Property off East Nevada Street between I-5 and North Mountain Avenue in Ashland has been cleared for proposed development. [Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson]

Plan would add 23 Ashland homes

The Ashland Planning Commission unanimously granted preliminary approval Tuesday for a subdivision of 23 houses, including four affordable units, on East Nevada Street in the North Mountain neighborhood.

The proposed 20-lot subdivision, filed by Medford resident David Young, would provide a mix of housing types, including townhouses, single-family homes with garages, and detached units, each with an option to add an accessory unit. The application now heads to City Council for approval.

The application requests a zone change from rural residential to multifamily, and a comprehensive plan amendment to remove the single-family residential reserve designation — an amendment that requires City Council’s vote, said Planning Commission Chair Roger Pearce.

City staff supported the zone change and comprehensive plan amendment request. Under Ashland's ordinance, the proposed project would have to dedicate some of the units to affordable housing — something for which Ashland has a “serious need,” Senior Planner Derek Severson said.

The Planning Commission recommended the application after adding the stipulation that the four low-income units would be ready for occupancy before completion of 50 percent of the market-rated housing.

The proposed subdivision, located at 475 E. Nevada St., would sit on a nearly two-acre property consisting of three tax lots belonging to Young, and a city-owned lot.

The commission included the requirement on the affordable-housing units amid concerns they are a less desirable choice for developers and because the property owner and applicant will not be developing the lots.

Each lot will be sold separately, and the city’s lot, which will be dedicated to the affordable units, may be transferred to a nonprofit, affordable housing developer. But the applicant can’t guarantee when or whether the low-income housing would be built, commissioners noted.

The applicant told the commission that Habitat for Humanity Rogue Valley has expressed interest in tackling the low-income projects. A letter from the organization was attached in the application’s packet.

A representative of Habitat for Humanity also spoke at the meeting, saying the organization is “anxious” to build the units, but noting it would take the nonprofit several years to raise funds and complete other tasks.

Several commissioners asked whether the applicant would be willing to add more affordable housing in the subdivision. A similar request was made and approved in December to boost the number of low-income units in a townhouse project at 1068 E. Main St., from 29 to 33 units.

Project consultant Amy Gunter said it would be challenging, because the project has already maxed out its potential parking options at 63 spaces.

Residents of the surrounding area of the proposed project also expressed concern about parking, saying it’s already a challenge to park there.

“(The street) is quite narrow,” resident Jarryl Stein said. “(Increasing density) doesn’t sound like a possibility in this land to do that.”

Resident Andrea Napoli urged the Planning Commission to add a bike lane to East Nevada Street. Gunter said the traffic flow does not warrant that, but the applicant would agree to support a local improvement district if the now-dead Nevada Street bridge project, connecting East Nevada and Bear Creek, is revived in the future.

— Reach reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.


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