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Ashland attorney apologizes for remark

ASHLAND ' Ashland City Attorney Mike Franellapologized Tuesday for a remark made by his former assistant in a memo about a local resident who is a frequentcritic of development.

Ashland resident Philip Lang has proposed building asecond story on his garage at the rear of his property on B Street. But he needed a variance, or exception, from city rules to allow the project because the addition would have been located 14 feet away from a back alley, rather than 20 feet. The Ashland Hearings Board rejected the project.

In appealing that rejection Tuesday before the Ashland City Council, Lang said Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder had attempted to portray him as a hypocrite because Lang had previously argued that a variance is essentially a sanctioned breaking of law or ordinance, not an entitlement to the developer.

Lang said he is concerned about large-scale developersseeking variances to maximize their profits. He said he has never opposed a homeowner trying to improve his or her property by making an improvement that needed a variance.

I do agree with Mr. Lang that the personal slap in that memo was inappropriate, Franell told the council. I have apologized to Mr. Lang for that and I hope to not see anything like that come out of my office again.

— Reeder left his position as assistant city attorney earlier this year for another job. His replacement, Beth Lori, began work this month after previously serving as Jackson County's assistant attorney.

The council directed Franell to do more research into how Ashland's land use rules and a prior decision on another case could apply to Lang's case.

Also Tuesday, the council agreed to put together a group of city legal staff and planners to study preliminary changes to Ashland's land-use rules recommended by the Lake Oswego consulting firm Siegel Planning Services.

Developers, planners, community members and others have said the city's rules have conflicts, ambiguities and outmoded sections.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 482-3456.