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Public forum to discuss Port zone amendment set for May 20

A Columbia County Planning Commission meeting examining proposed zone changes on Port of St. Helens land in Port Westward will continue May 20.

More than 100 people attended the last public forum May 6, according to attendees. The majority testified against the zone change which would designate agricultural land to rural industrial. Port officials have said the zoning amendment would give the Port more flexibility in developing the 786 acres they own and that such a change would be in keeping with their development goals.

Opponents to the amendment say the land includes valuable wetland habitat. Representatives from the Columbia Riverkeeper testified at the forum, saying the Port’s application is “legally deficient and factually erroneous.”

The county’s Land Development Department was flooded with letters prior to the May 6 hearing and the forum was continued to May 20. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbia County Courthouse.