ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
JANUARY 14, 2003
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Vice Chair Russ Chapman. Other Commissioners present were Kerry KenCairn, Marilyn Briggs, Colin Swales, Mike Gardiner, Mike Morris, and the newly appointed commissioner, Dave Dotterrer. Ray Kistler and John Fields arrived at 7:10 p.m. There were no absent members. Staff present were John McLaughlin, Bill Molnar, Mark Knox and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
Gardiner moved to approve the minutes of the December 10, 2002 Regular Meeting, motion was seconded and the minutes approved.
KenCairn moved to approve the Findings (Billings) of the December 10, 2002 Regular Meeting, the motion was seconded and the Findings were approved.
The minutes and findings of the December 10, 2002 Hearings Board will be approved later in the meeting.
BILL STREET, 180 Mead Street, made comments regarding the planning process. He believes there a lot of people that are very concerned with the direction the city is taking and the development that is going on. He would encourage the commissioners to think about ways to improve the process. The community needs to brainstorm ways to make this work better. He would like to see the community educated about what is going on and he urged the commissioners to get involved with that process. It is hard to attract people to the commission who do not have a professional interest in the outcome of the planning decisions.
Tonight there is an opportunity to look at some rules and change those rules. Most people have no idea what the agenda is in this town. The rule changes are at the end of the meeting when most people are in bed. That is a serious problem. How do we make it work better?
How do we get people on this commission that represent the people? Maybe we should be advocating as a body that the commissioners are elected.
If they donít get to the "big box" ordinance tonight, he would urge those watching the meeting to take in what they see tonight and come to the next meeting to discuss the changes. Or, come to the City Council that will discuss this issue. It is difficult to know what is going on because there is not much information coming out of this system.
Street has not seen the commissioners seeking out, talking to people, interviewing people, holding meetings, or advertising meetings in such a way people show up. Letís find ways to make it work better for all of us.
PHILIP LANG, 758 B Street, agreed with Streetís comments. He added that there is no real dialog once someone speaks. There is no discussion or exchange of ideas.
He made some overall comments about the ordinance changes that are being proposed later in the meeting. Lang asserted the following: 1) An ordinance meant to protect a majority of citizens stands in the way of the rich or powerful business or individual. 2) Mr. McLaughlin perceives these citizens as his significant constituency and the commission comes from and even finds their clientele from such individuals and businesses. 3) The ordinance is violated or re-interpreted to allow exactly what the development wants, and 4) the ordinance is changed retrospectively in some sort of primitive mind-game. As if changing a law to now make legal what wasnít legal, makes it retrospectively okay. Tonight a new tactic is being added: affordable housing. His point is that there are no reliable land use rules to protect the public because they are violated, interpreted, repealed and replaced, as needed, to serve the narrow economic interests of the few.
BILL THOMPSON, wanted to speak about the "big box" ordinance. He is concerned about the changes that are happening here and if we invite large style businesses in, the little businesses wonít be able to compete and will drive tourists away.
WELCOMING NEW COMMISSIONER- Chapman introduced and welcomed Dave Dotterrer to the commission.
Chapman noted this is Mike Gardinerís last meeting. Gardiner was recently elected to the Parks Commission. Chapman expressed his gratitude on behalf of the commission for his dedication and work on the commission since May of 1996.
Gardiner addressed the commission and audience. He said that serving on the Planning Commission is not an easy thing. He sees the commissioners as a group with no bent desires on any of the projects that go on in the city. He believes it is misnomer to characterize everyone on the Planning Commission as builders and developers. He would encourage more people to get involved in the process. Over the years, he has been a little disappointed with what the public has brought before them when they speak to issues. Many citizens of Ashland do not take advantage of the opportunities to understand the process and speak to the issues. He would encourage everyone to be a part of the process.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
PLANNING ACTION 2002-153
REQUEST FOR OUTLINE AND FINAL PLAN APPROVAL FOR A COMMERCIAL PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENT AND SITE REVIEW FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ASHLAND SURGERY CENTER AND GREENBERG MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDINGS LOCATED AT 648 NORTH MAIN STREET.
APPLICANT: ALEX FORRESTER
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts
Site Visits were made by all.
Ray Kistler stepped down from the hearing as his architectural firm is representing the applicant.
McLaughlin said a letter was submitted by Ogden Kistler Architects, requesting Commissioner Colin Swales step down from this hearing or actions involving their firm. It is their belief Swales is biased regarding their architectural firm.
