ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
NOVEMBER 12, 2002
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Mike Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Russ Chapman, Colin Swales, Marilyn Briggs, Mike Morris, John Fields, Kerry KenCairn, Alex Amarotico, and Ray Kistler. There were no absent members. Staff present were John McLaughlin, Bill Molnar, Maria Harris and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
Swales amended the word "fists" to "trysts" in the first paragraph on page 5 of the October 10, 2002 regular meeting minutes. The minutes were approved as amended.
Swales had concerns with the wording of the findings for PA2002-113 and asked for discussion. He stated the planning action we were asked to approve states it was for theater, nightclub and bar uses. It has been changed in the heading. McLaughlin said it was brought up that theaters were not an allowed use in the zone. The findings reflect what goes on in that zone and is consistent with the allowable uses in the zone as conditional uses. Swales said his vote was based on the use as theater, nightclub and bar. He voiced his concern in August that a theater was not allowed, but it came before the full Commission as a theater, bar and nightclub. That was specifically one of the main reasons he voted "no". McLaughlin said he can vote "no" for adoption of the findings.
Amarotico moved to approve the findings for PA2002-113, Morris seconded the motion. The motion carried. Swales cast a "no" vote.
Swales moved to approve the findings for PA2002-115. Kistler seconded the motion and the findings were approved.
PHILIP LANG, 758 B Street, is asking for an honest application and an upholding of the ordinances we have. He believes the Commission is bent on bending, breaking or repealing the law to favor some developers’ interests. He thinks this has been done blatantly and repeatedly in recent history, as the Commission is about to do in repealing or amending a zoning ordinance prohibiting theaters in the E-1 zone. A lot of time was spent by a lot of people on these ordinances. They made good sense and they were good laws. The Commission lacks diversity and, therefore, representation of the major, larger interests in Ashland, such as renters, working people, students, etc. The state law regarding planning commissions says under 227.030, Membership: "Not more than two members of a city planning commission may be city officers..."Subsection 4: "No more than two voting members of the commission may engage principally in the buying, selling or developing of real estate for profit as individuals, or be members of any partnership or offices of any corporation that engages principally in the buying, selling or developing of real estate for profit. Moreover, no more than two members shall be engaged in the same kind of occupation, business, trade or profession." Lang’s interpretation is that five members of the commission are engaged in these activities. At least three members meet these criteria. He is asking the situation be remedied. He believes any decisions made recently or tonight, could be called into question.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
PLANNING ACTION 2002-106
REQUEST FOR A SITE REVIEW PERMIT TO CONSTRUCT A FOUR-UNIT APARTMENT/CONDOMINIUM COMPLEX. A VARIANCE IS REQUESTED TO REDUCE THE FRONT YARD SETBACK FROM 20 TO 10 FEET AND TO REDUCE THE DISTANCE BETWEEN BUILDINGS FROM 12 TO 8 FEET. A TREE REMOVAL PERMIT IS REQUESTED TO REMOVE TWO TREES ON THIS SITE.
916 EAST MAIN STREET
APPLICANT: RON DELUCA
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts
Chapman, Swales, Briggs, Gardiner, Morris, Amarotico and Kistler had a site visit. KenCairn stepped down as she was not at the last meeting and did not listen to the tapes. Fields will not participate because he was not at the last meeting. Swales stated he received an e-mail from Russ Silbiger referring to a number of items on tonight’s agenda. Swales read the e-mail. He responded to Silbiger by stating he was unable to respond as it could be considered an ex parte contact and that he would forward it to the Planning Department so it could be made part of the record. Swales said he was at the coffee shop across the street from the proposed development a couple of weeks ago. He noticed there was a workman installing a new fence alongside the alleyway. He will have some questions this evening for the applicant with regards to the need for that fence.
Harris said this application is continued from last month. The applicant is proposing three structures with four two-bedroom units. Seven off-street parking spaces are required and are planned on the site to the rear of the property. Initially, this was noticed with a front yard setback variance. The City Attorney has determined that a variance is not required. There is an ordinance that allows for taking to the two neighboring properties and averaging the yards that are fronting the same street and using that average for the front yard setback. That ends up being about seven and one-half feet and the proposal is to locate the porches ten feet from the front property line. The property is in the Historic District. Harris said the public hearing was continued from last month and public testimony can still be taken.
Chapman had questioned Harris about the condition required for a variance. Is it self-imposed because four units are being put on one lot? Is it trying to be made to fit "historically"? Harris said that was a suggestion by Staff, but it’s not required.
