Letter to the Editor: Freight overlay will silence us



The proposed application of the Senate bill that allows the Clark County Council to apply a Freight Rail Dependent Use Overlay along the Portland Vancouver Junction Railroad deeply concerns me. This would effectively work around the regular process for rezoning land parcels and exclude public outreach and input, which is — ultimately — perhaps the intention.

The railroad belongs to Clark County and its citizens and should be used; however, the public should have an active voice in how it is used. Applying the FRDU Overlay strips us of our voice in these decisions and leaves too many of them to the freight operator, Eric Temple, who has leased the operation from the county and whose decisions to date have proven questionable at best. Just ask the Army Corps of Engineers.

Over the years, the county has approved more and more housing developments next to the existing railroad, and it continues to do so. Co-existing with the PVJR as it now operates — light industrial and agricultural zoning — has been successful for decades. Allowing heavy industrial traffic in volume along the line — along Grace Avenue in Battle Ground — would change this relationship dramatically, especially as the public would be excluded from decisions that affect us directly without allowing our input, as would be the case in a regular rezoning process.

I have many other concerns including the proximity of heavy industrial rail traffic near schools, potential damage to our watersheds, traffic issues, especially at crossings, and the cost in dollars to the citizens of Clark County for necessary upgrades to existing crossings, bridges and the like. 

I encourage the Clark County Council to work for us citizens rather than developers. Do not apply the Freight Rail Dependent Use Overlay to open free-range heavy industrial expansion.  Instead, expand the light industrial use already in place.

Linda Micheel