Beaverton bottle redemption center allowed to continue
Beaverton's redemption center for bottles and cans will continue to operate, but under conditions that the City Council hopes will reduce conflicts between it and the neighbors.
The council voted 3-1 on July 17 to impose conditions affecting noise, odor, parking and security at the center — the site of a former Pier 1 imports store — at 9307 S.W. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway.
The center has been open since spring 2017.
At the same time, the council upheld an April 30 interpretation by the city planning staff that the center was "substantially similar" to other commercial uses, such as grocery stores, already permitted in the community service zone.
One appeal of that decision came from the owner of a building that houses two animal-care facilities directly west of the center. The other appeal was filed by neighbors to the north and Jesuit High School across the highway to the south.
It was unclear whether the council decision will be appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals, which has 21 days to accept one after the decision becomes final. In September 2017, the state board rejected an appeal of a city building permit, but returned to the city its approval of exterior modifications to the redemption center, pending a city interpretation of its development code.
The conditions will require the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which runs 25 such centers around the state, to enter into a good-neighbor agreement with the city by Sept. 1. A draft is due to the city by Aug. 7.
"They seem very reasonable," Councilor Lacey Beaty said. "I think we owe it to the community and this business to go through this process of having a good-neighbor agreement."
The agreement will specify how the cooperative will respond to several issues raised during the proceeding, including noise and security, and where people can go to submit questions or complaints and get responses.
The concept had been hinted at June 19 by Jules Bailey, a former state representative and Multnomah County commissioner who is the chief stewardship officer for the cooperative.
After the June 19 hearing, which ran three hours, public testimony and lawyers' written arguments were cut off July 10.
Assistant City Attorney Peter Livingston said the council, as the ultimate decision-making authority, can impose conditions on any planning approval.
"Our code is very clear about this," he told the council. "There is no impropriety of any kind in attaching conditions to any type of approval."
Some of the conditions were proposed by the cooperative, but the city staff added others. Among the conditions: A 6-foot wall on the east property line abutting a residential neighborhood, and removal of a stair connection to the west property housing the animal-care facilities. Others include a noise study, parking restrictions, regular cleaning, and on-site security and security patrols.
"I think there are enough hooks in this so if there is a problem or continuing issues, this is something that will trigger it," Councilor Mark Fagin said.
He rejected an argument by opponents that redemption centers — which perform the same functions as individual groceries did before Oregon's container-deposit law was overhauled in 2011 — are actually "recycling centers" that belong in industrial zones.
"I do think it's suitable, because it has to be in a place where people can access it easily," Fagin said.
Councilor Marc San Soucie was the lone dissenter on the vote.
"I am completely not convinced that this is a 'recycling center' as Beaverton's code defines it," San Soucie said.
"But it is disappointing that the impacts of this use (redemption center) are so substantial. Even if we impose conditions, we are still saying this is an acceptable use. This is my opinion, but if this had gone through a (hearing) procedure with the planning commission, I am not sure it would have been permitted in this location."
San Soucie said the council should first await a staff review of whether the city development code should be changed.
"We need to go back and figure out which is the correct zone and what are the conditions for this use," he said. "This is not a recycling center, but this is not a typical commercial use."
The site is within city limits, but areas to the east and north — including Southwest Club Meadow Lane — are outside. Homeowners there, joined by Jesuit High School across the highway, raised a long list of problems they associate with the center's operation.
"It sounded like the primary desire to get rid of the bottle redemption center at that location was because of what I call the habitual homeless," said Councilor Cate Arnold, whose own children attended Jesuit High School years ago. "I see that as the biggest problem that I wish we could fix."
But she also the redemption center is on a major traffic corridor: "Those problems are with us anyway."