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Ashland could raise utility rates

Normal Neighborhood Plan on council agenda
 Posted: 2:00 AM May 19, 2014

The Ashland City Council will decide on Tuesday whether to approve rate hikes that together would increase the average resident's utility bills by $10 per month.

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

Councilors will consider 10 percent increases in water and sewer rates, a 3.6 percent electricity rate increase and 2.6 percent increases in storm drain and transportation utility fees.

Together with an uptick in the electric users' tax, the rate increases would cause the average resident's monthly utility bills to rise from $157.14 to $167.35, an increase of $10.21 each month, according to city staff estimates.

Increases would go into effect on July 1.

In other business on Tuesday, the council will continue a public hearing about the proposed Normal Neighborhood Plan and then consider whether to adopt the plan.

The plan would guide future development of 94 acres located between East Main Street to the north and the railroad tracks to the south, and from Clay Street to the east to Ashland Middle School to the west. It is named after Normal Avenue, which runs through the area.

The plan calls for a mix of housing types and businesses that are appropriate to neighborhoods, such as coffee shops and restaurants.

Under the plan, 28 percent of the land would remain as open space through the creation of conservation areas.

Neighbors opposed to the plan have said it would increase traffic and strain sewer and water systems. They would also like to have a proposal for a section of high density housing removed from the plan.

In another agenda item, councilors are scheduled to discuss potential rules that could apply if Ashland allows people to rent their homes to tourists for short stays in single-family home residential zones.

The Ashland Planning Commission has not made a recommendation on whether the council should allow the practice in such zones.

But if the practice is allowed, the commission recommends limiting it to owner-occupied properties, requiring the tourist's accommodation be attached to the main home or within its footprint, allowing only one tourist accommodation per property, banning kitchen facilities and requiring an applicant go through a city conditional use permit process.

The city of Ashland has struggled to stamp out the practice of renting homes to tourists for short stays in areas where the practice is not allowed.

Travel websites that connect tourists with homeowners have facilitated a boom in vacation rentals by owners.

For a complete list of agenda items and for details on each item, visit http://goo.gl/p89PU7.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.


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