CATE HARTZELL, 881 East Main Street, stated she has lived diagonally across from the proposed project for 12 years. In 1994, variances were granted for the house directly across the street from her because it was a corner lot. In her opinion, we ended up with one of the worst examples of infill in town. It is a large house that was exempted from a need for any yard, with a house plopped down. Is there ever a situation that could be defined as unique and unusual where the builder keeps the size of the building within the context of the size of the parcel? Is the situation self-imposed? The number of units may be impacting the kinds of variances that are being requested.
Hartzell understands the efforts of Staff to work with the developer on design but she questions some of the assumptions being made and applied to this project and others like it. Even though the front yard setback is not being considered, she believes it affects the other design features. As we deal with non-conforming parcels, it starts a domino effect where we give variances to non-conforming parcels. At what point do we step in and hold to our standards? Is the assumption true that building houses up close to the sidewalk will somehow enhance pedestrian use and slow down traffic?
She is assuming the affordable unit will remain so for 20 years.
Though the developer is designing common open spaces, she can’t see room for fences. She assumes anyone living there will not have children or pets because the vehicle trips on East Main Street in that area are close to 8,000 vehicle trips per day with typically people traveling well over the speed limit, up to 50 mph.
Hartzell said that even though the parking meets minimum standards, the overflow will be on Eighth Street. The owner of the coffee shop is asking the Traffic Safety Commission for time zoned parking across from the coffee shop because of the congestion there.
Hartzell has a concern that headlights will shine into the units fronting East Main from traffic pulling up to the stop on Eighth. If there is more setback that would allow for vegetation, there will be some ability to screen for headlights.
Swales said he has a different interpretation of the front yard setback. The section the City Attorney refers to is 18.68.110 - Front Yard - General Exceptions. Is it correct that both of the abutting structures are side yards, not front yards? Harris said the structure to the east on Alida (corner of Alida and East Main) that East Main is technically their front yard because it is the narrower street frontage even though it doesn’t look like the front of the building. The property to the west of the alley is a side yard. That was specifically discussed with the attorney. Can you use a side yard and front for that average? His opinion was "yes". If you read the language closely, it says "yard". Swales said his concern is that the wording says only "yard" but the heading refers to "Front Yard". The yards weren’t specified, so he assumes referring to yard means "front yard", including front yards of abutting structures. Harris said that was not the attorney’s interpretation. His opinion was that yard referred to any abutting yard.
MICHAEL GANIO, 75 Dewey Street, is concerned with the structures being located so close to the sidewalk on East Main, a very busy street. Buildings 2 and 3 represent a massive structure and the scale appears to be that of a two-story commercial structure. The exterior lacks an appropriate sense of historic scale. Building 4, though more in scale with the surrounding neighborhood, will be jammed in the back interior corner of the property and dominated by two-story buildings on three sides. Most of the surrounding buildings do not have enough off-street parking spaces to accommodate tenants cars. The neighborhood streets are often clogged with parked cars. Many streets are bottlenecks, creating an unsafe situation, particularly for the children. The seven spaces being provided are for four two-bedroom apartments. The reality within their neighborhood seems to be three cars for two bedroom units. It is the neighbors living in this neighborhood that will have to experience this increased parking and traffic. Because of the sub-standard front yard setbacks, all family activities will be pushed to the small backyard common space that already seems too small to serve its designed purpose successfully.
The alley runs all the way through to Blaine Street and continues to Siskiyou. It is an alternative path impacted by the multi-family dwelling, which already has inadequate parking on the alley. The neighborhood and the high school population use the alley. It is a quiet shortcut to East Main. It is assumed that all traffic from this proposed development will conveniently choose to depart via East Main. The increased traffic will impact the quality of living of every person whose backyards, gardens and windows front on the alley.
EVAN ARCHERD, 120 North Second, said his office is close to the neighborhood. He frequents the coffee shop. It seems what we try to promote is rental housing that is located within easy walking and biking distance to all of the major services provided in Ashland. This location is within walking distance to SOU, downtown, shopping at Safeway, and coffee. He believes this is the type of infill project we should promote and support.
Harris said there is a minor correction to Condition 6. The first sentence should read: "That an evergreen a minimum of five to six feet in height shall be planted on-site..."
TOM GIORDANO, 2635 Takelma Way, agent for the project, said he is a little dismayed about the neighborhood opposition to this project. A lot of the things they are concerned about, this project design addresses. He likes the model presented by a neighbor tonight. It shows a good relationship between the two buildings and how they were trying to create a cottage design. The attempt was to make a cottage concept of smaller buildings separated by space. He believes they achieved that without sacrificing the required parking, open space and the landscape areas. When he went through the pre-application process, it was Staff that suggested separating the buildings and to ask for a variance for distance between buildings. He thought it was a great suggestion and reinforces that cottage concept even more.
Giordano said the real problem within the area that is impacting the neighborhood is the parking for the coffee shop. He, however, believes the coffee shop adds a vitality to our community.
