Mobius' fate up in the air

The Mobius will have to wait another month to find out whether the Ashland Planning Commission will issue a conditional use permit so it can continue to host live music events at its facility on Fourth Street.

The commission held a public hearing on the matter Tuesday night, but delayed making a decision until it can piece together all the information it collected about the Mobius' request.

Recently the Mobius, a local concert venue and recording studio, learned it didn't have the proper permit to host audiences larger than 49 people. The venue would like to have a capacity of at least 120 people.

Standing in the way is a parking space stipulation that requires the Railroad District business to have at least 30 parking spaces.

Although planning staff recommended the parking variance be denied, the commission was inclined to grant it because several members, and a numerous members of the public, said parking isn't a problem late at night in the Railroad District.

"Parking just isn't an issue there," Commissioner Michael Dawkins said. He added that it seemed as if staff was trying to make the application "as complicated as possible."

Beryl Jacobsen, a co-owner of the Mobius, submitted parking agreements from several neighbors, some of which were deemed invalid because residential parking spots can't be used for commercial properties. But staff would not recognize any of them, because they weren't legal contracts. Community Development Director David Stalheim gave Jacobsen 10-page contracts for the parking agreements, but Jacobsen said such contracts would intimidate neighbors from offering their help.

Commissioner Melanie Mindlin said pushing the parking contracts "seems legalistic and spurious."

Although a majority of the commission was sympathetic to the Mobius, and agreed that parking was a non-issue, they held off on making a decision until a set of findings could be written, so commissioners know exactly what they are voting on.

"I don't want to see the integrity of our process compromised," Commission chair John Stromberg said, about why he didn't want to make a decision at this meeting. The commission continued the matter until its next meeting, in October.

Jacobsen said after the meeting that the onerous planning process is having adverse effects on his business.

"I still have to hire someone to figure out what just happened," he said. "This has already sucked so much money and life out of us."

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