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Agendas and Minutes

Historic Commission (View All)

Regular Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

September 3, 2003



At 7:07 p.m., Acting Chairperson Terry Skibby called the meeting to order in the Siskiyou Room, located in the Community Development/Engineering Services Building at 51 Winburn Way. In addition to Skibby, members present were Alex Krach, Jay Leighton, Tom Giordano, Joanne Krippaehne, Rob Saladoff and Sam Whitford. Also present were Associate Planner Mark Knox, Council Liaison John Morrison and Secretary Sonja Akerman. Member Dale Shostrom was unable to attend and member Keith Chambers is on sabbatical.


Krippaehne moved and Giordano seconded to approve the minutes of the August 6, 2003 meeting as submitted. The motion passed with a unanimous vote.


Planning Action 2003-108
Conditional Use Permit
115 Church Street
Nancy Seward and Tim Bond

Knox reported this application is for the construction of an 818 square foot accessory residential unit that will be located at the rear of the property and occupied by a family member. There is currently an existing non-historic building that occupies the space where the new unit will be built. The unit, which will be 42 feet from the front property line, will also include an attached single car garage with access off Church Street. A pedestrian walkway will connect the new unit to Church Street. Because the unit will be built behind the existing house, only half the structure will be visible from the street. The design incorporates a hipped roofline with two gables on the south side. Six-inch horizontal siding (hardi-plank), vinyl windows, composition roofing and 1" x 4" corner and window/door trim will be utilized.

Knox also related that most of the existing landscaping will remain. However, the removal of an apple tree near the west property line is proposed due to the placement of the accessory unit.

Skibby opened the public hearing.

Applicant Nancy Seward stated the existing garage/workshop building that will be removed is made of corrugated tin with a plastic roof. The new unit will basically be built on that site.

Designer Doyle Brightenburg clarified that the new structure will be located a little closer to the property line to preserve as much of the backyard as possible. As a result, the removal of one tree is necessary. Also, some of the existing retaining will need to be removed but it will be replaced and incorporated with the foundation of the new accessory unit. He also noted there is an easement that runs down the side of the property, which although not part of the property, can be utilized. The existing house does not have exterior historic detail because of previous remodeling. Since there is a variety of structural styles in the neighborhood, Brightenburg said he did not try to emulate any of them, including the existing house. He also stressed the fact that only half the unit will be visible from the street.

Giordano stated he has two minor concerns. One is that backing out into Church Street can be hazardous because of speeding cars coming down the steep street. He wondered if the applicants looked at providing a turn around on the property. The second concern is the contemporary use of the windows on the south elevation. Brightenburg responded that a turnaround on the property would take up too much room. As for the windows, he acknowledged they are contemporary but that portion of the unit will be hidden behind the existing home.

Krach asked if there were plans to renovate the existing house. Seward replied they will not be doing anything to the house right now except to paint it to match the new unit. It will also need a new roof before long. Krach proclaimed the design of the new unit feels very contemporary. Brightenburg stated he created the gable on the unit to be sympathetic with the main house. The number of windows grew as they were considering designs to make it more comfortable. The family liked the feel and the design. He admitted it looks a little contemporary, but there will be landscaping and the unit will be partially hidden.

Skibby stated the applicants came to the Review Board and the visibility of the new unit was discussed at that time.

Whitford said he sees no problem with the proposal, as it will be mostly hidden from the street. He would, however, like to see the existing house renovated as it was rather than remodeled to look like the new unit when the time comes. Seward agreed and stated that Skibby was looking for a historic photo of the house.

Knox related that staff had discussed the safety issues of backing onto Church Street, but it had to look at the existing conditions and it was difficult to assess how bad the situation would be. If a turnaround were provided, it would use up a large portion of the property, as Brightenburg stated. As a result, staff felt there would not be enough of an impact to require redesigning the project.

Skibby closed the public hearing.

Whitford moved to recommend approval of Planning Action 2003-108. Giordano seconded the motion and it passed with a unanimous vote.

Planning Action 2003-110
Modification of Previously Approved Site Review and Variance
230 and 232 Van Ness Avenue
Serin Eggling

This application, Knox explained, is being requested in order to modify one of the conditions of a previously approved planning action. The original request was to replace the existing garage with a third dwelling unit on the property. At the time of approval, the adjacent neighbors had given verbal agreement for the shared use of their driveway, thus enabling the owner to provide four off-street parking spaces. These neighbors have changed their minds, however, so the owner will need to provide one more on-street parking space. Knox further explained that several years ago, this property was partitioned. At that time, each property needed at least 20 feet of access to a public street. Since the lot that was created to the north would have only had alley access, it was necessary for it to have a 20 foot "flag" to maintain access off Van Ness Avenue, although only a pedestrian path was constructed from the street to the rear property. Since then, the necessity of having a 20-foot access has changed. Therefore, the owner has received permission from the property owner to the north to use his 20 feet in order to count it in the required footage for on-street credit.

