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Meeting will address public's feelings on development

ASHLAND — The Ashland City Council tonight will hear what city residents think about a development proposal that's been touted as a statewide model for sustainable building.

Helman Street residents Greg and Valri Williams are proposing a 68-unit subdivision of homes, small cottages and affordable townhouses near Ashland's dog park. The homes and cottages would include solar electric panels, solar water heaters, cisterns to catch rainwater for use in toilets and irrigation, thick insulation and bioswales and wetlands to treat stormwater runoff.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation, which builds affordable housing, would construct 15 townhouses as part of the project and seek a grant to build those to high environmental standards.

Known as Verde Village, the subdivision has been identified as one of three demonstration projects in the state by the Oregon Department of Energy, Greg Williams said.

"We want to build something special," he said.

The project would require that the city of Ashland swap a 1.54 acre finger of land that runs through the couple's property for 2.78 acres that the Williamses own along Ashland Creek. The city's land is appraised at $134,000, while the couple's land is appraised at $284,000.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has recommended approval of the land swap.

Councilman Eric Navickas has raised concerns about the land swap and expanding Ashland's boundaries to include the subdivision, which lies outside existing city limits and would have to be annexed. Colin Swales, a former planning commissioner, criticized the location of the townhouses because they are closest to the dog park and Ashland's sewage treatment plant.

Williams said if the land is not annexed, he will develop it to Jackson County standards, which would allow just five homes. He said a dense development is a better use of land and natural resources. He said the townhouses would be located in the lowest spot to avoid blocking neighbors' views, and that happens to be nearest the dog park.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 482-3456 or valdous@dailytidings.com.