Rules give residents a voice in land use

TALENT — Neighbors would have a say in the design of residential developments under new rules proposed to govern growth.

Landowners would be required to work with city staff and neighbors to create a conceptual master plan whenever they wished their property to be moved from urban reserve into the urban growth boundary. The land could subsequently be annexed for development.

The Talent Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the rules at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Community Center. The commission will make a recommendation on the ordinance to the City Council.

The new rules are designed to ensure efficient land use, connection to services and transportation and building flexibility. The ordinance would replace planned unit development rules, which were suspended in 2007.

"The people should be heartened by it if you look at the collaboration," said John Adam, city planner. "The people who live around (a future development) will be invited to attend and participate in the process."

A big-picture view of development will be provided, said Charlie Hamilton of Suncrest Homes, a builder of several large projects in town. Hamilton served on a citizens group that developed the rules.

"They don't want to look at any one thing in isolation," said Hamilton. "They want to look at each piece as it relates to the overall city and the comprehensive plan."

Current zoning regulations allow up to 22 residential units per acre. Under the new rules, the maximum would be 16 units per acre. Target density for new lands would be 6.2 units per acre, slightly less than the 6.44 that exists now on residential land within the city.

"You do taper off a little bit in density at the edge," said Adam. "But you still want to be efficient about land use."

Units would vary from four to 16 per acre and creation of open spaces and parks would be encouraged. A minimum of five acres would be required for consideration.

The City Council suspended the PUD rules in March 2007 after the Planning Commission received several applications for one-acre lots that asked for the maximum number of units allowed but didn't provide the creativity expected in a PUD, Adam said.

"They had to approve it from a legal point of view," said Adam. "But they gritted their teeth while they were doing it, and I sympathized with that."

Larger PUD developments, including Clearview and Old Bridge Village, have incorporated elements expected in a PUD, said Adam.

Hamilton said the proposed ordinance is a nice substitute for the PUD rules.

"It doesn't really make it harder or easier to develop," said Hamilton. "You just have to show how your property blends with all the surrounding properties and the master plan."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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