Ashland planning staff is reviewing an application to build a business park that will include light industrial office buildings and office space on a 5-acre property south of the city.

The application, filed by a Medford-based company called South Ashland Business Park LLC, is seeking land use permits to develop a 72,606-square-foot business park and a two-bedroom apartment for a manager on Washington Street. It will also ask the city for an annexation and a zone change — from rural residential to employment — as the property is currently out of the city limits.

The land, located on one tax lot, is adjacent to the Mt. Ashland office on Washington Street and faces Interstate 5 on its west side. The plan, according to the applicant, is to develop the business park in multiple phases, with the first phase consists of roughly 48,000 square feet of the project.

The applicant is also working with planning staff on plans to improve Washington Street to comply with Ashland’s ordinance, said Jay Harland, the project consultant.

“We have been working with staff for nine months or so,” Harland said at the Transportation Commission meeting on Jan. 25 as he presented three options that he said is doable for the applicant and will potentially benefit the city in the future.

All the options, Harland noted, are half-street improvement options which will allow the applicant to only construct one side of the road.

“Because the other side of the road is I-5, there won’t be any development on that side and it will fall to the city to do it,” Harland said.

The project couldn’t use the city’s cross section standard due to a wetland located on the property and the limited width of Washington Street. With the narrowest part is only 45.5 feet, it is not possible to have a 8-foot sidewalk, two 6-foot bike lanes, two 10-foot travel lands and park rows without going into the wetland on Washington Street, Harland said.

A more balanced option, Harland said, is to follow Ashland’s cross section standard with the elimination of the park rows.

The city could also choose to remove the bike lanes and install a 10-foot multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists. According to a traffic analysis conducted by Sandow Engineering, the multi-use paths will accommodate the traffic generated from the business park until 2034.

Harland also proposed a half-street improvement that include a bike lane and two 10-foot travel lanes. The option would be inexpensive, but the applicant asked the city to be responsible to obtain state and federal environmental permits as the improvement will have a big impact on the wetland.

“Developers are willing to do it if the city agrees to take on the permits,” Harland said. “Those permits are difficult to get and could be expensive, if we get it at all.”

Harland also said the applicant hoped Washington Street will function as an avenue and increase connectivity between Ashland Street and Crowson Road. Deputy Public Works Director Scott Fleury said that won’t be the case if the city doesn’t install the new railroad crossing through Washington Street.

Transportation Commission decided at the meeting to postpone its recommendation until all the commissioners could visit the site, but several commissioners expressed interest in the multi-use path as the option.

Commissioner Chair Joe Graf said the commission needs more information about the area and the city’s vision for it.

“Without knowing the whole context, based on what happened in the past, I’m wondering what the zoning would be in the south,” he said. “The last thing we want to end up with is a pitch point.”

The business park is under planning department’s preliminary review process, Harland said. The applicant will take the recommendation from Transportation Commission, which is set to be voted on Feb. 22, as a part of its application for land use permit approval.

— Reach reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.