Commission mulls city planning goals as to-do lists shrink

As the economy has soured, the Ashland Planning Commission's to-do lists have shrunk: Suddenly very few people are submitting applications to build in the city.

But that doesn't mean that the commission's twice-monthly meetings are getting any shorter. Instead, commissioners are tackling broad topics like sustainability and transportation and trying to come up with plans accordingly.

At their last meeting, commissioners voted 7-0 to send a list of their top four goals to the City Council. Now, if the commissioners have an empty agenda for a scheduled meeting, they will work on reaching their goals by amending city policies, planning for future developments and researching solutions.

"We have a lot of stuff out there that we can work on and do general overall planning for with this break — and it is because of the economy and it may be for a very long time," said Michael Dawkins, chair of the commission.

At their 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting at the Civic Center, commissioners will discuss their goals in depth to try to determine their next steps, Dawkins said Friday.

The commission's No. 1 goal, it was decided, is to work with the council to create a strategic vision for the future of Ashland.

Then, in order of importance, the commissioners said their priorities were to do transportation planning, to continue developing the Croman Mill site into a business park and to study what other cities are doing to encourage sustainability.

At Tuesday's meeting, several commissioners will give brief presentations on the goals that are important to them, and the commission will discuss each item for roughly 30 minutes, Dawkins said.

The economic situation may actually be a blessing in disguise for the city and the commission, he said.

"It gives us a chance to take a breath and look at some more stuff," he said. "There's plenty of stuff to do — there are always a lot of issues."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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