The Ashland Planning Commission approved the site design Tuesday for a 60-unit affordable housing project.
The project is the second phase of the Snowberry Brook apartments at 2261 Villard St.
According to Planning Commission Chair Roger Pearce, the second-floor neighbors in the surrounding condos were not given notice of the project due to a mistake on the county property tax records. So the hearing was reopened for three people to testify in favor of the project and four who expressed concerns regarding safety and increased traffic.
Neighbors were not opposed to the affordable housing project, but several — including a woman who read a statement she said was signed by 25 neighbors — asked that a locked gate be placed on McCall Drive to protect pedestrians from increased traffic. Pearce said it would be up to the Public Works Department and Transportation Commission to decide that issue.
“If they’re putting traffic-calming devices in the street or taking them out, that’s all Public Works,” Pearce said. “That’s not our bailiwick. Our bailiwick is to approve the street design, and the street design is an alley connecting to McCall. It meets the site criteria, and if they want to limit vehicular access across there, they need to make their case to Public Works.”
The project includes four two-story eight-plex apartments, and seven two-story townhouse four-plexes. The units would include 10 one-bedroom flats, 12 two-bedroom flats, 10 three-bedroom flats and 28 two-bedroom townhomes.
The plan calls for 86 off-street parking spaces, 19 on-street spots and 90 covered bicycle parking spaces.
Pearce said the applicant, the Housing Authority of Jackson County, decided to remove a basketball court that had been proposed for a recreation area in order to minimize noise on that side of the development.
Rogue Action Center field organizer Jessie Kinney said volunteers took a survey of Snowberry Brook residents last weekend asking what they thought about the apartments, whether there should be more, and what they would tell people who think affordable housing options like it aren’t necessary.
She said she received a multitude of answers, but all were positive, ranging from students who were thankful that they could afford housing while going to school and working, to one person who suffered health problems from mold that grew in their last building, which they couldn’t afford to leave until Snowberry Brook opened.
“They said things like, ‘We are a community of people and everyone needs access to housing, and we have to think about everyone,’” Kinney said. “So in a county where nearly 50% of residents rent, and in a city where the fastest growing employment sectors are retail and service, which do not pay enough for households to afford average market rent, any opportunity to create housing options for individuals and families that live and work here need to be prioritized and incentivized.”