The city of Ashland will sell land to GroundWorks for $50,000 off the asking price so that the Medford-based group can build five affordable homes with conservation and accessibility features.

The city of Ashland will sell land to GroundWorks for $50,000 off the asking price so that the Medford-based group can build five affordable homes with conservation and accessibility features.

The Ashland City Council approved the reduced sales price Tuesday.

GroundWorks, formerly known as the Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation, will pay the city $75,000 for the 14,000-square-foot piece of land once the project wins approval in the planning process. That money will go into the city's affordable housing trust fund for future projects.

The city bought the parcel near Siskiyou Boulevard and Chitwood Lane in 2006 for $125,059 and earmarked it for affordable housing.

The price reduction allows GroundWorks to get $75,000 in federal grants for the project, GroundWorks Executive Director John Wheeler said.

The townhouse-style homes will have energy conservation features and Earth Advantage certification.

Families who will live in the homes will work for 32 hours a week to build the housing, doing tasks like framing with a GroundWorks supervisor. GroundWorks will hire plumbers, electricians and other trained professionals for the more advanced work, Wheeler said.

"This will offer five families the opportunity to build and own their own homes," said resident Regina Ayars, who sits on the city's Housing Commission but said she was voicing her own personal views.

Ayars said she knows two people who built their own homes through a different self-help housing project, and they derived satisfaction from the process.

In a letter to the city of Ashland, several members of the Deerfield Estates Homeowners Association said they were concerned that only a screen with vines is proposed as a buffer between their homes and the affordable housing project.

They also objected to the proposed removal of some cypress trees.

Additionally, the neighbors said they are disappointed that the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has decided to postpone development of a park near their homes and the affordable housing project because of funding priorities.

The neighbors asked that the housing project be delayed since the park's development has been delayed.

They said that the sporadically maintained city and parks department land attracts vagrants and trespassers, and dry grass there is a summer fire hazard.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.