PULLMAN, Wash. – Neighbors in Pullman are frustrated over the potential rezoning of 184 acres of residential land that is right in their backyard.
“At one point I decided this was going to be our last home,” Jim Carr said.
Jim Carr lives just on the edge of his subdivision, Whispering Hills, in Pullman and he does not plan to move anytime soon. However, the Port of Whitman County has offered to buy 184 acres of residential land on Highway 195, with hopes to develop the land into a heavy industrial and commercial zone for an Agricultural Advancement Campus.
Now this, possibly could change things for Carr and his neighbors.
“We’re known as a small community, we’re known for SEL, we’re known for the college of course, but I don’t want to be known for a biodiesel plant,” Carr said.
The Port is currently in the negotiations and due diligence stage, the property purchase is not final. Yet, if it is approved by Pullman City Council, the Port tends to start construction for the campus in the next one to two years. A committed and private partner and startup company AgTech OS would serve as the anchor tenant; the company plans to build a 550,000 square-foot biofuels facility on the land.
This plant would convert a local rotation crop, Canola, into sustainable fuels.
“The Port commission sees this campus as an opportunity to bring sustainable technology to our agriculture economy which would move them forward,” Executive Director, Port of Whitman County, Kara Riebold said. “Agriculture is a key component of the economy here on the Palouse.”
Riebold says the designated land has access to the city’s water and to Highway 195, which is a key road for moving goods across the Palouse.
Yet, this does not change the fact that folks in the area do not want their quiet neighborhood turned into a more loud, commercial zone. On top of that, concerns of the biodiesel plant are flowing.
“This plant is directly west of my house, so all those smells are going to be blowing my way, I can’t just pick up my house, like a tent, and move it,” Janelle Sordelet said.
On February 17, Governor Jay Inslee met with the Port and AgTech OS to learn about this plan; Riebold said the Governor was excited for the agricultural possibilities.
Neighbors hope to see the entities find a different location for the campus, most specifically the biodiesel plant.
“This is just not the right place,” Carr said.
A meeting will be held at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) in Pullman March 1, for community members to have their concerns heard by the Port and AgTech OS, from noon to one p.m.
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