A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Planning commission rejects Coffin Butte expansion

Written December 7th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The Coffin Butte Landfill in October 2021. In the background at left, there’s Coffin Butte Road, one main reason the county planning commission denied expanding the  dump.

Unless the Benton County Board of Commissioners says otherwise, the Coffin Butte Landfill will not expand to the south and cover Coffin Butte Road with a mountain of trash hundreds of feet tall.

Six members of the Benton County Planning Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday night to reject an application by Republic Services to expand the landfill southward, which would require vacating and closing the road.

The commission decided that the development code criteria for a conditional use permit had not been met for serval reasons.  Two big ones were that the dump’s expansion would impose an undue burden on the public, and that it would greatly change the character of the nearby area in numerous ways.

The decision almost certainly will be appealed to the county board of commissioners. Republic Services will have 14 days to do so after the planning staff writes up the findings, or reasons for the denial, and issues a notice of decision.

For 80 minutes Tuesday night, commission Chairman Ken Kenaston and the five other members present listed in great detail all their many reasons for rejecting Republic’s application.

Chief among them was the proposed loss of Coffin Butte Road, a major collector in the county road system that serves as the main road between the Soap Creek Valley and Highway 99W.

Closing the road would not be in the best interest of county residents, Kenaston said.

He and the other commissioners cited much of the testimony over two nights of public hearings. Residents of north Benton County had testified about issues including odor and noise from the landfill, the expansion’s effect on wildlife, concerns about contamination of air and water, increased costs of farming and forestry if the road was closed, lower property values and the resulting loss of property taxes, and others.

Denial of the expansion was supported by Kenaston and commission members Evelyn Lee, Nicholas Fowler, Sean Scorvo, Jennifer Gervais, and John McEvoy.

Republic wants to expand the landfill southward instead of starting to fill an area west of the current dump. That area is used as a quarry but is intended to accept trash eventually.

Republic has said that not counting the quarry cell, the landfill will be full in four years, and it wants the rock in the quarry to be fully mined before filling the cell with refuse.

If the denial holds, Republic will have to start figuring out pretty soon what do do when those four years are up. (hh)

The Benton County Planning Commission during its online deliberations Tuesday night.

9 responses to “Planning commission rejects Coffin Butte expansion”

  1. Bob Woods says:


  2. James Engel says:

    So, can any of the readers of this blog tell me why, o why do we accept trash from counties to the north??!! Let them wine sippers dig their own hole up north & keep it where it comes from. Guess I’m gonna have to dig a hole n my own backyard in a few years when Coffin Butte fills up. Or, be like 3rd world countries & just throw it out in the street!

  3. Greg S says:

    Republic doesn’t have to figure out what to do if the landfill reaches maximum capacity. They are a private corporation and can pack their bags and leave town when their contract with the county expires if they so choose. The County Commissioners are the ones that will be in the hot seat. They better get themselves in gear to solve a real problem.

  4. Bill Kapaun says:

    It’s refreshing to see a governing body show some GUTS and stand up to Republic instead of rubber stamping their way to higher rates just to get a few pennies of FRANCHISE FEES aka SALES TAX!

  5. Bob Lablaw says:

    How about they build a waste to energy power plant to make electricity for all those Electric Cars the environmentalists seem to want?

  6. CHEZZ says:

    If I could put an emoji in the comment box, it would be the guy with the mean face with the cigar – grumbling at Republic. Republic – go find property in the wine country. The grapes are tainted from the fire smoke, and they are in a little difficulty.

  7. centrist says:

    Siting a landfill is no easy task. Few locations are suitable. That’s why the ones in operation are regional facilities.
    Incineration reduces volume, but the ash has issues.
    Four years to locate and develop a landfill isn’t much time.

  8. Susann Kaltwasser says:

    The soltution is not incineration. They pollute and cost more money. I have been fighting the one in Brooks for 3 decades and know the inside track. Recently the incinerator was sold to a private company in Europe and now we can’t even tell what they are burning other than we know it is industrial waste from Georgia!

    Coffin Butte hopefully will work out their current problems with capacity. But the bottom line is that WE ALL need to reduce the amount of garbage we produce. We need to recycle more, compost more and stop buying things that can’t be recycled and are unnecessary. Who needs frat and vegetables wrapped in plastic? Who needs multiple layers of wrapping for every product we buy? Lobby for reduce packaging.


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