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Development keeps planners poring over plans

New construction projects in and around Hood River have kept city and county planners poring over the drawing table this year.

There are currently 23 major housing/business developments that are already in progress or expected to be approved in the near future. And that number is in addition to 25 new single residences — most not yet occupied — that have sprung up in city neighborhoods north of Cascade Avenue.

“The amount of houses being built in established neighborhoods has just been mind-boggling,” said Cindy Walbridge, city planning director.

She said under the current trend the new property owner is choosing to demolish the existing structure in favor of a custom built home.

Although the total number of building applications throughout the remainder of the county is down by 210 from the 525 of five years ago, Eric Walker, county senior planner, said the complexity of the existing applications has greatly increased. For example, he spent months working out development issues with Cardinal Glass Industries for a 185,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Odell that is nearing completion. In addition, Walker was tasked with scrutinizing Wal-Mart’s proposal to site a 186,000 square foot super center at the junction of Frankton and Country Club roads. That controversial application is likely to be appealed after the final order of approval with conditions is signed by the county planning commission on Tuesday. It will then be forwarded to the Hood River County Commissioners for a review of the written record during a public hearing that will be well advertised.

“We’re as busy as we’ve ever been and there is a lot of construction taking place in the urban growth area but there is still a lot of eligible land that can be developed and potential for growth,” said Walker.

In addition to processing applications, both county and city planners have been working to map and inventory riparian and wetlands areas in compliance with Goal 5 of the state land-use guidelines. The county has also undertaken a Goal 8 inventory of properties that are eligible to house a destination resort and a Goal 14 urbanization project for Odell. The city has been working with the port on a plan for mixed-use of the waterfront.

Municipal officials are now pondering how to incorporate that process with a citizen initiative for a large park that was recently passed by voters.

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