“We continue to think the port and county did not do an adequate analysis to show that a massive methanol refinery would be compatible with high-value farms and the nearby wetlands,” Serres said.

The question of rezoning first came up in 2013, and in 2018 the board of commissioners again approved it. Columbia Riverkeeper and 1000 Friends of Oregon argued the rezone doesn’t match Oregon’s statewide planning goal to protect farmland and challenged it on nine legal points, bringing it to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.

In 2019, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld the Board of Appeals decision that dismissed eight of those points, leaving the question of if the planned industrial uses of the land would be compatible with adjacent uses such as farming.


Columbia County port wins rezoning victory against Riverkeeper

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The Board of Appeals told the port to address the question, and the port submitted a compatibility report in July 2020 finding that the uses were or could be made compatible. County land use staff reviewed it and recommended approval.

“Staff find the port’s analysis to be accurate, thorough, convincing and consistent with this remand review,” County Planning Division Manager Matt Laird said at the July meeting. “The evidence and facts in the record show impacts can be rendered compatible with mitigation measures.”

Serres said he is “convinced the port and county ran afoul of Oregon land use law by not taking a more serious look at the compatibility contradiction” and that the analysis “didn’t clear the bar for what LUBA had already asked them to do.”

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