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Planners approve birthing center

While deliberating on a home-style birthing center on Hidden Springs Road in Dundee, Yamhill County planning commissioners agreed they would disregard hard feelings between the applicants and their neighbors over past issues. Then they split 4-3 themselves.

The vote was enough to green-light a pregnancy and childbirth retreat proposed by Jennifer Gallardo, who already owns and operates two birthing centers in Portland. But it did nothing to smooth over past divisions.

In August 2008, Jennifer and Fernando Gallardo were notified their septic system was backing up, putting it at risk of failing entirely. In April 2009, it did fail, and in the process it contaminated the well on Joe and Kim Eubanks’ neighboring property.

The Gallardos said they had laid plans for replacement of the system in the summer of 2009. They said they were never told it could contaminate their neighbor’s well if it failed earlier.

They said they tried to reach a settlement through a mediator, but the Eubanks insisted on going to court, alleging negligence. They ended up paying the Eubanks $25,000 for damages and building a new septic system under the direction of the county’s on-site septic regulator, Kim Aldrich.

In an August letter to Aldrich, other neighbors, John and Sandra Crosland, asked if the new system would provide proper and legal means to deal with “blood, bodily fluids and a certain amount of tissue” from a birthing operation. Aldrich replied by saying, “Effluent testing will need to be done and a proposal made by a consultant regarding gallons per day.”

The neighbors also complained of a potential increase in traffic. They said the Gallardos have seven children at home, so already generate an outsized share of local traffic.

Neighbors also complained of “constant noise from their children and friends until very late,” which the Gallardos disputed.

Based on testimony at a September hearing, the planning staff decided to recommend the center be limited to pre- and post-natal visits, without providing birthing services themselves.

But after further discussion Thursday, Commissioner Matt Dunckel moved to also allow an average of two births per month. The application asked for three a month. That modest level of birthing activity drew support from Commissioners Marla Robinson, Marjorie Ehry and Michael Griffith, with Commissioners Alan Halstead, Michael Sherwood and Dan Armstrong opposed.

Chair Daryl Garrettson abstained, “as to not make a tie.”

In other business, the commission unanimously approved an application for a green waste composting facility at 14425 S.E. Wallace Road in Dayton. The business will take in leaves, grass cuttings and brush for composting into “grow” mixes.

Planners approve birthing center

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