Officials throughout Hood River County have moved as quickly as possible to fulfill two major conditions that could bring a glass assembly plant — and dozens of family wage jobs — to the Mid-Valley.
On Monday, the County Commission approved an uncontested extension of a public sewer line to a 12-acre sector of the lower Hanel Mill. That exception to state land-use rules met the second need of Cardinal Glass Industries, Inc., before it could set up shop on the Odell property.
“It’s satisfying that all members of the community supported this and made a complex project straightforward,” said County Planning Director Michael Benedict.
Cardinal’s first requirement, that the parcel be incorporated into an Enterprise Zone to qualify for a tax break, was fulfilled in March. At that time, the Cascade Locks City Council offered to expand its zone to include all of the available industrial properties within the county. When that move was approved by the Hood River City Council and county board, Cardinal gained a drastic reduction in property taxes for a three-year period, and up to five years under special circumstances.
Local government leaders have been scrambling to accommodate the national firm since it submitted a letter of intent in late January to buy the industrial property from the Hanel Development Group.
“This should wrap up the two major caveats that Cardinal had and we should be in a position for that project to move forward,” said Bill Fashing, Hood River’s economic development coordinator.
Cardinal is hoping to begin construction on a plant of about 100,000 square feet sometime this summer and be ready for operation by the end of the year. The manufacturer is expected to employ between 50-75 workers initially — with more hires expected as production increases.
The glass company cast its eye on the abandoned mill site, in part, because it was located at 680 feet above sea level, an elevation necessary to prevent breakage during the assembly of double and triple pane windows.
After the property was recently denied for an on-site septic system, the owners asked that it be annexed into the Odell Sewer District. The district concurred with that request.
Benedict said the state has less than three weeks to appeal the exception process to Goal 11, but he thinks it is unlikely that obstacle will be encountered. Especially because the property would qualify for inclusion into the sewer district after the county has completed planning for Odell as an Urban Unincorporated Community.
State law would then allow lands within the designated boundaries to be served by sewer lines. However, county officials chose to pursue the exception process because it was the most expeditious way to aid Cardinal in its construction goal.
Fashing said the state is expected to sign off on the expansion of the enterprise zone soon and then the county will begin working with Cardinal on its development issues.
“From the county’s perspective, we’re very pleased with the cooperation we’ve received from the various state agencies and local partners to bring this project to reality,” Fashing said.