Letter to the editor: Clark County should terminate lease with railroad


Once Senate Bill 5517 was approved, it paved the way for the Chelatchie Prairie railroad to be reengaged, and a lease was signed by the county and the newly created Portland Vancouver  Junction Railroad (PVJR). We believe that the current events of the past year have placed PVJR in breach of the lease. As a result, the lease should be terminated by Clark County.

The current Railroad Advisory Board (RRAB) has been lobbying the County Council to expand the current 500-foot railroad overlay to a distance of one mile in both directions.

You might be thinking, “What does this have to do with me and my property?”

If this change is approved by the County Council it will mean that PVJR’s Eric Temple will determine when heavy industry will move in right next to our neighborhood(s) and our schools. Heavy industrial use also includes the building of railroad spurs from the current rail line to the heavy industrial use site. If the property owner does not want to sell their property, PVJR has every intention to enforce eminent domain to gain the land that Eric Temple wants PVJR to have. He has written emails to Clark County saying so.

We cannot wait to see what happens. We must respond to this existential threat to our homes, our property values, our health, the quality of our watershed and ecosystem. It is all under current threat of heavy industrial zoning changes being made to our current agricultural land and light industrial-zoned land. Eric Temple wants the one mile in both directions to be zoned as heavy industrial use, regardless of the current residential developments.

Ask yourself: What does heavy industrial use do to any landscape? Does it improve the view? Is it a great steward of the land and ecosystems, or does heavy industry do the bare minimum to appease the federal and state agencies? Is that enough oversight to ensure clean air and clean water for our lifetime and for the future?

Can the rail lines be implemented for a better use for the community? It is common knowledge that the rail lines have been neglected for decades and require lots of money and effort to get them up to standards for any use. Since this line is owned by Clark County, shouldn’t the county residents decide on the use of the lines? Clark County should determine zoning compliant with current county and state rulings, not the leasee — Eric Temple.

The time to let your voice be heard at the County Council meetings is now. The time for your letters of opposition to be written and sent to all elected officials and agencies is now. The time for letters to the editor and op-eds to be written and submitted is now.

Clark County can and should attract quality companies to our area: companies that share our values, in addition to preserving our quality of life, our safety and our good health.

No individual or group can make the difference; we need your help.

Jan Kelly