GRANTS PASS — The unincorporated areas surrounding Merlin and the Josephine County Airport soon may have a sewer system.

GRANTS PASS — The unincorporated areas surrounding Merlin and the Josephine County Airport soon may have a sewer system.

Josephine County commissioners cleared the way Wednesday for construction of the Merlin/North Valley Sanitary Sewer District system, covering North Valley Industrial Park, a trio of Three Rivers School District campuses, an Interstate 5 rest area and the airport.

A procedural vote passed 2-1, setting up a final approval on June 23.

Commercial and industrial growth has long been stifled in the area because of sewer limitations leaving customers to rely on septic systems or holding tanks.

Among the first customers awaiting the system will be Paradise Ranch Resort on Monument Drive, across from North Valley High School.

Michael Bird, a business consultant representing Rendata Industrial Park, a 180-acre parcel on the former Redwood Mill site, estimated parts could be ordered and crews could begin digging lines within 60 to 90 days. He said access to sewer lines will be a boon for existing businesses in Merlin as well.

— Greg Stiles