Supporters tout eco-friendly subdivision

Supporters of a proposed subdivision flooded the Ashland Planning Commission on Tuesday night in support of the 68-unit housing development that would be built at Ashland Greenhouses on Nevada Street.

"I believe in practical, sensible growth," Tom Winmill said during the public hearing. "It would be a credit not only to Ashland, but the whole region to have this project."

However, so many people spoke in favor of the project that the commission ran out of time and had to postpone the session until its next meeting Aug. 28. Two other agenda items on the commission's agenda, including a hearing on the Mobius' request for a conditional-use permit that would allow the venue to continue offering live music, also had to be rescheduled for a future meeting.

Verde Village, the proposed subdivision, has been described as one of the most energy-efficient housing developments ever considered in Oregon. Alex Forrester, a local sustainable developer who is working on the project, said the Oregon Department of Energy wants the project to be a role model for developers across the state, and perhaps nationally.

"I didn't realize the project was so environmentally together," said Paul Safady, who came to speak against the project's effect on traffic patterns.

Despite its merits, planning staff identified several issues where the project does not conform to local land-use code: the need for new sidewalks on Nevada Street and Sander Way, one of the proposed new roads in the subdivision; whether there are adequate open spaces; and that the project is closer to the Ashland Creek riparian area than is allowed.

Local law says new development should be 50 feet away from a riparian area, but the project is within 20 feet of the Ashland Creek riparian area, an issue that most concerns members of the planning commission.

Forrester said the houses need to be that close to Ashland Creek to make the project profitable. Pushing the homes farther from the creek would result in a loss of units, he said.

"It would kill the project," he said. "Units would start to disappear. We've already lost 15 units. It would reach a point of zero return."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or . To post a comment on this story, go to .

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