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Planners concerned about subdivision traffic

ASHLAND -- City planning commissioners and planning staff added their concerns Tuesday night to those of residents who say traffic from a 25-lot hillside subdivision will glut a narrow and unpaved Strawberry Lane and other roads.

There is going to be additional traffic on those roads as a result of the subdivision, senior planner Bill Molnar told the Planning Commission. But the applicant fails to address whether `adequate transportation' exists.

Commission Chairwoman Barbara Jarvis said the effects of traffic from the subdivision will go beyond the parts of Westwood Street and upper Strawberry Lane that the landowners propose to improve as part of the development.

I want to know how many (trips by) cars are going to be generated by how many houses, she said.

But the project's agent said he envisioned the development would be built a few houses at a time, not all at once, on the 25 acres on upper Strawberry Lane. Each house is estimated to generate about 10 trips daily. The site already has two houses.

It's not something that's going to be developed overnight, Tom Giordano told the Planning Commission. The traffic impacts are not going to occur immediately.

Giordano also said he is confident that the City Council will resolve a controversy over the use of local improvement districts, in which property owners share the cost of neighborhood street work.

The applicants here will participate in any fair system the City Council comes up with, he said.

The commission continued the hearing but did not specify a date. The commission has no jurisdiction over financing of road improvements, but it must conclude that there is or will be adequate transportation for the development to proceed.

Most residents of lower Strawberry Lane expressed concern that they, not the developers, would end up paying the bill for street improvements that added traffic would compel for lower Strawberry Lane, Alnut Street and possibly others. Some say they are concerned about a loss of rural atmosphere, though the subdivision site has been within the city limits for a century.

Why should the residents pay for something that will not benefit them in any way and will, in fact, be a detriment? asked Laura Bressler, who lives in lower Strawberry Lane. The value of their property will be diminished by urbanizing the lane.

Harry Bartell, a resident of upper Strawberry Lane, put it directly: Getting out of my driveway would be a matter of Russian roulette.