Sulphur Springs City Council Tuesday night gave initial approval to a reinvestment zone and agreed to a 380 economic development agreement for D6 Inc. A rezoning request for a West Industrial Drive property, and authorized the city manager to execute documents for up to four agricultural license agreements at the Old Thermo/Luminant mine property and to negotiate a real property acquisition for storm drainage purposes.
D6 Inc. — an advanced design-to-shelf packaging manufacturer that uses recycled plastics and, when the pandemic began, shifted to making face shields and masks — opened a facility in Sulphur Springs at the end of 2020, with plans to expand within 18-months.
In 2020, Sulphur Springs City Council established an industrial reinvestment zone, allowing D6 to apply and receive in December 2020 for a tax abatement from the hospital district and a 10-year 380 economic development agreement from the city for the $6 million investment, which included a 5,000 square foot expansion at the corner of Industrial Drive and Commercial Services Drive. On Nov. 23, 2020, a Chapter 381 agreement between Hopkins County and D6 Inc. was approved by Hopkins County Commissioners Court. That agreement didn’t cover the entire operation, just the planned 25,000-square foot expansion at the facility.
On Oct. 15, 2021, Texas Governor announced a Texas Enterprise Fund grant of $1,432,200 had been extended to D6 and the business has been offered a $6,000 Veteran Created Job Bonus to move it’s corporate headquarters from Portland, Oregon to Sulphur Springs to expand the business’ manufacturing presence in the state. D6 Inc. plans to build the first fully closed-loop recycling site for single-use PET clamshells in Sulphur Springs, the Governor said of the plastic packaging produced by the company. The $27 million in capital investment is projected to create 231 new jobs.
The City Council Jan. 4, 2022, approved on first reading Ordinance No. 2796, establishing a reinvestment zone for the planned 300,000 square-foot D6 expansion, with a 180,000-square-foot building to be constructed as soon as the business can get everything in line and another 120,000-square-foot building expansion in three years. The new buildings will be located just across from the current facility, on10 acres the EDC has near the railroad tracks, according to Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Roger Feagley.
The ordinance is set to be presented again in February to the City Council for second and, if approved, final reading establishing the reinvestment zone for D6.
An economic development agreement for D6 was among three reportedly the City Council was reported to discuss during an executive session, held 30 minutes prior to the regular 7 p.m. meeting on Jan. 4, 2022. The City Council later in the meeting agreed to grant another 380 economic development agreement to D6 for the planned expansion. The business also plans to seek tax incentives from the county and hospital district for the relocation and expansion as well.
Additional Executive Session Items
The City Council also during the executive session discussed potential economic development by what has been identified only as Project Superman. The City Council has discussed this during executive sessions in several meetings, but reported the elected officials are not yet at a point to act on the matter nor in a position to discuss the sensitive negotiation for the project.
The City Council did, however, authorize the city manager to negotiate for acquisition of real property as discussed during the executive session. The property in question was designated for storm drainage purposes, the council noted.
Agricultural License Agreements
The City of Sulphur Springs posted notices for bids for agricultural license agreements for the land at the old Thermo mine/Luminant property owned by the city. One bid was reported to be far below the $62 per acre rate agreed upon in another agreement executed by the city manager last month.
Place 1 Councilman Jay Julian asked about the $2 per year Hopkins County pays for agricultural and sand use. He noted that city facilities such as the senior center and public library are located within Hopkins County and provide services to people who live not just in the city but to those who reside outside the city limits as well. The county does contribute to the library, about 6 percent of the overall budget. The county benefits from more than the $2 worth of sand used to mix with oil for roads.
City Manager Marc Maxwell said only Precinct 2 where the sand pit is located takes sand from the old mine property. Precinct 2 has had that arrangement for the sand for some time. Allowing that to continue, Maxwell said, in his opinion, would foster continued good will with the county, especially with plans to develop the mine property in the future, which the county could be helpful in establishing reinvestment or tax increment zones.
The City Council authorized the city manager to execute documents for three of the four agricultural license agreements as proposed, minus the request well below the $62 amount, and to negotiate an ag license agreement for the acres in question at no less than $62 per acre, going down the list of bidders for the agreements. All agreements are for 1 year each.
The City Council too approved on first reading a request from John Heilman to rezone his property at 1381 West Industrial, changing the 0.97 acre from heavy commercial to light commercial to be consistent with the zoning of approximately 7.5 adjacent acres of property he owns that is already zoned light commercial.
The request was recommended to the City Council after review by city staff as well as unanimous approval of the Planning & Zoning Commission during a December meeting. The zoning and use would be consistent with plans for that corridor.
Heilman in December told the P&Z Commission that he has been approached by a few business representatives interested in purchasing the property, including those scouting locations for a travel center and a water park. Rezoning the property would be one step in the process of him being able to sell the property all together to a developer.
The Council approved, on first reading, the proposed Ordinance No. 2795 granting the zone change for 1381 West Industrial Drive. The ordinance is slated to be read and presented again during the February City Council meeting on second and, if approved, final reading.