Port Now Seeking Possible Alternative Pullman Area Locations For Proposed Biodiesel Plant While Initial Plan For Siting In The City Moves Forward

The Port of Whitman County is now actively looking for possible alternative locations for a proposed biodiesel plant.

The port commissioners during their meeting on Thursday directed staff to approach owners of Pullman area properties that might be suitable for the project.  Staff will see if those property owners might be willing to considering sell their land.

The board also directed staff to submit the rezone application to the City of Pullman that’s required for a biodiesel plant on the West side of town.  The port’s plan has been to partner with local startup company AgTech OS to help develop a biodiesel plant at a site near the Whispering Hills Subdivision.  That initial idea has received strong opposition from many Pullman residents over concerns about locating a biodiesel plan near a neighborhood.

Port Commissioner Kristine Meyer suggested talking with other local landowners for a possible alternative site while continuing with the initial plan.  You can listen to Commissioner Meyer’s comments below.

 

Commissioner Chairman Karl Webber agreed with Meyer’s proposal.  Commissioner Tom Kammerzell didn’t attend that portion of the port meeting on Thursday.

The strategy for the rezone request that has now been submitted to the City of Pullman has changed.  The port will be seeking a rezone to Industrial Research Park instead of the initial plan for a zone change to Heavy Industrial.  The move means the city must approve two major requests for the project instead of one.  Pullman City Council will decide on the rezone.  If that’s approved then AgTech OS and not the port would apply for a Conditional Use Permit to operate the plant.  A CUP would be considered by the city’s hearing examiner.  Both processes involve several opportunities for public comment to the city.  The port’s attorney advised the board Thursday that the approval process for a CUP is more difficult than the initial plan to rezone Heavy Industrial.

The port commissioners agreed to buy the land on Wawawai Road on January 25th.  The government agency’s attorney advised the board that they are in a 120 day period when they can back out of the deal for any reason.  If the land purchase agreement stays in place the port is required to apply for a rezone and if a rezone is approved then the port must buy the property.

The port’s plan is to develop an Agricultural Advancement Campus near the neighborhood and have the biodiesel plant as the anchor tenant.  AgTech OS would then build the plant and run the facility which would process canola into fuel.