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Don't fight progress

It’s getting to be predictable.

A developer proposes small, affordable housing units in an established residential neighborhood, with the kinds of amenities that should appeal to Ashlanders, and the neighbors find fault with it. At least the most recent example didn’t include the “neighborhood character” objections that are all too common.

The newest project, the first to emerge since the city changed its zoning rules last year, would put 12 cottage units at the intersection of Laurel Street and Mountain View Drive. No unit would be larger than 800 square feet, clustered around a common green space with a pollinator garden, plus 12 covered, off-street parking spaces, bicycle parking for each unit and a central bike barn. The units would have solar panels, and the project would produce as much energy as it consumes.

Cue the objections.

Neighbors say the units are too close together for fire-truck access, and on-street parking on both sides of the street would cause a traffic bottleneck on Mountain View Drive, one of two emergency escape routes from the neighborhood.

Ashland desperately needs housing exactly like this if there is to be any hope that younger people entering the housing market can afford to live in the city where they work. Given Ashland’s insistence on not expanding its boundaries, increased density is the only way to accomplish this.

If escape routes are a concern, prohibit parking on one side of the street. But don’t block an innovative, affordable housing project that offers a different approach.