The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Ports' shoreline permit returns to commission


Wahkiakum County commissioners on Wednesday conditionally approved an application for a shoreline management substantial development permit to allow the Port of Longview and other upriver ports to begin disposing dredged sand inside Puget Island dikes.

The permit appeared on the board's agenda just in May, but commissioners sent it back to the county planning commission, at that board's request, to seek further information.

As a final part of the US Army Corps of Engineers' channel deepening project, upriver ports, represented by the Port of Longview, have planned to use farmland owned by Philip and Ivy Lou Vik as a disposal site for dredged sand. Sand would be pumped across East Sunny Sands Road and spread over fields, level at the height of the dike road and sloping to a height of 35 feet at a distance of 600 feet from the road.

At earlier public hearings, Island residents raised concerns about the project including how the sand would be deposited and controlled and how drainage would be affected.

Rather than supply detailed new information, the ports responded 1. by saying the procedures of the county planning commission and the county board of commissioners were highly irregular and 2. by listing locations in previously submitted documents to answer the new questions posed by the planning commission.

In a May 17 letter to planning commission Chair Gene Healy, the ports emphasized that the shoreline permit is only for a beachfront parcel that will be used to transfer the dredged sand across the dike road to the inland disposal site, not the inland disposal site and project.

The ports said environmental review for the inland site has been completed.

"Thirteen years of environmental review under State Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) and National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) was conducted on the Columbia River dredge and material placement project, culminating in an Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Supplement to the Final Envronmental Impact Statement (SFEIS)," the letter says.

"The legal sufficiency of the NEPA FEIS/SFEIS was put to rest by the United States 9th Court of Appeals in 2006, and the mitigation measures contained therein have already been completed."

The letter also expressed concerns that the county had held more meetings on the permit than the procedure set forth in state law and that the planning commission may have violated the Open Public Meetings Act in May by seeking a remand after having voted on the permit in March. "We believe that our permit application contains all information necessary to apply the criteria in the county's Shoreline Master Program and to issue the permit based on the project's consistency with all applicable requirements," the letter says.

"Last, to reassure you, we fully expect that our project will be required to comply with all applicable local, state and federal laws, including without limit Ch. 173-60 WAC, Maximum Noise Levels."

The letter is signed by representatives of the ports of Longview, Kalama, Woodland and Vancouver.


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