Hemp hearing update
On Feb. 3, the Columbia Hemp Trading Company sent a settlement idea to the city of Molalla before the hearing that will be held Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Molalla Municipal Court, 117 North Molalla Ave. The hearing is a response to the number of complaints the city has received regarding the odor and, to an extent, the noise coming from the hemp processor's property.
"We are talking with the city about potential solutions," said Jacob Crabtree, the chief executive officer of the company. He also noted the firm has had two engineering teams who've put together plans and proposals to evaluate the site in more detail.
"We put a lot into the settlement offer, we suggested quite a bit of odor mitigation. And, we've put quite a bit into the project already. It's been tough on the employees and the company already. We'd love to find a solution that uses a limited amount of money but at the same time reduces the odor."
However, Crabtree didn't explain the settlement nor the exact reasons why the city had rejected the plans but did talk about methods that would be extremely expensive and hard on the employees. He said say he expects to come up with a working solution and doesn't expect to be fined because of the odor. He hopes to get some honest feedback at the hearing.
Although a resident indicated that the odor came from hemp that had been stored rather than freshly cut, Crabtree said the first complaints came as they were drying freshly cut hemp.
"Enclosing the entire site is really expensive and would cause the operation to shut down as it was designed and built," he said. "It would be quite expensive to build another facility. We'd have to shut down, lay off employees and lose money for ourselves and the city. Our dryer is designed to be covered for outdoor use," he told the Pioneer.
"The industry needs us to be open and working for farmers."
About 35 farmers with varying acreage sell their help to the firm's two facilities, one in Corvallis and the other in Molalla. Crabtree explained the two facilities together dried a total of about 10 wet tons of hemp and said there were no odor problems in Corvallis.
"The process is the same in both Molalla and Corvallis," Crabtree said. But he added that the Corvallis facility area may be more spread out and farther away from homes than in Molalla.
Attorneys from the CHTC will be available at the hearings. When the reporter joked that they should just buy up an enormous amount of cologne, he said that's not too far out of the scope of the solutions.
The use of the former lumber mill, which had been vacant for awhile before his company revitalized and repurposed it and brought jobs to the area; 40 during nonpeak production and 80 during peak production. "Our equipment is operating smoothly," he told the Pioneer.
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