The council’s preferred option would use an overlay map approved by the council earlier this year that allows for industrial development within 500 feet of the rail line. The definition of adjacent preferred by the council is more restrictive than one proposed by an advisory committee. Earlier this spring, the advisory committee called for allowing industrial development within a mile of the rail line.
The committee also issued a draft of regulations that outline what industries would be allowed, including a wide range of manufacturing, utilities, wholesale trade and others. Under the committee’s recommendations, some industrial activities such as waste management services, or manufacturing materials such as asphalt, cement or chemicals, would require a conditional use permit.
A point of concern on the council was whether to allow “heavy industrial” uses. During the meeting, Jose Alvarez, a county planner, said heavy industrial uses are activities that require a higher degree of environmental scrutiny and include asphalt manufacturing, as well as some chemical or paper manufacturing and other activities. He did note that the category included sawmills, leather tanning and wood preservation businesses.
Residents who live near the rail line have been vocally opposed to the project, and the council was presented with the results of a survey conducted by the county that showed its unpopularity.
Councilor Jeanne Stewart, who noted that her west Vancouver district is not served by the rail line, said that she was sympathetic to the concerns of residents but said some less desirable uses might be necessary.
“I’m not sure it makes sense to have a railroad at all that doesn’t have some adjacent heavy industrial use,” she said.
The council’s preferred option does include the option to limit heavy industrial uses. The proposal now will head to the Clark County Planning Commission, which will hold a hearing and make a recommendation back to the council.
One issue that could arise as a point of contention is the issue of extending sewer to industrial developments along the rail line. The council’s preferred option would allow for sewer to be extended to the new industrial development. But some members of the county council and staff disagree on whether doing so is permitted under state law.
“That puts us in a rough spot,” said Clark County Council Chair Marc Boldt.