Composting developer eyes city property

An in-container composting business may take up residence near Volcanoes Stadium, but any sort of deal is still a way off.

“They are interested in developing organic compost mixtures and working with wineries that are eyeing organic wines. It seemed like a good tie in and that piqued my interest,” said City Manager Chris Eppley. However, Eppley warned against getting overly excited, “We’ve had so many deals get very close and then evaporate.”

The developer is interested in city-owned land near the stadium for a composting facility that would be the first of its kind in Oregon and one of fewer than 10 in the nation. Containered composting takes place in batches with “airtight” vessels attached to a building with a biofilter to remove odors, according to Green Mountain Technologies, a Washington-based manufacturer of the containers. A single aeration system can accommodate up to 50 containers.

As it stands, the facility falls outside the designated zoning for the city staff are proposing that the council and Keizer Planning Commission consider a text amendment that would permit such facilities.

The council approved moving forward at its Dec. 7 meeting and the planning commission will likely begin its discussions at its Jan. 13 meeting.

There will eventually be public hearings on the matter in both venues, but nothing is set in stone.

A text amendment would permit a composting development “but also to determine what kind of sideboards the city wants to put in place such as design standards,” said Shane Witham, interim director of the Keizer development department.

“As long as we can alleviate the smell associated with something like a mushroom factory, then it’s something we should look into,” said Councilor Dan Kohler.

Councilor Kim Freeman said she understood the caution in bringing the matter to the public arena, but that doing so had other benefits.

“It is exciting to hear of potential things that could come to Keizer, and its also good for residents to know that the city staff is working to bring businesses to the city. I hope it comes to fruition,” she said.

Mayor Cathy Clark noted that having a facility near Oregon’s wine country would also reduce the transportation emissions associated with getting good soil to area wineries.