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)