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Santa stops by to sip tea

Last weekend in Port Orchard, several children sat down to a fancy tea with Santa Claus, which was perhaps a dream come true.

But for Heather Cole, the woman who hosted the event, the tea parties meant only some of her dream has come true, but not quite all.

While Saturday and Sunday Cole hosted the sit-down sips for free at her home on Kitsap Street, she hopes some day to operate a business out of the fixer-upper she bought last year.

“I’m living my dream of restoring an old home,” Cole said, explaining that two years ago she was a Lakebay resident when she drove through Port Orchard looking for a house to rent. “And I drove through downtown and saw this house and thought, ‘Omigosh, that’s my house.’”

A few months went by before she could reach an agreement with the previous owners, but Cole said she was determined, and finally in April of 2006, and took over what she says is the second-oldest house in Port Orchard and the building that apparently used to house the city’s treasurer.

“It has a huge, old vault,” said Cole, adding that while restoring the home she has tried to keep as many of its original features as possible. “It is just an amazing home, and so well-built. It was a huge mess, but it’s now completely restored.”

In the future, Cole envisions not only being able to run business ventures like fancy tea parties for children out of her home, but a retail shop where mothers and daughters can shop together, and, ultimately, a bed and breakfast.

Currently, Cole does not have the proper permits to operate such businesses. City Planner Joanne Long-Woods said she is familiar with Cole’s property and wishes, and that the city “totally supports what she is trying to do.”

Long-Woods explained that at about the time Cole bought the property, the City Council began discussions on the Downtown Overlay District and “it thought some rezoning (that would allow such a business there) might be possible, but the council decided not to do that.”

However, Long-Woods said that Cole could apply herself to have her property re-zoned to facilitate her business ventures.

Another city resident who wanted to run a bed and breakfast out of her home on Kitsap Street, Lorraine Olson, was granted a conditional-use permit by the city, Long-Woods said. However, the situations do differ because Olson’s property is not within the DOD.

For now, Cole said she decided to open her home for the free tea parties to “let people know I’m here and offer tours of the house. I’m trying to open it up to the community and show them what I’ve done inside.”

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