Swales responded. He would like to hear from Ogden Kistler specific grounds for their belief he is biased. There are references in their letter regarding various appeals he has made, but he does not see they have much relevance. He does not believe he is biased toward their firm and he does not agree that he should step down. Swales said if he stepped down, it would be to the detriment to the commission. The majority decision of the Planning Commission would cause him to step down or perhaps a majority decision of the City Council. He was appointed by the Mayor to serve on the commission to represent what he feels is his constituency (the people of Ashland).
McLaughlin said he attached the procedural section of the ordinance to the Ogden Kistler letter.
Chapman thought the burden is on the architectural firm to tell the commission specifically the grounds for stepping down. He asked Ken Ogden if there is a specific situation where his firm was treated in a biased manner.
Ken Ogden, partner of Ogden Kistler Architecture, said this is not a personal agenda, but a responsibility to his client to see that they get an objective review of the process. Statements have been made to him and his partner concerning the type of architecture his firm practices and how is not within the context of the architecture that should be in Ashland. That is the reason they have come forward. Their projects have been referred to as "what not to do" in the community. Chapman asked if the comments were made to him by Swales. Ogden affirmed.
Swales asked Ogden to clarify. He did not remember making any comments to Ogden or Kistler. He has never spoken to Ogden personally with the exception of a year ago when he appeared before the Commission. When did he speak to Ogden personally about his architecture? When did he speak to Ogden personally outside this room?
Ogden said it has happened in this room and statements in the community. Ogden said they would like to request this letter be entered into the record and ask for an objective hearing for his clients. That is the intent of the request.
Chapman said unless Ogden could produce minutes referring to this or if he could ask someone to corroborate the conversations Swales has had with him, he is not sure there is a basis for a motion asking Swales to step down. Briggs agreed with Chapman.
No commissioner asked to pursue this. Chapman said it will be left as a matter of record that there was an objection but the Planning Commissioners declined to ask Swales to step down.
Knox reported this is an application a medical office project. The site is currently the site of the Siskiyou Eye Center. The majority of the lot is relatively vacant and used as an intermittent parking for some of the nearby medical offices. At the back of the lot there is a 65 percent bank that was created in the early 1980ís. They filled the lot and leveled it and the remnant is the bank. The property has access to all public utilities. There is a bus shelter currently near the southwest corner of the property. A permanent shelter is expected to be placed to the south of Ashland Internal Medicine.
Whenever there is a division of three or more lots, it is subject to Outline Plan. Because there are less than ten units involved, they have applied for Final Plan as well. There are four lots involved. One building will function as two and is attached by a breezeway. The applicants wanted to have a master plan approach in order to address common area maintenance and liability issues.
Knox said the building in the rear is scheduled to be the Ashland Surgery Center, a 6,561 square foot building. Along North Main is the Greenberg Medical Office building. The last portion will be Phase II, the Siskiyou Eye Center building. The building will be 1,800 square feet and will be added on between the existing building and street.
There is an existing driveway currently serving both ingress and egress. They are proposing a new site plan that creates ingress only on one driveway aisle, a parking area with a loop in it with an exit only out to North Main. This was a provision required by ODOT. They will be utilizing existing curb cuts. The parking lot has a total of 51 spaces
The architecture of the building is the most notable aspect of the project. It involves contemporary shapes on 90-degree angles using mixed volumes and materials. It has a visually interesting streetscape. The project has a unique and fresh look for Ashland streetscapes. As per the design standards, the parking is located in the rear with visual penetration using clear glass into buildings. There are entrances off North Main. The combination of the new building with a breezeway and the future addition of Phase II create a courtyard containing sitting walls and trees, making this an attractive streetscape for North Main.
Knox said there are two issues. Parking lots of 50 spaces or more require some raised walkway across the parking area. They came up with connecting the two buildings with a slightly raised walk, delineated by paint.
Knox noted there is a requirement in the standards that there has to be a separation between buildings equal to the tallest point of a building. The existing Eye Center is 24 feet in height. The proposed distance between buildings is only ten feet. However, Phase II is not yet being requested tonight. Without Phase II, the project meets the requirements. In the future, the applicants will need to address this. Even with the future addition, the intent of the ordinance is being met.
Briggs asked about the space between buildings. Are the trellises counted as part of the ten feet between the buildings.? Knox said it has been added as Condition 11. The applicants still have to meet all the requirements of the Site Design Standards in applying for Phase II. They will come back later for a Site Review approval.
Briggs said there was a note from the Tree Commission that they were shy two street trees. Knox said Condition 3 is all encompassing stating all recommendations of the Tree Commission be incorporated.
Briggs counted 52 parking spaces. There is a little tiny sign at the Mountain View Retirement for parking. What happens to those cars when there is a building in that location? Knox suggested asking the applicant, but eventually Mountain View will have to park in their own facility.
