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Land board remands rezoning for Port Westward expansion

January 4, 2019

CLATSKANIE, Ore. (AP) — The state Land Use Board of Appeals has remanded a decision to rezone 837 acres (339 hectares) of farmland for industrial development and expansion at Port Westward Industrial Park along the Columbia River in northwest Oregon.

The state board sent the decision back to Columbia County commissioners last week, finding the Port of Columbia County did not demonstrate how the proposal would be compatible with neighboring farms, the Capital Press reported Thursday.

The port had applied to rezone the land in 2017, aiming to attract new businesses and nearly double the size of its property. Port Westward is home to three Portland General Electric power plants and the Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery.

The county had approved the rezoning, but environmental advocates Columbia Riverkeeper and 1000 Friends of Oregon appealed it to the state board.

In its application, the port listed five broad categories of approved uses for the land, including forestry and wood products, dry bulk commodities, liquid bulk commodities, break bulk cargo and natural gas.

Those categories did not provide enough detail to thoroughly analyze the effects on farms and fish, said Maura Fahey, an attorney with Crag Law Center, which represented Columbia Riverkeeper.

“Without knowing the specific uses, there is quite a broad range of potential impacts,” Fahey said.

To rezone agricultural land, the state requires an exception to Statewide Planning Goal 3, which places restrictions on development unrelated to agriculture. Obtaining the exception requires the rezone to be compatible with adjacent land uses.

“They’re trying to get a pretty broad-based goal exception, and the way the rule is written, they require specifics,” Fahey said.

Port executive director Douglas Hayes said he is confident they can provide the information needed to acquire the exception. The port is working with attorneys to consider options to move forward, he said.

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Information from: Capital Press, http://www.capitalpress.com/washington

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