Eco-friendly subdivision heads to council

The Ashland City Council will take public comments on its way to making a decision about whether to approve a subdivision touted as a state-wide model for sustainable building.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Helman Street residents Greg and Valri Williams are proposing a 68-unit subdivision of standard size homes, small cottages and affordable townhouses near the Ashland Dog Park. The homes and cottages would be built to Earth Advantage standards and would include solar electric panels, solar water heaters, cisterns to catch rainwater off roofs for use in flushing toilets and irrigation, heavy insulation and bioswales and wetlands to treat stormwater run-off.

Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation, which builds affordable housing in the Valley, would construct 15 townhouses. The organization would seek a grant to build those to high environmental standards as well.

Known as Verde Village, the subdivision has been identified as one of three demonstration projects in the state by the Oregon Department of Energy, Greg Williams said.

"We want to build something special," he said.

The project would require that the city of Ashland swap a 1.54 acre finger of land that runs through the couple's property for 2.78 acres that the Williams own along Ashland Creek. The city's land is appraised at $134,000, while the couple's land is appraised at $284,000.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has recommended approval of the land swap. The Bear Creek Greenway could be extended along the creek-side property, which is on a parks department land acquisition wish list that was adopted in 2002.

The Dog Park would remain undisturbed by the subdivision, although the access road to the popular park off Nevada Street would be improved.

Councilor Eric Navickas has raised concerns about the land swap and expanding Ashland's boundaries with the subdivision, which is outside the city limits and would have to be annexed.

Colin Swales, a former planning commissioner, criticized the location of the affordable townhouses because they are closest to the dog park and Ashland's sewage treatment plant.

Williams said if the land is not annexed, he will build it to Jackson County standards, which would allow just five homes. He said a dense development is a better use of land and natural resources. The townhouses would be located in the lowest spot to avoid blocking neighbors' views, and that happens to be nearest the dog park, he said.

Among other agenda items Tuesday night, the council is scheduled to recognize the 2007 Tree of the Year, consider adoption of the new Public Arts Master Plan, discuss limiting the Glenn Street railroad crossing to bicyclists and pedestrians only, consider council rules that limit what councilors can say and the rights of the media and hear an update on plans to connect to Medford's water supply to augment Ashland water.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or To post a comment, visit .

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