Whitford asked for clarification on the 20-foot access. Knox explained that now, only an 8-foot pedestrian path is needed; 20 feet of access is no longer required.

Skibby opened the public hearing.

Designer Doyle Brightenburg clarified that the owner had a reciprocal easement with the neighbors, but after the garage was torn down, it was found that the proper names were not on the easement and they backed down. After he met with the owner, he found out she had a legal agreement with the owner of the property to the north that she would maintain the pedestrian walkway and had the right to use the rest of the flag for her landscaping. There is a possibility that she may be able to purchase the 12-foot strip. Since the 20-foot strip does not need to remain open, they are all hoping this solution will work in order to provide the required number of parking spaces for the project.

Giordano stated he feels the design layout with the landscaping and sidewalk is better than what was previously approved. Brightenburg added they had to encroach a little on the 5-foot buffer but also agreed it looks better.

Skibby closed the public hearing.

Giordano moved to recommend approval of Planning Action 2003-110. With a second by Krippaehne, the motion was unanimously approved.

Planning Action 2003-092
Site Review and Variance
124 Alida Street
Kirt Meyer and Vadim Agakhanov

Because he is the architect for this project, Giordano stated he has a conflict of interest with this Planning Action and stepped out of the room.

Knox reported this project was heard last month and involves the relocation of the existing home to the south side of the property and the construction of two additional units in a single structure. The Commission had voted to recommend the Hearings Board call the project up for a public hearing because of the massive scale on the Blaine Street side. The following day, the applicants decided to postpone their application and focus on the scale of the project. As a result, the square footage of the new duplex has been reduced by 291 square feet. The applicants feel strongly that this is a better application. They are proposing to put the sidewalk along the curb rather than as a parkrow, allowing 141/2 feet of landscaping between the sidewalk and the building. Knox stated Shostrom and Chambers were the most outspoken about this project at last month's meeting and pointed to the letter submitted by Shostrom. In it he offers numbers and thoughts about the bulk and scale of the proposed duplex and stated if the existing house was located on the corner rather than moved south, it could mask the bulk of the proposed duplex and be an anchor for the Historic District.

Knox confirmed for Saladoff the biggest concerns were that the existing house would no longer be on the corner and the scale of the design for the new duplex is massive. Knox stated that to remedy these concerns, the applicants have removed square footage to soften the bulk and scale. In order to assess the project, it is necessary to look at it as a pedestrian feeling the effects of the design. Knox said he feels a parkrow would be better for the sidewalk because it is more traditional, but by locating the sidewalk next to the curb allows more buffer (landscaping) between the sidewalk and the building.

Leighton asked how the height of a building determines the distance between buildings and Knox replied to establish the distance, the top of the gable points of the two buildings are added, then divided by 2. The existing building is 23 feet high and the proposed duplex will be 24 feet, so the required separation would be 231/2 feet. The applicants are requesting 14 feet of distance.

Skibby opened the public hearing.

Applicant Kirt Meyer listed changes they had made since last month. According to calculations, the average distance between buildings in the neighborhood is 11' 8", so the request of 14 feet does not seem out of the question. The overall size of the duplex has been reduced by 291 square feet, so it is now proposed for 3,470 square feet. He also clarified that Shostrom's calculations in the letter were incorrect and he stated he felt they were treated unfairly last month because the Commission focused on the maximum house size ordinance and how it would relate to this project, and it hadn't even been adopted. Meyer then pointed out the landscaping would exceed the requirements, thus providing more of a buffer. The mass and bulk of the project were heavily criticized last month, so the wall has been reduced from 35' to 29', the wall well is now more articulated, entrances will be on Alida and Blaine Streets, and the overall height of the new building is now only one foot higher than the existing house. He also pointed out the existing duplex across the street is about 120 feet long. He then stated he thought it was more important to blend a project into the neighborhood than to meet all the ordinances. The total square footage of the duplex will now be 3,470. Each unit will be approximately 1,700 square feet, including garages. The last point he wanted to make was that the existing house is more compatible with the neighborhood on Alida and that it would blend in better than the new duplex.

Applicant Vadim Agakhanov added that even if the ordinance limiting the maximum square footage were in place, they would only exceed the maximum by approximately the size of a garage. If the garage was not built or was detached, the project would comply. He also pointed out that most people usually drive on Alida, not Blaine Street. By keeping the existing house on Alida Street, it keeps the district more historic.

