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Cottage housing project a go

The first cottage development project since Ashland adopted the new zoning in 2017 was approved last week by the Planning Commission.

If the Ashland City Council concurs, the development at 476 N. Laurel St. will consist of 12 cottages, each smaller than 800 square feet, and will be constructed in a variety of designs on an L-shaped lot. Some units will be attached to each other and some will stand alone. The development, designed by KDA Homes LLC, is zoned for single-family residential.

Site design was approved Feb. 12 after public comment was extended due to neighbor opposition. The findings were approved March 12 after all input and rebuttals were considered.

All cottages are proposed to meet Earth Advantage Platinum/Net Zero standards, with solar panels so that each would produce as much energy as it uses. The development is also designed for Life Long Housing certification to allow residents to age in place.

One of the open spaces in the development would include a pollinator garden, and pesticides would be banned.

Each cottage has a separate outdoor space, as well.

In order to fit 12 units on the 13-unit lot, the applicants were granted a street standard exception, tree removal permit for two trees and a demolition permit for one existing house and two accessory buildings.

Neighbors worried that the development would not be compatible with the neighborhood because of possible traffic and parking congestion.

The proposal includes 12 parking spaces on-site, which meets the requirements of the city’s ordinance, but neighbors are concerned that 12 new units would bring more than 12 cars.

In a written statement to the Planning Commission, neighbor Patricia Potter said, “The Laurel Street neighborhood has made it clear that it is not against development, cottages or green amenities. ... What it is against is a plan that leaves the neighborhood with a permanent traffic and parking nightmare.”

Mike Walker, in a written statement to the commission, said he’s for the development because Ashland needs more affordable units, and this project meets the criteria.

“The neighbors are simply afraid of change, fearing small cottages will decrease their home values or cause more vehicles to drive by or park by their homes,” Walker wrote. “Fear of change is common and understandable, and although the Planning Commission should welcome the neighbors’ concerns, the commission should also politely explain how the proposal meets the cottage housing development standards and move on.”

KDA Homes noted that an additional 11 parking spaces exist along the frontage of the property — eight more along Mountain View Drive and three along Laurel Street.

Neighbors were concerned that additional parking on Mountain View Drive would create a bottleneck if there’s ever a need to evacuate. They asked for a traffic impact analysis, and although the applicant was not obligated to conduct one because the street width meets city standards, KDA hired Alex Georgevitch, a traffic engineer, to evaluate the proposal and surrounding streets.

Georgevitch found that traffic would not be adversely impacted, and even if all residents of homes east of the development used Mountain View Drive for their main route in and out of the neighborhood, the roadway would still operate within its required 1,500-trips-or-fewer threshold.

KDA Homes agreed to make a recommended 8.7-foot right-of-way dedication along the frontage of its property on Mountain View Drive.

Where currently there is no sidewalk, KDA Homes has proposed to install a public sidewalk and planting strip along the frontage.

KDA Homes owns only a narrow strip of land between its property line and the adjacent property of 478 North Laurel St., so it was granted an exception to the street standard to install a smaller than usual planting strip for the first 100 feet in order to allow a standard five-foot sidewalk.

KDA Homes said it will provide a private storm-water easement and a drain line within the easement for neighbors’ excess storm water to drain away from their property, according to the written record.

Mark Knox, KDA project planner, said despite the neighbors’ concerns, the applicants have received a lot of support from the Ashland community.

“We are excited to be bringing forth the first cottage housing development that not only meets all of the adopted standards but goes above and beyond typical construction thresholds in hopes to create a model conservation-minded development in a model conservation-minded community,” Knox wrote.

Those who participated in the initial land-use hearing can appeal the action to Ashland City Council until 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 25. According to city senior planner Derek Severson, only factual or procedural errors may be identified at this point in the process.

For more information, see www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=17717.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

An artist’s conception of the type of cottages proposed for North Laurel Street. Image by Lindemann Design