Port Of Whitman County Commissioners Agree To See Rezone Process Through For Controversial Industrial Research Park In Pullman

The Port of Whitman County Commissioners want to see the application process through for their controversial proposal for an industrial research park in Pullman.

The commissioners held their first meeting on Tuesday since learning that their plan for a biodiesel plant in Pullman had fallen through.  The local government agency’s private partner on the facility AgTech OS recently pulled out of the agreement due to strong opposition from many Pullman residents.

The port board has agreed to buy land next to the Whispering Hills subdivision on the West side of town for their proposed Agriculture Advancement Campus.  The biodiesel plant was going to be the anchor tenant for the development.  The port needs Pullman City Council to rezone the undeveloped land from residential to industrial research park.  The commissioners are continuing with their rezone request without the biodiesel plant.  Many Pullman residents remain opposed to the project over concerns about losing land for new housing and siting an industrial park next to a neighborhood.

Port Commissioner Kristine Meyer says they need to see the rezone process through even though she believes that if will fail and that it should fail.  You can listen to Meyer’s comments below.

Port Commissioner Tom Kammerzell agrees that the rezone process with the city should continue.  You can listen to Kammerzell below.

Port Commissioner Chairman Karl Webber says there is no other potential site for an ag advancement campus which he believes is needed to spur economic development for the entire county.  You can listen to Webber below.

The board heard from over 20 people opposed to their continued industrial research park rezone request during Tuesday’s meeting.  That’s the most opposition that the board has received at a meeting since the controversial plan gained public attention in January.  Gwen Anderson lives right across U.S. Highway 195 from the proposed site and has helped lead the opposition to the project.  You can listen to Anderson below.

There was no discussion at Tuesday’s port meeting about where the money will come from to buy the property.  The Washington State Department of Commerce had loaned the port 5 million dollars for the land.  That loan was contingent on the biodiesel plant.  The commissioners have agreed to buy the property on Wawawai Road for 3.8 million dollars.  They have until May 25th to pull out of the deal for any reason.  The port must by the land if Pullman City Council approves the rezone.

The rezone application with the City of Pullman is in its initial stages.  There will be multiple opportunities for public comment during the city’s rezone process.