The conflict over a proposed expansion of the Coffin Butte landfill in north Benton County has entered a new and unexpected stage.
Republic Services has dropped its appeal of the county planning commission’s denial of a conditional use permit to expand the landfill across Coffin Butte Road. But the company will apply again.
The withdrawal was announced at a meeting this morning of the county commissioners, who had been scheduled to hear the appeal on March 21.
Republic apparently acted after the county had contacts with Republic’s headquarters in Arizona. This morning Commissioner Pat Malone thanked Darren Nichols, the county’s community development director, for his “behind the scenes efforts” with Republic officials in Phoenix.
In a letter received by Benton County last Friday, Republic withdrew its appeal and said it would file a new application in the near future, according to Nichols.
There was no clue whether the new application would differ from the one the planning commission unanimously rejected on Dec. 7, 2021. At two public hearings, dozens of neighbors and other Benton County residents spoke against the expansion. One of their objections was to the proposed closing of Coffin Butte Road, a main road into and out of the Soap Creek Valley.
State land use laws barred the commissioners from discussing Coffin Butte with the public while the appeal was pending. Now they are free to do so.
They may, for example, try to build public support for expanding the landfill or, as Malone said, explain why the dump can’t refuse to accept trash from outside the local area.
In a prepared statement, Board Chairwoman Nancy Wyse said: “My fellow commissioners and I were very pleased to hear that Republic is utilizing this opportunity to take more time to engage with our community to help shape a more constructive path for the future of solid waste.”
Republic could blunt much of the opposition by keeping Coffin Butte Road open and, instead, expanding the landfill into an area now being mined as a rock quarry. We’ll see if the company takes that approach when its new application is filed. (hh)