By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

City opposes landfill in letter to county

Nearly two weeks after Yamhill County commissioners voted to approve a zone change for Riverbend Landfill – and three months after county Planning Director Mike Brandt asked the city to provide input on landfill issues – Mayor Rick Olson sent a letter to commissioners on behalf of the council, saying they were disappointed by the vote.

The city “does not envision Riverbend Landfill being part of our vision for a vibrant McMinnville and Yamhill County for the long term,” Olson wrote.

The letter, sent Monday, states, “Given that the County Planning Commission voted to recommend against the zone change proposed by Waste Management, Inc. and the County Planning Director’s neutral statement that there was sufficient evidence and testimony presented to support either approval or denial, we had hoped to see a vote for denial of the zone change.”

On Jan. 14, two days before the county’s zone change hearing, councilors heard from opponents of the landfill. The council previously heard from representatives of the landfill, and from Brandt.

City Manager Kent Taylor said Thursday the council reached consensus at their Jan. 10-11 goal-setting session, and Taylor drafted the letter based on those informal council reflections. The letter was finalized when the mayor and Councilor Kelli Menke agreed it reflected the council consensus.

Council sentiment on the issue grew over the past 12-18 months, said Taylor, as the council followed its previous commitment to be more involved in the landfill controversy.

“They heard from Waste Management Inc., the county staff and people opposed to the landfill,” said Taylor. “I believe individual councilors were also hearing directly from constituents on the issue on a more frequent basis.

The letter states that “over the past several years the McMinnville City Council has grown increasingly concerned that continued operation and growth of the Riverbend Landfill are contrary to sustaining a high quality of life for the current and future citizens and children of McMinnville.”

A summary of concerns mentioned by landfill opponents included this quote about the International Pinot Noir Celebration held annually at Linfield College.

“Representatives from the IPNC have expressed their concerns about the landfill’s negative impacts on the future viability of the Linfield outdoor venue. The loss of these types of events, along with other major tourism events and venues, more than likely would have a negative impact on the county’s agri-tourism effort and McMinnville’s tourism-related businesses.”

Olson stated, in conclusion, that “it is our hope that: implementation and construction of a viable green technology alternative takes place as soon as is possible; that Waste Management significantly reduces the amount of garbage that is imported to the landfill from outside of Yamhill County; that proactive steps to abate the odor and litter problems be put on a fast track; that the County and the Riverbend operator support increased efforts to reduce the amount of local solid waste entering the waste stream in the first place. And, finally, with regard to the last item, we hope county solid waste revenues will be allocated to help develop and administer this waste reduction effort and that Waste Management, Inc., will support it, working with other local partners such as Recology.”

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