WARRENTON — The Warrenton Planning Commission on Thursday upheld city staff’s one-year extension of building permits for Pacific Seafood’s proposed dormitories in Hammond.

The Planning Commission approved conditional use and site design review permits a year ago for Pacific Seafood to turn part of a metal fabrication shop on Warrenton Drive into dormitory housing for up to 90 seasonal workers. The permits were set to expire Thursday.

Hammond bunkhouse

Pacific Seafood received a one-year extension of permits to build dormitories in part of a metal fabrication shop in Hammond.

Pacific Seafood argues the dorms are necessary to operate a new plant in Warrenton at full capacity but has not begun construction. Michael Robinson, an attorney for Pacific Seafood, said the company is hesitant to move forward during the coronavirus pandemic but still plans to build out the dorms.

Mark Barnes, the interim city planning director, extended the permits for another year. Scott Widdicombe, a neighbor on a nearby cul-de-sac, appealed the extension to the Planning Commission.

Widdicombe argues he was deprived of his rights to participate because the company did not share a floor plan for the dorms. He also argues the city has not taken into consideration state Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements.

Barnes recommended upholding the permit extensions. He argued that neither he nor the Planning Commission can make a decision based on state safety requirements, but only on the criteria for extension, which include economic hardships like those caused by the pandemic.

Widdicombe, who said he generally supports Pacific Seafood's creation of workforce housing next to the cul-de-sac, has taken issue with the number of people the company hopes to house in the dorms.

“From my point of view, Pacific Seafood has made every effort to avoid allowing OSHA to be discussed in this entire process, because they do not want to treat their workers the way I believe is fair,” Widdicombe said.

Commissioners commiserated with Widdicombe’s concerns but agreed with Barnes’ recommendation that the criteria to extend the permits had been met. They voted unanimously to extend Pacific Seafood’s permits for another year.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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