Mobius seeks permit for live music

On The Agenda — — Verde Village, a 68-unit subdivision proposed on the site of Ashland Greenhouses on Nevada Street, comes back before the Ashland Planning Commission on Tuesday night. The project — which requires annexation and a land exchange with the city, among other requirements — first came before the commission in 2006. It will now be considered under new approval criteria. Instead of approving all the different aspects of the project, the city could grant the applicants, Greg and Valri Williams, a development agreement, which would ratify a multipronged agreement between the Williams’ and the city. — Before that happens, planning staff has raised four issues it suggested should be addressed before the planning commission offer approval. According to the staff report, those concerns are: impact on the Ashland Creek riparian corridor from the residential development; the usability of the proposed open space areas; a lack of a justification for one of the new streets for the development; and whether a sidewalk is needed to connect Nevada Street to Oak Street.

Because the Mobius does not have the right permit to offer live music, the live music venue of Fourth Street is requesting a conditional use permit from the Ashland Planning Commission.

"Currently, the building does not have an approved building permit for assembly use," city planning staff wrote in a report. "The theater use is currently functioning without land use approval."

The request will be heard on Tuesday, 7 p.m. in the council chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

"We are prepared to make upgrades or changes necessary improvements that are recommended to us by the Fire Department for safety, and any other recommendations by the city," wrote Aaren Glover and Beryl Jacobsen, co-chairs of the Mobius board of directors.

They are requesting a variance from a city parking rule requiring 30 parking spaces for club patrons.

The club said it has agreements with neighbors to accommodate 30 cars, but planning staff countered that the agreements are somewhat nebulous, and until they are cleared up, staff would not recommend approval for the permit. Additionally, the Mobius would like to hold events for up to 120 people, but Ashland Fire and Rescue said it is only permitted to have 49 people in the building, including its staff.

"Due to the large number of outstanding issues, Planning Staff is unable to recommend approval for the project as proposed," according to the staff report. "Given the large size of events proposed, it is not clear that the impact will be minor and the burden of proof is not met for the Conditional Use Permit."

The issue has compelled Mobius' neighbors and other Ashland businesses to write to the planning department, telling it what they think of the venue's effect on downtown Ashland.

"The usual aftermath of a concert at Mobius involves arriving at work the next morning to find broken glass/beer bottles, cigarette butts, trash in general and graffiti," wrote Crissy Barnett, owner the Peerless Restaurant on Fourth Street. "I would welcome a responsible music venue as a neighbor in the railroad district. Unfortunately, Mobius has not demonstrated that they are responsible. I would appreciate your denial of a CUP to operate beyond their present use as a sound/video studio."

Other Fourth Street neighbors &

Deluxe Awning Company and Haskin's Garage &

also wrote letters advocating against granting the Mobius special permission to operate &

as did Peerless manager John Mullowney.

However, 23 Ashland businesses and residents wrote to planning staff advocating that the permit be granted, because of the unique service the Mobius offers Ashland.

"With the recent closure of many performing arts venues in Ashland, the Mobius is a much-needed resource for our community," wrote Inger Jorgenson, owner of Bohemia Gallery on A Street. "It is also important for our culture of tourism to have more venues such as the Mobius."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or . To post a comment on this story, go to .

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