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News / Business / Clark County Business

Port of Camas-Washougal wants Grove Field airport to be annexed into city

Officials: County must first annex property into urban growth boundary

By Doug Flanagan, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: March 16, 2024, 6:08am
2 Photos
The Port of Camas-Washougal wants to bring Grove Field airport, along Northeast 267th Avenue north of Camas, into the city limits.
The Port of Camas-Washougal wants to bring Grove Field airport, along Northeast 267th Avenue north of Camas, into the city limits. (Post-Record files) Photo Gallery

CAMAS — The Port of Camas-Washougal wants Clark County to annex Grove Field into the county’s urban growth boundary, a necessary first step in the port’s quest to bring the airport into Camas’ city limits.

Marty Snell, property services manager for Vancouver-based Mackay Esposito, will send formal request letters to city of Camas and Clark County leaders next week, according to port Chief Executive Officer David Ripp.

“It’s a process,” Ripp said. “Right now, we’re not in Clark County’s urban growth boundary, so we have to go through that process first. All public agencies, including Clark County and the city of Camas, are currently updating their comprehensive plans, so the timing works out. Our end goal is to get annexed into the city of Camas. … Our airport property is adjacent and already tied to the North Shore, which is in the city limits, so it makes sense.”

The airport has additional features that could be viewed as favorable by both agencies, according to Snell.

“It doesn’t have any environmental constraints that other properties have,” Snell said during a Port Commission workshop Wednesday. “Another important piece is that we know long-term there’s going to be some transportation improvements on (state Highway) 500, so you’ll have good access to that site. That’s an important consideration.”

Grove Field houses about 120 aircraft. It includes 79 public hangars, 14 tie-downs and a self-service fueling facility, as well as 18 private hangars on land leased from the port and several private hangars on surrounding properties.

Ripp said the port hopes to develop “airport-related businesses and other businesses” at Grove Field that would “create new jobs and tax base for our community.”

“We want to create more jobs and develop the land up there,” he said. “It’ll be more of a light industrial business park; maybe there will be a commercial aspect to it as well. Our goal is economic development.

“For the development we need, we need the (city of Camas) to be a part of this,” Ripp said.

If the plan is approved, the county will bring the property into the urban growth boundary and Camas could bring it into the city in 2028. “We have city water service — toilets and drinkable water — out there now, but we can’t really develop that property until we have fire flow (water needed to fight a fire) and sewer,” he said.

Ripp said Clark County councilors will make their decision on the port’s request in 2025.

“The big thing is looking at the population, looking at services, looking at how many acres of residential, how many acres of commercial, how many acres of industrial and making sure that the city can serve those numbers,” Ripp said. “We’re not looking at annexing in residential property. Residential increases a lot of services on the entity. This is all jobs land that we want to do. And we’re not taking any agricultural land or anything like that. It’s all already zoned.”

Ripp said the port will launch public outreach to help residents understand the annexation process.

“We’re going to have several open houses to make sure we’re making the neighbors aware of what we’re going to do and get input and all of that,” Ripp said. “Some people feel that ‘I don’t want to live within the city limits because it restricts me’ or ‘I’m on a well; I don’t want to lose my well.’ They won’t lose their well. You don’t have to hook in. If you’re in the city limits, you can still remain on your septic and water system as long as they continue to work, unless you go, ‘I’m going to build a new house.’ Then you’re required to do that.

“But if nothing changes, you can continue to maintain and use your well, and you will never have to hook into the city.”