Again, opposition to the Port of St. Helens’ proposed expansion of Port Westward dominated the May 20 Columbia County Planning Commission meeting. Two weeks prior, on May 6, Columbia County heard an earful from over a hundred citizens who think the Port of St. Helens’ latest proposal to rezone nearly 1,000 acres of farmland and wetland for industrial development is a bad deal for families and local businesses. The Port’s proposal would pave the way for potential destructive industries like coal, oil, or LNG export.
No one at the May 20 Planning Commission meeting spoke in favor of the land grab. Farmers and local business owners testified in opposition to the rezone because it could push out their existing businesses. Coal piles would potentially destroy nearby crops, and an increase in unit train traffic through Columbia County to Port Westward would divide multiple towns and disrupt local schools and businesses.
When Kinder Morgan walked away from their plans to export 30 million tons of coal from Port Westward their stated reason was that there wasn’t a suitable footprint at Port Westward compatible with the facility they want to construct. Rezoning nearly 1000 acres of land at Port Westward for industrial uses could create a site suitable for Kinder Morgan or a different coal company to step in.
The public comment period will remain open until Monday May 28 at 5 PM. You can submit written testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Planning Commission will meet again on June 17 to deliberate toward a decision. The last chance for public comment on this issue ends May 28 at 5 PM.
Read The Daily News article about the May 20 hearing here.