Protestors outside, a packed room inside. People in suits, people in sweatshirts, people wearing red, people wet from the rain. Looks like an LNG meeting.
Or, to be specific: Clatsop County's first of a possible four meetings to take public testimony about the eight new applications from liquefied natural gas developer Bradwood Landing.
These supplemental applications were required by Clatsop County's March 2008 conditional approval of the company's proposed terminal and facilities at Bradwood Landing, 25 miles east of Astoria. LNG opponents' appeal of the 2008 approval is still pending, with a decision scheduled for next week.
County staff - leaning on three contractedplanning groups for expertise - has recommended approval with conditions on five of the eight new applications and denial of the three others. Two of the denials stem from inadequacies in the company's proposals for mitigating and controlling the impacts of the project's 46 acres of dredging in the?Columbia River.
The county's contracted Hearings Officer Peter Livingston (a former Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals attorney and currently of Portland's Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt) will make the first decision on all eight of the applications, approving or denying the permits, but his decision can be appealed later to the board of county commissioners and LUBA.
On Tuesday, Livingston heard the staff reports from the county, a presentation from representatives of Bradwood project developer NorthernStar Natural Gas Inc. of Houston, as well as a 30-minute presentation from Columbia Riverkeeper and the beginning of public comments.
Livingston kept the meeting pleasant, asking close questions of everybody involved, but there were still "tsks" and "hmmms" from the audience.
Bradwood Landing acknowledged some of the staff recommendations and there was a mix of opinions during the public comment time: everything from full-out support to one woman's portrayal of a trapped salmon. She tried to suck a square of paper up a tiny plastic straw. (It didn't work.)
Opportunities for public comment will continue Thursday, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Judge Guy Boyington Building, 800 Exchange St., Astoria. If there are still more people signed up to give testimony at the end of the day, the hearing will continue into the next meeting date, April 13. There's a different time set for the final meeting date on April 16. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. until everything is finished.
Here's where the county staff currently stands on the eight applications. The reports were prepared by staff from Angelo Planning Groups of Portland primarily, but with the help of WH Pacific of Anchorage, Alaska, and Winzler & Kelly of Santa Rosa, Calif.
Reports recommend denial of three applications:
? Mitigation Plan: The area in question is the proposed terminal site, Petersen Point and Svensen Island. What wetlands and waterways will be affected and how? This plan has had a history of being late or incomplete. Staff recommended denial of the plan because Bradwood Landing LNG doesn't have the required state and federal permits.
? Shoreline Management Plan: This plan deals with two locations, the proposed terminal site and Clifton Channel. This ties into the dredging: will it cause erosion to the Clifton Channel Shoreline, and what will the dredging operations do to the movement of water along the Columbia River? The shoreline plan is designed to track for these changes. Staff recommended denial of this plan because, essentially, it was too vague.
? Park and Ride Site Plan: This site - on the south side of U.S. Highway 30 near the Taylorville Road interchange - is intended to be a temporary parking site for construction workers to reduce traffic problems on the road to Bradwood Landing. Staff reported that most information and county standards had been met, but not all. Staff recommended denial of the application, but would recommend approval if six different conditions were met. These conditions included providing several bicycle parking spaces and resubmitting road improvement plans for Rulyville Road to the county's public works director.
Staff reports recommended approval with conditions on five additional applications:
? Conditional Use Permit for Clifton Road and Bradwood Road Plan
Clifton Road leads to the proposed terminal site and Bradwood Road connects Clifton Road to the site. There have been a number of improvements required for these roads and Bradwood needs to come up with a plan of how to handle these. Staff recommended approval, but with conditions.
? The Erosion Control and Sediment Plan
This is for along the Clifton and Bradwood Roads and for a planned temporary park-and-ride site. The title about says it all. The purpose of this plan is to outline how the developer would minimize unwanted soil and sediment movement, minimize the removal of plants and keep riparian habitat intact.
Staff recommended approval, but with one condition: This plan must also go through DEQ and if DEQ has any changes, Bradwood Landing will have to resubmit an amended plan to the county.
? Dredged Material Disposal Plan
The developers plan to dredge about 46 acres within the Columbia River in the area adjacent to the proposed Bradwood Landing terminal. However, they still need to obtain state and federal permits for everything that would go along with such a project: wetlands fill and mitigation, water discharge into the Columbia River, etc.
Staff recommended approval with three conditions. The developer must provide the county with a commitment to "revegetate" the area as soon as possible following the dredging and, before doing this, provide the county with two maps: a map of the planting zone with calculations to justify and support the replanting ratios and a schematic planting plan with a list of plant species.
? Riparian Vegetation Restoration Plan
The location here is the Wauna Mill property where pipeline construction is expected to disturb plant communities growing along a drainage ditch. This type of vegetation is called "riparian." The plan allows for the removal of this vegetation, but then the plants must be restored.
Staff recommended approval of this plan, but provided two conditions. One, Bradwood Landing needs to provide more details about how many inspectors would be in charge of the area and, two, all the restoration needs to be finished within one year after the completion of construction.
? Decommission Plan
Decommission: What happens if the plant is shut down? How will it be restored to a useful, nonhazardous site? According to the developers, such plans are standard procedure in LNG operations, but, to their knowledge, no plant in the United States actually had to go through a decommission.
Staff recommended approval, but with conditions: the developers needs to certify that they have "secured listed financial assurances and provide specific notice of financial assurance to the County," and provide an updated Hazardous Waste Management Plan.
Reporter Cassandra Profita contributed to this story