Council takes up Croman
ASHLAND — The City Council will consider tonight whether to adopt a redevelopment plan for the former Croman Mill site, the city's largest chunk of undeveloped land. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1175 E. Main St.
Overall, the plan calls for devoting much of the 70 acres to offices, light industry and shops, but space for a park is also included and housing could be built on the perimeter of the plan area. City officials hope development there will create more family-wage jobs in town.
The Ashland Planning Commission has recommended that streets on the site of the former Croman Mill be laid out with an east-west orientation.
Buildings constructed along the streets would have their shortest walls facing to the east and west. That could allow more daylight to come in from the long sides facing south, and would also maximize roof areas for solar energy.
However, that layout creates more irregularly shaped parcels of land, which are generally considered to be less desirable for commercial development, according to a city staff memo to council members.
The Planning Commission is also recommending other green steps, such as standards to reduce the use of the city's limited potable water for irrigation.
Two members of the Planning Commission who disagree with the Croman plan crafted a minority report, but the commission voted 5-3 against sending that report to the City Council. Commission vice chairman Michael Dawkins and commission member Melanie Mindlin said they will present the minority report to the council as individuals tonight.
The minority report lists 11 concerns Dawkins and Mindlin have about the Croman plan, including that it "does not aggressively manage growth" and it "will need community funding." The possibility has been raised that infrastructure improvements could be made on the land through a special tax district.
As construction moves forward, increased property values would generate more property tax revenue — which would be spent on improvements to spur more development.
The downside to such plans, known as urban renewal districts or tax-increment financing plans, is that new development puts additional strains on government services such as fire and police protection, but those departments don't get additional property tax money.
The council will also consider tonight whether to grant the Ashland Gun Club a 12-month lease extension to continue using city land for shooting near the Ashland Municipal Airport.
Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.