Paper company eyes Dallas

This is the site map for Washington-based Mint Valley Paper’s proposed $300 million paper manufacturing facility.

Mint Valley gets approved

Paper company officials clarify issues

By Jolene Guzman

Itemizer-Observer

DALLAS — The city of Dallas approved Mint Valley Paper’s site design review and floodplain development permit on Friday, following a 14-day comment period.

Dallas sent notice to residents near the proposed development, at 1520 SE Godsey Road in Dallas, on Feb. 1. The facility would be used to manufacture tissue and other paper products.

As the property on which the proposed facility would be built is zoned industrial, the use is permitted. The city did review the site plans, a noise study and traffic study submitted by Mint Valley as part of the application.

“Under our code, it is a review that is made by the planning director,” said Dallas City Attorney Lane Shetterly. “There is no initial public hearing or public process involved other than the notice that has gone out and the opportunity for people to submit comments to be considered in (Planning Director) Scott (Whyte’s) decision. It is an administrative decision by the city planner to approve, or not approve or approve with conditions.”

Whyte’s decision approved the application with 32 conditions, some of which were meant to address concerns brought forward during the comment period.

The city received 15 comments from citizens, with one in approval.

The remainder expressed concerns asked questions or urged the city to not approve the development.

Traffic, noise and concerns about odor from the facility were common issues in comments submitted to the city.

Residents near the proposed development said that Godsey Road isn’t wide enough for truck traffic and lacks sidewalks, making it dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. Mint Valley will take deliveries of wood pulp to manufacture tissue and towels.

“Our chief concern is the truck traffic that will be funneled down Godsey Road through our neighborhood,” wrote Mike and Rozann Hegg, who live on Ana Avenue.

They said the addition of more trucks on the road will make an already risky road worse.

“We and our neighbors depend upon being able to walk and bike into town, the Rickreall Creek Trail, and enjoy the wonderful community we live in — and often on a daily basis,” the Heggs wrote.

In the decision, Whyte said that Godsey will be improved this summer.

“It should be noted that SE Godsey Road is scheduled to be widened and improved with curb and sidewalk to both sides by the city in the summer of 2019,” the decision said.

City and federal funds are dedicated to the improvement.

Mint Valley Chief Financial Officer Aaron Gomolak said the company anticipates that truck traffic will top out at six trucks per hour. Delivery hours would be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“There will definitely be designated traffic routes (Monmouth Cutoff to Godsey Road) as we want to keep truck traffic from neighborhood streets,” Gomolak said.

One of the conditions of approval is making the exit from the facility left turn only for trucks. That would  onto force them to use Monmouth Cutoff instead of driving through neighborhood streets.

Four citizens expressed concerns over odor and environmental impact of the facility.

“The industry is known for its distinctive smell,” wrote Nancy Howells. “I do not believe that there will be no odor associated with the Mint Valley Paper’s operation. They will be using smelly chemicals and transmitting the odors into the air.”

In its decision, the city said that Mint Valley’s operation isn’t the same process that creates the odor often identified with pulp mills. The facility will use pulp, but it will be delivered from other mills.

“The applicant’s description of the manufacturing process also explains how pulp is re-wetted and diluted with water and then brought to the tissue making area in pipes,” the decision read. “This process is different from the kraft pulping process as utilized in Albany, Oregon, where wood chips are converted into paper through a boiling process that had been attributed to noticeable odor.”

In a statement issued in response to citizen concerns, Mint Valley stated that no hazardous chemicals are used in the manufacturing process.

“Our products are used for many purposes, including personal hygiene, home-cleaning and food preparation,” the statement said. “The safety of our products is critical, so we do not use hazardous chemicals in their manufacture.”

Emissions were also a concern, to which the company said that it would comply with federal and state standards.

“Our process will satisfy Cleaner Air Oregon rules, which is a regulation that comes into effect next year and protects communities from emissions of hazardous air pollutants,” Mint Valley’s statement read.

The city made it a condition of approval that Mint Valley submit a copy of its permit from the Oregon Department of Environment Quality.

Mint Valley submitted a noise study that identified the expected sources of noises and used a computer model to measure those noises. The site design plan uses facility placement and buffers to meet state standards and mitigate the sound heard by neighbors. However, citizens noted that not all sources of noise have been accounted for.

“Coming from a truck driving background, they will be setting trailer brakes every time one of the trailers is moved,” read a comment from Desmon and Christy Caldwell, residents of Jonathan Avenue. “Even with a concrete wall, you will still be able to hear that. It will echo off the building. The noise studies have accounted for their paper processing, but I don’t think the shuttling of trailers with air brakes was taken into account.”

The city said the concerns about noise had merit, and made it a condition of approval that all noise buffers be in place before operations begin and that Mint Valley measure noise after operations begin to assure standards are met.

Comments also suggested the facility use motion-activated lights to cut down on lighting affecting neighbors and use shorter evergreen trees than the Douglas firs proposed in the design to protect views from nearby properties.

Friday’s decision opens the14-day appeal period, during which those with standing can file an appeal to the city’s decision. The period ends on March 8. Those who may file an appeal are: the applicant, if dissatisfied with conditions of approval; property owners who were entitled to written notice of the decision; and those who submitted comments during the comment period.

Gomolak said the company agrees with the conditions of approval and will consider the citizen suggestions in landscape design and lighting.

“We appreciate these inputs and comments and will accommodate as best as possible,” he said.

If the decision is appealed, that case would be heard by the Dallas Planning Commission, and possibly the Dallas City Council if commission decision is appealed.

Shetterly informed the council of its role in the appeal process, which would have council members serve as a quasi-judicial body, meaning it would have to determine if the application complies with the city’s code based on what is contained in the official record.

That would include the application, noise and traffic studies, and comments from the public or other agencies.

“I perceive there is a possibility that somebody may appeal Scott’s decision,” Shetterly said.

That being possible, he advised the council members not take in any information about the proposal outside what is in the record.

“And just as you are prohibited from going across to the courthouse and scheduling an appointment to tell a judge how he or she should rule in a case that is pending in front of that judge, you should not be receptive to citizen comments telling you to approve or disapprove the application,” Shetterly said.

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