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Developers appeal rejection of application

TALENT — Developers of a proposed 143-unit, 39-acre subdivision on the city's southwest hill have appealed the Planning Commission's rejection of its application.

Hearings Officer Paul Nolte will hear the appeal by Artner Property Development LLC on March 6 (time is yet to be announced). He must issue a ruling by March 30.

Planning commissioners ruled Dec. 20 that the application for Pacific Stage Heights had incorrectly calculated allowed density on the property, that the applicant had not demonstrated an ability to provide a secondary emergency access and that one street exceeded the maximum grade allowed.

"We understand where the Planning Commission is coming from, we just think they made some errors," said Michael La Nier of Richard Stevens & Associates Inc., which filed the appeal on behalf of Artner. "We have to go forward with the development to solve these issues."

Artner presented plans that called for development of 30 units in a first phase that wouldn't require a secondary emergency access. Access to the site would be through an underpass under the railroad at Belmont Street. An emergency access would be developed in the project's southeast corner as more units were added.

"We had a timeline in our proposal that said let us do the first phase so that we can pay for the other stuff," said La Nier.

Artner views the development as a long-term process during which a proposed street coming from Rapp Road to the north would be built that would serve the subdivision.

Artner representatives spent considerable time working with city planning staff to determine allowable density in the development, said La Nier. He is confident the figures submitted are correct.

Colin Mills-Cannon, a neighbor who has opposed details of the development, said of the appeal, "If I had a million dollars in it, I'd do the same. But I wouldn't do the same to the ecology or the people of Talent. I would like to see it developed properly."

The project should have two safe public accesses, said Mills-Cannon. Proximity to the railroad tracks will present a safety hazard to children, he added. He also is concerned about wetlands, parking and density on the site.

The appeal will be the first for the city under a hearings officer format since it switched from having the City Council consider planning appeals several years ago.

"Paul's decision will be based on the recorded testimony, the hearing and his interpretation of our development codes," said City Planner John Adam.

The city planning staff had recommended approval of the subdivision. A decision by Nolte could be appealed to the state's Land Use Board of Appeals.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.