Ashland OKs green subdivision

ASHLAND — The City Council has approved a subdivision that the Oregon Department of Energy identified as a statewide model for environmentally friendly housing.

Ashland residents Greg and Valri Williams and a team of consultants have spent three years designing a subdivision filled with "green" features. They won approval for the 68-unit project Tuesday night in a 5-1 council vote.

"We're pleased. We're very happy that it was a near-unanimous vote," Greg Williams said. "They're going to be proud of this project."

The subdivision of regularly sized homes, small cottages and townhouses will be constructed near the city's dog park. The homes and cottages will be built to Earth Advantage standards and will include solar electric panels, solar water heaters, cisterns to catch rainwater off roofs for use in flushing toilets and irrigation, heavy insulation and bioswales and wetlands to treat stormwater runoff.

Rogue Valley Community Development Corp., which builds affordable housing in the valley, will construct the 15 townhouses. The organization will seek a grant to build those to high environmental standards as well.

In approving the project, the City Council majority required that the townhouses be oriented to take advantage of solar power, have good insulation and include other features during their construction so upgrades such as solar panels can be added if RVCDC wins the grant.

The project requires that Ashland swap a 1.54-acre finger of land that runs through the couple's property for 2.78 acres that the Williamses own along Ashland Creek. The city's land is appraised at $134,000, while the couple's land is appraised at $284,000.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission recommended approval of the land swap. At the developers' cost, the Bear Creek Greenway will be extended along the creek-side property, which has been on a parks department land acquisition wish list since 2002.

Councilman Eric Navickas was the one council member who did not vote to approve the subdivision, which is on land that had to be annexed into the city limits.

Navickas said annexation criteria dictate that the land should only be annexed if the city has less than a five-year supply of residential land, but the city has a surplus of residentially zoned land. He said remaining pockets of land within the city should be developed before the City Council annexes more land.

Navickas warned that developers on the fringes of town will try to tempt the city into annexing land by proposing green subdivisions — leading to sprawl.

If the land were not annexed, Jackson County standards would allow only five homes on the site. Greg Williams said a dense development limits sprawl and is a better use of land and natural resources.

Vickie Aldous is a staff writer for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 479-8199 or

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