Fields thought it looked like it would be difficult to make a left-hand turn from the proposed egress. He is not sure the movement would be safe. He asked if 150 feet is required between driveway openings and since there was already a cut made, is that why no variance was required? Knox said that is correct. Fields asked if there had been any investigation of connecting the parking lot through to Ashland Internal Medicine to Mountain View and exit with the signal. McLaughlin said there are some grade problems.
Swales mentioned the floor area ratio (FAR) calculation on page 6, paragraph 2, stating that part of the building extending over the slope should not be considered in the FAR calculation. How does this affect the FAR calculation? Knox said the steep slope is a sensitive area. Meeting the FAR would encourage them build out on that space. Staff has asked them to pull away as much as possible. We want to minimize the disturbance to the 65 percent bank. Excluding that area, they do meet the FAR (footprint, floor area and plaza space). The purpose of the FAR is to get the volumes and pedestrian amenities at the street.
Swales noted an inconsistency on Page 30 of the applicantís findings. The findings mention glazed openings and other types of fenestration. The next condition says the glazed openings and windows account for only a portion of the building. He thought it would be nice if the findings did not contradict themselves. He did not find any problem with the design.
At the top of page 32, Swales said it mentions "minor deviations from the standards". Is there anything in the Land Use Ordinance that says it is within the scope of the PUD approval to allow minor deviations? Knox said this is the applicantís interpretation and that is the reason for Condition 11.
ALEX FORRESTER, Forrester and Forrester, 585 A Street, said the existing site has an area of steep slope over 10,000 square feet. That would present a problem in connecting the drive aisle. The driveway entry is located where it is because there is an electrical transformer blocks the view of exiting cars. The buildings have been placed at the same angular relationship to the site as the existing center. This has resulted in highly articulated building facades. That, together with the changes in elevation, give a kind of village character. It allows a plaza area to be developed between the buildings on the street side and at the internal entry to each of the buildings. The PUD will allow a property ownerís association to keep a unified look in the development as well as unified maintenance.
Briggs asked if the two buildings will be closer than what is currently allowed. Forrester said the architects will address this issue.
Swales said the part of the building stuck out on stilts seems to dominate the landscape. Rather than going out more on stilts, is there any possibility of stepping the building down? Forrester said since the entire site is on fill, the entire building is on stilts. Everyone wanted to avoid the slope as much as possible. There is an attempt to blend that part of the building into the hillside as seen across from the railroad tracks. This is an ambulatory surgical center. It is not the kind of plan where you change floors.
Forrestor introduced Dr. Bill Epstein.
DR. BILL EPSTEIN, Opthamologist, 648 N. Main Street, said this project has the support of Ashland Community Hospital, and will alleviate some of the shortages of operating rooms at the hospital. The parking from Mountain View is a temporary parking solution for them.
DAVID WILKERSON, Ogden Kistler Architecture, project architect, 2950 East Barnett Road, Medford said the building is on drilled concrete piers, anchoring the building to the firm soils and bedrock. It will only be on stilts at one end where it extends over the steep slope. The location of the buildings on the site and the orientation of the entrances to the street will enhance the streetscape for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. The display windows will add interest to the streetscape. They have broken up the parking lot, providing shading and landscaping. The buildings are not front facing to the street but broken up and articulated. The original Siskiyou Eye Center was designed to maximize the solar access. They are using the same orientation for the proposed buildings in order to maximize solar access and the views across the valley. The pedestrian plaza on the street side will have a variety of hardscape, landscape materials, seating areas and focal points at each of the building entries. The building mass is broken up with overhangs and trellises. The rooftop mechanical units will be hidden behind the parapet walls so they are not visible at all from the street.
They have looked at a variety of ways of handling the issue of walkways between buildings. The existing building is primarily a one-story building. There is a small two-story portion less than 600 square feet. The bulk of the building is much less than 24 feet tall. They may be able to handle this is by connecting the buildings, much the same way the other building is connected by a breezeway.
Swales has always been an admirer of the existing building. Because of the articulated nature of the building, the elevations donít do it justice. For a building of this importance he is disappointed there is not a three-dimensional model or computer design renderings to get the feeling of the actual building. KenCairn felt the information provided in the packet was very adequate.
ERIC NAVICKAS, 711 Faith Avenue, believes it is very inappropriate for an architectural firm to present elevations of a site that do not show adjacent buildings. Have they taken the adjacent buildings into consideration? He does not believe the plaza area constitutes a public space.
KenCairn asked Navickas what he would want to see. Navickas thought the plaza has been designed in a circumstantial manner where objects have been placed on the site with buildings around it. Navickas does not believe this constitutes a public space on the edge of a major road. KenCairn wondered if he thought it should be shoved back. Navickas thought it would more be appropriate to create a building that has an edge on the street with a public space that is behind it.
