City works on 'recession extensions'

The Ashland City Council is open to "recession extensions" for developers whose projects have been stalled by the economy, but members are still working out details such as whether the extensions would be good for 12 months or 18 months.

The extensions would increase the amount of time developers have to start construction on projects that already went through the Ashland planning process and won approval. Many developers have been unable to get financing for their projects because of the economy.

At a Tuesday night meeting, the council agreed that if the extensions are adopted, they should apply only to developers who submitted their project applications to the city of Ashland before July 1, 2009.

Any developer who proposed a project after that time should have been well aware of the risks and wouldn't deserve a recession extension, councilors reasoned.

The City Council likely will work out the final details and vote on whether to adopt the extensions at a meeting on March 2.

Councilor Eric Navickas said he won't vote for the recession extensions when the issue comes back to the council.

"We're encouraging people to hang onto projects that they should otherwise let go," he said.

Navickas said economic times have changed, and high-end development projects may no longer be financially viable.

But Ashland resident Mark DiRienzo encouraged councilors to adopt the recession extensions, calling the proposed action a reasonable thing to do in extraordinary times.

"These are essentially shovel-ready projects," DiRienzo said, adding that construction will provide jobs and economic development.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to "stop the clock" for how long planning approvals are good when projects are challenged in court or before the state Land Use Board of Appeals.

That will prevent project approvals from expiring while projects are being contested. The clock will start ticking once a case is decided, unless LUBA or a judge nixes a project.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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