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The city and Columbia Hemp Trading Company find common ground and drop legal battle.

COURTESY PHOTO: CHRIS LILLIE - The city of Molalla has been in a legal dispute with Columbia Hemp Trading Company over land use and the smell that emanates from the company's Molalla facility.

The city of Molalla and Columbia Hemp Trading Company have finally come to an agreement after a drawn-out legal battle.

The dispute is related to land-use issues and the odor that emanates from CHTC's Molalla hemp processing operations. Many Molalla residents have sent complaints to the city about the noise and the smell. CHTC's Molalla facility has not been in operation since the dispute began.

SATELLITE IMAGE - Columbia Hemp Trading Company's Molalla facility is located at 410 Industrial Way.

In February of 2020, a court hearing was scheduled in Molalla, where approximately 100 residents came to testify about the alleged odor.

"The best way I can describe it is putrid sauerkraut," Molalla resident Jody Berg told KOIN 6 at the time. "It has a metallic aftertaste, so it lives in the back of your throat."

Molalla's Pat Torsen said it smells like "chemical garbage burning."

Despite the turnout, that hearing was delayed due to a technical issue, according to a news release from City Planner Mac Corthell. Then, the city was unable to reschedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.

"With the municipal court closed indefinitely during 2020, the issues persisted and the chasm between the two sides grew seemingly wider while citizen complaints continued to flow into city hall," according to the release.

But recently, after a series of discussions and a Clackamas County Circuit Court preliminary hearing, both sides renewed their efforts to negotiate a reasonable settlement agreement and attempt to avoid the costs of continued litigation. The city announced on Thursday, July 29, that the parties had come to an agreement.

"While the settlement is encouraging, there are more steps that the city and CHTC need to take before operations can resume in a manner that is non-offensive to the Molalla Community," according to the release.

Corthell said he could not share the settlement document until the court enters the final judgment by mid-August, but he said the crux of the agreement is that prior to going operational again, CHTC must comply with the local land-use process and any applicable state regulatory processes. CHTC has also indicated some voluntary changes to help with odor reduction.

Jacquelyn Abad of KOIN 6 News contributed to this story. KOIN 6 News is a Pamplin Media Group news partner.

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