Giordano said they are asking for a bonus density under an existing ordinance that allows affordable housing. If we aren’t going to provide affordable housing in the community this way, how are we going to provide it? It is within walking distance to many areas, bike paths, and public transportation. He is asking for approval of his project.
Chapman said there is very little wiggle room with variances. Isn’t this variance self-imposed by the number of buildings being proposed? Would the variance be required if only one or two buildings were being proposed? Giordano said the two buildings could be attached and there would be no variance required. That would make a larger building mass. Under the Performance Standards, you can get within three feet from a neighboring property. Giordano would also refer to what Staff has said about the variance.
Swales asked why the temporary fencing has been put up. Giordano said people were parking on that lot.
COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION
McLaughlin, addressing Chapman’s concerns about the three variance criteria, said one is the proposal’s benefits would be greater than any negative impacts. Let’s say you find there is something unique about this historic area that you want to protect by separating buildings. You can find there is a positive impact by not having one large building and that a variance is appropriate to accommodate that historic pattern. The second criteria is one that allows you to use some balance. If you find there is a unique or unusual circumstance, you can ask if there are some positive and negatives we should be considering. There may be a positive to the neighborhood of not holding fast to the rule of saying buildings have to be connected, making them large buildings. It may be advantageous because this is a different style of development than found in other parts of the community to allow for a variance. The reason Staff recommended it, if the designer strictly adhered to the standard, they did not believe it was as good a design for the neighborhood.
Harris said Staff’s interpretation of affordable housing, is since it has been proposed as a rental, they are getting the density bonus and it should run for 20 years. She has drafted some language if the Commission wants to add it to the last Condition. She recommends adding to the end of Condition 10, "Affordable units shall remain in the City of Ashland affordable housing program for a minimum of 20 years." Swales believes it is important to make sure if this is approved, that the affordable unit remain in the program for a period of time.
Briggs said she agrees with Chapman that we have the criteria for a variance and that everything has been self-imposed. A house was removed. Two existing trees will go. The applicant determined the size of the units. It is self-imposed. She is inclined not to grant any variance.
Swales agreed. He gets a little fed up with the argument that is constantly presented that it is a little cottage style development and it is better than the worst thing that could possibly go on this site. We know this is a high-density, multi-family zone that could have something truly egregious on it. He feels it is the job of Staff and the Planning Commission to encourage developers to do their very best both aesthetically and from the livability standpoint rather than hold out the carrot of variances saying "If you don’t grant this variance, they will come back with something even worse."
Swales believes the front yard variance is very important. Now we are also stretching the bounds of credibility to call East Main the front of the apartment building next to it. It is a blank wall with trees planted along it. He believes we are looking at are two variances and he believes they should be denied. He believes the variances have been self-imposed.
Gardiner thought the configuration of the lot establishes the front and side yard. In a lot of other projects, we have continued to interpret the front and side yard based on the dimensions of the lot.
Swales referred to the first section of the Land Use Ordinance under General Provisions: "The purpose of the Land Use Ordinance is to provide adequate open space for light and air, to provide and improve the aesthetic and visual qualities of the living environment, safety from fire and other dangers, provisions for maintaining sanitary conditions...". We are trying to grant variances so it ties in with buildings. He does not believe it needs to be emulated.
Harris said the variance for the front yard setback is not required according to the City Attorney.
Swales said the intent of the ordinance as he sees it, is if you have a series of houses with front yard setbacks (fronts of the houses) that are less than the required setback now, it allows you to build to match the existing housing.
McLaughlin said the City Attorney has made his interpretation of the ordinance. The Commission can choose not to follow that and deny the application based on that. If it is used as a criteria for denial, then the Commission needs to make findings as to why they believe that ordinance applies.
Briggs moved to deny PA2002-106. Chapman seconded the motion and it carried with Chapman, Swales, Gardiner, and Briggs voting "yes" and Kistler, Morris, and Amarotico voting "no".
KenCairn returned to the meeting and Fields will participate in the next hearing.
TYPE III PLANNING ACTION
REQUEST FOR ANNEXATION, COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AND ZONING MAP CHANGE FROM JACKSON COUNTY ZONING (FARM FIVE) TO CITY OF ASHLAND ZONING R-1-3.5 (SUBURBAN RESIDENTIAL) FOR AN APPROXIMATELY FIVE ACRE PARCEL LOCATED AT 25O CLAY CREEK. THE REQUEST INCLUDES OUTLINE PLAN AND SITE REVIEW APPROVAL FOR A 41-UNIT DEVELOPMENT UNDER THE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS OPTION.
APPLICANT: RUSSELL E. DALE
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts
Site visits were made by all. Briggs stated when she was on the site, Joyce Woods, a resident on Abbott Street, talked to her about parking and speed on Abbott Street.
