Havurah condos earn approval

The Ashland Planning Commission gave its final nod to the Havurah Friends Investment Group's outline plan for a new subdivision, approving an Exception to Street Standards for its private drive.

The 12-lot, 15-unit subdivision for the properties at 167, 185 and 203 N. Mountain Ave. included a driveway that would serve a six-unit condominium. Current street standards allow no more than three units to be served by a single private driveway. Condo residents will enter the one-way drive from North Mountain Avenue, which takes them to an underground garage, and can only be exited onto Clear Creek Drive. The request was approved unanimously, except for Commissioner Pam Marsh, who recused herself from the proceedings due to her husband's business relationship with Larry Medinger, contractor for the project.

Laura Robin, president of the 20-member investor group, describes the subdivision as unique.

"The properties run along three sides of the Havurah Shir Hadash Synagogue," Robin said. "The land is beautiful and we wanted a development that would serve the Havurah community, as well as the Ashland community. This will be a multi-generational facility that will serve our elders as well as younger families. We've included common green areas, expanded the wetlands and take advantage of solar gains on the south sides of the units."

Mark Knox of Urban Development Services of Ashland, who is working as the project planner, also explained to the commission how the group is working with the public works department to improve the drainage issues in the area.

In other news, the commissioners voted 6 to 3, directing the city's planning staff to draw up language regarding its recommendations for setbacks on the north side of Lithia Way.

Bill Molnar, director of Ashland's planning department, and Maria Harris, planning manager, recommended changing the portion of the city's land use ordinance that now requires a 20-foot front yard setback, to a 13- to 15-foot wide setback that includes a combination of parking rows and sidewalks.

Commission Chair John Stromberg said that once the planning staff prepares the language for the commission, the official process to change the standards will begin.

"Then we'll have public discussions," Stromberg said, "and I think they will get pretty lively."

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