Good Earth changes request, scales back wood processing plant proposal

Good Earth Power recently changed its application to Coconino County from a request to process wood chips and poles to requesting approval for a wood composting yard in Valle.

Good Earth Power recently changed its application to Coconino County from a request to process wood chips and poles to requesting approval for a wood composting yard in Valle.

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Good Earth Power (GEPAZ) has scaled back their plans for a wood processing plant on State Highway 64 near Valle and is now only requesting approval for a wood composting yard at the location.

Kevin Ordean of Roots Composting and Good Earth Soils originally submitted a Temporary Use Permit (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 stated that up to 150 logging trucks could travel to the location each day.

According to Coconino County Senior Planner Zach Schwartz, the applicant recently 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 stated that 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.

Ordean initially sent letters to neighbors of the property inviting them to a Citizen Participation Plan meeting March 10. Six community members attended with several 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.

Ordean 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.

Instead of up to 150 trucks per day entering and leaving the site with logs, a maximum of 30 semi-trucks would bring shipments of the wood chips and food waste to the site each day. Wood chips and food waste would be shipped separately to the site arriving at the northwest property corner.

The wood chips would first be stored in larger piles to let them partially break down before being added to the compost piles. The wood chip pile storage will allow product to be available in times when wood chip supply is not in peak, such as in the winter. The food waste would be mixed with wood chips upon arrival and piled into windrows – long sheaths of compost pile.

Windrows would be capped off with wood chips and compost tarps that would help to retain the necessary heat and moisture to break down the material and keep animals out. The compost piles would need to be occasionally turned by a windrow to mix in air. After about four months of the composting piles cooking they would be left to dry, the material sent through screens, and then bagged for shipment to customers.

Schwartz said despite the reduction in usage of the site, Coconino County Department of Community Development plans to conduct a hearing regarding the use of the site for a composting plant.

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