The proposed development of six duplexes off Liberty Lane, just east of the Middleton subdivision took a sudden turn Tuesday night as the Ashland Board of Aldermen approved the first reading approving the development.

Last Tuesday the Ashland Planning and Zoning Commission had unanimously shot down Schooler Construction’s request for a zoning change from “Commercial” to “Multi-Family, Residential” zoning. The zoning change would be required to build the duplexes. However, P&Z is an advisory board for the Board of Aldermen – and this time the Aldermen had a different opinion on a development.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” said builder Scott Schooler after the vote. “I appreciate the confidence the aldermen put in us and will tell you that we will build a quality development.”

A number of Middleton Crossing residents told the aldermen the six duplexes would create more traffic problems, more law enforcement problems and lower property values.

However, Alderman Jim Fasciotti told the audience he did not want to tell a land owner what he could or could not do with his property.

Alderman George Campbell expressed confidence in property owner C.L. Richardson.

“He has done a lot for this town and built in the right way,” Campbell said. “I think I can vote for what this man wants to do and I don’t think it will strongly affect your property values.”

The re-zoning must come before the aldermen again at their July 5 meeting for a second reading and vote.

by Bruce Wallace