The Department of Natural Resources Board met September 5, 2017 to discuss and decide the sale of 153.3 acres of property referred to as the “Kuhnis Road” property. Commissioners Jerry Peterson, Dale Boon and Paul Cline attended along with Executive Director Jennifer Keene. Paul Cline spoke on behalf of the Commission at the meeting. The DNR approved the land transaction. The Port Commission has enlisted BergerABAM to complete a Phase 1 ESA on the property prior to the final decision in early October for to finalize the transaction.
- The Port Commission has held multiple meetings pertaining to the discussion and decision to acquire the property.
- Beginning discussions with DNR occurred in the summer of 2015 pertaining to the Port’s easement across the property that links to existing Port property referred to as “Rail Loop property.”
- In late 2015, it was determined the best course of action through conversations with DNR was for the Port to acquire the property due to a RCW determining the length and requirements of easements. Due to the complexity of any rail development, the Port and DNR determined it was not feasible to have an easement.
- In early 2016, the Port discussed and eventually approved by unanimous vote to enter into a Letter of Interest/Intent for the Kuhnis Road property along with $12,000 towards the appraisal costs.
- The Port completed its own appraisal on the property during the summer of 2016.
- In late 2016, as the Commission prepared to approve the Purchase Sale Agreement, the DNR stopped the process. Further developments and outside interests were being reviewed. In November 2016, the DNR contacted the Port stated it no longer was interested in the land transaction.
- In early 2017, with the assistance of State Representative Richard DeBolt, discussions between the DNR and the Port were re-entered. Further discussions pertaining to a SEPA requirement occurred and the SEPA was conducted by DNR. A Determination of Non-Significance was issued. Comments received by DNR were provided to the Port.
- The Port has had meetings with Cowlitz Tribe and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to address their concerns. This led to the Commission drafting and unanimously approving the Resolution #448 Commodities. It was further agreed that the Port will continue to consult both parties as well as DNR throughout any speculative development that may occur.
- The Port anticipates that any speculative development would require significant environmental review and process. Mitigation, public access, shoreline management, and costs among many other concerns will be addressed.