Planners not satisified with Croman vision

At least half of Ashland's Planning Commission isn't happy with the way plans for the Croman Mill site are being developed — and several commissioners feel the City Council has "railroaded" them into a position, they said at their Tuesday night meeting.

While discussing their goals, one of which is to create development regulations for the Croman Mill site, several commissioners said they felt that the process had moved too fast and, in some ways, passed them by.

"I feel like we've basically been railroaded into a position," said Commissioner Melanie Mindlin. "I'm feeling a little hot under the collar about it at the moment."

Commission Chair Michael Dawkins and Commissioners Tom Dimitre and Debbie Miller also said they were unhappy with the Croman plans.

Miller said she was upset because the last time the commission had a chance to address the Croman plans, she thought the plans were in the beginning stages.

"I was just so surprised, like Melanie, that when this was put before us it was as if it was 75 percent done when we last left it was presented as preliminary," Miller said.

While Commissioner Mike Morris said he disagreed with some of the plans for the site, he said the plans should move ahead quickly, before someone develops the land.

"I really want to see it go forward because I'd hate to see this get chopped up into five-acre plots on a grid that really doesn't work," he said.

The other commissioners did not specifically state their views on the matter at the meeting.

After a year of working on the Croman plans, City Councilors voted at their Feb. 17 meeting to move forward. The plans call for creating land use rules for the city's largest piece of undeveloped land, located east of Tolman Creek Road.

The City Council wants to create regulations for the Croman site so that the city can have more of a say in what developers build on the 60 acres of privately owned land.

City plans would allow for the creation of business offices, a new street system and a park.

The commission will now be responsible for fine tuning the plans. But if the commissioners have significant qualms with the plans, they can alert the City Council and try to work out the issues, said Bill Molnar, the city's community development director.

"Obviously there's concerns expressed by some commissioners," he said.

Molnar expects the plans will be officially completed this fall.

"It has to go through the local land use process, which is many public meetings," he said.

The commission took no action on the matter at Tuesday's meeting.

Commissioners also briefly discussed their three other goals: to work with the council to create a strategic vision for the future of Ashland, to do transportation planning, and to study sustainability.

Molnar also announced that the commission's next meeting scheduled for March 24 will actually be held on March 31, because the earlier meeting is during Ashland School District's spring break.

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

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