Molnar reports this application involves a request for Annexation, Outline Plan and Site Review approval. The applicable standards for approval have been mailed to property owners within 200 feet of the site. The five-acre site is located at the lower end of Clay Street, just up from East Main Street. It is adjacent to the Chautauqua Trace development.
The property has a residence and some accessory structures located on the southwest corner of the property. Notable features include a wetland running along the eastern portion of the property. It is about one-third acre and is identified on the National Wetland Inventory produced by Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. There is an elm tree and a birch tree on the property near Clay.
The proposal involves an annexation into the city limits with a request to zone it R-1-3.5, Suburban Residential, the city’s comprehensive plan designation for the property. This zoning district falls somewhere between a single family detached zoning district and more multi-family or apartment zoned district. It also involves Outline Plan and Site Review request for a 41-unit development under the Performance Standards Option.
Molnar said the proposal involves expanding the local street network with a grid street system extending Abbott Street through the northern part of the property where it meets Clay Street. The east/west connection is identified on the city’s Transportation Plan. Also involved in the grid is a new north/south connection that stubs out at both the north and south property lines. Both north and south of the property is within the Urban Growth Boundary and is consistent with the city’s street standards. The application also involves doing street improvements along Clay Street including a pavement overlay, on-street parking, a planting strip, and sidewalk. Those improvements will go to the intersection of East Main Street.
Molnar explained the wetland is a jurisdictional wetland delineated as part of state and federal regulations. The application proposes crossing the location for the extension of Abbott Street as well as for a smaller driveway to serve six units in the lower corner of the property. That would disturb approximately 3,500 square feet of the wetland. The State Corps of Engineers require one and one-half times mitigation or an additional 6,000 square feet of wetland area to be provided at the northerly side of the property.
Thirty-five units are standard townhomes, similar in style to Chautauqua Trace. The other six units are located in the southeast corner on the other side of the wetland. There is a request to construct a narrow driveway across the wetland in order to get to that buildable area.
The Planning Commission is the decision-maker on the Outline Plan and Site Review request. The Commission is required to forward a recommendation to the City Council regarding the annexation where they will make a final decision. The developer has met the first three standards for annexation. The property is located within the Urban Growth Boundary, the property is contiguous with the current city limits, and the requested zoning is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan Designation.
The applicant has shown that city sewer, water and electric services available to the site. Storm drainage is provided within the new city streets. The tentative utility plan shows the majority of the storm drainage flowing over to the wetland area, detained and treated in the wetland area. Ultimately, the drainage swale continues south and north, crosses East Main and deposits into the Bear Creek floodplain area.
Paved access to the site is provided to Clay Street and the extension of Abbott Streets. Bike facilities will be shared on the local street system. The bike lane on Tolman Creek Road starts part way up, however, the shared travel lanes further down are shared. All the streets will have public sidewalks. The applicant has agreed to public pedestrian easements along the wetland to the north and south to allow for a public pathway system.
The applicant needs to show there is an inadequate supply of land within the current city limits of Suburban Residential. Staff has identified less than two acres of vacant R-1-3.5 zoned property (corner of Hersey and Starflower Lane). They estimate approximately anywhere from low ten to 15 acres of R-1-3.5 should be in the city to accommodate a five year inventory. Staff feels there is justification for additional R-1-3.5 land to be brought into the city.
There is a requirement that 15 to 20 percent of the units are affordable. The applicant has identified 15 percent (or six units) in the southeast corner of the parcel. The affordable units will available to those households making 80 percent or less of the area median income.
Molnar reported there was a transportation impact study done by Hardey Engineering that looked at proposed increases in traffic. They concluded that while there will be increases in traffic on surrounding streets, all streets have available capacity within them to accommodate the additional 41 units. Outline Plan criteria also mentions incorporation of natural features. The majority of the natural wetlands are being maintained. The overall design is effective to maintain the wetland as a key visual component of the project by running the public street and sidewalk system adjacent to the wetland. There is also a wetland planting and mitigation plan. Both federal and state agencies have approved the plan for the wetland area.
Staff feels the street system meets the standards and will provide access to future developing adjacent properties.
The applicant proposed providing a single car garage with a driveway apron for each unit and then providing the remainder of the required parking through a street design that allows for parking on both sides of the street. Chautauqua Trace was built under the city’s old street standards that was a 20-foot curb-to-curb street, with the exception of bays and wagon wheel areas. The proposal should provide 75 to 80 on-street parking spaces in addition to a single car garage and a driveway apron for each unit. That will total approximately two and three-quarter parking spaces per housing unit. The revised site plan attaches both single car garages of units together, creating more curb space in between the proposed driveways.
