Bellview's bike slots discussed

The Ashland Planning Commission continued two agenda items Tuesday night until its February meeting. Commissioners ran out of time before they could hold a public hearing on plan changes to the Bellview Elementary School renovations at 1070 Tolman Creek Rd.

Medford-based Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architectural firm is handling the partial demolition and new construction of the 42,678 square-foot facility. Among issues expected to be challenged in the public hearing is the architects proposal for providing 33 bicycle spaces, rather than the 68 required by city policy. The architects say Bellview serves a huge geographic area and that most students don't ride their bikes.

Julia Sommer, vice chair of Ashland's Bike and Pedestrian Commission, opposes reducing the number of bike spaces. She said bike parking at Bellview currently is inadequate, and she attributes that to the reason more students aren't riding their bikes to school.

"And this isn't just about the students," said Sommer. "I think teachers, staff, parents and visitors would be more inclined to ride their bikes if the school had better bike rack facilities."

She also said the plan isn't very bike friendly. "The design has bikers crossing the area where parents drive up and drop off students."

Julie DeChiro, superintendent of Ashland School District, said she agrees that very few students ride their bikes to Bellview.

"But we're happy to conform to whatever the planning commission would like to see," she said.

Currently, Sommer said, Bellview's bike rack is a movable uncovered rack. The renovation will provide a permanent bike structure.

Lithia Way construction

The commission also approved modifications to Urban Development Service's original building plans located at 165 Lithia Way. UDS requested the consolidation of two lots and a variance to the downtown design standards that do not currently allow balconies.

Dale Shostrom, with the Ashland Historical Commission, said his commission did not have a problem with allowing the variance.

"We thought the recessed balconies mitigate the height of a three-story building and softens the mass of the structure," he said.

Planning Commissioner Mike Morris said the planning part of the two-step approval process for this request was approved Tuesday night, but the planning commission ran out of time before it could approve the findings.

The Feb.12 commission meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x226 or .

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