Staff Comments- None
COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Fields is not sure why the ingress is split as an in and out. We are creating accesses within 200 feet and one 100 feet one-way and 50 feet the other way. He does not have adequate information. McLaughlin recommended that question be asked of the applicant.
RE-OPEN PUBLIC HEARING
Forrester said the decision was made for two accesses rather than one because it was deemed safer to keep the two existing curb cuts and separate ingress from egress. If they were both at the same point, someone might be southbound waiting to get in and someone in the driveway waiting to get out, creating a conflict. He said it does exceed the distance to the signal. It is noted on page 19 of the findings at the bottom (4.4.12).
Fields asked if they looked at traffic accidents in that area. Forrester said he did not ask the police. Forrester said ODOT came to the site, determined the peak hour traffic (34 trips) and decided they did not need a traffic impact study if they followed the plan they are presenting.
Briggs moved to approve PA2002-153 with the attached Conditions. Swales seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS OF THE HEARINGS BOARD
Morris moved to approve the Minutes of the December 10, 2002 Hearings Board. The motion was seconded and approved. Gardiner moved to approve the findings for PA2002-130 (160 Church Street), the motion was seconded and the findings were approved.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
Kistler re-joined the meeting.
PLANNING ACTION 2002-062
REQUEST FOR A LAND PARTITION TO DIVIDE A PARCEL INTO TWO LOTS FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 631 CLAY STREET. ALSO A REQUEST FOR A VARIANCE TO LOT SIZE REQUIREMENTS AND A REQUEST FOR SITE REVIEW TO CONSTRUCT A 19-UNIT SENIOR HOUSING APARTMENT STRUCTURE AT THE REAR OF THE PROPERTY. THE PROPOSAL ALSO INCLUDES CONVERTING THE EXISTING DETACHED CLASSROOM INTO A SINGLE-FAMILY PARSONAGE.
APPLICANT: CLAY STREET CHURCH OF GOD
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all.
Molnar reported in July, the Planning Commission reviewed a zone change request for this property. The zone change was approved but does not become effective until site review has been approved. The request is for a site review and splitting the lot into two parcels to allow for the apartment structure to be on its own parcel and a variance to lot area requirement.
The property is one and one-half acres in size. A small drainage runs along the western property line. The proposal involves the undeveloped back portion of the property. The applicants would like to build a 19-unit, two-story senior apartment complex to be available for rent by seniors that have income levels of between 50 to 80 percent of the area median. As part of the affordable project, the sources providing some of the funding require a deed restriction on the property that it be maintained for a 51-year period.
There are 23 parking spaces. Parking is provided for a small sanctuary at the church. Nineteen parking spaces are being provided for the senior apartment complex. Some are located in a sort of daylight basement area as well as along the access drive. Parking requirements for a senior complex is one space per apartment.
There is an existing garage structure. The applicants are requesting adding a single-family residence onto the side of the garage that would provide a parsonage for the church. The proposed property line would keep the proposed church parsonage and the church on the front parcel with the senior complex on the rear parcel.
There is a request for a variance to lot area requirements. The entire campus is one and one-half acres. Generally, a parcel of this size would allow a minimum of 20 residential units without any density bonuses. The reason the variance is necessitated is because 19 of the units are being clustered in the back parcel. The maximum density for .9 acre is 15 units. Molnar explained that some of the entities that are financing this project require that the affordable housing project be on a separate parcel from the church. There is a condition placing a deed restriction on the .6 acre the church lies on. It identifies a transfer of density so it could restrict re-development of the church property at a later date. There would be a limitation as to how many lots could go on that parcel because some of the units have already been transferred to the back half. This is an unusual variance request because there is an affordable housing project sharing an existing church campus. We are seeing more interest for these types of partnerships primarily because of the high cost of land in town.
Some of the issues raised at the initial meeting were the lack of details associated with the site review for the senior building. With affordable housing projects, there is usually a crunch on timelines to get grants. At this point, the applicants have submitted a full landscaping plan around the senior complex. It also includes upgrading the existing landscaping around the church.
The property abuts a small portion of the city owned park. One proposal is to connect a walkway to the city park. There is a street drainage where a pedestrian bridge would have to be built over to allow seniors to access the park without having to walk down Clay Street.
Molnar said most of the issues surround public need associated with affordable housing projects. That was the basis for the zone change.
In order to mitigate the impacts of the size on the adjacent residential area, the applicants have tried to set the building back farther than a normal rear yard setback (around 85 feet).
The applicant would be required to set aside a certain amount of money to pay for street improvements along Clay Street.
