Hillsboro resident wants city’s industrial growth to replace airport

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 2:04 PM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HILLSBORO, Ore. (KPTV) - A plan to move Hillsboro’s industrial zone doesn’t have everyone on board.

In Aug. 2022, the city council voted six to nothing to make the area known as Jackson East industrial. This includes current homes that are on the property.

Hillsboro resident Jim Lubischer doesn’t live directly that area but is still concerned about it.

“I think a good opportunity would be to preserve Jackson East by repurposing the Hillsboro airport property,” Lubischer said.

While Lubischer is concerned with what the neighborhood would become, he also is concerned about the adjacent Hillsboro airport.

“I’ve been interested in the airport for quite some time,” he said. “(I) was concerned about the noise because of where we lived.”

Lubischer wants to see the new industrial zone replace the Hillsboro airport, on land owned by the Port of Portland. As a retired pediatrician, he said aircraft that use leaded fuel can have harmful health effects. According to the most recent Environmental Protection Agency data in 2017, the Hillsboro airport is the eighth-highest lead-producing airport in the country.

“If you’re living within a third of a mile, or even up to two-thirds of a mile, or perhaps even further, there’s lead pollution in the air,” he said.

Lubischer said with patients he’s seen, 85% of them have detectable levels of lead in their blood. He said no level of lead is safe.

“We’re finding things such as ADD,” Lubischer said. “We know that neurocognitive development, brain development, is affected.”

Hillsboro city councilor Rick Van Beveren said the council took residents’ concerns into account. He said the city has offered those who want to remain in their homes in the new industrial zone.

Van Beveren said the airport is an important tool for economic development.

“We’re looking at the future and we’re looking at keeping our kids here and creating a future for them,” Van Beveren said. “Largely, this is about jobs.”

The Port of Portland responded to FOX 12′s request for comment by saying it does want to remove leaded fuel from aircraft used at the Hillsboro airport. It has a fuel tank ready for unleaded fuel as soon as it goes on the market.

The Port of Portland said the airport plays an important role in the economy, educational outreach and state aviation and shutting that down wouldn’t be practical.

Lubischer said he understands but still sees his alternative as reasonable.

“The city of Hillsboro could perhaps gain a lot higher taxes than they get now,” he said. “It would eliminate the noise and the lead pollution.”