Bradwood Landing on Tuesday sought an injunction in Clatsop County (Ore.) Circuit
Court to stop a referendum being pursued by LNG opponents. The referendum seeks to refer
portions of the findings approved by the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners on March 20 that approved the Land Use Compatibility Statement for NorthernStar's proposed Bradwood Landing LNG terminal.
According to the complaint, in adopting its ordinance the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners
made a land use decision. In Oregon, a land use decision may not be the subject of referendum.
"The County arrived at its decision after nine months of extensive public input, testimony and
debate," said NorthernStar Natural Gas Senior Vice President of External Affairs Joe Desmond. "The referendum sponsors are trying to reverse a land use decision, but under countless Oregon
appellate decisions, there is an exclusive entity for reversing land use decisions, and that entity is
the state Land Use Board of Appeals."
In an article about the referendum in Monday's local newspaper, the Daily Astorian, LNG opponents acknowledged their efforts to appeal Sections 5 and 6 of the county's findings would have little impact on the project:
"Even if the referendum succeeds, it won't necessarily stop the Bradwood project from going forward, according to organizers." Daily Astorian, April 14, 2008.
"By the opponents' own admission, the referendum is a waste of taxpayers' time and money," said Desmond. "It only forces the county to spend public money on a special election -- money that could be better spent on schools, roads or social services. It would not reverse the County's overall approval."
The Oregon Court of Appeals conclusively ruled in 1992 that the avenue of appeal for land use
decisions is through the state Land Use Board of Appeals and not through the referendum process. In its 1992 decision, the Court of Appeals cited a 1985 state Supreme Court case2 in which the court ruled that land decisions that do not involve statutorily required voter ratification cannot be referred to voters through a referendum petition.
Petitioners have until June 18 to collect 598 signatures within Clatsop County to refer Sections 5 and 6 of the County's March 20 findings allowing the siting of Bradwood Landing's pipeline to cross land zoned Open Space, Parks and Recreation (OPR). The findings changed the county's code to allow one to seek a conditional use permit to site a pipeline on OPR-zoned land.
On March 20, the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners approved Bradwood's consolidated land use application after a nine month public process. The Bradwood Landing LNG terminal would provide a new source of natural gas directly into the Oregon and Washington natural gas market. It would create more that 450 jobs over three years of construction and 65 permanent jobs and contribute more than $7.8 million annually in taxes to Clatsop County.