Commission won't send minority report

After the Planning Commission encouraged two dissenting members to craft a minority report on the Croman Mill plan, the commission voted against sending the report to the City Council on Tuesday.

The two commissioners who crafted the report say they feel their voices have not been heard throughout the two-year planning process for the city's largest piece of undeveloped land.

Commission vice chairman Michael Dawkins and commission member Melanie Mindlin said they will present the minority report to the council as individuals.

"We're going to try to at least have a little more public discussion than we've had with the commission," Dawkins said.

The commission voted 5-3 not to forward the report to the council.

Chairwoman Pam Marsh and several other commission members encouraged Dawkins and Mindlin to craft the report at a February meeting, only to vote against sending it to the council Tuesday.

Debbie Miller was the only commissioner to vote with Dawkins and Mindlin in favor of sending the report.

Marsh said the report was too broad and included items that the commission had not previously discussed.

"That particular document was inappropriate as a minority report because it just goes beyond our scope of work," she said. "It's broader than what we're dealing with here."

The commission is typically assigned to consider technical aspects of plans, such as the materials to be used on a building — not to discuss big picture issues.

"Looking at the minority report, I think someone could argue that there was some items on that report that, in all fairness, really weren't discussed as part of the overall discussion," said Bill Molnar, the city's community development director. "But I think there were a lot of items in the minority report that were relevant and that did come up."

The report lists 11 points of contention with the Croman plan, including that it is inconsistent with the city's 2007 Economic Opportunities Analysis, that it "does not aggressively manage growth" and that it "will need community funding."

The report also contends that the planning process was not made public enough, because the plans were changed after many community meetings had passed. The commission approved the Croman plan Feb. 23 in a 6-2 vote.

The plan calls for rezoning the privately owned land — 70 acres east of Tolman Creek Road — to allow for offices, shops, low-key manufacturing plants, condos and a park.

Three Ashland business owners submitted complaint letters to the Planning Commission over the Croman plans because they believe the project will stifle economic development in the city.

Mindlin said she believes all of the points in the seven-page report had come up at previous meetings, but had been forgotten because of a lack of record keeping.

"I think that everything I discussed (in the report) was brought up at some point during the meetings, but our public record is not very good," she said. "The things that we talk about aren't really that well represented."

Generally only half of the commissions' meetings are televised. In the commission's official written record, comments made by commissioners are summarized, not recorded verbatim.

The council is scheduled to address the Croman plan at its April 6 meeting. Dawkins and Mindlin plan to submit their minority report then.

"It's a good, good piece of work, and we're just very hopeful that the council reads through it carefully," Dawkins said.

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

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