Government: Can Downtown Marriott Demolish its Smaller Neighbors, How County Officials View the Landfill Process

The idea of demolishing a couple of buildings for added parking at the Downtown Marriott is back on the agenda. The Corvallis Planning Commission meets Wednesday, July 3, and could decide then. 

The buildings at the center of the controversy are located from 415 to 445 2nd Street – one of them had housed Cyclotopia for several years.  

There was considerable testimony against the project at a planning hearing back in June, and at the time, the commission honored a request to keep the record open an additional seven days so new written testimony could be submitted – and there have been submissions. 

Wendy Byrne, who identifies herself as a local bicyclist and pedestrian advocate objects to the project writing, “Their application demonstrates 12 parking spaces and a driveway that connects from 2nd Street to the existing Marriott Hotel which fronts 1st Street. With this driveway/parking lot approach from 2nd Street, it appears that this is an effort to create a new entrance to the hotel. This conflicts with Comprehensive Plan Code 8.10.9 which states, ‘parking lots shall be located to the rear of buildings, and where they do not disrupt the pedestrian streetscape, may be located to the side of buildings.’” 

Byrne also cites code that the City is to encourage “occupation of ground floor storefront space by retail and service users that serve local neighborhood needs and generate high volumes of pedestrian traffic.” She also cites code that favors underground and multistory parking over surface parking, and that parking should be shared between vehicles and bicycles. 

Alan Ayres wrote, “There is a reason a surface parking lot is a conditional use for this zone. It is not desired and does not fit with planning objectives for this area. That does not mean that the applicant simply has to apply to be granted that use. It means that if there are special circumstances in which this use seems to satisfy or be necessary to meet planning objective then it may be approved.” 

“It is unconscionable to tear a hole in the downtown in the middle of a block that has a complete set of buildings for a parking lot! The state has recognized that excess parking will damage a community. Parking lots break up the fabric of a street. The downtown is not a commercial strip, and many have worked very hard over the years to keep the downtown going,” wrote another commenter. 

However, MCH Project Strategies project manager Lyle Hutchens writes, “The applicant’s property 415 to 445 SW 2nd Street, is located in the Central Business District. Within 450′ of the site and located in an adjacent block is 40,000 square feet of existing vacant building floor area which is addressed 334 to 316 SW 2nd Street and posted for lease, for sale, or for rent. This does not include the former Robnett’s building at 400 SW 2nd Street, also located in an adjacent block, which is vacant but not posted with respect to availability.” 

The properties Hutchens identifies as posted for lease, however, come with a hitch – as we’ve prior reported, tenants and prospective tenants have found it difficult to work with the landlord for those properties. These buildings are often vacant for long periods, even though they are in a prime location and offered below market lease rates. 

The hotel itself also weighed in. Corvallis River Run, LLC owns the Courtyard by Marriott Corvallis – and they emailed a letter to the commission which said their guests regularly complain about the lack of parking, and that their customers don’t feel safe at the suggested backup parking location, which is at the skate park and bridge area. They also said their senior citizen guests need more parking at the hotel. 

The company argues they have 176 guestrooms and meeting space for 120 with only a total of 133 parking spaces – which means they don’t have enough parking for high and full occupancy. 

The company bought the two buildings behind their hotel in 2022 for $1.25 million and are seeking to replace them with 12 parking stalls. City staff is recommending the commission approve the project with some conditions.  

If you would like to participate in the meeting, you’ll need to register by noon, July 3, and you can click here to do that, or to get additional information. However, testimony has closed on the Marriott matter.


With Republic Services again vying for permission to expand the Coffin Butte landfill in the northern outskirts of Benton County, officials have released two new documents.  

First, a quick one-page flow chart of the conditional use permit process in Benton County – click here. 

Also from County officials, a fairly succinct, but limited five page FAQ document that sorts out some basic facts, like who has what authority or not, and the landfill’s capacity – click here. 

Landfill owner, Republic Services, tried for a conditional use permit back in 2021, and were denied by the County’s Planning Commission. 

There’s been new controversy: Most observers believe that if voters could directly decide on a landfill expansion, the outcome would be a hard no – but they won’t be making this decision. Instead, it will again be in the hands of the County’s Planning Commission, whose members are appointed by the Benton County Board of Commissioners. 

Last time, Republic declined to complete the appeals process, but if planning says no this time, they could go ahead with an appeal, and it would be heard by the Benton County Board of Commissioners. 

The County’s three commissioners are elected officials, and one would think they are somewhat guided by voter sentiment, but many observers are concerned that may not be true. They point out, for instance, that the commissioners okayed spending about six figures on a facilitated workgroup called Benton County Talks Trash, and they’re now looking to hire a consultant to also talk trash. They also disbanded the County’s prior Solid Waste Advisory Council, and then reconfigured it to include stakeholders from neighboring counties – municipalities that stand to benefit from an expansion without any repercussion from hosting the site themselves. 

The restructure of the Solid Waste Advisory Council and some high-profile dismissals from the Benton County Talks Trash workgroup were controversial – and these moves together with the commissioner’s spending for facilitators and consultancy have some community groups quietly wondering if the commissioners are tacking towards allowing the expansion. 

Notably, it’s early on. The company has yet to file for the conditional use permit that would allow them to expand past their current limits, and once they do submit an application, the Planning Commission has 150 days to say yes or no. After that, there could be an appeal to the Benton County Board of Commissioners, and after that the state Land Use Board of Appeals, and even the courts. 

