The Port of Newport on the Oregon coast is hoping to develop a new log export terminal. That’s led to a conflict with the port’s new neighbors.
Back in 1948, a private company built Newport’s first log export terminal on top of a pair of sunken barges left over from World War II.
The barges leaked oil into Yaquina Bay and over the years the terminal fell out of use.
Now the Port of Newport has finished a major, award-winning renovation of the site and it’s negotiating with several timber companies that want to use the terminal to export logs to Asia.
Cameron LaFollette is with the Oregon Coast Alliance. She says the terminal would route at least 50 log trucks a day past condos and a school, down a residential street.
“The terminal has recently been renovated. That’s great. The neighborhood has changed. That’s great. But now there’s a problem. Because the two uses don’t really work together very well,” LaFollette says.
Port President JoAnn Barton says she understands the neighbors’ concerns, and says the situation is an unfortunate twist of fate. She says the Port was not responsible for the zoning decision that allowed condos to develop next to an industrial site.
“The state’s inventory of water-dependent land is fairly low, and in those areas it’s important to the state, and to the Port, to use that land in the manner that it is zoned,” Baton says.
Barton says the Port needs to bring in large industrial customers to make enough money to support maintenance on the docks it manages for local fishing and recreation fleets. She says log exports could begin moving out of the rehabbed terminal later this year.
Coast advocate LaFollette says she’s concerned that the dredging required to accommodate larger log ships will undermine the water quality and quality of life in Yaquina Bay.
“In the last 25 years, Yaquina Bay and Newport have largely turned toward a future of marine tourism and marine science,” she says.
The Oregon Coast Alliance and some private residents have challenged the project’s traffic impact analysis before the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, and opponents of the log export terminal are hosting a town-hall style meeting in Newport on Tuesday.