Land cleanup, land plans up for discussion

Two hotly-contested discussed topics headline the Ashland City Council agenda for its regular meeting Tuesday.

The council plans to continue discussion surrounding the cleanup of about 20 acres of Union Pacific Railroad property in Ashland. Based on a record of decision from 2001, UPRR is in voluntary cleanup status with the Department of Environmental Quality regarding the site, which is contaminated with petroleum waste and heavy metals. Representatives from the DEQ will be on hand to address the council as well as representatives from UPRR.

Cleanup of the property has drawn increasing scrutiny since UPRR’s announcement that they only plan to conduct a partial cleanup of the site, largely consisting of removing a single underground fuel bunker and surrounding contaminated soil. The DEQ has ruled that because the railroad giant is in voluntary cleanup status, there is little the agency or the city can do to compel UPRR to conduct a full cleanup of the site.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is the continuation of the proposed Normal Neighborhood Plan, a set of planning and zoning ordinances that would establish a framework to govern development of about 94 acres of privately held land currently in the county. The council has discussed the NNP at its past two meetings, however lengthy public testimony has occupied much of that time and the body has yet to vote on the plan.

The city has asserted it would like to have a cohesive plan for development of the area should private land owners request annexation into the city. Opponents of the plan have taken issue with the proposed density allowed in the zoning and have expressed concern of the protection of wetlands in the area.

The council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at 1175 East Main St. in Ashland. Meetings are broadcast live on RVTV, channel 9, and on Channel 180, for Charter Cable customers.

Alec Dickinson is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at AlecAlaska@gmail.com

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