Expansion of Riverbend will have adverse effects on environment, quality of life

Blissfully and determinably ignorant, two out of the three Yamhill County commissioners (the third recused herself) approved a zone change to allow a non-farmable dump to be zoned farm land so that farmable farm land could be converted to a non-farmable dump.

Being curious what was considered in their decision, I took the morning of Jan. 16 off from work to hear the staff report and decision by the Yamhill County commissioners. Mike Brandt made a minimal presentation, stating that there is “good cause” to either approve or deny the application, but if the application is approved, he recommended that it include a condition for some type of green technology down the road.

Notably absent in any of the comments by the staff or the two commissioners was any recognition at all of the seismic, environmental, flood zone, safety, land use and social issues that have been raised. Even the near unanimous concerns of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association got snuffed.

Apparently, Yamhill County, its legal department, planning staff and commissioners, really feel that placing a landfill in a flood plain, environment concerns, seismic stability, worker safety and the potential for a future environmental damage have no place in any discussion of zoning and land use. I find this disturbing. Of course, if they allowed that discussion, everyone would realize that they have already created a major problem.

This time, expansion of the landfill “will be in your face.” The long axis of the addition will be 2,200 feet along Highway 18, so you will have more opportunity to view it up close and smell it. Riverbend’s excavation needs for daily and final cover will likely affect more than the land approved for the footprint. The landfill’s exposure to flood waters of the South Yamhill River will increase 50 percent.

The McMinnville City Council realized that we have a problem. They wrote the Yamhill County commissioners a formal letter stating: “We had hoped to see a vote for denial of the zone change.” It further stated that they are ... “increasingly concerned that continued operation and growth of the Riverbend Landfill (is) contrary to sustaining a high quality of life for the current and future citizens and children of McMinnville.”

McMinnville set the standard, now it is time that other cities, organizations, clubs and community groups follow McMinnville’s footsteps and write their own letters to the commissioners. Yamhill County’s legal and planning staff, along with the commissioners, need to take off their blinders, recognize the problems and move to reconsider, so that Riverbend Landfill can be put to sleep.

Leonard Rydell is a Newberg resident and engineer

Contract Publishing

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