Staff has recommended approval of the application. They believe there is a public need. The applicant will speak to the variance request. Staff feels comfortable with the deed restriction and working with the city attorney to restrict future development of the church parcel so the entire one and one-half acres will never exceed the density as permitted under the zoning code. There are 15 suggested Conditions.
KenCairn questioned the goal of Condition 8 (re: storm water). Molnar said there will be an interim period of time before there are street improvements along Clay Street. There was a concern about run-off from this project and the rate it would be directed into the open ditch. The applicant thought they could utilize the landscape strip to slow down water running into the ditch.
Swales wondered if it is in the best interest of the neighborhood to have the street frontage lot still in R-2 with the future development potential of an R-2 lot. Molnar said the intensity of the church is fairly minor. Overall density is about 25 units. Right now they are showing 20 units. Redevelopment of the upper parcel would be somewhat synonymous with the impacts of give or take four or five residential units. He doesnít see street capacity issues. The residents across the street are buffered by the street and the floodplain.
Swales wondered if the parsonage was included on the housing project site, the applicants would not need the variance.
Gardiner asked what difference it would make if the lot line changed. Swales said it would supply extra land on the flag lot and eliminate the need for a deed restriction.
TED FLETCHER, 2617 Delta Waters Road, Medford, OR, said they formed a 5013c foundation and the church granted the back parcel to the foundation so they could proceed to get financing and grants to do this project. Fletcher is the head of the foundation currently.
LARRY MEDINGER, 115 Fork Street, said they have a mutual ingress/egress easement. They worked out a one-way loop with the Fire Department.
Medinger said the ditch can handle the water. The land seems to be level, but the grade is pretty steep. They have a nice separation for parking underneath the building. They are tight on impervious surfaces and are motivated to keep as much green space for the seniors as possible. The engineers are recommending a large drainline. It allows the pipe to take some capacity and let it out at a slower rate. There is no room to have an above-surface surge protection.
Medinger said with regard to the variances, he thinks it is like a subdivision. It is a piece of land with varying uses and they putting parts of the uses in various places. They need to have the complex compact so the seniors can be together.
He said the building has an east/west orientation with a lot of nice windows opening to the sun. There are skylights for daylighting in the upper floor.
The pedestrian path is a good way for seniors to reach the bus access located diagonally across the park.
Swales wants to make sure in the future since these would be two separate tax lots, that the ramifications have been fully thought through. Medinger said it would not be profitable for anyone to build only four units.
JENNIFER HENDERSON, 321 Clay Street, said she is active with the Jackson County Housing Coalition. This proposal is an exciting possibility for improving the lack of affordable housing in Ashland. It addresses infill, affordable housing in perpetuity for 51 years, and the faith based community being in partnership with the city.
Chapman had a written question from Elizabeth Cross. Were traffic studies done for this area of Clay Street between Siskiyou and Ashland Streets? Will 20 new units change the livability of the neighborhood? Chapman answered that Clay Street is on the schedule for an upgrade.
Medinger said this project would have a lot less traffic impact than if were developed as an R-1-5 subdivision. This is a population that does not drive or drives very seldom. The number of caregivers is light because the seniors are still living independently.
Molnar said no traffic study has been done. There is ample capacity for additional trips on the street. The biggest concern is the lack of pedestrian facilities. The Commission could require the applicant to do the frontage improvements now. Staff would like to look at the entire section from Siskiyou to Ashland Street as one overall design and have the applicant put the monies aside in anticipation of forming a LID.
Staff Response- None
COMMISSIONERSí DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Fields believes this is a great project and good the churches are stepping forward to do this type of development.
Fields moved to approve PA2002-062 and Swales seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Briggs would like to see Staff prepare a plaque for this project and let the commissioners sign it. It is a project we can be proud of.
TYPE III PLANNING ACTIONS
There was some discussion as to whether or not the Commissioners wanted to postpone any of the Type III actions. McLaughlin explained that we usually to the Type II planning actions first because by state law we are under a limit of 120 days to make those decisions. The ordinance amendments are more flexible.
PLANNING ACTION 2002-135
REQUEST FOR AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE EMPLOYMENT (E-1) CHAPTER 18.40 OF THE ASHLAND MUNICIPAL CODE (LAND USE ORDINANCE) ADDING THEATERS AS A CONDITIONAL USE.