Staff felt there was sufficient information to find the request for annexation could be found to meet the standards for approval. It appears the designed plan will work. There might be some fine-tuning at Final Plan. Staff has identified 24 Conditions of approval, should the Planning Commission decided to approve the application. Staff is recommending a separate motion regarding a recommendation for annexation.
Briggs asked if there was anything in the conditions stating how long the units will be affordable. Molnar said these units are planned for ownership which allows for a deferral of Systems Development Charges for each affordable unit. If the units remain in the program for 20 years, they are relieved of the deferral. If an owner chooses to sell to someone who doesn’t qualify for affordable or sells at a price above that established by the city, they can do that under the current affordable resolution. They would have to pay back the deferred Systems Development Charge with a penalty. The applicant is working with ACCESS, Inc. and Ashland Community Land Trust (ACLT) to purchase the parcel at the southeast corner of the property. If ACLT purchased, the units would stay affordable in perpetuity.
Briggs said even if we annex this property into the city, are we still short inventory in the city? McLaughlin said yes we are.
Fields asked about the storm drain plan. Molnar said most of it is being designed to put the storm water into the wetland area. There is an overflow facility provided should the ponding systems get inundated. A small amount will run into a piped ditch. Fields asked if the wetland is part of the storm system. Molnar said it will be part of this project. There is a portion of the wetland closer to East Main that serves both purposes. Fields thought whenever you had streets that were handling oil and potential contaminants, that those had to go into the storm sewer system, not into the wetland unless the wetland is part of the city’s designated system.
Amarotico asked about the vacant land inventory. Molnar said it came out in the Needs Analysis that there is a low inventory of property zoned for attached or higher density housing.
RUSS DALE, 585 Allison Street, said it feels like Ashland is starting to lose some of its housing diversity. He is asking for entry-level housing in this application. There are four benefits for approving his application. The sooner the annexation is approved, the lower the cost to the consumer. The families that want to move into this development would like to do so before school starts in the fall. This project could be coordinated with two other projects he is working on and he could get lower prices for materials. This would enable subcontractors to be assured of work that will enable them to make lower bids. The ACLT needs a definitive delivery date.
Dale referred to the Buildable Lands Inventory. We have only about an acre of R-1-3.5. We need 39 acres for 20 years. It demonstrates that we don’t have what we need and we need more of it.
Dale said his purpose is to provide the best quality homes for the lowest possible price that can be done in Ashland. This project has been designed to address the specific housing needs discussed. These will be the lowest priced new homes on the market. Entry-level homes are the least profitable types of housing. With the affordability requirement, it makes it almost impossible for most developers to get financing on a project like this. We haven’t had any annexations that have made a significant contribution to the supply of homes in the last four years. The Chautauqua Trace project sold out on an average of ten days after certificate of occupancy and the demand today is significantly greater. Dale can do this project now because of timing issues. Some of his soft costs can be spread over more units. Interest rates are at historic lows. By partnering with ACLT, the market rate units do not subsidize as much of the affordable component. ACLT needs time to obtain financing.
Chautauqua Trace needs to be connected to Clay Street by way of the extension to Abbott. They came up with five points of egress. Swales wondered why the need for the two entrances on Clay Street. Dale said there are two entrances in order to disperse the traffic over the five entrances.
Dale said with regard to Fields’ question about the wetlands, that the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to try and take as much of the water off this site from the impervious surface and filter it through the ponds. They want the water cleaned and settled as much as possible before entering Bear Creek.
Dale believes the affordable housing area is the choicest site. It can only have one access, consequently, it needs to remain one tax lot, therefore, it became the most obvious place for the affordable component. These units will be built to the same standards as the other units.
Swales wondered how long the affordable houses stayed in the affordable program. Dale thought those in Chautauqua Trace worked quite well. Most of the people are still there. He will try to keep the prices of the new units in the $169,000 range.
KenCairn wondered if there was a more detailed design of the retention ponds. Dale said Scott English, John Galbraith and someone from the Army Corps of Engineers worked on it. The pond will be created first. KenCairn wanted to make sure the toxins would be taken off the street and pre-treated first.
Briggs said the affordable housing parking is lined up on the east property line, adjacent to the existing homes. She wondered if Dale tried putting the parking in a different place. Dale asked the neighbors, and they asked for a row of conifers to block headlights. They are trying to keep them as far away from the wetlands as possible. A fire truck will have to have access. Briggs asked if Dale could cover the parking in the east area. Dale is willing to work with the property owners.
