Coconino County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) to Good Earth Power (GEPAZ) for a wood composting operation near Valle, Arizona April 26.
The approval came following a public hearing with approximately 20 people in attendance.
According to Coconino County Senior Planner Zach Schwartz, the public was given an opportunity to present ideas and ask questions during the hearing.
“About 10 people spoke and maybe 12 more watched and listened,” he said. “Everyone was given five minutes to speak, some urged the Commission to disapprove or to add additional conditions.”
Approval of the TUP was with the condition that trucks associated with the composting operation would not be allowed to use engine breaks.
Schwartz said Good Earth did not have a timeline for start-up operations yet.
“Good Earth has a decent amount of work to do to provide me with things that are required in the conditions before they will be permitted to operate,” he said.
GEPAZ scaled back their plans for a wood processing plant on State Highway 64 near Valle in April after originally submitting a TUP application to Coconino County Department of Community Development to process wood chips and wood poles associated with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) with the U.S. Forest Service on property near Valle. The request included storage of timber and processing of logs through industrial sized debarkers, saws and wood chippers. The request also said up to 150 logging trucks could travel to the location each day.
GEPAZ resubmitted the TUP application, which eliminated the request for heavy machinery processing of wood poles and reduced the amount of truck trips to 30 per day to the site. The applicant said the site plan would remain the same except for the removal of the saw line and other log processing machinery, and that the area would now be additional space for composting.
Several community members attended a neighborhood meeting and sent emails expressing concern about the number of logging trucks that would travel along Highway 64 to the plant and also the possible noise and visual impact of the operation.
Kevin Ordean of Roots Composting entered a strategic partnership with GEPAZ in 2015 to produce a line of enriched soil products to be sold and distributed throughout the Southwest. Flagstaff-based Roots became part of Good Earth Power Soils, Ltd., the soils and bagged goods division of GEPAZ.
The proposed use is to produce compost soils material primarily from wood chips made of 4FRI waste as well as food waste from various sources. The applicant’s proposed composting operation would primarily consist of the 4FRI byproduct wood chips mixed with the organic food waste. Percentages of the different components could fluctuate depending on the appropriate balances of carbon and nitrogen needed for a quality product. The resulting organic material would be sold mostly as bulk plant fertilizer.