Odell, Parkdale zone hearings deferred

August 27, 2005

The results of a new housing study has prompted Hood River County officials to postpone discussion of boundary changes around Odell and Parkdale.

Mike Benedict, county planning director, said both public hearings on Sept. 6 will open, as required by law, at 7 p.m. and then be deferred until sometime in the future. He said the hearing for Windmaster will take place as planned because it involves no significant adjustments.

Officials don’t want to make long-term decisions for Parkdale and Odell until they have fully explored the findings of the Oregon Downtown Development Association, in cooperation with Marketek, Inc. (see stories Grasping the GAP and Housing costs drive out workers).

“We need to ensure that we’re making adequate provision for affordable housing and industrial growth,” said Benedict.

He said once the new border is drawn around Odell it cannot be changed without the county going through an arduous exception process. That state rule is in place because of the community’s close proximity to the urban growth boundary of Hood River.

“Once the boundaries are drawn around Odell, they are basically drawn for life. So, we need to be very, very sure about what we are proposing,” said Benedict.

In addition, the county expects to review the results of a new industrial lands survey within the next few weeks. That inventory of all available sites will also help officials decide how to better attract firms that provide family-wage jobs. And bringing more companies into the valley is tied to the availability of affordable housing for workers.

According to the new marketing study, Odell is the fastest growing community in Hood River County, at an average annual rate of 3.76 percent. Odell also has the highest percentage of youth, with 50.5 percent of the population in the prime consumer ages between 25-64.

Because of its strong agriculture base, 43.4 percent of Odell’s population is comprised of Hispanics. However, Odell and Parkdale both have an extremely low number of renter units, and the majority of tenants are paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing. Both seasonal and permanent farmworker housing has been identified by the recent study as a key need in Hood River County.

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