Planners look at sustainability of Croman Mill site

Planning Commissioners said Tuesday that they are considering making future developments at the Croman Mill site adhere to sustainability standards.

The commission is working to create zoning requirements for the site, which is the city's largest piece of undeveloped land and is located east of Tolman Creek Road.

In February City Councilors decided that the Croman Mill plans should allow for the creation of a light industrial area, business offices, a new street system, a park and possibly housing.

Commissioners are in the process of discerning where on the 65-acre parcel the elements of the plan could be built, should a developer want to build there in the future.

In addition to basic city building requirements, commissioners might require developers to adhere to sustainability standards, which would likely involve taking measures to reduce waste and conserve resources such as water and electricity. Developers could also be required to use green building materials and methods.

Commissioner Melanie Mindlin, a staunch sustainability advocate, said she felt Ashland's sustainability and economic issues should shape the development — not the other way around.

"I feel like we're a little bit cart-before-the-horse here and I feel like there are sustainability issues as well," she said.

She said the city should leave a plot of land near the railroad tracks on the parcel where a rail spur could be built, because in the future Ashland manufacturers might want to use trains instead of trucks to transport goods.

Commissioner Larry Blake, who also serves as Southern Oregon University's director of campus planning and sustainability, said he agreed with Mindlin about the rail spur.

"I think that also has a sustainability aspect to it," he said. "It could very well be in the future that rail transportation is much more important because it's much more efficient."

Mindlin also asked the city to consider allowing sorting yards for timber or recyclable materials on the industrial portion of the land. "These are two major activities that people are looking to be able to do in their own town," she said.

Bill Molnar, the city's community development director, said city officials have been looking at LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, standards to get ideas about sustainability standards for the Croman Mill site. However, because the zoning requirements for the land are still being developed, city officials haven't created sustainability standards yet, he said.

"We haven't suggested any specifics," Molnar said. "We're really identifying the areas and sort of expanding upon that."

Commissioners will discuss the Croman Mill plans again in June. City officials hope to have the plans finalized late this year, said Maria Harris, the city's planning manager.

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

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