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[whitespace] One way or another, family says it will develop orchard

Saratoga--Family members of the late Louis Dorcich are entertaining a half-dozen development plans for Dorcich's two-acre Quito Road estate.

They say if none of the plans work out, they would develop the land themselves.

This spells a likely end to one of the last remaining private orchards in Saratoga.

Louis Dorcich Sr. operated the cherry grove at 13089 Quito Road--with family help--for about 20 years until his death last September. Dorcich's son Louis Jr. says the orchard's future probably passed on with his father.

"We'd be delighted, along with the neighbors of the property, to see it remain as a viable orchard," said Dorcich, who lives in Watsonville, "But no one in the family has expressed an interest."

Dorcich says the only way to preserve the small farm outside of the his family would be to sell it at a discount, a move that no one is willing to make.

Instead, the city has allowed the Dorcich family and potential developers to consider dividing the parcel into six lots of about 12,000 square feet each. The city's historic preservation commission also recommends that developers refurbish the estate's existing house and keep it on the land.

"There's a lot of artistic flavor in the house and it represents the city's old agricultural style of living," Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Norman Koepernik said of the two-story bungalow that sits unattended on the property now.

Saratoga developer Scotty Kelly Jr., who has brought his plan for the Dorcich land to the commission and the community development department, would move the house onto a corner lot on the parcel. Kelly is also planning to build a cul-de-sac road through the property that would exit onto Martha Avenue.

Because the Dorcich family has communicated only by mail, Kelly was unclear on April 13, if his was among the final handful of development plans being considered.

Louis Dorcich did say most of the final plans were similar: six lots, each with houses around 3,000 square feet. He said the highest bids were in excess of $4 million.

Louis Dorcich Sr. told The Saratoga News last spring that he bought the Quito Road land in 1961, after rising property values and commercial activity in West San Jose led him to seek a rural lifestyle in Saratoga.

The property was a barren, run-down peach and apricot orchard. Gradually, Louis Sr. shaped the land into a viable vegetable and fruit farm, with the help of his wife, the late Helen Dorcich, and his 11 children.

After retiring from the butchering business in the late '70s, Louis Sr. continued to run the farm, where in recent times he grew mostly cherries, along with some figs, persimmons and plums.

He sold his fruit and Watsonville strawberries from his driveway. People often paid for fruit on the honor system when Dorcich wasn't tending his stand.

Last spring, with his health failing and his cherry trees suffering, would be his last season in the fruit business.

Louis Sr. died on September 22, at the age of 85.
Oakley Brooks

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