The Feb. 5 article “Next steps for port expansion,” regarding the rezoning of acreage adjacent to Port Westward, was very one-sided.
After years of applications, appeals and modifications, Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) has ruled that all concerns raised by neighboring farmers and environmentalists have been met. LUBA says only one question remains: Is rezoning the property from “Agricultural” to “Resource Industrial Planned Development” “reasonably compatible” with surrounding farms? The answer is yes.
Farming has existed alongside military/industrial use at the site for 80 years. In fact, local farmers lease unused property at Port Westward for grazing and mint-growing. According to the zoning restrictions required by LUBA, any industries cited on the acreage must be compatible.
North Columbia County has thousands of acres of under-utilized farmland. Ninety percent of the county is zoned “natural resources.” The rezoning of these 837 acres won’t have a significant negative impact on agriculture.
Oregon has a shortage of large marine industrial sites. Columbia County has a 70% commuter rate, and the resulting traffic problems, loss of social capital and decreased revenues. Local good-paying jobs are needed for the health of our families and community.
Port Westward industries already pay 24% of Columbia County’s property taxes. Revenues for schools, roads, 911, sheriff, fire, etc. will increase with the location of new industries.
The rezoning of this acreage at Port Westward is a critical component for the future prosperity of Columbia County. We urge Columbia County Commissioners to approve the Port Westward rezone.