Neighborhood housing plan put on hold

, Posted: Fri, May 30 2014 at 5:41 PM, Updated: Fri, May 30 2014 at 10:12 PM

Ashland, Ore. -- A controversial plan to develop about 94-acres into  more housing in Ashland near Normal Avenue was put on hold at Thursday night's city council meeting. The decision has many area residents, including Julie Matthews breathing a sigh of relief.
"I felt very relieved that no decisions were made," she said.

However, at least one decision was made to form a committee to address some of the issues in the plan.

"The biggest issue is how are we going to pay for it," said Ashland City Councilor Carol Voisin.

Voisin said she specifically wants to figure out how to get developers to pay for the project and not taxpayers.

In addition, she said the council wants to address residents' concerns.

She said she is looking at three issues. The first is transportation.

"East Main needs to be pedestrian friendly as well as bike friendly," began Voisin.

She said the second issue has to do with density. Many nearby residents voiced their opposition to the sheer number of units that were proposed. According to Voisin the plan was previously to have 15 units per acre; that's a number residents said was too high.

The third concern community members voiced had to do with wetland preservation.

According to Voisin, the committee will look into those issues and many others.

She said the council is probably a year or a year and a half away from anything happening since the committee will have to do their studies and bring the findings to the council at a later date.

Holding off on the project is okay with Julie Matthews.

"What I see is a really great possibility to work together as a community to design something different than the same old same old," said Matthews.

"Let's build something that says we tried, we tried to do it differently," she continued.

Matthews, along with many of her neighbors are hoping for an opportunity to keep Ashland... Ashland, by preserving the unique qualities so many people love about the area.

The area in question is expansive. It stretches from just past Ashland Middle School, all the way to Clay Street and from East Main to the railroad tracks.

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