City Council will review restaurant approval

A proposed lodge-style restaurant across from Lithia Park will get the scrutiny of the Ashland City Council.

On Tuesday night, the council voted to call up for review the Planning Commission's December approval of the project.

The council will hold a public hearing on Feb. 15 before deciding whether to affirm, change or overturn the Planning Commission's decision.

The Planning Commission approved the project on a 5-1 vote, with Commissioner Debbie Miller voting against the project. She said it could be too large and imposing for the site.

Several commissioners voiced concerns that the restaurant would exacerbate parking problems that already exist downtown and near Lithia Park.

Planning Commissioners unanimously recommended that the City Council incorporate an alternative transportation program into a development agreement between the city and Jon and Esther Phelps, who are proposing the project. Measures could include bicycle parking, shower facilities and bus passes for employees.

If the City Council approves the project, it will have to forge the development agreement. Part of the project would be on city-owned land.

Land use planning consultant Mark Knox, who has been working on the proposal, said he welcomes the City Council's review of the project.

"They can't appreciate the project unless they talk about other specifics of the application. We want them to feel free to open up a dialogue and see what public amenities we're providing," Knox said.

Also, if the council's discussion were limited to the development agreement and they strayed off topic, that could create a procedural error, he said.

Jon and Esther Phelps, the owners of Seattle-based Storyville Coffee Company, want to replace a small, privately owned building at 85 Winburn Way with a two-story restaurant with a third level observation deck.

The restaurant would be next to the Rotary Centennial Ice Rink that is erected each winter on a parking lot to the south of the proposed restaurant.

The restaurant would have an outdoor patio, a concession stand and a fireplace that could be used by ice rink visitors. The Phelps are asking for a small piece of Parks Department-owned land to make the patio area larger. The enlarged patio would not intrude on the space used for the ice rink.

At their cost, the couple would construct a small building on the other side of the rink that would house ice rink employees, restrooms and a Zamboni ice-smoothing machine.

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

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