On June 27, we published an editorial on the matter – it forwards questions, and our surprise at what hasn’t been directly asked and answered in the past. We hope you’ll read it, and then evaluate for yourself the County’s process going forward. 


County officials will soon consider a landfill expansion, and we’re becoming increasingly concerned. It’s not that we have an opinion – but we worry the right questions aren’t being asked.  

First, let’s catch up on the story. Coffin Butte landfill operator Republic Services says the dump rests on 740 acres, and that only 178 acres are currently permitted for landfill space. Republic sought a conditional use permit to expand the landfill back in 2021, which the County’s Solid Waste Advisory Council favored, but the Planning Commission ultimately rejected unanimously. At the time, Republic said the current dump only had about 15 years of capacity remaining.   

Since the application’s denial, the County’s three elected commissioners have been preparing for Republic to reapply. They okayed spending about six figures on a facilitated workgroup called Benton County Talks Trash, or BCTT, that ultimately produced a report – it’s literally about 1,000 pages.  

The report’s scope swings from recitals of the dump’s history to pointed criticisms of the county’s lack of oversight and monitoring of the facility to date. And, it covers plenty of territory in between – but it doesn’t tackle some of the bigger issues head-on.  

Now, fast forward to last week when Republic announced plans to reapply for an expansion – they’ve booked a pre-application meeting with County officials and have scheduled three open meetings for the public to attend. The first of those meetings happens tonight – the info is below – and bear in mind, these are company hosted meetings.  

And this is where we worry. On behalf of its constituents, we think County officials need to be asking tougher and plainer questions – and then posting the answers in a manner that is clear, complete, objective, and skim-able. Yes, link to the 1,000 page report, but nobody should expect an everyday resident to read the thing.  

Anyhow, with all this activity, we think we speak for a quiet majority of folks that just want some straightforward answers to basic questions, like these…  

Who gets hurt, if anyone, if the landfill is expanded? 

Human health and safety should be a central question – so from large to small, most likely to least likely – what are the risks associated with the landfill, and its possible expansion?   

Who is at risk? If the landfill is expanded, will folks living near the dump be more impacted than they are now? What are the health and safety risks for people within one mile, three miles, five miles and even 10 miles or more? To what extent can these risks be eliminated or not?  

Livability impacts? 

It has become an accepted norm to mock and even villainize folks that are concerned about new housing, services and infrastructure moving into their neighborhoods – some of that criticism is warranted, and some not. In this instance, we think residents in the area should be concerned, and should have some sway with the decision-making. Undeniably, the landfill is smelly, noisy, dirty, and possibly toxic.  

The facility is decades old and located in the County’s outskirts. These are the same outskirts that many folks have moved into as the area’s population has grown. Some have said that the people living there knew where they were moving, but others have said that doesn’t mean they signed up for the landfill to expand. So, if the landfill is permitted to expand, will the impacts to the surrounding community increase, and if so, how?   

Monitoring, health and safety and the environment? 

Some have made the case that the dump isn’t compliant with its current health and safety obligations. One of the findings in that 1,000-page report we mentioned earlier is that the county hasn’t sufficiently monitored the site.  

The view has regularly been expressed that Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency don’t prioritize monitoring the Coffin Butte landfill, mainly because they don’t have the resources.  

The site does produce leachate and greenhouse gas emissions, and so forth – so we would ask, could this facility impact the area’s environment and wildlife? How, and to what extent? What can be done to mitigate those impacts? How can those mitigations be monitored? Are there mitigations sufficient to warrant approving an expansion or not?  

Who will monitor and enforce the rules? 

Would the folks living here, locally, have more confidence that the Coffin Butte operation is being adequately monitored if the County also had its own monitoring regimen going forward?  

How much would it cost the County to monitor Coffin Butte’s performance and impacts? How would the County pass those costs onto the company operating the site?   

If the County were to approve an expansion, should it condition that approval on the company agreeing to abide by County fines and even shutdown orders if there are violations of the rules?  

What’s are the alternatives? 

The common refrain is the trash has to go somewhere. But the vast majority of incoming waste going into Coffin Butte comes from other counties throughout Oregon. So, could those counties or groups of counties shoulder their own loads, and have their own facilities? Is it fair that just one county, our county, would take an entire region’s trash?   

Another common refrain is that Benton County consumers would pay more for trash collection if there wasn’t a local dump – so we wonder how much more? For instance, what are ratepayers paying outside of Benton County to have their trash hauled here? What do other ratepayers pay nationwide when their trash gets hauled a considerable distance?  

We’d imagine that you, our reader, may have some questions of your own – we live in an area filled with scientists and environmental experts – so please email us.  

The largest question, as we see it now 

Benton County is comprised of 675 square miles, so not everyone will feel impacted by a landfill out in the boonies – but there are folks living past that last stoplight north of Corvallis, and how they’re treated says something about all of us. And along those lines are also future generations that will be impacted by whatever is decided now.  

And, once all the questions are answered about expanding the facility, we suspect there should be one primary question – what is best for the people of Benton County now, and in the future?  


These meetings are being hosted by Republic Services, which is the company that will be seeking the conditional use permit to expand the landfill. 

Thursday, June 27, 5 to 7 pm, CH2M Hill Alumni Center (Oregon State University), Willamette Room,725 SW 26th St., Corvallis 

Friday, June 28, 7 to 8:30 am, Philomath City Hall (Council Chambers),980 Applegate St., Philomath   

Tuesday, July 9, 6 to 7:30 pm, Virtual Webinar, register atcoffinbutte@republicservices.comor atCoffin-Butte-Virtual-Meeting   

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