JEFF HARPAIN, 2300 Abbott, said he is a new owner of that property and he will be most impacted by the development. He is located at the terminus of Abbott. He never received any notification of the meeting. He requested a continuance. He found out about the meeting on Friday from his neighbors and has not had time to review the documents. In the short time he has had to review the documents, he has discovered some serious flaws in the project. He objects that adequate access exists via Abbott as well inadequate planning for the incorporation of the wetlands. He believes the plan is not in compliance with Section 18.76.030 as outlined on Page 10 of the Staff Report. He believes Abbott cannot handle any more traffic because of the narrow street width. If the wetland mitigation is similar to what they have in Chautauqua Trace, they will be left with more than an unsightly basin harboring insects and poisoned wildlife. Currently, there is a fully functioning wetland ecosystem in place now. How will dumping of parking runoff preserve the wetland? He is urging denial of this project.
JENNIFER LONGSHORE, 2388 Abbott Avenue, said she is concerned about the proposed extension of Abbott. She has submitted a letter for the record, including 95 signatures of residents on Abbott. This includes almost everyone on Abbott as well as others in the community. They are offering other options to the extension. Abbott is extremely narrow with no room for parking. Backing into Abbott necessitates using the whole street. They have to stop to pass other on-coming cars. When you add that other issues such as pedestrians, teenagers, toddlers, young children and senior citizens, it is a safety and livability issue. On Clay Street, where else will traffic be able to travel to Tolman Creek, other than on Abbott? She is concerned because the new development will be significantly wider, bottlenecking to a narrower street. It is an unsafe cross-section. She would suggest a one-way street with cars allowed from Tolman Creek to Clay, but not from Clay to Tolman Creek. Also, she would like consideration of removable bollards for emergency vehicle, medians or traffic circles. She submitted an additional 21 signatures.
BONNIE SHAFFER, 283 B Street, stated that she owns the five-acre parcel to the north of the proposed development. She will have only a one-foot clearance between her property and the proposed development. She wants to retain her open land for as long as she can. She would like a fence installed at the developer’s expense to keep people and dogs off her property. She is also concerned about continuation of her TID water.
Dale responded to Shaffer telling her he is putting in a new TID line and she will have continuous TID water. He would be willing to install a fence.
ANNICE BLACK, 2110 Creek Drive, lives on the other side of Clay Street from the proposed project. Her concern is that there is no master plan for the entire area. Each project is a singular project with myopic vision. The infrastructure required to move pedestrians, bikes and cars for this project needs to be considered. She believes there are some open space issues. Clay Street is still a county street and we have no control over having it widened or paved and made accessible. The street is inadequate. There needs to be a larger plan stating how the whole sewer system is going to work. Where will the large truck turnarounds be and where will utility trucks park? She would like to see the units owner occupied. In the Ashland Meadows Homeowner’s Association, almost 30 percent of the units are non-owner occupied. The units that are being built for the Meadowbrook Park Estates are about 30 percent non-owner occupied. To the extent units are being bought up by outsiders and being used as rentals, is not allowing the local people to buy locally. Having owner occupied units would mitigate the inflation of housing prices.
ROD PETRONE, 2225 Abbott Avenue, submitted written comments that he is concerned about traffic on Abbott.
JOANIE MCGOWAN, 138 North Second Street, thought there should be some reality checks about the housing situation in Ashland. There is a lot of discussion about affordable housing. There is a broad separation of the classes in our economy nationally and housing prices in Ashland are rising astronomically, making it an exclusive community. We do not have living wage jobs that match up with the housing costs and she does not see that happening in the future. There are some wonderful professionals that work in Ashland that make a fair income. They too, are unable to afford living in Ashland. There are a number of professionals who don’t make large wages, but choose to live in this community. It seems this project is trying to preserve some semblance of diversity and some ability for professionals to live here. We will never have enough community land trust houses. However, it is nice to have some land trust houses to give people a vision. She believes Dale will work with the neighbors to make sure the wetlands are well managed.
TERESA MCCANTS, 21 South Groveland, Medford, OR, stated she recently decided to move out of Ashland because she could no longer afford to live here. She sells real estate and said the number of homes selling for under $200,00 two years ago was 230. That number dropped to 84 this year. She really believes in this project and would like to see it approved.
RAD WELLES, 186 Crocker, said he lives in Chautauqua Trace and is also on the Ashland Schools Foundation. In the last five years, they have lost seven percent of their school population. It is projected in the next five years they will lose 15 percent of their school population. Dale is one of the few people around who wants to construct affordable housing. He would be providing housing that is clearly in demand.
Swales asked how Chautauqua Trace has developed in terms of rentals. Welles said there are good number of rentals. He believes there are 12 to 13 units that are lived in by the original owners. There are four land trust units. There are some units that have been purchased and rented out by those who want a place to live in Ashland someday.
KRISTA BERRY, works at 320 East Main Street, #100. She is President of the Ashland Community Land Trust, and she too, cannot afford to live in Ashland. Ashland is losing families with two possible school closures. She has heard a lot of people from Chautauqua Trace opposed to this project, but people are buying the units and paying the price and seem to like living there. She believes the same thing will be true once Dale’s project is approved and built.
