The planning commission of Selah, Wash., is scheduled to decide Aug. 4 on whether 101-year-old Matson Fruit Co. may expand.
The commission approved the company's application for rezoning in 2007, but the Selah City Council denied the request. Matson Fruit filed suit asking the court to reverse the council's decision. Instead, a Yakima County Superior Court judge ordered the matter be sent back to the planning commission.
The problem for Matson Fruit is that the company's apple and pear warehouse and packing plant are surrounded.
"We have no room to even become efficient," Rod Matson, company president, said after the judge's ruling.
To solve the problem, Matson Fruit agreed in 2007 to purchase 14.4 adjacent acres, pending the city's approval of a zoning change from commercial to industrial, Matson said.
If the zoning change is not granted, Matson Fruit may be forced out of the city, Matson said. The company's warehouse/packinghouse was built in the 1920s, he said, and needs updated packing lines, installation of other modern processes and increased warehouse capacity.
"Either this has to work for us, or we'll be looking at moving to somewhere else around the (Yakima) valley," he said.
The company's work force peaks at about 450 persons at least half of the year, Matson said.
"We know we have to keep servicing our customers and doing the things they need, and one way or another we'll continue doing that whether we have to move to another site and start over or continue at this site," he said in April. "We're in this for the long haul."