Planners delay Croman vote

The Planning Commission held off on a vote on the Croman Mill plan Tuesday, as some commissioners expressed concern that the proposal could restrict development on the 70-acre south Ashland property.

"Are we making this unbuildable?" Commissioner Mike Morris asked. "I would love to know what it's going to cost to get power, to get water, to get sewer, to get everything in there, and what does that do to the cost per acre?"

At least two other commissioners, Vice Chairman Michael Dawkins and Dave Dotterrer, said they were worried that enforcing new development guidelines on the property might drive up the price of the land and make it unfeasible to build there.

"Why are we throwing roadblocks in the way of people being able to develop something without having such stringent site review standards?" Dawkins asked.

Other commissioners did not specifically weigh in on the issue, but Chairwoman Pam Marsh asked city planners to come to the commission's meeting next month with information about the feasibility of building under the proposed rules.

The commission is scheduled to discuss and vote on the plan at its Feb. 9 meeting. Some commission members have repeatedly expressed disapproval of the plan, so it is unclear whether the commission will vote to recommend that the City Council adopt it into city policy.

The city's Croman Mill plan has been in the works for two years. The new policy calls for rezoning the privately owned land to allow for offices, shops, low-key manufacturing plants, condos and a park. Developments would have to adhere to certain standards designed to increase sustainability and conserve natural resources.

The property, located east of Tolman Creek Road, is the largest piece of undeveloped land in the city.

A dozen community members spoke at the meeting or sent in letters either critiquing or supporting the plan.

The Croman Mill property owners support the plan, according to their representative, Mike Montero.

"Frankly, the revisions that you see before you are wholly acceptable to my clients," he said. "We urge the Planning Commission to advance a favorable recommendation to the City Council."

However, Mark DiRienzo who owns property bordering the Croman Mill plot, said he felt the plan would restrict development by enforcing stringent rules.

"We've lost the flexibility of M1 (industrial) zoning," he said. "I strongly ask you to consider delaying approval.

"A few more months of making sure we get it right this time will make everybody happy."

The commission will accept letters from people weighing in on the plan through Feb. 2. Letters should be sent to April Lucas, administrative assistant for the city, at or city of Ashland, Community Development Department, attention April Lucas, 20 E. Main St., Ashland, OR 97520.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan at its March 2 meeting. Last February, the council expressed support for the plan and asked city staff members and the commission to continue fine tuning it, so that it could be adopted into official policy.

The city planning department is recommending that the commission approve the plan.

"This is really an ambitious plan," Bill Molnar, the city's community development director, said at the meeting Tuesday. "I think it represents pretty much, to a large degree, the creativity of Ashland residents who have participated in the proposal over the past two years."

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

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