Board rejects Port of St. Helens expansion plans



PORTLAND — A plan to expand a rural port in a key battleground for coal and oil exports has hit an obstacle. Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals last week sent industrial expansion plans from the Port of St. Helens back to the drawing board, sustaining a challenge from Columbia Riverkeeper and Mike Seely, a farmer who grows mint nearby.

Port Westward, near Clatskanie, Ore., is the home of a terminal moving oil from trains onto barges bound for West Coast refineries. It’s also the site of a proposed terminal that would send coal to Asia.

The Port of St. Helens owns the 1,700-acre Port Westward property and wants more space there for industry. Columbia County commissioners in January approved a rezoning to turn 837 acres of farmland there to industrial.

But the state land use appeals board, which resolves land use disputes, sent the decision back to the county, saying more analysis of its impacts is needed. In short, the county can re-approve its decision but has to do more work first.