WARRENTON — When Pacific Coast Seafood reopens its plant in Warrenton, crab will be on the roster of seafood it processes.
The Warrenton Planning Commission on Thursday night approved, with conditions, a request to modify a previously approved site design for the facility. Representatives of the seafood company said the additional 15,000 square feet of floor space requested would be dedicated to crab processing, a move that will provide steady employment throughout the year, they said. An estimated 106 jobs will be created or maintained by the plant. Whiting and rockfish will also be processed there, as in the past.
With the Planning Commission’s approval in hand, Pacific Seafood representatives say crab processing could begin at the end of the year, in time for the commercial Dungeness season that traditionally opens in December.
Planning Commissioner Vince Williams approved of the company’s decision to add crab processing, calling it a “good business plan.”
Pacific Seafood will need to comply with 26 conditions of approval outlined by city staff, most dealing with utilities and fire safety and access.
The company has been operating in a limited capacity out of the Del Mar Seafoods sardine processing plant at Tongue Point in Astoria following the destruction of their Warrenton plant in a fire in 2013, but promised to rebuild in Warrenton.
With such a major city water customer out of the picture, Warrenton residents have seen water rates go up, Commissioner Paul Mitchell said. The return of the company should help, he said, adding, “So God bless ’em.”
Warrenton City Commissioner Mark Baldwin has said he hopes the city will reconsider water rates following Pacific Seafood’s return.
The Planning Commission also approved, with conditions, a site design for the newest venture by the owners of Fort George Brewery, a 46,000-square-foot storage and distribution campus on land near Costco and across the street from Astoria Ford’s new location. The new facility will also include a tasting room, an area for food carts and a disc golf course.
Fort George had based distribution and orders out of another Warrenton property but has outgrown that facility, said co-owner Chris Nemlowill. The new facility, while filling the growing company’s needs, would also provide a community space, he added. He said he hopes to see people walking their dogs through the campus and enjoying the disc golf course free of charge.
Thursday’s approval comes with 17 conditions. The only one the company contested was the condition that requires them to build a sidewalk or some sort of paved path along 19th Street, a county-owned road that wraps around one corner of the property.
Jesse Graden of Scott Edwards Architecture said this could be very expensive for Fort George. The road is adjacent to wetlands, said Warrenton City Engineer Collin Stelzig.
“It’s difficult, there’s no question about it,” he told the Planning Commission after they asked for his input. The company could easily spend thousands of dollars on wetland mitigation alone. He said the company already plans to construct a path through the campus which would serve the same purpose as a sidewalk on 19th to get pedestrians off the side of the road.
The commissioners, though sympathetic, said they had to consider possible risks to pedestrians. That area is already frequently used by volunteer dog-walkers at the Clatsop County Animal Shelter and others. With various apartments and subdivisions planned for the area, foot traffic and vehicle traffic will likely continue to increase, they said.
Warrenton Planning Director Skip Urling agreed, but he said the city code doesn’t require a full sidewalk with curbs and drainage. A paved path would suffice.
The Planning Commission approved Fort George’s application, with all conditions remaining in place.
In April, the City Commission voted to allow multifamily housing in commercial zones. On Thursday, the Planning Commission approved the first application since that amendment was passed.
Developer Antoine Simmons plans to build the 37-unit Skipanon River Apartments on First Street and Skipanon Drive near the Bayview Apartments. The two-bedroom apartments will include one bathroom, a washer and dryer and will likely rent close to market rate, between $1,000 to $1,100 a month, Simmons said.
Planning Commissioner Mitchell said he wished a children’s playground had been included in the design, but Simmons said there wasn’t enough space. Commissioner Ken Yuill worried that parking could become a problem, especially when residents have guests over. Simmons’ application follows city planning code, providing 1.75 parking places per unit, Urling said.