Wilson bill for Clark County economic development opportunity passes Senate

A measure to capitalize on freight rail growth opportunities in Clark County passed the Senate today. Bill sponsor Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, introduced the legislation so local governments can allow freight rail expansion on under-used rural or agricultural lands.

“Clark County has a unique opportunity to offer high-demand freight rail land,” said Wilson. “Hundreds and potentially thousands of jobs could be added through this expansion of freight rail-related industry. That’s a big step for economic development right here in our community.”

Under Senate Bill 5517, cities and counties would be able to allow for certain lands adjacent to railroads to be developed for freight rail dependent uses. This includes buildings and other infrastructure that are used in the fabrication, processing, storage, and transport of goods which makes use of an adjacent short line railroad. Coal, crude oil and liquefied natural gas uses are excluded.

There are 22 short line railroads across the state.

“There are very few places in our area or even the state where this type of land is available,” said Wilson. “These type of manufacturing and agricultural processing jobs are key to a healthy and growing economy for Clark County, now and into the future. Without the ability to use this land, we will continue to turn these jobs and tax dollars away.”

Currently, only 78 acres are zoned for freight rail use in Clark County and developers have approached local leadership with needs for hundreds more acres, projected to create thousands more jobs.

The bill proceeds to the House for consideration.