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Townhouses Planned

Council okays zoning change downtown

There could soon be a spate of new construction on the edge of the downtown business district following a zoning alteration approved by the White Salmon City Council.

In a unanimous vote on April 2, the council approved the rezoning of a portion of a 0.41-acre parcel from C-2 (general commercial) to R-3 (multi-family residential).

"That kind of made my day," said Scott Nielson, the proponent of the development project. "I'm excited and ready to get started."

The zoning change covered the south portion of lots 4, 5, and 6 on the property, which is in the 100 block of W. Jewett. The parcel is next to McCoy's Video and across from the Inn of the White Salmon. The proposal calls for the front 50 feet (5,940 square feet) of the parcel to remain in C-2 commercial zoning, while the rear 75 feet (12,014 square feet) will become R-3 residential.

Wil Keyser, director of the city's Public Works Department, provided a summary of the impact of the zoning change.

"We have done an extensive analysis of the city's C-2 zones, and the total square footage in C-2 zoning is 1.5 million," Keyser explained. "This rezone covers 12,014 square feet, which is seven-tenths of one percent of the total C-2 area; or 9.5 percent of the total undeveloped commercial area in the city."

Keyser advised the council members that the staff's recommendation is "to authorize and approve the rezone."

Keyser also pointed out that several conditions would be attached to the application if it gained approval, including:

placing utility services for all new development underground and assuming responsibility for extending water and wastewater pipelines as necessary to service new development;

filing of a site plan and building plans for all new development to ensure compliance with building, mechanical, fire and plumbing codes of the city;

applicant will be responsible to improve Overlander Drive to meet city design standards, including a minimum street right of way width of 40 feet and include a designated four-foot wide pedestrian pathway from Riverwatch Drive to Garfield Avenue.

all new development on the property must comply with the city's density provisions related to multi-family residential districts.

White Salmon Mayor Roger Holen recused himself from the process due to the proximity of the property to his business. The parcel subject to the rezoning is directly across the street from the Inn of the White Salmon, which Holen owns. Holen left the council meeting room before the council began its deliberations on the zoning plan.

Francis Gaddis served as mayor pro tem in Holen's absence.

"We will consider the application [for the zoning change] based on the record before us," Gaddis advised the council members present.

Council member Susan Benedict asked for clarification before the vote.

"The only thing we're deciding is to change the back half of the lots into residential, and it has nothing to do with the front part?" she asked.

Keyser responded that was accurate.

When the vote was called, the vote to approve the zoning change was 4-0.

"I figured everything would be fine, but you never know until the vote happens," Nielson said.

He added that he hopes to begin construction on the site by mid-May, provided his subdivision plan is OK'd by city officials.

His plans call for four townhouses to be constructed, as well as a commercial building, which Nielson expects to include a diner.

"I'm 95 percent sure we'll do a restaurant," he said. "I'll do the townhouses first, and once they are in, start on the commercial."

After the vote, Mayor Holen expressed support for the development concept and new zoning.

"I think it was a good plan. It certainly solved my initial concerns and it turned out to be the best of all possible outcomes," Holen said. "It makes a nice transition from commercial zone to multi-family residential zone. And it preserves appropriate commercial area on Jewett Boulevard."

The White Salmon Planning Commission plans a public hearing on a Nielson subdivision plan on April 23. The hearing will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Park Center.

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