers a question from the council.

Albany stores and customers can forget about using a central bottle and can redemption center yet this year. Ignoring a unanimous recommendation by the city planning commission, the city council Wednesday agreed instead with a city staff recommendation that prevents the so-called “bottle drop” from being established in the vacant former Salvation Army thrift shop at 1224 Santiam Road S.E. The council voted 4-2 to deny a change in the “Main Street Zoning District” that would have allowed the redemption center. The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative had wanted to buy the long-unused property near the Union Pacific and Portland & Western tracks from the Salvation Army and open a redemption center there by this summer.

Five people spoke against the request at Wednesday’s public hearing, saying they feared more traffic, noise and homeless people, among other factors. Stephanie Marcus of Portland, coordinator for property acquisitions for the cooperative, said the building would be sound proof. She said bottle drops twice as big as this one generate traffic of 20-25 cars per hour. And other centers of this type have had no problems with the homeless. Some of the others are next to retail shops, pizza parlors and sales offices.

The city planning staff and Kate Porsche, economic development director and urban renewal manager, had opposed the redemption center on the grounds that as a regional business attracting people from all over it would not fit the city’s vision of the Main Street area near Santiam Road as a nice neighborhood of residences and small shops. The council got letters against the proposal from a homeowner who restored a historic house several blocks east of Main Street and from Innovative Housing Inc. of Portland, which received urban renewal and other public financing to build the planned Woodland Square apartment complex at Pine Street and Salem Avenue.

The council’s vote was a preliminary one. The staff plans to write findings to back up the majority and bring them back for a final decision. Councilors Bessie Johnson, Bill Coburn, Dick Olsen and Floyd Collins voted to prevent the redemption center at the proposed site. Ray Kopczynski and Rich Kellum were for it. Marcus left before she could be asked what if anything the cooperative planned to do in reaction.

Under the state law known as the Bottle Bill, stores within two miles of a central redemption center may refuse to accept containers. Walmart, just outside that radius, could limit returns to 24 items per day. (hh)

5 responses to “Council nixes Santiam Road ‘bottle drop’”

  1. Jim Engel says:

    Traffic problems. There’s a mini-mall right across the street. When it was the Salvation Army Store traffic came & went. Homeless vagrants already camp along the back. It would at least be a viable business in an otherwise vacant building. Heck, it’s not in any of the Council members neighborhoods so whats the problem..? Silly me, it’s the Albany City Council, that’s the problem..!

  2. Mary Brock says:

    Yes, yes, yes….it is the Albany City council that’s the problem. Thank you, Mr. Engel.
    So, this is what the close-to-$100,000-a-year Kate Porsche who is leading CARA and economic development does for us…a recommendation against a viable and needed business because it doesn’t fit some pie-in-the-sky vision of what life is along the railroad tracks.
    We Albanyites were duped into buying into that vision years ago when we were told it was just an exercise in an ideal dream…not a factual or likely to happen proposal.

    This smacks of Albany council’s turning down apartments in the old hotel downtown for the dream of a “boutique hotel.” I could go on and on.

  3. tom cordier says:

    I watched with anguish at the Council process last nite on Channel23.
    I recall an operating Salvation Army (SA)store across the street from the mini-mall
    There were many clients cars in the SA parking lot. We’d go to the small post office and stop at SA to donate or buy. When St. Vincents and Good Will stores came in SA lost business and closed.
    What a bunch of “the sky will fall” downers. Traffic count will be increased. How much traffic was there when SA was there. No one asked that or knew. The noise wil be unbearable in this quiet neighborhood–really, several trains/day come by using their required horns and the mall traffic is already there.
    The lady who presented the plan was knowledgeable and forthcoming, wanting to bring an inside operation to redeeming bottles using better technology that offered by retail stores–and pay property taxes–and the Council says no .
    I’d like the see the Council change that decision quicher than they did on pot.

  4. Jim Clausen says:

    Kellum made the most sense asking about noise studies and traffic studies. Turns out there weren’t any and none of the assertions made by neighbors could be reasonably proved. Ya live next to a train track and you’re worried about noise!? C’mon folks, get real!

    Coburns replies made the least sense of any. In essence he was happy that people showed up to a meeting – although this happens every time the mayor really doesn’t want to do something. I suppose though that Coburn was most happy about the lack of evidence protestors presented. Make sense to you? In a way it does make sense, this is how Coburn reacts to almost every venue presented – irrational and emotional…

    What bothers me about the whole thing is that local business’ have been coerced through law to impliment a slush fund of unaccountable money. Now, according to the OBRC representative Stephanie Marcus, the OBRC will serve as a central clearing house for this slush fund. All with the approval and co-operation of our government. OBRC will now extort directly from local business’ what the government used to extort. Wow, centralized unaccountable middleman extortion at its best!

    It’s all a shell game that does nothing more than part us with our money under the guise of “It’s for your own good”…

  5. Bob Roberts says:

    It’s a shame.
    The harsh truth is the “neighborhood” in question is possibly the least desirable area in town to live in. Besides, between the strip mall across the street, the tracks and Re-Store you can hardly even see a residence from the sight.
    The building is an awful eyesore; mossy, boarded up windows and dirty (does the “neighborhood” like that quality?)
    It isn’t in a location that will attract a business wanting to fill a large building (it’s not like they are holding out for a Red Lobster or Old Navy).
    The neighborhood is worried homeless will come to the site and return recyclables and leave, does that mean the prefer the current homeless who camp out behind the building.
    If anything the increase in out of town traffic would benefit the neighboring businesses.

    What is it that makes city councils (just about all of them!) so void of common sense?


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