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Cottage housing plans win OK

Council approves mixed use development

It looks like phrases such as "cottage development" and "pocket neighborhood" will soon become common in the city of White Salmon.

On Jan. 17, the White Salmon City Council voted 3-1 to approve a new "mixed use planned unit development" known as "Wyers' End." Envisioned is a subdivision that will soon replace the mobile-home park long known as Timms Trailer Court.

The company behind the new subdivision -- Smart Development Corp. of Hood River -- has gained approval to build a "pocket neighborhood" on approximately three acres located along "that portion of land lying between Fifth Street, Fifth Place, Jewett Boulevard, and Oak Street."

Council members Susan Benedict, Timi Keene, and Brad Roberts voted to support the PUD plan, while councilor Richard Marx was opposed.

The owners of Smart Development Corp. -- Randy Orzeck and Henry Fischer -- are proponents of residential developments that offer smaller-scale, lower impact townhouses of approximately 1,300 square feet and purely residential bungalows of 1,000-1,500 square feet. There will also be cottage homes of about 600 square feet.

"The planned unit development (PUD) area will include some mixed residential/commercial (10 townhomes with flexible live/work space) to make the transition into the strictly residential area bungalows (11 bungalows)," reads an excerpt from the staff presentation created for the council members by the city of White Salmon. "Only the southernmost portion of the PUD will utilize the "cottage development provisions adopted as part of the PUD provisions (seven cottages) ... the end result would be 28 potential living units in place of the 34 or 35 residential units accommodated on the site previously."

"Henry and I are very happy that our project was approved. It has been a lot of work to get to this point," said Orzeck. "There was no PUD ordinance in place when we came to the city with our concept. I have to commend that White Salmon city staff, Planning Department, and City Council for investing their time and energy on working through the creation of the legislative amendment that ultimately allowed for this type of project."

Orzeck said they plan to start work soon.

"In early April, the one-year grace period for tenants of Timms Trailer Court expiries, and we expect to begin construction shortly thereafter," said Orzeck.

"The initial site work should be completed by July, at which point we will start construction on the homes," added Fischer. "It should take about 14 months from this July to complete all the homes."

The former trailer park is nearly empty now. Residents have been moving out ever since Smart Development bought the property and advised the residents of the changes they planned to make on the property.

"The developers had to provide the residents with a year's notice, which is only fair," said council member John Mayo.

Orzeck also thanked the neighbors living around Timms for their backing.

"I want to thank all of the neighbors who have been very supportive of our efforts on this project," Orzeck said. "Now it is time to get to work and make it happen."

The city set several conditions the developers will need to meet, including requiring a pedestrian path through the area where the cottages will be built that would extend to Oak Street; requiring that utility lines be placed underground; and that covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) must be submitted for review and approval (by the city attorney); and not allowing RVs to be kept within the neighborhood.

Mayor Francis Gaddis praised the council for opening the door to an innovative approach to meet the community's housing needs.

"I think it's good," Gaddis said. "It will give us some choices, and we certainly need them. People can't find anything to live in, and costs are extremely high."

"We are building smaller, more efficient houses, and due to the higher density that the PUD amendment has allowed us, we are certain that we will provide high quality, viable home ownership options to a variety of people," Orzeck said.

Although council member John Mayo was out of town last week and not able to attend the council meeting, he said he was glad the city voted to support the PUD proposal.

"It's important for the city to have as many tools when it comes to planning as possible," explained Mayo, who previously served as chair of the city's Planning Commission. "This project gives us some flexibility to create interesting and meaningful living environment that allows for creativity. It's not a cookie-cutter, everyone-has-a-garage type of housing, and I hope other developers will see it as an invitation. It's a real quality of life issue."

Mayo praised the concept behind the Wyers' End development.

"There are more single Americans than ever before," Mayo said. "This helps us to have a variety of housing out there for those who are widowed or divorced or who just don't need a quarter-acre of land and a three-bedroom house, but still want the benefits of home ownership. I'm glad this is moving forward."

Council member Timi Keene agreed.

"The city will benefit from a quality project," Keene said.


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