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Management Side
Paper company eyes Dallas, Texas

DALLAS (From news reports) -- Mint Valley Paper, which manufactures tissue and other paper products, is considering building a facility on 55-acres in Dallas.

The facility would cost $300 million to build, and the Washington-based company says it would bring 120 jobs to Dallas.

Representatives of Mint Valley Paper met in person with neighbors of the proposed facility over the weekend.

"Mint Valley Paper would be excited to be part of the Dallas community," read a flyer handed out to neighbors of the project. "We take our responsibility of being a good neighbor very seriously. In addition to investing in landscaping and general appearance, our clean, quiet, state-of-the-art facility will be environmentally friendly and designed to minimize any noise or traffic impact on the neighborhood."

Since the notifications went out, residents have expressed concerns via social media that the facility would be a pulp mill that would be noisy and have an offensive odor.

"This will run 24 hours, extremely noisy and will have a terrible odor," said proposed facility neighbor Linda Gale Pooleon in a post to the Dallas Community Bulletin Board Facebook page. "This will decrease our property value extremely. Remember the paper mill in Albany. Please city of Dallas, don't allow this into our community."

Mint Valley and city officials said the proposed facility will not be a pulp mill.

"The pulping operation is what most of the general public associates with odor, noise. Tall buildings that are six stories tall that pulp the wood," said Mint Valley CFO Aaron Gomolak. "We are not going to have any of that. The pulp will come to us in bales, almost like a hay bale."

Gomolak said the operation would buy pulp from producers in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. Several truckloads of pulp will be delivered each day to be used as needed.

"There is no odor that comes out of our process," Gomolak said.

Dallas Economic Development Director AJ Foscoli said the plant will emit steam from rehydrating the dry pulp to turn it into paper products.

Gomolak said most of the noise will be contained inside the plant.

"We did a full noise study, and basically the conclusions of the noise study indicate that the loudest sound that the adjoining neighbors are going to hear would a car door slamming in the morning or at shift change," Gomolak said. "This is state-of-the art equipment. It's all going to be brand new. It's all designed to minimize noise."

Gomolak said landscaping design will provide an extra noise buffer.

Foscoli said the part of the plant that will produce the most noise will be located the furthest away from homes.

The company also conducted a traffic study to see the impact the facility would have on surrounding streets.

"We did a full traffic study, and traffic patterns have been studied and mapped to minimize impact on the local community as well," Gomolak said. "There's going to be some truck traffic. Obviously, there's going to be employees coming and going, but nothing that we think is going to disrupt the community."

He said most of the truck traffic would be funneled to Monmouth Cutoff Road as opposed to nearby neighborhood streets.

"That was how it was designed," Gomolak said.

Foscoli said the company began looking at the Dallas site in 2017. Gomolak said the location's proximity to an interstate highway, ease of access to utilities, and the city's "purple pipe" recycled water project made Dallas a good location.

The plant will use recycled water from the city's treatment plant. The water is suitable for irrigation and industrial uses.

"They will be one of the first users of the purple pipe system," Foscoli said.

Gomolak added the company is looking for a place that could provide the work force the facility needs. He said, as much as possible, the company would hire workers from Polk County.

"We may have to go outside for an engineer," he said. "It would be our intention, working with the local community to fill 90-95 percent of those jobs locally."

Gomolak noted that the project isn't quite final yet. The company still is in the process of securing financing.

"This isn't a case where the public comment period is over ... and we are going to break ground the next Tuesday. We're quite frankly three or four months away," Gomolak said. "This is just step in the process. We want to make sure that aren't any major road blocks, hurdles, and our investors want to make sure as well."

Foscoli said the project is under a type 2 planning review because the land, though used for farming now, is zoned industrial.

Residents have until Feb. 15 to submit comments to the city or concerns about the project.

The city will meet with Mint Valley after that date about any concerns voiced in the comment period that haven't been addressed in the application. After that, the city will issue a notice of decision.

"The notice will describe conditions of approval and the appeal filling procedure," said Dallas Planning Director Scott Whyte.

If the project is appealed, that will be heard by the Dallas Planning Commission.

Foscoli said Mint Valley will host a town hall to answer questions about the facility once the planning process is complete. Gomolak said the company welcomes questions.

"We want to encourage people to comment, we want feedback," he said. "That is our job as managers and leaders, to make sure we a answering both all the nice welcoming comments, but also people who are concerned. We want to address those concerns. We want to be a good neighbor."

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