Tuesday, March 21, 2023
March 21, 2023

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Clark County concrete plant on hold amid neighborhood opposition

Sunnyside residents relieved as company seeks other locations

By , Columbian staff writer
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North Dakota-based Knife River Corp. on Friday confirmed that plans to build a concrete batch plant in unincorporated Clark County’s Sunnyside neighborhood are on hold, for now.

“We notified the county that we are pushing pause on our plans,” Tony Spilde, senior communications manager for Knife River, said Friday. “And we’ve asked for their input on other possible locations for a ready-mix plant.”

Knife River held a community meeting in January to announce its plans for the concrete plant at 7511 N.E. 101st St. The company said it planned to build several outbuildings and a 95-foot-tall silo on the 2.69-acre property owned by Pioneer Industrial.

Opposition to the project was swift and fierce. Many in the neighborhood, including Jan Kelly, worked together to form the Friends of Central Vancouver to fight the project.

“That’s great news. I think that is very wise on their part, because we are not going to be giving up the fight until they pick another location that’s better suited for that type of business,” Kelly said Friday.

Kelly said she hoped Knife River’s decision to look at other locations was due, at least in part, to their highly vocal and coordinated opposition.

“I like to think we’re organized; we are singularly focused on protecting our health, our ecosystem, our neighbors and our property values,” Kelly said.

With homes just 200 to 300 feet from the proposed plant, neighbors worry the 24/7 operation, which would see up to 200 trucks a day coming in and out of the site, would overwhelm them with noise and pollution.

“A concrete batch plant has no business being right next door to a residential area, and that’s what this location is,” Kelly said

Dozens of residents flooded a Jan. 17 county council meeting to urge council members to reject the proposal because of the environmental and medical risks. They also questioned how the property was rezoned.

“If you look at us on a zoning map, we’re surrounded by light industrial zoning. We’re not opposed to that. However, a recent development and zoning change to ‘rail industrial’ has the neighborhood very concerned,” said Blake DeFrance of the Cedars 49 community group.

DeFrance said the county’s reversal of an August 2020 rezoning request by Pioneer Industrial opened the door for the Knife River project but residents were never made aware of the zoning change.

Despite the delay, Spilde said Knife River remains committed to building a concrete plant in Vancouver.

“Vancouver is a great community that we already work in nearly every day. We want to have a long-term future there and that means finding the right location for a plant that works for all involved,” Spilde said.