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Longview Council supports energy company, not 'hygiene center' Thursday

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Longview City Hall stock

Longview City Hall.

The Longview City Council approved a letter of support for an energy company's proposed development and declined to sign a letter for an upcoming Salvation Army project at Thursday's meeting.

Salvation Army

Councilor Ruth Kendall brought up the letter of support for the Salvation Army during her report to the council. The letter would have gone to the divisional leadership of the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is planning to convert a garage the nonprofit owns on 10th Avenue into a food pantry and a hygiene center, containing a shower and washing machines. The project was permitted by the city's Board of Adjustments in April and "limited to three hours a day," according to meeting minutes.

The council voted 4-2 against endorsing the letter. Spencer Boudreau and Mike Wallin wanted to see a "good-neighbor agreement" and other specifics about the planned hygiene center before making a decision on the letter. Others on the council raised concerns about the speed of the decision or the precedent set for future letters of support.

"I want houseless individuals to have an opportunity for hygiene, but I'm also hesitant for us to weigh in on a matter between a local office and a corporate office," councilor Christopher Ortiz said.

Kendall told the council the letter would support internal funding for the project. Salvation Army Major Phil Smith told The Daily News Friday that was incorrect. Smith said that he'd asked for the letter to show the divisional leaders that the cleaning space was needed in Longview, even with limited hours, and reinforce the encouragement he already had from the divisional office in Seattle.

Divert

The energy company Divert is applying for a $68 million revenue bond from the Washington Economic Development Finance Authority, a state government branch that aids certain business developments. The bond would provide a state tax-exempt status to some of the funds Divert is planning for its site at the Mint Farm Industrial Park.

Community Development Director Ann Rivers told the council the state finance authority wants a clear sign the project will be welcomed by the local community before issuing the bond. Rivers said the letter would not affect the permitting process for the development, and the council agreed to sign.

"You will not be voting on any of the remaining permitting issues. This is a legislative show of support," Rivers said.

Divert purchased the industrial land in January to build a facility that will convert food waste from grocery stores into renewable natural gas.

This article has been updated after posting with comment from Salvation Army Major Phil Smith.

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