Port Of Whitman County Commissioners End Controversial Plan For Industrial Research Park In Pullman

The Port of Whitman County Commissioners have decided to end their controversial plan for an industrial research park in Pullman.

The board voted two to one on Thursday to withdraw both their rezone application to the city and their offer to buy the land for the project.  The board agreed in January to buy land on the West side of town on Wawawai Road for 3.8 million dollars.  The initial plan called for local startup company AgTech OS to develop and operate a biodiesel plant in the park.  Washington Governor Jay Inslee made a rare visit to Pullman to show his support for the biodiesel plant.  The State of Washington loaned the port 5 million dollars to pay for the land and to help fund utilities for the site.

Many Pullman residents voiced strong opposition to locating a biodiesel plant next to the Whispering Hills neighborhood along Wawawai Road.  AgTech OS pulled out of the project after hearing strong opposition from the public.  The state loan was rescinded because it was contingent on the AgTech OS biodiesel plant.

Even after losing its anchor tenant in AgTech OS and state financing the port commissioners continued with their plans for their industrial research park in Pullman.  Strong opposition from many local residents continued as the City of Pullman began processing the rezone request.  The project needed to be rezone from residential to industrial research park.

The effort came to an end Thursday.  Commissioner Kristine Meyer made the motion to end the proposal primarily because the local government agency doesn’t have the money to buy the land since the state financing fell through.  You can listen to Meyer with the audio file below.

Commissioner Chairman Karl Webber agreed with the motion to end the project.  You can listen to Webber below.

Senior Commissioner Tom Kammerzell voted against the motion arguing to continue to the project.  You can listen to Kammerzell below.

Gwen Anderson lives across U.S. Highway 195 from the proposed industrial research park.  Anderson has been helping lead the public opposition to the plan and thanked the commissioners for ending the project.

The port commissioners say they want to focus on economic development projects that are already moving forward.