APPLICANT: CITY OF ASHLAND
McLaughlin said this is a pretty straightforward modification of the ordinance. In contrast to what Mr. Lang raised in his comments about changes happening to benefit those with money or others, most changes occur for the benefit of the community. In 1998, the ordinance was modified where nightclubs, drinking and entertainment establishments were outright permitted uses in the E-1 zone with a potential to occur next to residential property. The ordinance was amended to limit those conditional uses to ensure they were put in proper locations. That amendment was not done for the benefit of developers or wealthy property owners, but for the benefit of the community. Inadvertently, entertainment establishments were left out of that amendment. Our local theater scene has been impacted by not having a process allowing theaters even as a conditional use or a permitted use within the E-1 zone. Here is an opportunity go back and look at this and correct a situation. It was noted at the study session that this is seen as a benefit to the town and economy and a benefit to the overall livability of Ashland. What is proposed is that theaters, excluding drive-ins, and similar entertainment uses are written back into the ordinance as a conditional use. It is not outright permitted, so if there are concerns about the size of theater, parking, hours of operation, proximity to residential zones, these can all be addressed to ensure that under the proper conditions, a theater would be allowed in the E-1 zone. Staff is recommending approval of the amendment.
JUSTIN LOCKWOOD, 506 Newtown, Medford, OR, 97501
NICOLE LOCKWOOD-HILL, same address
J. Lockwood said they would like to open a very small, modest 35-seat theater in the former Cantwellís building. They want to be able to at least apply. It seems like everyone would benefit.
N. Lockwood-Hill said they operate Art Attack Theater. They saw an opportunity at 310 Oak Street to be closer to the center of town and in a more visible location with parking.
Chapman reiterated Lockwoodís remark that passage of this ordinance would at least allow them to apply.
PHILIP LANG, 758 B Street, agrees that we make rules to benefit the community. The E-1 zone was exactly for the best needs of the community. The obfuscation around this issue has been very impressive and the propaganda has been furious. This all started because the owner of the A Street Marketplace wants to have a theater or wants to have a nightclub or anything he chooses. This is another example of violating the rules and then re-writing them. The reasons the Council voted to not allow theaters in E-1 zone are stated as part of the record of PA2002-094. There is a compromise solution. There are really two E-1 zones. The first E-1A (Hersey Street area) is an industrial/commercial area and could have theaters as conditional use or even as an allowed use. The second E-1B zone would not allow theaters because of the R-2 overlay and location in the historic residential district, the lack of access, narrow streets and all the quality of life issues. It is not to the benefit of the community, it is to the benefit of the developer. That wonít solve the problem of the A Street Marketplace that started this problem in the first place.
KenCairn asked Lang if A Street Marketplace had not been an application, does Lang oppose the night life that is there and the theaters that sometimes have small poetry readings and plays and other things that happen on A? She said Newandart has plays. Is that not a theater? Lang said it is not an "official" theater with 1000 people. He said he owns a residential property across the street from the E-1 zone with an R-2 overlay. He thinks it inappropriate to have a "formal" theater of the kind OSF has. KenCairn asked how big would be okay? Lang said they can talk about it. He would trust KenCairnís judgment and discussion. If they are willing to discuss reasonable limitations, then thatís fine. KenCairn said they can limit the use with a conditional use. Lang doesnít trust that kind of "can do".
Gardiner thought it sounded like the E-1A zone is where Philip Lang lives and has property and the E-1B zone is where other people work and have property. There are residences on Hersey Street. Lang said the area where Art Attack was on Hersey Street is not the same as an historical, traditional, quiet residential neighborhood that requires peace and quiet at 11:00 p.m.
Chapman doesnít remember the peace and quiet on Oak Street. Lang said whatever banging and clanging went on at Oak Street Tank and Steel went on during working hours, not 9 to 11 at night. He loved the break and lunch whistles. They didnít disturb anyone.
Chapman still goes back to at least letting people apply. They can apply conditions to address the concerns of the neighbors.
Lang believes there needs to be an outside fixed limit.
Swales believes Lang is making a distinction between the E-1 zone with the residential overlay and E-1 zones where it is purely employment uses. It is important to look at this carefully.
ERIC NAVICKAS, 711 Faith Avenue, said his largest concern relates to the railroad property. Theater is a broad term that includes cinemaplexes. Would that be appropriate to our community? Perhaps cinemaplexes should be excluded considering the railroad property.
KenCairn told Navickas if seating is limited, that would also prevent a cinemaplex from being developed.
MARY ANN STRONG, 191 Orange Avenue, does not believe the Planning Commission has time to look at all the possibilities and make a decision tonight. Fields said there is a bunch of people doing theater illegally and because it has been brought before us, there is a timeline. Is the community willing to give this body the authority to allow someone to come forward and ask for special permission to have a theater? Should we rein this in and make it a big ordinance or should we just modify this one that that allows bars conditionally but excludes theaters? We are trying to do a quick remedy for a decision the Council made.
KenCairn explained to Strong that this item has been talked about it before. Staff went away with those discussions and came up with a proposed ordinance.
