Burt Edwards, communications director
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PORTLAND, OR – On June 21, Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Dr. Heiner and Sheron Fruehauf reached a settlement agreement concerning the Fruehaufs’ plans to restore the historic View Point Inn in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and open a new wellness retreat and other commercial uses on the property. The product of months of talks between representatives for the Fruehaufs and Friends, the agreement settles concerns over the project’s potential scenic impacts and provides a framework to ensure that commercial activity on the property will comply with the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act and implementing rules.
In a land-use application filed with Multnomah County in 2018, the Fruehaufs proposed to reestablish the historic inn and restaurant, while adding a retreat center complete with spa and wellness facilities to serve inn guests and day visitors. The Fruehaufs also propose a limited number of commercial events on the property. The Fruehaufs’ land use application is scheduled to be heard by a Multnomah County land use hearings officer at a June 24 public hearing.
“We appreciate that we were able to work with the Fruehaufs to develop a plan that supports their growing business and also protects the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area,” said Kevin Gorman, executive director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
“We are happy to have achieved an agreement that honors both community concerns and our goal of safeguarding the uniquely Oregonian qualities that we all treasure: a fervent love for nature and the wonders of the Gorge, the power of holistic medicine, and a commitment to making our planet a more compassionate and sustainable place,” said Dr. Fruehauf, the owner and senior professor at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland and an internationally renowned expert of classical Chinese medicine.
The agreement between Friends and the Fruehaufs includes the following components:
- Decrease the proposed building footprint. The agreement ensures that all future renovation and construction for commercial purposes falls within the footprints of the existing buildings on the property. The basement will be excavated to the perimeter of the main building, a new basement will be dug underneath the perimeter of the existing attached garage, and a small existing accessory building on the property will be restored, but no further expansion for commercial purposes will be allowed. In addition, the second-story attic above the existing attached garage will be renovated, including an expansion of the roof, to allow for a small single-family dwelling on the property.
- Protect scenic views. The agreement requires that a proposed parking lot east of the inn building will be screened with native trees and other vegetation to protect views from designated key viewing areas such as Larch Mountain Road, which is adjacent to the property.
- Limit commercial uses. The agreement stipulates that all indoor commercial uses on the property will be permanently limited to the areas described in the agreement. In addition, a small number of commercial events (up to fifteen per year) may be held on the property. A prior settlement agreement with the previous owners of the property will continue to govern the scope and impacts of any outdoor commercial events.
Corbett's View Point Inn, just off the Columbia River Historic Highway, was operated as a roadside inn and restaurant from 1927 to 1979, and today the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The inn was converted to a single-family residential home in 1980.
In 2005, the Columbia River Gorge Commission, at the behest of the then landowners, amended the Gorge Management Plan to authorize new commercial uses on historic properties. Friends and 11 Corbett landowners appealed the 2005 plan amendment to the Oregon Court of Appeals and Oregon Supreme Court. The courts ultimately upheld the plan changes, but in 2006 Friends and several Corbett neighbors reached an agreement limiting the scope and frequency of outdoor commercial events on the subject property. The inn was subsequently gutted by a fire in 2011. The Fruehaufs purchased the property in 2016.
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About the Friends of the Columbia Gorge
Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a nonprofit organization with over 6,000 members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge. Friends maintains offices in Portland and Hood River, OR and Washougal, WA. Learn more: gorgefriends.org
About the View Point Inn
The View Point Inn will combine Oriental wellness practices and traditional European spa modalities with the distinct craftsmanship, food culture and hospitality of the American Northwest to create a world-class retreat and wellness center at the entryway to the Columbia River Gorge. For more information contact: email@example.com