Ashton Town Hall meeting scheduled at 7 p.m. at Community Center Gym tonight

(Courtesy photo)

ASHTON – The city’s town hall meeting to discuss potential changes to its comprehensive plan and code is still on tonight.

It’s scheduled at 7 p.m., at the Community Center gym and is open to residents.

No decisions will be made, but instead it’s set up for residents to review information, make suggestions and discuss possible updates to the city’s comprehensive plan and code.

The change is being considered thanks in part to the recent conditional use permit granted to the new owners of Ott’s Place. They successfully petitioned the city to allow for a three-room hotel that would be providing “residential use” on the ground floor on Main Street. The current city code only allows for such businesses on the second story of Main Street businesses. There are two Airbnb’s currently operating on the second story of two stores on Main Street.

The hope in forbidding residential use on the first floor of Main Street businesses would give merchants a chance to display their wares for those visiting Main Street, said Ashton’s Planning and Zoning Administrator Sara Bowersox.

“The goal of the community core zoning district is to meet the day-to-day needs of our residents and visitors and provide a traditional Main Street feel,” she said.

While the Ott’s Place decision helped bring renewed attention to the city’s code and comprehensive plan, Bowersox says that last spring, former Mayor Teddy Stronks asked her about upgrading the plan prior to the Ott’s Place receiving its conditional use permit. 

“He mentioned it had been over 10 years since the comprehensive plan had been updated, and it needed to be looked at. It’s been on my to do list regardless of the changes to the former Ott’s place. It definitely came up during those discussions because that conditional use permit request did highlight that some of our zoning definitions need to be revisited,” Bowersox said.

Tonight’s meeting will be about back and forth discussion. During the get together, residents can review information and suggest what they would like to see happen to the comprehensive plan and the city’s code. No decisions will be made but instead data gathered.

Bowersox hopes to hold at least two town hall meetings and to also survey residents about the code and conditional use permit. From there, Bowersox will review the data she’s acquired and present it to Ashton’s Planning and Zoning Board. In turn, that board will have its own discussions and hold a public hearing. From there it will send its recommendations to the Ashton City Council to review. The council will also hold its own public hearings and make a final decision.

While it usually takes between six months to two years to complete changes to a city’s code and comprehensive plan, Bowersox believes that Ashton can complete its changes sooner.

“I expect it to be more than six months and less than 2 years because we are amending an existing comprehensive plan versus starting a new one from scratch. I don’t expect it to take two years,” she said. “Some of the research I’ve been doing has come from what other southeast Idaho communities have done.”

The city’s comprehensive plan was created in 1997 and updated in 2008. 

For more information on the current comprehensive plan visit the city’s website: https://cityofashton.com/city-departments/pnz.