Crandall Arambula, an urban planning firm in Portland, presented several concepts it developed for the Croman Mill site at a Wednesday evening public workshop.




About 50 people turned out to see and discuss the visions the firm came up with after hearing input from Ashland residents, businesses, and city and state officials in January.




Crandall Arambula representatives presented three of their own plans, but included a concept originally presented to the Ashland City Council several years ago by Croman Mill owners Bud Kaufman and Dwayne Cross of White City. The city rejected the plan, labeled Option A, because it was heavy on residential and light on employment opportunities, said Bill Molnar, Ashland's community development director.




The Crandall Arambula concepts, labeled Option B, C and D, have several features in common, the most notable being a change in Tolman Creek Road's orientation. Tolman currently runs directly into Ashland Street. The plan would call for Tolman ending just before the railroad tracks with a slight curve that connects to a new road running through the Croman Mill site. The new road continues through the site and intersects with Siskiyou Boulevard.




Don Arambula told the crowd that the change to Tolman was a way to cut down on the truck traffic traveling on Tolman through the residential and Bellview Elementary School districts.




All three concepts include a neighborhood center set in a pocket near Tolman Creek Road, Mistletoe Road and the current railroad tracks, which the planning firm envisions as a future commuter rail. The plans also have an open park space close to Siskiyou, a park and ride area, bike and walking trails and a 10-acre office campus set aside for Plexis Healthcare Systems.




George Crandall told the group that there's no guarantee that Plexis will expand to that area, but that the company wants to keep its options open.




Option B, described as light industrial with a neighborhood center, includes a second area for high density housing and a new three-lane, auto/truck roadway. Planning firm representatives say this plan could create 270 housing units and employ 1,277 people.




Option C, also described as light industrial with a neighborhood center, would incorporate more light industrial areas and would include a new three- to five-lane, auto/truck roadway with plantings in a meridian. This plan accommodates 250 housing units but could create up to 1,427 new employees.




Option D, referred to as an office campus and a neighborhood center with 250 units, includes five large parcels of land dedicated to larger professional/high tech companies. It also would include a three- to five-lane, auto/truck roadway.




Crandall said that businesses that move into campus type areas typically pay better than light industrial businesses and employ more people. He said Option D could employ up to 3,200 people.




After the presentation, Crandall Arambula opened the floor up for questions and comments.




A woman asked why Option D didn't include any light industrial areas.




Crandall told her the Oregon Department of Transportation pointed out that there are very few places in Southern Oregon that could accommodate a business that needed a large parcel of land.




"What we've seen is that is what businesses are looking for these days. But if you'd like to see light industrial mixed in with office campuses, than you should select Option C," he said, referring to the response sheets the firm brought so people could check which option they preferred.




Others voiced concerns about how the new development would impact the city's current water and electrical resources.




Molnar said long-range plans do take into account water issues.




"Public works and the conservation commission are looking at the plans and analyzing how the plans would affect the water supply," he said.




Kurt Brombacher, who owns IPCO printing on Tolman Creek Road, was upset to learn that the plans include changes by ODOT that have a new road off Washington Street running right through his property.




The Crandall Arambula representatives told him that ODOT is proposing several future changes and that he'd have to discuss that with them.




A third public workshop, a joint city council and planning commission study session, will take place tonight at 7 p.m. at the Bellview Grange. Crandall Arambula will go back to Portland and make revisions and present the final plan in April. City official will then address whether to accept the plan and rezone the area.




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