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Stinky Fee to Fund Big Goshen Plans?

The Lane County dump smells like fundraising to Commissioner Faye Stewart. A bill that has been introduced to the State Legislature, SB 248, would increase garbage “tipping” fees up to $10 more per ton at Short Mountain Landfill in order to raise funds for what has been dubbed the Goshen Region Employment and Transition (GREAT) Plan. The fee would apply to the entire county and would likely raise residential and business garbage fees.

Changing Goshen’s zoning designation from a rural industrial one to a more “urban” one would allow for bigger buildings, as Lane County’s lobbyist, Alex Cuyler, put it at the March 4 hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (ENR). That proposed rezoning as well as the designation of Goshen as a “regionally significant industrial area” by the state has caused concern for land use advocates and others who have pointed to the area’s nationally inventoried wetlands, lack of sewage access and convoluted freeway access as barriers to development.

Stewart and Cuyler traveled to Salem to support the bill at the hearing, introduced at the request of the Senate Interim Committee on Business, Transportation and Economic Development for Lane County. The ENR committee questioned whether the bill should be narrowed to Lane County, instead of being applied to the entire state. Stewart said he would be fine with that.

Almost all waste from Lane County must go through Hwy. 99 in Goshen to get to the landfill, Stewart said. He told the committee that because of the proximity of Short Mountain to Goshen, the increased tipping fee could be used to help pay for an upgrade to the I-5 interchange or addressing sanitation needs for Goshen redevelopment. The current tipping fee per ton is $147 for an uncovered load, $77 if covered, Cuyler said. 

Mia Nelson of 1000 Friends of Oregon points out that Stewart had previously told the R-G that “the county is determined not to use public money to pay for the redevelopment, requiring those who want to build on the site to add infrastructure as they make improvements.” 

And a Lane County spokesperson told EW in October 2012 that “Commissioner Stewart has stated that Lane County doesn’t have the money to pay for the upgrades, and that grants, federal and state funds could help pay for the upgrades.”

Stewart says, “When I stated my determination, I didn’t make any guarantees other than communicating my commitment to both pursue family-wage jobs while making that effort cost our community as little as possible.”

Nelson says, “1000 Friends has warned from the beginning that large amounts of public subsidies would likely be needed because the Goshen site has so many challenges.” She adds, “The truth is going to continue to come out in bits and pieces: Despite the prior assurances, the reality is that Goshen will almost surely demand a high level of public sacrifice. The sooner the public fully understands that eventually the county will probably try to put their money on the line, the better.”

When Stewart was asked by the ENR committee, “What do your constituents think of that? Have you talked to them?” about a countywide fee to redevelop Goshen, Stewart said he had not. 

A hearing on the Goshen rezoning is scheduled for 1:30 pm March 19 at Harris Hall. More information can be found at http://wkly.ws/1fr 

Correction/Clarification

The tipping free was originally stated as per load. It is actually per ton.