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Landfill to expand

Residents near a planned rock mining operation at the Dry Creek Landfill are bracing for a lot of dust if a proposal to allow semi-trailers on Dry Creek Road to Highway 140 is approved by Jackson County.

Dry Creek Landfill Inc. owns more than 1,000 acres in the area, and currently uses a haul road it built at a cost of more than $3 million near the Jackson County Sports Park for its trucks. Knife River also uses the private road and has an aggregate operation on it.

The landfill, which currently is about 40 acres, wants to open up another pit for a future landfill by allowing a company to excavate rocks. If the haul road requires maintenance or becomes washed out, the landfill wants to be able to use Dry Creek, East Antelope and Meridian roads for an extended period of time.

“If there are a massive amount of trucks, it would be a big deal,” neighbor Janet Newlun said.

She said residents in the area waited six years for the landfill to build the haul road so that trucks would stop using Dry Creek Road.

“Why would they want to come back down our road?” Newlun asked.

The Jackson County Planning Commission, at 9 a.m. today, will hold a public hearing on the issue at 10 S. Oakdale Ave. The county’s Development Services Department has recommended approval of using the county roads, and the county recently applied a new coat of asphalt chip seal over Dry Creek and Meridian roads.

A traffic impact analysis determined the aggregate operation could generate 290 trips per weekday, and the landfill operation could generate 350 trips per weekday.

Apart from worries about dust, residents are concerned about the lack of shoulders on the county roads and the potential danger to children.

Garry Penning, director of marketing at Rogue Disposal and Recycling, said the reason the landfill needs more access to county roads is because the haul road could be knocked out of commission by flooding or extensive maintenance work. Presently, the landfill can only use Dry Creek and the other county roads for a 30-day period as a temporary measure during a given calendar year.

“We need some time to repair and reconstruct that haul road,” he said.

Penning said the landfill has made a sizeable investment in the haul road, and it has no plans to use Dry Creek and the other roads on a permanent basis.

The details of how many acres would be mined have not been fully worked out yet, and the aggregate operator hasn’t been selected, Penning said. However, the landfill has a permit to excavate up to 250 acres, he said.

Penning said that allowing excavation of rock will create a new area for future expansion for the landfill and save the expense of the excavation work.

“It will benefit the rates by not having this expense,” he said.

Kelly Madding, director of Development Services, said the landfill received approval to change the zoning of its land to aggregate resource in 2012.

In 2013, the landfill received approval to use Dry Creek, East Antelope and Meridian on a temporary basis as part of the site plan review, she said.

If the county approves the current amendment, there would be no time limit on how long the landfill could use Dry Creek and the other county roads.

Shirley Blanchard, who moved into her home off Dry Creek in 1977 before the landfill was built, said she remembers a time when more than 100 trucks a day rolled by.

“There was a horrible amount of dust,” she said.

The dust wreaked havoc on her asthma, allergy, bronchitis and sinus infections, she said.

When the haul road was built, her symptoms pretty much disappeared, Blanchard said.

Over the years, she said the landfill has been a pretty good neighbor, providing free trash pickup and a $25 gift certificate at Christmas.

When the trucks used to roll by, Blanchard said the landfill paid to clean her carpets once a year and paid to replace any cracked windshields broken by passing trucks.

Noise from the landfill carries throughout the neighborhood, as does the smell of methane from the decomposing garbage, she said.

Since the trucks have been using the haul road, more people have moved into the area and four school buses traverse the roads.

“I’m sorry, but there’s a lot of residents who live out here now,” she said.

Blanchard said she would support the county if it asked for a 120-day period to use Dry Creek and the other roads in case the haul road needs repairs.

“I can understand their dilemma,” Blanchard said. “The problem is human nature takes the path of least resistance and business takes the path of least resistance.”

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

Dry Creek Road winds up to the plastic-covered Dry Creek Landfill reflecting under the sun. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell