Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, and Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, hosting town hall meetings Saturday, April 1, in St. Helens and Vernonia.

FILE PHOTO - Rep. Brad Witt As you know, Oregon has a rigorous system of land use laws, dating back to the 70s when urban sprawl threatened to overwhelm the agriculture and natural resource lands of the Willamette Valley. Watching our neighbors to the south pave over acres and acres of productive farmland was enough to sound the alarm, and Gov. Tom McCall and the legislative leaders at the time passed SB 100 to help protect these precious resources. It was not easy then, and it is not easy now, to ensure that the system is fair and reflects the needs of the times, particularly with regard to economic development.

The Department of Land Conservation and Development was created to oversee the process, and one of its objectives is to provide grant funds to local governments for a variety of planning projects. This is the opportunity available for cities and counties to get some state assistance for economic development and technical assistance. As I reviewed this budget in my Subcommittee on Ways and Means, I was keenly aware that these funds are strategic and they make a difference in our local communities. 

One of the applications to come before the DLCD was an application for technical assistance from the city of Scappoose.Following the expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary, the city urgently needed funds to help implement a compatible employment plan for the Scappoose Industrial Airpark. For a modest request of $3,500, the city was able to update the zoning map, which would then allow for a mix of targeted light industrial, commercial service and office, lodging and restaurant uses, all in the interests of providing increased employment opportunities. The request was granted and the airpark is well on its way to becoming an economic engine for south Columbia County.

At the other end of my district in Washington County, the city of North Plains requested, and received, a grant for $40,000 in order to prepare a buildable lands inventory, a housing needs analysis and an economic opportunities analysis to respond to the growth needs of western Washington County.Again, these grants will facilitate strategies to support and attract businesses that will provide quality employment opportunities. 

This coming weekend, on Saturday, April 1, Sen. Betsy Johnson and I will be holding two town halls in the district, one in St. Helens and the other in Vernonia. In St. Helens, we will be meeting at the Strange Birds Coffee House, 1945 Columbia Blvd., from 9 to 10:30 a.m. In Vernonia, we will meet at the Vernonia City Hall Council Chambers, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. We'll go over some of the legislation that is on the table in Salem, and of course, we look forward to hearing your concerns as we head into the thick of the Legislative Session. 

We look forward to seeing you.

Rep. Brad Witt represents House District 31. He lives in Clatskanie and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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