The White Salmon Planning Commission has approved the city’s draft comprehensive plan with minor amendments. The 100-page document now proceeds to the White Salmon City Council for final approval and adoption.

The proposed 10-year comprehensive plan is a guiding document for city officials to take into consideration when debating various issues that impact the future of the city, including elements such as housing, transportation, utilities, capital facilities, land use, environment, economic development, and parks and recreation.

Beyond an inventory of data collected on various aspects of city governance, the proposed comprehensive plan lays out goals and policies to guide decisions made by city officials. While not a rigid document, the plan says it utilizes public feedback to articulate the direction the city will plan for, under state code.

“The plan is critical to avoiding uncoordinated activities as the city adapts to changing conditions and experiences that the city anticipates with growth,” the plan says.

The comprehensive plan notes: “The White Salmon 2040 Comprehensive Plan is designed to inform and guide future decisions while ensuring that White Salmon remains a place where people want to live, work, and conduct business while maintaining its small-town, village-like character.”

For a look at the draft comprehensive plan, visit the agenda packet for the June 23 White Salmon Planning Commission meeting at white-salmon.net.

Various goals and policies established in the comprehensive plan, should it be adopted by council in the future, would inform city officials’ decision-making on certain elements. On land use decisions, policies in the plan would inform city planning decisions, such as discouraging suburban sprawl and “leapfrog” housing, while promoting new development in areas with existing public services and near transportation networks and essential facilities. Another proposed land use policy states the encouragement of mixed-use development with residential and commercial components to foster small business development and increase housing stock.

Another proposed land use goal calls for the collaboration with Klickitat County on land use planning for the Urban Exempt Area, while another would have the city strive for design and aesthetic standards that preserve and enhance White Salmon’s “sense of place, ensuring an objective level of site and building design and construction quality without eliminating or overly limiting creativity or flexibility.”

In conjunction, a proposed policy would put on paper the city’s desire to, “with public input, consider developing and adopting a set of urban design and architectural stands that support and enhance the character-defining qualities of White Salmon, including its ‘small-town feel…’”

The draft comprehensive plan also states the city’s goal of establishing, supporting and maintaining a diverse stock of housing that serves the full range of ages, incomes and household types. To do so, proposed policies would include reviewing and updating land use and zoning regulations to remove “unnecessary barriers to the development of attainable housing stock,” meaning, according to the plan, households with 80 to 120% of White Salmon median household income ($55,677 according to a 2018 U.S. Census estimate used by city planning officials).

Under economic development, the proposed comprehensive plan calls for the city’s support for the creation of a downtown business association, and for public art to be included on blank walls in the city center, as well as the establishment of a community art program. It also calls for city partnership with local businesses to develop a “tourism promotion strategy that highlights recreational assets to attract travelers and encourage them to spend money at local businesses.”

The Parks and Recreation chapter notes policies, including a plan to develop trails and pathways between park sites and points of interest, “including developing a trail system that connects (Spoke) Bike Park and Mamie and Francis Gaddis Memorial Park” as well as enhancing access to recreational opportunities along the Columbia River shoreline.

The comprehensive plan will be discussed at a later White Salmon City Council meeting.