The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

1st public meeting to weigh Weyerhaeuser land options


August 18, 2015

The public is invited to help decide the future of the former Willamette Industries-Weyerhaeuser Sweet Home Mill site, beginning with a meeting planned for Tuesday, Aug. 25.

The property includes about 200 acres formerly owned by Western States Land Reliance Trust, which also owned about 220 acres of Knife River, formerly Morse Bros., property to the north. Linn County foreclosed on the property on Dec. 30, 2010 for six years of unpaid property taxes, about $500,000.

The county is working with the Sweet Home Economic Development Group to grant the Knife River portion of the property to SHEDG.

Under a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Linn County is moving forward with an environmental assessment on the Weyerhaeuser portion, located between 18th Avenue and Clark Mill Road a little north of Main Street.

“This is the first community outreach for the EPA site assessment grant,” said Sweet Home Planning Services Manager Laura LaRoque. The site assessment grant includes two parts: public outreach and site assessment.

The first part is about telling people the grant exists and what to expect in a couple of weeks as the assessment gets under way, LaRoque said. Through this process, officials will develop “knowledge of what’s there, what contaminants are there, to what level, to what areas.”

“There are going to start being vehicles on the site, working,” she said.

The assessment process will help determine what it will take to clean up the property, she said. Right now, it’s a huge liability to anyone marketing the property.

The property has already gone through a phase-one assessment, LaRoque said, primarily research showing officials what they might expect to find on the property. That included talking to residents and former employees who may remember pertinent information about the property.

The current assessment will include some soil sampling based on information gathered during the first phase, she said.

Community input is necessary to help determine how much and what kind of cleanup may be required for the property, LaRoque said. If it’s developed as residential property, it requires a high level of cleanup. If it’s used as industrial property, it requires less, and in some cases, contaminants could be encapsulated by a parking lot, for example.

The property is zoned for planned recreation commercial, based on plans WSLRT had to develop it as a large-scale residential-commercial venture.

Based on public input, the zoning may need to be changed, LaRoque said, and it will help determine how to clean up the property.

The project will take two to three years, she said, and it will include four major community meetings.

In the second meeting, officials will report the preliminary results of the assessment to the public.

In the third, they will talk about what to do to address environment concerns.

The fourth is a wrap-up meeting, and officials will report final recommendations for the property.

Following that, the county may apply for additional funding to clean up the site, LaRoque said.

LaRoque said the project still needs people to serve on a steering committee to help guide the community engagement process. Anyone interested or seeking further information should contact LaRoque at (541) 367-8113.

The meeting will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. It will be held at 2210 Tamarack St., the east end of Tamarack St., from 18th Avenue near the old Willamette Industries office.

Parking is limited, LaRoque said, suggesting that people car pool or use a free shuttle service, which will be available from the Community Center, 880 18th Ave., at 5:15 p.m.


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