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Bring on the cottages

Editorial for Jan. 25, 2007

It has been a protracted process -- 16 months to be exact -- but on Jan. 17, the White Salmon City Council at long last gave final approval to a proposed "mixed use planned unit development" project in White Salmon.

The "Wyers' End" subdivision -- on East Jewett Boulevard near Fifth Street (formerly known as Timms Trailer Court) -- is expected to eventually provide 28 new housing units in White Salmon as follows: 10 homes with flexible living/work space; 11 residential bungalows; and seven cottages. The smallest dwellings envisioned in this plan will be about 600 square feet, with the largest being 1,500 square feet.

Not only is this type of housing needed in the White Salmon area, but this development will offer a progressive new approach. Rather than build three or four mansions on the three-acre site, 28 smaller homes will be available. The smaller-sized dwellings will have the added benefit or reducing costs to home buyers. That's vital to locals who might want to purchase a new home, but can't afford a larger dwelling.

Too often, developers purchase property and then re-develop it in a way designed to wring the highest possible price out of the property. That's the nature of business, but that approach can cut out local citizens, who often don't have the income to afford a larger house. The "cottage housing" being offered in this plan should serve to ease that problem, and also could be a showcase for other Gorge communities.

The company behind this new approach is appropriately known as "Smart Development Corp." (SDC). The owners, Henry Fischer and Randy Orzeck, stress that they want to foster a sense of community within their planned subdivision. To that effect, there will be attractively landscaped walkways, a common park-like center to the neighborhood, and cars and garages will deliberately not be prominent within the living environment of this "pocket neighborhood."

"SDC specializes in creating high-quality projects that blend innovative architecture with a neighborhood's historic character to create unique and desirable residential and commercial spaces," reads an excerpt from Smart Development Corp.'s mission statement.

In a region where land for housing developments is in relatively short supply, cottage development plans are especially attractive.

The city of White Salmon has long needed to take a new approach to providing high-quality housing for its current residents and for those moving into the area. This innovative development represents an enlightened and welcome approach to growth, and will be a plus for the overall community.



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