Historic Commission and planning staff had recommended denial of the mixed-use project between Water and Helman streets south of Van Ness
By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news
A mixed-use development planned between Helman and Water streets in Ashland has been denied by the city’s Planning Commission, a decision in line with the recommendation of the city’s Historic Commission.
Ashland’s Planning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday night to deny a development application for the proposed Magnolia Terrace Subdivision, following a public hearing for the subdivision that would have split the current three parcels totaling 1.19 acres on the south side of Van Ness Avenue between Helman and Water Streets into six lots.
The decision was in concert with a unanimous recommendation made this month by the Historic Commission for denial of the project proposal.
The application was represented by Rogue Planning & Development Services on behalf of Gil Livni of Magnolia Fine Homes in Talent. The applicant’s Phase 1 requested site design review approval for mixed-use commercial buildings with ground floor commercial spaces and two residential units above in each building, in addition to associated surface parking, utility infrastructure, and street improvements, according to the Planning Commission agenda.
The application went before the Planning Commission in March, and was adjusted from eight to six lots as proposed condominiums, with additional adjustments made since then to the project. As reviewed Tuesday, the first phase would have put up five mixed-use buildings on three of the lots, with initial site work only on the other three. There would have been a total of about 34,000 square feet of floor space in the first phase, and about 55,000 total after the second phase was constructed.
“When the Historic Commission looked at this in April, they appreciated the applicant’s efforts to addressing some design elements and specifically felt that they effectively address concerns regarding the building facade and the pedestrian amenities,” said Derek Severson, senior planner for the city of Ashland, “but they felt the revisions fell short on the major issues identified in the March meeting, and that was height, scale, and massing … (The Historic Commission) felt that they fell short related to the historic design standards.”
In particular, Severson said the Historic Commission believed the 40-feet high, three-story buildings facing Helman Street would overshadow the mostly one-story homes across the street from the site.
Applicant Livni expressed opposition to the Historic Commission’s recommendation to deny the project proposal, and said he didn’t believe there was clear criteria given from the Historic Commission in terms of what they wanted to see.
“I’m very disturbed and actually very upset,” Livni told commissioners prior to their vote to deny the request.
The Planning Commission decided to make their decision “without prejudice,” an action that essentially allows the housing applicant to reapply with a new application with adjustments to the project if they choose to do so without having to wait a full year to do so.
Planning Chair Haywood Norton noted the complexities of the proposal.
“This was not an easy one,” Nortion said.
He echoed a previous statement made in the meeting that, “All the easy sites (in Ashland) are gone.”
Planning Commission members also said goodbye to longtime Commissioner Roger Pearce, who had his last meeting on Tuesday before retiring.
He told commissioners he plans to move to the Seattle area.
Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at email@example.com.