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DeBoer home predates proposed limits on size

The Ashland law, which is not in effect, would limit the size of houses in historical districts

ASHLAND ' While a proposed ordinance to limit house sizes in the city's historical districts is fine-tuned, plans are under way to demolish a 2,400-square-foot home in one area to make way for another that will total nearly 10,000 square feet.

Sid and Karen DeBoer plan to demolish a house at 265 Glenview Drive and replace it with a larger four-story home, a decision they made after dropping plans to expand the 93-year-old home they now live in on an adjacent lot. The demolition plans have been appealed and a hearing is expected to be held in April.

The DeBoers' proposal for the larger home would not have been considered if the proposed city ordinance was in effect. That upsets one of the leading proponents of that ordinance, who says the city should have acted on the proposal by now.

I expected we'd have an ordinance in place at this time, said historian George Kramer. At the minimum we would have something before the council.

The proposed ordinance that would limit house sizes in historical districts was presented to the planning and historic commissions last October.

They had drafted a not unclear way of regulating house size, said Kramer. It would do everything I would hope for.

Kramer would like to see the scale of house sizes limited in the districts. Under the proposal, a 5,000-square-foot lot could have a 2,250-square-foot home. The DeBoer lot is 3,920 square feet according to county assessor's office data.

College students are working with city staff to determine how the limits compare with homes already in the district, said Planning Director John McLaughlin.

The formula works well, but the commissioners said they wanted to see some examples of how it works on the ground, said McLaughlin. A study session is tentatively set for May 27.

City council members and planning and historic commission members voted 16-3 at a joint session in April 2002 to have a size limit ordinance developed.

I'm hoping it does come forward; I plan on supporting it, said Councilman Alex Amarotico, who was on the planning commission until January.

The DeBoers initially sought to expand their historical 1910 home at 234 Vista, just below the Glenview home. But Historic Commission members raised objections.

The DeBoers then decided instead to build a new home where the 15-year-old Glenview house stands, preserving the older home.

It was a nice compromise, said Sid DeBoer, who is chairman and chief executive officer of the publicly traded Lithia, Inc. car dealerships. Philosophically, I think there's room for both big and little houses.

Architecture of the new house would be compatible with craftsman-style homes already in the area, said DeBoer. Moving the existing home is probably impractical because of the steep hillside location, he said.

The DeBoers would use the historical house for business and charity entertainment and move into the new house. The couple is active in charitable work with Southern Oregon University, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Oregon Community Foundation.

I think it pushes the limit of what we ought to logically call a historic residence, said Kramer of the DeBoer's proposal. I appreciate that they have tried to work with the community ... but if they want that much space they should move outside the historic district.

Colin Swales, a planning commissioner who said he was acting as a private citizen, appealed the demolition approval. In his appeal Swales wrote that plans submitted for the new home did not constitute a redevelopment plan for the site as required by city ordinance.

DeBoer is optimistic that the appeal will be rejected. The appeal only had to do with the demolition, not the new house, he said.