Wednesday, September 14, 2005
COUNTRY COACH EXPANSION
An increase in recreational vehicles rolling off the line at Country Coach facilities in Junction City, Ore., will mean a 38% increase in smog-related emissions into the atmosphere, according to a report in the Register Guard. An ongoing minor plant expansion – as compared with a 74-acre boom the company plans in future years – will add three painting stalls and a smaller cabinet finishing bay. Plant officials said they've avoided the kind of controversy that Monaco Coach Corp., based in nearby Coburg, encountered six years ago when it added new painting stalls. In that case, residential neighbors sued Monaco for $33 million, and they settled only after the company agreed to install $2 million in pollution control devices and pay immediate neighbors who were unable to sell their houses for market value. Country Coach is building its new building containing the paint stalls in the middle of its property instead of along the property line, spokesman Matt Howard said. "Our paint booths are set back on our properties in the middle of our operations. They are not bordering directly any residential areas," he said. Country Coach's new painting building is expected to be up and running by next summer. It will allow the plant to increase its production by 30%, Howard said. In papers filed with the Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority, the company said that with the booths, it would boost production by 324 coaches annually, bringing the total produced at the plant to 1,246 a year. The company will not be required to place burners or other pollution control devices on the new stalls, but will instead be required to use paints formulated to release lower amounts of chemical into the air. Air pollution officials are not requiring the plant to take other steps to reduce pollutants, because the cost of cleaning the air with burners or other scrubbing devices would be at least $29,900 per ton of pollutants emitted. The air agency determined that that figure would not be economically feasible for the company. "$10,000 per ton is the upper limit," said Max Hueftle, the air authority's environmental engineer. Despite rising gasoline prices, the company says that demand for its RVs is strong. Country Coach serves the luxury end of the RV market. Separate from the paint-booth additions, Country Coach is planning a long-term expansion on 74 acres of farmland next to its complex.