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  • City to look at helping builders

    Proposal would extend validity of approvals
  • With the recession putting a damper on construction, the Ashland City Council will consider whether to give 18-month extensions to all development approvals in town.
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  • With the recession putting a damper on construction, the Ashland City Council will consider whether to give 18-month extensions to all development approvals in town.
    That could help keep approvals on projects from expiring before projects can be built. The projects have already gone through the regular planning process.
    The council meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St.
    Proposed ordinance language notes that the economic downtown has caused a severe slowdown in all aspects of land development and building activity since early 2006.
    The ordinance states that "while financing for new development and building activity is constrained, it is important to the continuing economic health of the community to extend the validity of existing development approvals so that such developments may more readily attain a shovel-ready status contributing to economic recovery."
    The proposed ordinance would have to be reviewed by the Ashland Planning Commission, with public notice also required to allow people to offer input on the idea.
    Other communities, including Grants Pass, have also floated the idea to extend development approvals.
    City of Ashland officials will additionally consider whether to allow the adjustment of approval dates of development projects that get appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals or Circuit Court. The local approval date would be adjusted after all appeals or remands are complete.
    Ashland's Land Use Ordinance currently doesn't allow for the adjustment of an approval date if a development project is appealed.
    "Appeals can often take years, and without a tolling provision, an applicant's approval can expire even if the applicant prevails in Court," city staff said in a memo to councilors. "This is both unfair to an applicant who has followed the process and an inefficient use of resources if a new application for the identical project has to be processed."
    Among other agenda items Tuesday night, the council is scheduled to consider whether to:
    • proclaim August 6 as Hiroshima Day and August 9 as Nagasaki Day;
    • proclaim the month of August as Kiwanis Month;
    • approve the recommendation of the Public Art Commission to accept a loan to the city of an angel sculpture by Kevin Christman to be placed in front of Soundpeace downtown;
    • accept a gift from former City Councilor Alice Hardesty of a Wataru Sugiyama sculpture that is already near Calle Guanajuato in honor of her late husband, former City Councilor Jack Hardesty;
    • authorize the Ashland Fiber Network to seek federal stimulus money to build a Wi Max wireless system in Ashland and also extend it out as far as the Pinehurst School in the Green Springs area east of town;
    • accept a $199,000 Federal Aviation Administration grant for engineering services for a runway rehabilitation project at Ashland Municipal Airport;
    • make an agreement with Rogue Valley Transportation District that will increase bus fare in Ashland from 50 cents to $1 but that will increase the frequency of bus service from about every half hour to about every 15 minutes;
    • ratify a labor agreement between the city and Ashland firefighters that includes no cost of living adjustment this year but the possibility of a COLA increase in 2010 if the consumer price index goes up more than 4 percent;
    • approve second reading of a resolution to ask voters on Nov. 3 to renew the city's sales tax on prepared food and drinks until 2030;
    • and approve a water service connection to Willow Wind Community Learning Center, which is outside city limits and the urban growth boundary.
    For a complete list of agenda items and for details on each item, visit http://ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=12086.
    Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.
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