Local News: Astoria Planning Commission approves Pacific Seafood Uniontown employee dorm
By Joanne Rideout
Tuesday night, the Astoria Planning Commission unanimously approved Pacific Seafood’s application to site employee dormitory housing in a former drug treatment facility located in a residential area in the Uniontown neighborhood of the city. The decision is final, unless an appeal is filed. Citizens who testified at the February 5th meeting have the option to appeal the decision, which would send it to the city council for discussion.
The planning commission approval is for a one-year conditional use permit for the nearly 16,000-square-foot building, formerly called Astoria Pointe. If the project is ultimately approved by the city council, that the city would revisit the permit in a year, to see whether the facility is a good fit within the residential setting. The facility would house 80 people, many of them international employees here on temporary work visas to work for Pacific Seafood.
Pacific Seafood says workers would commute via company shuttle bus from Astoria Pointe to work and shopping. The company also was recently approved for a 70-bed dorm in part of a metal fabrication shop it owns in Hammond.
Residents near the proposed Uniontown site voiced strenuous opposition to the project during the public hearing during the February 5th planning commission meeting. To address concerns, the company agreed to over a dozen conditions of approval, including a good-neighbor agreement.
The company would allow no more than 13 private vehicles to park on-site, and none along neighborhood streets.
At Tuesday’s meeting, public comment was closed. But after the commission voted approval, Uniontown residents who had attended the meeting to witness the decision made audible comments of disapproval to the commission before exiting the council chambers.
Commissioners’ reasons for approving ranged from appreciating the company’s extra efforts to address community concerns, noting the temporary one-year nature of the permit, which could be revoked in a year, and the desire to allow a project that would create useful facility on a property that had stood vacant for years.
During commission discussion, Commissioner Cindy Price noted that under city code conditional uses should be to the city’s benefit. She said she was unsure what direct benefit there would be for the city of Astoria to improve housing for a business based in Warrenton.
Price had been opposed to the project but ultimately voted yes. Regarding her decision, Price said it was her understanding that while the current project was a conditional use, that would likely soon change.
Cindy Price: “I just want to put it on the record that the reason that I am approving this is that we are about to approve, I believe we are going to approve, a set of codes that will allow this as a outright use, within however long a time it takes the council to adopt that.”
The planning commission’s approval can be appealed to the city council by anyone who testified at the public hearing on February 5. The deadline for appeals is 15 days after the mailing of the notice of the planning commission’s decision.
In other meeting business the planning commission unanimously approved a proposal for new construction of three townhomes on a 10,000 sq. ft. lot at 750 Olney Avenue in Astoria, at 7th Street.
The next planning commission meeting is March 24.