ASHLAND – The Ashland City Council amended its zoning regulations last week to help encourage new businesses along the Highway 6 corridor.

At its Sept. 5 meeting, the council voted to approve the first of three readings for Ordinance 1166, amending zoning regulations in business and industrial areas. The ordinance does not become final until third reading is passed.

City Zoning Administrator Lenora Isom said there are five or six properties along Highway 6 that are in the process of or have been sold recently, forcing the city to take another look at their zoning in that area.

The area is currently zoned light industrial, general business and highway commercial. Isom would like to include flex zoning in the area, which is a combination of commercial, light industrial and storage.

Isom said the city council created a highway overlay district in the corridor that requires any new project in the area to meet specific aesthetic requirements regarding things like landscaping and building materials.

“If you don’t maintain the standards, the city can actually use this as leverage to pull the occupancy permit for that project,” she added.

A self-storage unit is among the possible businesses looking to build along Highway 6. Isom requested that the zoning regulations regarding self-storage businesses be changed in the highway overlay district. Currently self-storage units are allowed under a conditional use permit, meaning the council must give specific approval. Isom asked that it be changed to permitted use.

Because the overlay district has stricter regulations than a conditional use permit, Isom said that making this type of business require a conditional use permit is unnecessary.

“I feel that is jumping through the same hoop twice,” she said.

Mayor Rick Grauerholz said amending the zoning regulations in this way will encourage development, build the tax base and make it easier for new businesses to move into the Highway 6 corridor.

“I feel good about making these adjustments,” he said.

Council Member Jim Anderson said changing the zoning regulations will put Ashland on the right path for economic growth.

“Things are looking good for development of this corridor,” he said.

The council also approved the second reading of Ordinance 1167, setting budget for the city’s general fund, water and wastewater funds for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The third and final reading is planned for the council’s Sept. 19 meeting.

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