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Council to again take up Normal Neighborhood plan

The Ashland City Council will again consider adoption of the proposed Normal Neighborhood Plan at its regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 15. The plan, which would govern development on more than 90 acres of land currently in Jackson County should it be annexed into the city, has been the topic of much deliberation.

More than 30 people spoke during public comment on the plan at the council meeting Sept. 1, and some speakers left before their name was called. Even so, public comment lasted nearly three hours, resulting in a continuation of public comment at this week’s meeting, although only those who filed a request to speak at the last meeting, but did not, will be allowed to speak at this meeting.

Central to concerns regarding the proposed framework for development is the issue of development density in the area. The city says the proposed 6.6 units per acre is in line with state legal requirements regarding density established more than 40 years ago to guide development in Oregon. Opponents have questioned not only whether that density is necessary, but whether the city should annex the property at all.

While the decision to be annexed is up to property owners, the city says it would like to have zoning and infrastructure plans in place before potential developers request annexation. While no plans currently exist to annex property in the Normal Neighborhood, individual property owners can request annexation at any time, provided they meet the city’s annexation requirements. The land is currently governed by county zoning regulations regarding development.

City staff was unable to conclude their presentation of the plan before the close of the last meeting and will continue with the presentation of the plan at this week’s meeting. While only speakers who filled out a request to comment last meeting will be allowed to speak, Mayor John Stromberg encourage additional comment in the form of emails.

After public comment is closed and the city staff report is completed, the council will deliberate on whether to approve the plan, with or without amendments. If passed, the council must hear and approve a second and final reading of the proposed plan at its next meeting before it would be adopted.

This week's meeting begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, in the City Council chamber at 1175 East Main St.

Alec Dickinson is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at AlecAlaska@gmail.com.