Will a castle soon adorn the hillside above Bingen?
John Gotts, who owns 48.7 acres of land in the hills just east of downtown Bingen, said he plans to build a 10,000 square foot castle on a 20 acre section of the property.
"The castle would be built out of indigenous stone and with non-reflective glass," Gotts said, "and it will have a tower on each side. It's going to be amazing."
The parcel where the castle would be built will remain within the unincorporated area of Klickitat County, where the land is zoned for 20-acre minimum lot sizes. Gotts hopes to annex the remaining 29 acres into the city of White Salmon for development as residential lots.
"I have the right to build one house on that 20 acres, and my house will be my castle," Gotts said. "We're going to live in it. We'll sell off the bottom part that was going to be a park, and instead put the park on the top part of the land, around the castle. The other acreage will be developed as houses on one-half acre lots, east and west of Dry Creek."
The property has been the source of controversy over possible housing development on the land, which straddles Dry Creek. Concerns have been raised about the impacts of development on the property, some of which has 40 percent slopes.
Gotts pointed out that he never planned dense housing on the bluff.
"Now there will be just one home -- my castle," he said. "As far as high-density housing, that has never been my intent, and this proves it."
According to Gotts, the structure will be called "Stonecliff Castle." The adjacent residential development will be known as "Stonecliff Castle Estates."
On Friday, Gotts said representatives for Stonecliff Development LLC expect to have a development agreement ready for the city of White Salmon soon.
"We're about 30-40 days away from turning our proposal over to the city," Gotts said. "We're excited about this and all the benefits the community gets out of it."
Wil Keyser, director of White Salmon's Public Works Department, said the agreement will specify what types of development could occur on the land before deciding whether to annex the property into White Salmon.
"We have laws and public health and safety regulations, and that's what this is all about," Keyser explained recently. "We don't want to create any adverse impact to the city of Bingen and the folks who live there."
Gotts said the parcel where he plans to put the castle is the "most prominent bluff" on the property. He promised that the structure will stay within the county's height restrictions, and that the castle grounds would be open to the public.
"People will be welcome to come up on the land always," Gotts said. "It'll be something the community can enjoy forever."
Gotts said he expects to begin work on the road leading to the castle site this fall, and may also begin smoothing out the area where the castle is to be built. He estimated that it would take between three and five years to build the castle itself.
"We're not in any rush," Gotts said. "Life is good. Lisa [Jacobs, Gotts' fiance] and I love this area. We've had nothing but good times here, and we're looking forward to being here the rest of our lives."