An opponent of the Pacific Connector natural gas pipeline Wednesday asked the Douglas County Board of Commissioners to toss out a hearing officer’s decision approving a permit for the project.
Stacey McLaughlin, a landowner whose Myrtle Creek property would be crossed by the proposed pipeline, accused Hearing Officer Andrew Stamp of bias.
Stamp, a Lake Oswego-based attorney the county hired to make the decision in place of the Douglas County Planning Commission, issued a decision last week authorizing a conditional use permit the developers need to take their pipeline across a 7.5 mile stretch near Camas Valley called the Coastal Zone Management Area.
The project involves constructing a natural gas pipeline from Malin to a proposed Jordan Cove liquefaction plant in Coos Bay. From there, the liquefied gas would be loaded on ships for export to Asian markets.
McLaughlin said landowners were first told the decision whether to appoint a hearings officer rested with the commissioners. Later, she said they were informed the planning director would decide.
McLaughlin said opponents warned they would object if the county chose Stamp, who had previously served as a hearing officer approving the pipeline project in Coos County. She said the landowners believed Stamp would not be objective.
Pipeline opponents have been fighting the project for more than a decade and appear headed for another round of appeals, first to the commissioners and then to the state Land Use Board of Appeals, which had previously approved the project.
McLaughlin said she hoped the county would waive fees for landowners appealing the decision to the commissioners.
She also pledged that if the county would take action to protect landowners interests, the landowners would commit to defending the county.
She said the pipeline project would create safety risks and environmental harm the county would have to live with for a very long time.
Opponents can appeal Stamp’s decision to the county commissioners.
Because of that, the commissioners did not discuss the points McLaughlin raised.
Commissioner Tim Freeman said after the meeting the commissioners weren’t involved in the decision to bring in a hearing officer. That decision rests with the planning director under the county’s land use ordinance, he said, confirming information Planning Director Joshua Shaklee sent to The News-Review Tuesday.