Knox noted that all the legislative items on the agenda have been discussed at study sessions before and in some cases two or three times.
Swales said it seems there is all of a sudden this rush to bring these things into compliance. There are other avenues. Thompson said some areas could be rezoned to allow for theaters. When theaters were taken out and the Council had discussion, Councilor Reid was the only dissenting vote because she was concerned the neighbors had not been properly notified. He believes that giving a blanket conditional use for the whole E-1 zone, including those with a residential overlay are probably bigger than what we are considering with this simple change.
KenCairn said a blanket conditional use means a blanket opportunity to have to prove to us that it is a good thing to have happen. So it is not a blanket anything. It is an opportunity to present a project. It doesnít mean we have to say "yes".
Morris said if the zoning is changed to commercial, they can do anything in commercial that is permitted. KenCairn said then we would have no control over what happens.
McLaughlin wondered if Swales is opposed to the use of the theater. What are the impacts? If it is noise, parking and traffic and those are addressed, what other issues are of concern? That is the reason for a conditional use. If there are other issues, those can be raised and addressed. What are the other issues that would make you not want a theater at all?
Swales said he is not opposed to theater, but a blanket theater use can cover a huge range of sizes and different types of theater. He thinks there should be more restrictions on where it would go and whether it is residential.
Kistler said that the way it is now, no one can even ask to operate. Swales believes there should be more restrictions that just the conditional use.
Fields would not support re-zoning.
McLaughlin explained that the R-overlay in the E-1 zone is to encourage mixed use and have people living within these environments and having 24-hour eyes. It adds to the vitality of the area. The primary purpose of the E-1 zone is commercial, not residential. People are moving into a known commercial environment. It is going to be noisier. But there are benefits to that as well. You can walk to those uses or shop nearby. Your job might be right there. The residential is secondary to the E-1. McLaughlinís concern is that if we get to the point where we are trying to protect the residential so much that we start restricting the uses that are allowed, then we will stop the job creation part that is the purpose of the E-1 zone in the first place. We have to be careful if we allow too much respect for the residential portion.
Gardiner said he could see a swing shift causing as much impact as a 50-seat theater.
Chapman has no problem with people applying.
Briggs wondered what would happen if someone wanted to put in a cinemaplex. What grounds would we have to deny it? McLaughlin said they would look at scale, compatibility, traffic impacts, parking, etc. The whole idea of a conditional use is that you have far greater discretion than anywhere else.
Gardiner moved to recommend moving this ordinance forward to the City Council. Chapman seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
PLANNING ACTION 2002-086
REQUEST FOR AN ORDINANCE MODIFYING CHAPTER 18.108 AND 18.106 OF THE ASHLAND MUNICIPAL CODE (LAND USE ORDINANCE) REGARDING APPROVAL STANDARDS FOR ZONE CHANGES AND ANNEXATIONS.
APPLICANT: CITY OF ASHLAND
Molnar said this revision started over a year ago with the Housing Commission trying to address affordable housing through zone changes and to some degree annexations. We already require affordable housing in annexations. The changes to the annexation ordinance are to keep it consistent with whatever standards the community decides upon.
Molnar said this is the fourth public meeting on this ordinance change. There were some concerns at the August meeting by some Ashland developers (Greene and Dale) primarily regarding the changes to the annexation affordability requirements. At the conclusion of that meeting, they agreed to have a meeting with the Greene and Dale. At this time, they have not provided Staff with any further information.
Zone changes are more subjective than other applications we review. The approval body "may" approve it. It doesnít say "shall". The purpose of the ordinance was to provide a basis to approve a zone change based on a formidable commitment by the applicant to produce affordable housing and guarantee that affordable housing for a period of time. A lot of this came about because of an application to re-zone the Croman mill site from Industrial to different residential zoning districts and E-1. One of the primary reasons the applicant was arguing for a re-zone was to meet a public need for affordable housing. As they got into the application and defined what levels of affordability and what guarantees they would make, that is when the application began to be much more vague. It finally got down to where the applicants were going to comply with the same affordability levels that are in the current ordinance for projects within the city limits.
Zone changes and annexations, by their nature, are voluntary acts a property owner is taking. He/she is coming to the city to ask for the rules to be changed on their property to allow either a more intense use than what is allowed for or a greater density than what is allowed. The feeling was, that as part of annexations and zone changes, the affordability requirement should be much more stringent to acknowledge the imparting of value on that property. And, the affordable units should be guaranteed to be in the program a certain number of years.
