What will tomorrow look like?

The City of Ashland is hosting a public workshop to discuss the redevelopment of a master plan for the Croman Mill site tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at Bellview Grange, 1050 Tolman Creek Road.

The mill, which closed in 1995, is bordered by Mistletoe Road, Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad, Siskiyou Boulevard and Interstate 5. The mostly vacant, 60-acre parcel of land, zoned industrial, is owned by Bud Kaufman and Dwayne Cross of Croman Corp. in White City.

The city received an $80,000 Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Quick Response Grant to redevelop a master plan for the mill site and surrounding properties. The state selects and pays for a consulting firm to create a master plan with community input. The planning firm Crandall Arambula, out of Portland, is presenting the workshop in order to hear ideas from the public to identify and develop a vision for the area.

Bill Molnar, Ashland community development director, said the state grants are targeted for areas susceptible to change that could happen quickly, pointing out that the Croman Mill site is the last large area within Ashland's Urban Growth Boundary available for housing, light industrial and commercial development.

He said the city's goal for a master plan is to take into account what's available in the area now, such as the railroad, shopping centers, bike trail, streets, freeway access and schools, and thinking about how it all could tie together in the future.

The city, along with Crandall Arambula, has sat down with state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Transportation, Department of Housing to make sure there is a certain amount of coordination for the area, said Molnar.

Based on these meetings, the planning firm has put together conceptual plans for the area. Crandall Arambula met separately on Tuesday with the Croman Corp. owners, DEQ, DOT, Rogue Valley Transit representatives, property owners, Plexis, neighborhood groups and city and planning departments.

Jason Graf, project manager for Crandall Arambula, said they would then receive input from the public tonight.

Molnar anticipated that the issues to be discussed at the workshop would include maximizing opportunities for business development and employment growth, transportation connections, determining appropriate land uses, identifying development scenarios to address potential on-site clean up, developing a comprehensive parking plan and incorporating sustainable and energy efficient development practices.

Graf said the Crandall Arambula team would then go back to Portland and develop a plan based on what they heard in Ashland. The second public workshop will be held on March 19 when they present their plan. When the public sees and hears what the planning firm proposes, they will be able to voice any concerns.

Molnar said the firm then might "pull an all-nighter," where the firm again makes adjustments to the plan and presents at a third workshop the following night. The final steps will be the city adopting the Redevelopment Master Plan and implementing code amendments.

The property owners tried in 2001 to get the area rezoned from industrial to categories that would allow residential and commercial development. The rezoning was denied. Molnar said the plan proposed was too heavy on residential and not enough on employment growth.

Molnar said the city would like to see a mixed use master plan that includes public spaces, retail, commercial and light industrial areas and possibly some workforce housing.

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