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FairfaxVienna offers unique way for public to mull cottage-housing options

Vienna offers unique way for public to mull cottage-housing options

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Cottage housing – small and in theory affordable – increasingly is in demand as home prices skyrocket and people’s desires for simpler living increase.

To give the public a sense of how such a collection of diminutive dwellings might be arranged, the Vienna Planning and Zoning Department from May 8 through 23 will display a scale-model development using dog houses at the Vienna Town Green.

There will be nine dog houses representing residences, with two rows of four facing each other across a green common area. The final house will be placed on one end between the rows and a slightly different-shaped dog house, representing the development’s clubhouse, will face it at the other end.

The intent is to let people see a sample clustering of cottage houses – complete with streets, walkways and shared parking lot spray-painted on the grass – without having to visit actual developments, said Kelly O’Brien, the department’s principal planner.


“It’s fun to see and do,” she said. “It’s educational.”

The town purchased the dog houses, made by Trixie, from Home Depot. Most measure roughly 33-by-40 inches at the base and are 40 inches tall, O’Brien said. They will be arranged to resemble a cottage-housing development in Kirkland, Wash., she said.

Officials also will be looking for businesses to sponsor the tiny wooden dwellings. Five of the houses are spoken for and the rest still are available, she said.

Sponsoring companies will receive the houses for free, but must pay for materials to decorate them creatively. The final results must not have political or sexual overtones and the decorative materials used should be durable enough to withstand the elements, she said.

The town will leave the houses in place overnight during the display, but take security measures, O’Brien said. When the display has run its course, officials will auction off the houses at a yet-to-be-scheduled event to pay for lighting, possibly solar-powered, at the Vienna Dog Park, she said.

Officials originally pondered using children’s playhouses for the display, but reconsidered given the frequent cleanings that would be needed during the pandemic, she said.

Vienna officials are mulling cottage housing as a possible new residential option as they rewrite the town’s zoning code. No cottage housing has been built yet in Vienna, although developers have dangled a couple of concepts in front of the Town Council.

The small, detached homes typically are clustered around a common area and are developed at a denser amount of dwelling units per acre than in standard single-family neighborhoods, town officials said.

Town Manager Mercury Payton will showcase the display during his May 11 “On Deck with Mercury” discussion.

Businesses wishing to sponsor one of the dog houses can e-mail the town at codecreate@viennava.gov by April 30 to register.

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