ashland.news
June 13, 2024

State panel sends proposed Ashland annexation back to the city

Architectural plans for Grand Terrace, a proposed 230-unit apartment complex along Highway 99, outside current Ashland city limits. Image by Kendrick Enterprise LLC
May 14, 2023

230-unit Grand Terrace would be just northwest of current city limits

By Damian Mann for Ashland.news

A proposed annexation of an almost 17-acre property north of Ashland for a 230-unit apartment complex near the railroad tracks has hit another bump in the road with the Land Use Board of Appeals.

On May 9, LUBA found the city didn’t meet the minimum standards for the size of the affordable housing units and raised questions about on-street parking.

This is the second time Rogue Advocates has appealed a city decision to annex the property, located just north of the railroad trestle on Highway 99 and adjacent to the commercial area south of Valley View Road. The narrow property is located between the railroad tracks and Highway 99.

Rogue Advocates is a watchdog organization for Jackson and Josephine counties that seeks to promote livable and sustainable communities.

The organization had criticized the city’s response to the earlier LUBA decision and stated in a letter dated Nov. 1, 2022, that “the City of Ashland intends to bend over backwards in order to accommodate (developers).”

The property is located in Ashland’s Urban Growth Boundary and has been eyed for possible multifamily housing over the years.

Despite the latest LUBA remand, Acting City Attorney Doug McGeary said the issues can be resolved, and he believes the developer, Bob Kendrick, remains committed to building the project.

McGeary said the issues raised by Rogue Advocates in its LUBA appeal were going to be raised by the city later in the planning process rather than at this early stage.
The council voted to annex the same property on Dec. 15, 2020, for a version that had 190 units. At the time, the council granted an exemption from city development standards because various geographic and logistical barriers made it impractical to construct sidewalks along the highway in full compliance with city code.

LUBA rejected the city’s annexation May 12, 2021.

The areas approved for annexation into the city of Ashland are shaded: the area proposed for development is Tract A; a portion of Highway 99 is Tract B; and the Central Oregon & Pacific Railway tracks are Tract C. The area at lower right where the tracks pass over the highway is where North Main Street turns into Highway 99 at the current city limit.

McGeary said the LUBA remand of May 9, 2023, identified “technical errors” that can be addressed but didn’t find it a poorly thought out development.

LUBA found the city’s argument that the project as described wouldn’t meet the city’s municipal code requirements. The city responded to LUBA that it would deal with this issue during the final stages of the planning process.

“We do not understand either of the city’s arguments,” according to the 40-page LUBA findings.

Another issue LUBA pointed to is the lack of on-street parking.

LUBA found the city didn’t provide enough factual information in its response.

The city cited a change in state law this year, essentially allowing  cities to no longer require on-street parking. LUBA criticized the city for not providing a copy of the state law in its response.

According to Brandon Goldman, Ashland planning manager, the city no longer has to mandate on-street parking, based on Oregon’s Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities program that began in January.

He said the project does include on-site parking for the units.

Goldman said the developer could modify the project proposal to ensure the affordable housing units meet the minimum standards required by state law.

The number of affordable housing units in the project could be 38 to 47, depending on whether a nonprofit was involved in the project, he said.

It also includes a proposed bus stop on Highway 99, which could be used by Grand Terrace residents.

Steve Rouse, vice president of Rogue Advocates, said he doesn’t expect his organization to appeal as long as the two main points — parking and affordable unit size — are dealt with adequately by the city and developer.

“I think the city is correct, and all the remand points are easily addressed,” he said.

The city anticipates it could take several months to update the development plan to align it with the LUBA remand.

Reach writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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