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TIMELINE

March 8, 2005 &

Northlight is supposed to — be officially unveiled to the Ashland Planning Commis-sion in a half-hour — introductory session. Instead the session is canceled and it is determined — the project will be heard for the first time, as a regular action item, — at the April monthly meeting.&

The application represents one of the most significant and, therefore, — important redevelopment projects within Ashland&

s downtown core of — recent history,&

stated a planning staff report written at the time.April 12 &

After a two years of holding charrette meetings — in which the public weighed in on how it wanted the old Copeland Lumber — site to be redeveloped, Northlight appears at its first planning commission — meeting.&

The presentation you are about to see tonight is the culmination — of nearly two years of public outreach and input,&

Evan Archerd, — one of the developers of the project, told the full house of approximately — 40 people in the council chambers. &

The result is a project that — is not one person&

s idea or even one group&

s idea of what this — strategic part of our downtown should become, it is truly our community&

s — vision that has been realized.&

May 10 &

The planning commission has a second hearing on Northlight — without coming to a decision. The public, having filled up two consecutive — planning meetings, is clearly interested in this project, but opinion — is fiercely divided.At the meeting, John Gaffee said, &

It&

s time to realize the — town is growing and we need commercial buildings. I hope the town lets — up a little and starts having a little fun with its architecture.&

Lynne Gallagher said, &

It&

s an incredible stretch to say these — big ugly boxes are appropriate for Ashland.&

May 24 &

Northlight developers ask to postpone the continuation — of the hearing because they were just recently apprised that a 20-foot — setback for new buildings on the north side of Lithia Way (18.68.050) — would apply to their project. The issue was first brought to the forefront — by planning advocates Bill Street and Colin Swales.Then community development director John McLaughlin said it was his understanding — that buildings in the downtown area did not have to comply with this ordinance.&

There seems to be some question as to whether or not this applies — to us,&

Archerd said at the time. &

Up until today we were told — that it did not. As of today, it appears there is some question as to — whether or not it does. It&

s really up to them to decide which one — is correct and we&

ll proceed from there.&

June 21 &

Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder issues a memo — declaring that Northlight does, in fact, have to comply with the 20-foot — setback. &

Case law clearly limits the Planning Commission&

s — ability to interpret [the ordinance] to prohibit yard setbacks,&

— he wrote. &

The rules of statutory construction ... require us to — assume that the drafters of the seemingly conflicting ordinances did not — intend for such provisions to conflict.&

Earlier in the month, McLaughlin told the Tidings, &

It was our thinking — that there were front yards in residential areas but that that did not — apply in the commercial downtown. We were wrong, according to our legal — department.&

Aug. 12 &

Northlight applicants reconfigure the lot lines — that the project encompasses in an effort to circumvent the 20-foot setback.&

The lot line adjustment will result in the creation of lots that — will have a narrower frontage on First Street,&

Bill Molnar, acting — director of the Ashland Community Development Department, said. &

Therefore — the applicants will argue that the front lot line is along First Street — and the side is along Lithia Way. Therefore, they will argue that the — 20-foot setback does not apply.&

Archerd said at the time that he and his partners have &

worked with — the city to find a perfectly legal solution.&

He added, &

Any — property owner has the right to use the existing planning code to develop — property.&

Sept. 14 &

An integrated cancer center, the anchor tenant — of the Northlight project, publicly pulls out of the project. Bill Patridge, — the local businessman helping to facilitate the relationship between the — developers and the doctors for the past year and a half, said, &

It — just didn&

t work out.&

He added, &

We just decided with — all the issues involved that we should withdraw. We changed our mind.&

Sept. 26 &

Northlight heads into its fifth planning commission — meeting. Still in limbo, one of the project developers falsely predicts — the project will be appealed no matter how it is decided.&

I imagine it will go to council either way,&

Hal Dresner said. — &

Most things do these days.&

Sept. 27 &

The planning commission unanimously denies Northlight — as new commissioner John Stromberg realized on the day of this hearing — that the lot line adjustment effectively left one of the lots with no — commercial uses, a requirement of the city, in it.&

I only realized it late in the afternoon today,&

he said after — the meeting. &

I said to myself, &

145;Holy cow, look at that.&

&

Oct. 25 &

Northlight applicants ask the planning commission to &

reconsider&

— their development proposal.&

We believe there has been a misinterpretation of an ordinance that — controls the lot line interpretation,&

reads the letter submitted — to planning commission chair John Fields. It was authored by attorney — David Ingalls, one of two different attorneys who represented Northlight — through the planning process.Nov. 8 &

The planning commission does not allow Northlight — to be reconsidered. The only other way the project could be debated publicly — after this is if the applicants appealed the decision to the city council — or the state Land Use Board of Appeals.Dec. 18 - Official findings are mailed out from Ashland&

s — planning staff, according to city planners. Applicants have 15 days from — when findings are mailed out to file an appeal.

— &

Northlight fades away

Eight months and six planning commission meetings after it began its tumultuous path through Ashland&

s land-use process, the Lithia Way project known as Northlight has died.

The developers for this 73,037-square-foot, three building, mixed-use complex slated for the former site of Copeland Lumber have decided not to appeal a rejection of their project by the Ashland Planning Commission.

&

We&

re going to deal with the architects, come up with a new plan and then submit that,&

said Hal Dresner, one of the three developers for this project. &

It&

s been an unneccesarily contentious project every step of the way. We&

ve listened to every suggestion that has been given to us. We&

re trying to create something that everyone is happy with.&

The period in which the project&

s applicants could file an appeal ends today at 5 p.m., according to interim planning director Bill Molnar.

Based on communications with the applicants&

lawyer last week, he thought the project would be appealed. &

Their legal counsel had called asking about the dates,&

he said. &

Rarely do we have calls about specifics if they are not going to appeal.&

But, he added, if they were going to appeal, he &

would have expected it on Friday&

in case there were any final adjustments that needed to be corrected before the timeline expired.

Dresner said he and his partners, Evan Archerd and Russ Dale, have not yet met with an architect and don&

t know exactly how much the design will be different from the one previously submitted to the planning department.

&

We have so many different options,&

he said. &

We haven&

t decided on anything yet.&

Dresner said he didn&

t know yet if the size or number of the buildings would be altered. Dale said the modern style of architecture that many complained about is not high on their priorities of aspects to change about Northlight. He said he wants this project to be unique from other Ashland developments.

The name Northlight is also likely to stick around for the next version of the project. &

I like the name,&

Dresner said.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 226 or bplain@dailytidings.com.