Molnar said they removed the density bonus provision in zone changes. They added some additional subsections for complying with affordable housing requirements. They increased the number of units required. The term of affordability through a restrictive covenant would be for 60 years. If the applicant was not interested in building affordable units, there is an option that an area in the project or an amount of land in the project equal to the area needed to build those units would be transferred to a non-profit affordable housing developer. Those organizations would produce the affordable housing with the restrictive covenants.
Molnar explained the hypothetical example in the packet.
Gardiner wondered if it is possible to combine scenarios. Molnar said that has been discussed, however, they are trying to keep it simple.
KenCairn asked about the quality of the lower income housing. Molnar said there is some language that they be constructed of similar quality. McLaughlin said the whole development would be affected by what is built for affordable housing.
Molnar said they would be subject to the cityís Site Design Standards.
PHILIP LANG, 758 B Street, believes this ordinance will not provide affordable housing. How many were developed with Systems Development Charge (SDC) abatement/density? This amendment will not produce any affordable or even moderate priced housing, but will produce a windfall for developers at our expense. Molnar said around 100. Not all received SDC deferments. Around 38 percent of those units are out of the program. About 60 are still in it. Lang said it is simple how we get affordable housing. We get a commitment to it and not fool around with hidden subsidies.
McLaughlin can request a zone change today. We are not changing those standards whatsoever. If someone comes in and asks and gets approved, they have to provide affordable housing. The 60-year requirement will be strictly and enforced.
Briggs moved to extend the meeting to 11:00 p.m. The motion was seconded and carried.
BILL STREETspeaking for DEBBIE MILLER. Miller said there was not enough public notice of this process. Street has not followed this but would like to see an in-depth review of this change. Will this change increase property speculations and values? Will this lead to increased taxes? Will this lead to significant increases in the population of our town? Miller would like to be assured that the long-term affordable be guaranteed in perpetuity. One thing that is missing for Street is visuals. It is hard to take it all in especially at 10:30 p.m. at night.
Street asked about the term "area median income". Molnar said they are published once or twice a year from HUD. The median income for a family of four in the Ashland area is slightly over $41,000. Fifty percent of the families earn more than that.
Street believes there needs to be a continual educational piece in all of their meetings.
Chapman explained to Street that most of the legislative hearings come to them after having been discussed at great length at previous meetings, publicly noticed.
Gardiner explained that the Commission meets twice a month and they try to get through the whole agenda. Legislative amendments come to them several times. He would encourage more people to follow the process through. The information is out there and can be accessed. People need to take the initiative to access it. At some point, the process has to move forward.
Morris said if no one shows up at the meeting, they have to assume there is no interest.
MARY ANN STRONG, said she talked to several people about coming tonight and they said not to bother going, that everything will be rubber-stamped. Thatís why she is here. How do you get representatives from the community?
Molnar said it has been 12 years since they have had the affordable density bonus provision in the current ordinance that allows for a 35 percent increase in density for affordable housing. Other than last week (DeLuca - 916 E. Main) that is the first time it has been exercised in over five years. There is really not an interest on the part of the private development community. The prices they can get for market rate housing, they donít need to increase density. They also looked at whether there would be an interest for people to increase their density on smaller lots in historic districts. This ordinance wouldnít change what they could do with small lots. It is for the bigger projects and ways to partner with other non-profits.
Swales feels this seems we are encouraging spot zoning in our residential districts. We have to look at the quality and aesthetics, especially in our historic districts as well as just squeezing in more and more and making this too easy to attain.
McLaughlin is not sure why it is easier to attain. We are not changing the standards for a zone change. We are making it harder and making it more restrictive. We are not creating a tool to encourage zone changes.
Swales said if you provide affordable housing and there is not a "shall" but a "may", it seems it is pretty much a slam-dunk -- youíll get a rezone. What part of the Comp Plan will stop a re-zone when you are putting in affordable housing? McLaughlin said compatibility and density issues; the same ones that would apply if you werenít doing affordable housing.
Fields said this subject has been going on for 12 years. What are we going to do about it? This ordinance is so stiff that no one will take advantage of it. There is no way to make money on it. We might possibly get some affordable units out of it. If it were successful, we would have to have some legal entity for enforcement. That may come and it will require regulation and could cost the taxpayers money.
Fields likes it because it involves graduated income levels.
Kistler believes our planning and land use ordinances are what have made Ashland unaffordable and why we donít have banners here and why we donít have families with children. It seems that of all the other options we have asked about are not legal. This isnít the strongest thing, but he doesnít know what else as a body we can do.
KenCairn moved to move this forward to the City Council. The motion was seconded and carried favorably with Briggs casting a vote of indecision.
Briggs asked about the letter from the Historic Commission regarding the library. McLaughlin said we are currently working on a solution to get it fixed.
ADJOURNED- The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.