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PCC seeks alternatives for Columbia County facility

Though letter of intent signed for site near airport, PCC officials explore other options


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The proposed 20-acre campus is illustrated at the southeast end of the airport runway in Scappoose.Portland Community College has been considering developing land in the Scappoose Industrial Aripark for the past four years. The land in question falls within Scappoose’s proposed Urban Growth Boundary expansion of 365 acres.

But with the UGB expansion tied up in appeal by two opponents, PCC has decided to consider other properties for its Columbia County educational facility.

“This is a whole long development process, so the fact that we’re looking at alternate property is just a part of the process,” said Randy McEwan, vice president of PCC. “The college remains committed to building a Columbia County PCC educational facility.”

Columbia County residents Pat Zimmerman and Michael Sheehan have appealed prior Land Conservation and Development Commission decisions in favor of the UGB expansion to no effect, and Scappoose voters have cast their ballots in support of the city’s plan.

Zimmerman believes the job and population statistics used by Scappoose to validate its growth goals to the LCDC are false.

In March, Sheehan and Zimmerman filed an appeal to DLCD’s September sustained decision in favor of the UGB expansion with the Oregon Court of Appeals.

PCC holds two purchase options with Airpark Development LLC, one for a 20-acre parcel that falls within the UGB and one for a parcel that lies 282 acres east of it.

Sheehan said he does not oppose the 20-acre part. “They were talking about extending the [airport] runway south and making a much busier airport,” he said. “Why would we want all that additional air traffic around our nice-to-live-in town?”

Sheehan said he is not opposed to incremental development, but the development proposed by Airpark Development LLC was based on bringing 8,000 jobs to Scappoose, a number he believes “looked nutty.”

Sheehan added that PCC officials have said from the beginning that they are keeping their options open as far as the location of their proposed Columbia County facility. “It looks like [Airpark Development LLC is] looking to point a finger at someone for PR reasons, but PCC has been saying the same thing for a long time,” he said.

Developer Ed Freeman of Airpark Development LLC said he is confident the UGB will be approved, the question is a matter of when.

“The two individuals there that live outside the city limits of Scappoose appealed and appealed and appealed,” he said. “It finally led PCC — as it would anyone — to look elsewhere.”

Freeman said he began discussions with PCC in early 2009 and signed a letter of agreement with the college in November 2010 to develop a facility at Scappoose Industrial Airpark, but there was no final agreement.

“If PCC can’t go there, it doesn’t look good for the prospects of other businesses looking at Scappoose,” he said.

Freeman said he will continue moving forward in support of the city’s UGB expansion plans no matter how long the process takes, and said he hopes PCC will still consider developing their proposed campus.

“Recognizing that land-use process, in terms of bringing UGB land into city limits is a long, lengthy process. PCC is a business, they need to move in a timeframe that accommodates their business schedule,” said Scappoose City Manager Jon Hanken.

Hanken said he believes the UGB process has dragged out for a long time, and that the issue illustrates a bigger problem with Oregon’s land-use process.