CYNTHIA WHITE, 590 Taylor Street, said she is recommending support of this application. It is a natural extension of Chautauqua Trace, is excellent for an entry-level buyer under $200,000, and it provides housing for tenants for reasonable and affordable rental rates. She is not aware of any other project at this time that will provide residential house pricing under $200,000. There are only eleven out of 149 properties for sale in this price range.
EVAN ARCHERD, 120 North Second Street, said he is a developer. The reason we don’t have much affordable housing is because land prices have become astronomical. Dale has created a project where he can provide a degree of affordable housing. This is a unique opportunity because interest rates are at a 40-year low. Maybe some of these houses are being purchased by people who will rent them, but what’s the alternative--don’t build at all?
JOYCE WOODS, 2308 Abbott Avenue, said she is two townhomes away from the development. She is a first-time homebuyer. Her dream turned into a nightmare shortly after she moved in. A great many of the units were purchased by investors who have rented them out. She has lost sleep for over a year because those people did not conform to the CC&R’s in the neighborhood. She has called the police numerous times because of parking violations and other violations she experienced including things being stolen from her property. The neighborhood is quiet now. The places adjoining her are now owner occupied. She is fearful of having a parking lot behind her again (the street was used as a parking lot) and the two-story structure with six apartments directly behind her. She doesn’t want to become another Ashland refuge. Families will not stay here if they feel their children are not safe in their neighborhood. She would agree with the one-way on Clay. Three months ago it was determined that 30 to 40 percent of the units at Chautauqua Trace are rentals.
Amarotico moved to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m. The motion was seconded and approved.
SALLY SUMMERDORF, 321 Clay Street, #48, lives in Wingspread. She is concerned for the safety of those on Clay Street and the dogleg on the south end that enters Ashland Street. There has been so much more traffic in the last two years. Most people that drive on Clay, drive too fast. By increasing traffic, there is no place for pedestrians. Clay is used by a lot of the people that go to the YMCA. There are many elderly in the mobile home park that go to the bus stop and Albertson’s. Her concern is with increased traffic and safety.
WILLOW DEAN, 55 Brooks Lane, is on the board of the Chautauqua Trace Homeowner’s Association. A neighborhood group has been in dialogue with Dale. She is concerned with the health and well-being of the wetland. The habitat is enjoyment for the neighborhood, but it needs to be handled carefully. She is concerned with the storm water and untreated toxic waste. Constructed wetlands become habitat for blackberries. The homeowner’s association just spent over $2000 to remove blackberries at Chautauqua Trace.
She shares many of the same concerns regarding traffic. It would help to make Abbott one-way.
She has a big issue with investors and absentee landlords. At last count, it was 40 percent absentee landlords. They have dealt with party houses.
McLaughlin wanted to address Harpain’s request for a continuance due to failure to receive notice. There were two notices in the file sent to 2300 Abbott to a different name. Our mailing list is updated monthly from Jackson County. It probably takes some time for it to get into Jackson County’s database. The ordinance states that failure of a property owner to receive notice does not invalidate such proceedings as long as a good faith attempt was made to notify all persons entitled to receive notice. McLaughlin said Harpain has reserved his right of appeal by participating in the hearing. By ordinance, the Commission can continue the hearing, but they do not have to.
Swales noticed the writing on the City’s blue and white land use sign had faded off. Can the record be kept open if Harpain has more information to add? Molnar said notice was sent 20 days prior to the hearing. McLaughlin said the hearing may be kept open for seven days.
Harpain asked that the record be kept open for seven days.
Molnar said the main issues dealt with the extension of Abbott. All along, Staff has directed the applicant to extend Abbott to Clay because it is on the city’s street dedication map and follows the city’s philosophy of connecting neighborhoods. Gardiner reiterated that connectivity is an important part of the design of all the property.
Molnar said the Clay Street area is in the UGB with a county maintained road. An improvement district can be formed, but they are not residents within the City of Ashland and not required to pay into that district. As property annexes along the county road into the city, the city street improvements will be provided along the frontage. It will happen incrementally.
McLaughlin said the improvements to Clay are on a list and in line for improvements.
Briggs asked what Staff thought of one-way streets. McLaughlin said it has been their experience that it creates longer trips or people violate the one-way.
KenCairn wondered if Abbott is designed in such a way that it might make sense not to have it connect through. McLaughlin said Abbott is a residential street, serving a residential neighborhood. The purpose is to carry local traffic to their destinations. KenCairn wondered if there was ladder between Tolman and Clay that will present a larger opportunity for street connection. McLaughlin did not think so.
