By Peter Marsh
After a major fire in 2013 that closed its processing plant in Warrenton, in Northwest Oregon, the Pacific Seafood company spent $20 million rebuilding from the ground up to create a state of the art facility that reopened in the summer of 2018. However, the plant has been handicapped by the shortage of housing for seasonal workers and often operates below full capacity.
The company has developed a plan to operate a dormitory for up to 120 employees, at a former retirement and drug-treatment center called Astoria Pointe, and has put the proposal before the Astoria Planning Commission.
The company is moving forward with the process despite vehement opposition from neighbors living in Uniontown above the Astoria-Megler bridge across the Columbia. Neighbors filled several public hearings and protested that the dormitory would cause safety, noise, traffic, parking and other issues.
The nearly 16,000-square-foot building has been vacant since 2018 with the lot zoned for high-density residential, but surrounded by single-family homes and narrow, hilly streets.
Pacific Seafood hopes to house its crews there between the spring and fall. Many are from other countries with temporary seven-month worker visas.
The permit was granted for one year with 13 conditions, including lowering the number of residents to 80, and providing three shuttles to take employees to and from work and limiting parking to 13 vehicles. Pacific Seafood also has a second property available – it owns a metal fabrication shop beside the Columbia in Hammond, a mile west of the plant which has been approved for conversion to a 70-bed dorm.