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Planning questions expected at Monday study session

Planning rules guiding Ashland development, particularly when it comes to annexing land within the city's urban growth boundary but outside its city limits, will be reviewed at a special study session from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, in the Siskiyou Room of the city office building at 51 Winburn Way, the city has announced.

Dubbed "Annexation & Friends" and hosted by Mayor John Stromberg and city planning staff, the session will examine the role the city Annexation Ordinance, along with other rules, studies, documents and policies, including the city Comprehensive Plan and Buildable Lands Inventory, play in shaping annexation decisions, including those anticipated under the proposed Normal Neighborhood Master Plan in coming years.

Approval of the first of two readings of ordinances implementing the new Normal Neighborhood plan, hammered out over the last three years, was completed at the City Council meeting Tuesday. The second and final reading of the three ordinances implementing the plan is expected to come before the council for a vote at its Dec. 15 business meeting.

At Monday's study session, the public is welcome to ask questions and "control the flow and direction of the presentation," according to the city's announcement, but "substantive discussion" about the Normal Neighborhood plan is "out of bounds."

The Normal plan, if enacted, would update city planning documents guiding development in 94 acres south of East Main Street and north of the railroad tracks between Walker Avenue and Clay Street. The pocket of land is in the county, but is surrounded on three sides by the city of Ashland. Anyone wanting to develop land in the area currently would either do so under county guidelines, which are less strict than the city's, or ask for annexation of their land into the city. Until the new plan is adopted, city land-use decisions for that area are guided by an approximately 30-year-old Comprehensive Plan.

The new plan is intended, according to the city, to better coordinate streets, pedestrian connections, utilities, storm water management and open space, if and when development proposals come forward. Any construction in the area, should it be annexed to the city, would be subject to review by the city Planning Commission and City Council.

Changing from the current status to the proposed new plan would lowers the build-out capacity of the area to a maximum of 450 from the current capacity of 550 units, city documents say.

Email Daily Tidings Editor Bert Etling at betling@dailytidings.com, call him at 541-631-1313 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/@betling.