Swales said it seems one of the problems is we have two different street standards on one street. If the parking is full, the streets would be the same 20 feet. If the street isn’t full in the new subdivision, there will be a real bottleneck through there. McLaughlin said Staff considered that. The applicant is using on-street parking credits to meet the parking requirement. If the applicant had met all the parking off-street, they could have gone to a narrower street. They are anticipating a higher utilization of on-street parking. They are not seeing accidents happen because streets narrow and widen. People adapt well to these situations.
Briggs moved to extend the meeting until 11:00 p.m. The motion was seconded and carried.
ANNICE BLACK said a passageway doesn’t necessarily have to be an automobile passage, but could be a foot or bike path to Tolman Creek.
DALE offered to spend some time with Jeff Harpain to design the area around his house to accommodate him. He needs an answer his planning action tonight. He is getting the best financing he has ever gotten. There is another alternative for traffic. He would suggest working with the Traffic Safety Commission for solutions. This development will create one additional vehicle trip through Chautauqua Trace every nine minutes.
McLaughlin said there is a request to leave the record open for seven days to allow for additional written testimony. They cannot make a decision until after that. Does the applicant wish additional time for rebuttal? The Commission can discuss the issues tonight in order to clarify which direction they want to go with the project. The record would remain open until November 19, 2002 for additional information. It will be closed at that point and the applicant will have until November 26, 2002 for rebuttal. That would be forwarded on to the Commission for their review.
COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Briggs would like to add a 20-year life span for affordability. McLaughlin said he did not believe the ordinance gives them the discretion to do that at this point. He thinks the applicant is clear on everyone’s feelings.
Briggs said she would like to see the affordable unit parking located further away from the adjacent Chautauqua Trace and mobile home park. If possible, it should be covered.
Kistler wondered about a wall or fence that would help block headlights. Briggs agreed that was a good idea. KenCairn thought a fence might be preferable because it wouldn’t limit what could be planted that might obscure headlights instead of a wall. A wall limits the positive things you could do.
Fields would like clarification of Condition 3. Is there adequate capacity or some type of mitigation of the storm system or pre-cleaning before water goes into the wetland? He would like verification that it is a permitted way of processing street drainage attached to Condition 3.
Molnar suggested adding that the diversion of the storm drainage into the wetland as identified on a tentative utility plan be authorized by the permitting agencies that have approved the wetland plan. This will still have to go to Final Plan and at that time we’ll need something written from the Corps and DSL saying the utility plan as proposed meets the requirement. Molnar will add that to Condition 3.
Kistler wondered if there was a way when land was annexed that they can have owner occupied as part of it. McLaughlin said we cannot do that now, but Staff will be looking into it.
Amarotico believes Dale has done a great job with the plan and he doesn’t have any issues to raise with Outline Plan. He wondered if anyone else was concerned and a little mad that the Housing Needs Analysis said there are 1400 units needed between now and 2020 which is 70 per year. The Commission has already approved over 100 units this year and this project would add another 40. McLaughlin said the study is based on what is constructed as opposed to what is approved. Not everything the Commission approves may get built. Some project takes years to build out.
Gardiner said in the eight years he has been on the Commission, connectivity has been an important part of developments of this type. He believes instead of cars racing from the new development through the old development, he would view it as parents with children that live in one development would pick up children in the other development. That is the whole idea behind the connectivity. People will interact between the communities. He believes the connection should stay as it is in this project. He feels for those who live on Abbott that will be impacted by more traffic, that parking on both sides of the street will be somewhat similar to the 20 feet street width on Abbott. He would encourage the Traffic Safety Commission be involved in traffic calming measures.
Swales believes there is a lot to be said about having connectivity to allow bike and pedestrian traffic but not cars. He thinks the bollards could be a good idea. He has trouble with the difference between the no on-street parking and the double-sided parking. The one-way trip could be a compromise.
McLaughlin said they are going to have a difficult time if they don’t like the project and they deny the subdivision plan. They would have to ask for a variance not to connect the streets. The street standards require they be connected.
Chapman noted the engineer’s report states that the roadway is well below engineered capacity.
Fields said in the road plan, it seems funny to have a wedge taper rather than an off-set. You expect it to be necked down in a uniform way rather than someone not realizing it is narrowing. It looks like the parking spaces will be gone and it is off-set.
Chapman said if he were voting tonight, he would vote in favor.
McLaughlin said we will close the hearing and take additional written testimony and continue Planning Commission deliberation at the meeting of November 26, 2002 at 7:00 p.m. No public testimony will be taken, only written testimony in the record. There will be no further notice on this.
Gardiner announced thatPLANNING ACTION 2002-135 and PLANNING ACTION 2002-140 will be heard at the meeting on the November 26, 2002 too.
ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.