To ease irked neighbors, wood chipper hosts open house at dormant mill
A lumber mill that has been dormant for years is roaring again, this time as a wood chipping operation to process Nevada County’s green waste locally.
Operators are opening the property to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and residents can see how the business works.
But whether it stays open longer than a 30-day trial period remains to be seen, since some neighbors are concerned the project may draw other heavy operations into the vicinity.
The old Bohemia Mill – owned by Sierra Pacific Industries and located just west of the “Y” on Brunswick Road – is now being used by Cutting Edge Wood Recycling.
Cutting Edge contracts with Waste Management to process green waste from the McCourtney Road Transfer Station. Chipping locally is cheaper than shipping branches and tree trunks to Yuba City, which is what they currently do.
“If we can get permits to do it (in Grass Valley) for $5 less per ton, it saves money for the county,” said Randy Subbotin, who is operating the plant with his business partner Jerry Horbach. The two also own Soil Broker, a retail nursery on Combie Road in southern Nevada County.
It’s also a chance for the city to meet government mandates on recycling. The state already asks municipalities to recycle at least 50 percent of waste.
“The future is going to be 75 percent, and we won’t get there without composting,” Subbotin said.
Subbotin and Horbach fired up the mill about two weeks ago and are in the middle of a thirty-day trial period to test the environmental impact of the business.
Already, some neighbors have filed a lawsuit, questioning the legality of the trial period, Subbotin said.
A neighbor who is leading the opposition could not be reached for comment Sunday.
“They say they don’t want to open the door for industrial work on that property,” Subbotin said. “I’m willing to draw up a contract.”
He said the business only needs to grind for a total of eight hours a week, and he is willing to let neighbors dictate those hours so noise is not an issue.
Without the Grass Valley chipping operation, wood must be transported – unchipped – to Yuba City for grinding. While trucks can carry 24 tons of chipped wood waste, they can only carry 16 tons of unground wood waste. The company processes four truckloads a day.
“For every truck, it’s adding a third,” Subbotin said. “That’s hundreds more trips per year.”
He said he hopes the “open house” days will help sell residents on the project.
Since the grinding began, Subbotin added, the sheriff hasn’t showed up once for noise complaints.
To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4247.
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