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Height Variance: Hearing On Downtown Building Plan

Building's plans call for retail space, condominiums

Should a proposed mixed use building be allowed to be taller than others in White Salmon's business district? That question will be the subject of a public hearing next week.

Dr. Kevin Kane of Portland has applied to construct a mixed commercial/residential building at 125 E. Jewett Blvd. The city's maximum building height is 35 feet within the general commercial district, but Kane is asking the city to grant a variance for his building, which would be 41 feet, 8 inches high at its maximum.

The building's plans call for retail space on the street level, and condominiums above. The retail space will be available for rent.

The site of the proposed building -- where the old Cameo Theater was located until it burned down years ago -- is between Runyan's Jewelers and The Creamery. It is now an undeveloped open space.

Details of the proposed variance were described in the seven-page variance application and staff report.

"To modify the maximum allowable building height of 35 feet in the C2 (commercial) district to provide for a maximum building height of 41 feet 8 inches in a manner that will accommodate fourth floor bedroom for the third floor condos," read an excerpt. "The proposed `Cameo Building' will maintain a 35 foot height along Jewett Boulevard with the exception of the penthouse elevator structure which is proposed at 38 feet 6 inches. the portion of the roof which is at 41 feet 8 inches is setback approximately 42 feet to the south of the Jewett Boulevard building frontage."

The variance issue will be discussed before the White Salmon Planning Commission on July 28. The public hearing is geared to take testimony for or against the variance.

On Dec. 10, 2003, the Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit that provided for mixed use development of the property as a commercial/residential building. The proposed building would have a total floor area of 15,482 square feet.

Mayor Linda Jones said she is supportive of the proposal.

"I'm looking forward to creating new space in town for commerce, and as a way to entice more businesses into the community," she said.

Members of the city staff who prepared the report on Kane's building proposal also have endorsed the concept.

"It is staff's recommendation that the Planning Commission approve the Dr. Kane variance application," read a statement in the city's report on the variance request.

"This has been in the works for awhile, since last year," Jones said. "We're waiting on a plan review through the Planning Commission, but we haven't received any complaints."

Jones said a letter had gone out to all the businesses in the downtown area to find out what local retail owners think about the request.

"I've just heard, `please get that hole filled.' It'll be nice to get something in there," Jones said.

Part of the chain-link fence that protects pedestrians from a 20-foot drop into the recessed open lot has recently fallen forward, and a portion leans over the sidewalk.

The city has put up warning tape until repairs are made. "I have no idea how it happened," Jones said. "We called the owner to have that fence fixed."

Wednesday's hearing on the height variance, which will be held in the Park Center Building, will start at 5:30 p.m.

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