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Judge O.K.s Longview port eminent domain grab

Judge O.K.s Longview port eminent domain grab

A Washington state Superior Court judge ruled Monday that the Port of Longview can use eminent domain to force Kalama-based RSG Forest Products to sell the port six acres of land for a proposed grain terminal.

   Judge Steve Warning deferred to the 'business judgment' of the port commission regarding the port's October condemnation of the RSG property and ruled that the proposed $150 million grain terminal project met the 'public use' and 'public necessity' criteria for the port to invoke eminent domain.

   It now remains for the port and RSG to negotiate a sale price for the property. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, a jury would set the price. If the sale goes to a jury, it could be next spring before the situation is resolved.

   The proposed grain elevator is part of a port plan to convert the property into a major West Coast grain export facility. The port has already negotiated the construction of the grain elevator with EGT, a partnership of grain firm Bunge America and Japan-based firm Itochu. The port plans to fund the building of a new $6 million berth at the facility to service EGT's business. The port projects the new terminal, when completed, would handle between 30 million to 35 million metric tons of grain exports per year.

   RSG, which has proposed building a $100 million lumber processing facility at the port on property including the six-acre parcel, is concerned the loss of the parcel might compromise its overall plans.

   'It makes it very, very difficult for us to continue,' Greg Mobley, RSG's chief financial officer and part owner, told area news outlet TDN.com. 'It's disappointing when you have government being able to take private property for the purposes of another private industry.'

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