By NATALIE MILLER
In a 4-1 vote at their June 14 meeting the Ashland Planning Commission recommend approval for the 148-home Laura Dell development to go before Town Council for consideration. The proposed development would be located on the land formerly-known as Green Acres, off Route 54 in Ashland.
Last December Ashland resident Yancey Jones requested to rezone the 52.5 acres from Planned Unit Development (PUD), Rural Residential, and Neighborhood Commercial to Planned Unit Development with 2.82 units per acre. The density for the proposed plan has been reduced since its inception to meet expressed concerns about the development having too many homes and potentially causing traffic issues in the surrounding area.
William Shewmake represented Jones during the planning commission meeting. Shewmake stated that Jones intended to “[make] a product we could be proud of and that would stand the test of time.”
Jones held a community meeting for his proposed development in April, and the Ashland Planning Commission held public hearings at their May 10 and June 14 meetings. The Planning Commission deferred the plan at the May 10 meeting until some concerns were addressed.
During the public hearing Ashland resident Joanne Flanagan suggested the possibility of installing a traffic circle to alleviate traffic congestion that could occur if the development were built.
A Traffic Impact Statement (TIA) for this property from 2013 was updated in May 2015 for a different proposed development that included almost 200 homes. Senior Town Planner Garet Prior said the results from these TIAs did not warrant installing a traffic circle on Route 54 near the development.
Betsy Dabney, who lives on Chapman Street across from the proposed development, said that the mentioned traffic studies were conducted when school not in session and traffic was light.
Dabney said that with the proposed number of homes, traffic would be affected.
“The density is just really scary to think about,” Dabney said.
In other news, the Commission recommended approval for a previously deferred conditional use permit in a 3-2 vote. Nicholas Ficarra filed for a conditional use permit to relocate his vehicle repossession business, Select Recovery Agents, from Maple Street to a vacant parcel on Hill Carter Parkway.
This proposal was presented and deferred at the commission’s May 10 meeting. A few property owners adjacent to the vacant lot have expressed concerns with visible barb wire fencing and cars, and the building being constructed without a brick exterior.
Ficarra’s insurance company requires that the new proposed business location include a gravel lot, and barb wire fencing.
According to Ficarra, vehicles usually sit at their property for no longer than five days. He said that the business typically recovers standard cars, and occasionally larger vehicles.
“If we have 100 pieces of collateral, 99 of them are standard passenger vehicles,” Ficarra said. “If we recover a fishing boat or speed boat, it sits there typically less than five days.”
In the comprehensive plan, Hill Carter Parkway is identified as a technology corridor to attract high-tech businesses and medical industries. According to plan, Ficarra’s proposal would not technically fit within the technology corridor requirements.
Commissioner Bob Flanagan and Chairperson Lou Ann Jewell were the two dissenting voters.