By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Stone rules for county in franchise case

The company maintained pomace didn’t qualify as solid waste under county ordinance; therefore it was not in violation. However, the county and its two franchised haulers disagreed, and Stone sided with them in his ruling.

Assistant County Counsel Todd Sadlo asked Stone to impose a fine of $500, the maximum penalty for repeat violations. However, Stone said the company “didn’t act in bad faith,” so opted to impose only the $150 fine established for an initial violation.

The amount of the fine is virtually incidental in the larger picture, of course.

The county is home to scores of wineries producing tons of waste, and hauling it away can prove highly lucrative. That raised the stakes enough to push the parties into court, in hopes of settling the issue before next year’s crush.

The county holds exclusive waste-collection agreements with Waste Management for the Newberg-Dundee area and Recology Western Oregon for the rest of the county. Waste Management asked Water Truck Services to cease serving Rex Hill in mid-September, citing its exclusive franchise for the eastern end of the county, but the Sherwood firm refused.

David Nepom, attorney for Water Truck Services, argued this was a classic case of one man’s trash being another’s treasure, as his client was using it to produce marketable compost at a facility it had established on Wallace Road in Dayton. Something that can be turned into a high-value soil supplement can’t properly be classified as waste, he argued.

“But people make stuff out of garbage, too,” Stone said. “Just because you can make something good out of it doesn’t mean it’s not garbage.”

Stone said the case posed an interesting question.

“I’m sitting here stewing about the definition of waste. What does ‘waste’ mean?

“This is a legal argument, quite frankly. Is grape pomace waste or not? That’s what I have to decide.”

After reviewing county ordinances and consulting his Webster’s dictionary, Stone concluded waste was something that did not have value until something was done with it. He said pomace qualified as waste when wineries dumped it into dropboxes and paid to have it hauled off.

Bob Jonas, owner of Water Truck Services, said he would pay the fine. However, he said he might press the definition of waste to include pomace with the board of commissioners.

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