Residents argue over land use in Portland neighborhood

Residents of Southeast Portland are involved in land use litigation to challenge a decision made by the Portland City Council that would allow some particularly smelly forms of trash to sit at a transfer station in their Lents neighborhood.

In the fall, the city council voted to pass an expansion of its Recology Oregon Material Recovery program. Under this expansion, the program would accept food scraps and temporarily hold them at a transfer station located near Southeast Foster Road and 101st Avenue in the Lents neighborhood. Worried about the added volumes of traffic and the potential odors of the waste, residents in the Lents neighborhood filed an appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals recently. With that appeal, residents are asking that the program not store food waste at that location.

The general manager for the Recology program pointed out that the program does not currently accept food scraps and will not until they can build an indoor facility in the Lents neighborhood. This is a project that would take a while to complete.

Still, that has not eased the fears of the neighborhood's residents. One of the individuals that filed the appeal said that not only was storing food scraps in their neighborhood unacceptable, but it was an unhealthy practice for any residential area. Traffic is also a concern, even though Recology set a limit on garbage trucks to 70 trips to and from the transfer station per day. A ruling on the appeal is not expected until late in the winter or early into the spring.

Those in the Lents neighborhood are not the only ones worried about foul odors. Recology recently sought a lengthy extension to an agreement with Washington County for a site new North Plains that composts food waste. After residents there voiced disapproval about the strong odors, the Washington County commissioners renewed the deal for only a year.

Source: The Oregonian, "Southeast Portland residents take their case against food scraps in Lents to the state," Beth Slovic, Dec. 28, 2011

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