Skibby asked if it would be possible to move the existing house to the corner and build the duplex on the south portion of the lot. Meyer said it would be doable if that was the only way to get approval, but that they preferred the layout as submitted. Leighton asked if any adjustments could be made to inset the duplex more. Knox explained a conceptual drawing has been done. Leighton commented that the 25% Variance is a planning action so there should not be an automatic assumption. She also acknowledged the new maximum house size ordinance is not in effect and agreed the Commission wasn't exactly fair to the applicants last month in this respect. This application needs to be reviewed with criteria that is in effect now.

Knox interjected that if the Commission requests the applicant to switch the plans and relocate the existing house to the corner, the proposal would need to be re-noticed, thus delaying it further. All concerns need to be addressed by the Site Design & Use Standards, which is in effect.

In closing Agakhanov stated he thought Giordano had addressed the mass issue - the duplex is not as bulky and he thinks it looks much better. He added there have been no objections from the neighbors.

Skibby closed the public hearing.

Whitford commended Giordano for addressing concerns the Commission had last month. He disagreed with Commission concerns about locating the existing house on the corner. He does have an issue with building such a large structure on such a small parcel of land.

Krippaehne stated she thinks it is legitimate to discuss the new ordinance with this project because it serves as proxy as most members feel about this issue. She also doesn't necessarily agree with the ordinance. To her, the proposed duplex feels compatible with the neighborhood and provides for multi-family housing. Once the decision was made for the area to be zoned for multi-family units, legitimate proposals and ideas should be accepted. She said that moving the house to the south and building a larger structure on the corner is a good treatment for the property. It adds more variety. She feels Giordano made a successful effort to provide an interesting facing to Blaine Street and she is in favor of approval.

Saladoff said there are several issues here - variances and exceptions, bulk and scale. He would not necessarily recommend switching the proposal. The scale (as it is now), as well as the articulation and entry, will improve the corner. Giordano's elevations on Blaine Street represent an improvement over what is there now. He admitted having mixed feelings because of the bulk and scale issue, but feels this would be an appropriate addition to the neighborhood. Although the building is a little large, it will benefit the neighborhood.

Krach stated there was strong opposition to moving the existing house last month and understands the value of not moving historic structures. However, if newer larger structures are built between historic ones, it ruins the progression of size on the block. He said his only concern with the project at this moment is the size.

Leighton commented she also has mixed feelings about this application. If the existing structure is left as is, a garage would need to be added, thus creating about the same scale. The proposed duplex still has bulk to it and is larger than the historic home. Referring to the long duplex across the street, Leighton noted it does not have the bulk because it is one story. The proposed duplex will have more bulk.

Skibby said he feels much better about moving the house now than he did last month and can see the benefits. The duplex has been scaled down, the application could have been a house with a large addition, and the applicants have responded to concerns resulting from the meeting last month. He also stated this project is at the edge of the Historic District and it is necessary to look at the fact that the historic house will be saved.

Knox asked for input on the sidewalk placement - curb v. parkrow. Leighton stated that as a pedestrian, she personally prefers parkrows. She also said it needs to be acknowledged that landscaping comes and goes and is not necessarily permanent. Krippaehne said that this does not do much to mitigate other issues. By providing trees along the street, there is more to mitigate.

Morrison reminded the Commission that the new ordinance is not in effect and the criterion that is in effect is what must be taken into consideration. It may be six weeks before the new ordinance is in effect.

Skibby commented the design is now varied so it is not so massive. He also noted the applicants have worked with the Review Board to scale it down.

Krippaehne moved to recommend approval of this application as presented with the exception of the sidewalk, which would preferably be constructed as a parkrow and Krach seconded the motion. It passed with Krippaehne, Skibby, Saladoff, Krach and Whitford voting YES and Leighton voting NO. Giordano did not vote.


Review Board - Following is the September schedule for the Review Board, which meets every Thursday from 3:00 to at least 3:30 p.m. in the Planning Department:

September 4th

Skibby, Leighton and Giordano

September 11th

Skibby, Saladoff and Krippaehne

September 18th

Skibby, Krach and Saladoff

September 25th

Skibby and Whitford

Project Assignments for Planning Actions

PA #2000-120

485 "A" Street (Steve Hoxmeier)


PA #2002-075

SE Corner of "A" & Pioneer Streets (Alan Sandler)


PA #2002-100

142 East Main Street (Earthly Goods)


PA #2002-125

44 North Second Street (Trinity Episcopal Church)


PA #2002-127

NW Corner North Main & Maple Streets Intersection (ACHF)


PA #2003-005

35 S. Second Street (Winchester Inn)


PA #2003-035

665 East Main Street (Kirk McAllister)


PA #2003-045/110

230/232 VanNess Avenue (Serin Eggling/Sherri Morgan)


PA #2003-090

125 North Main Street (Lynn Thompson)


PA #2003-094

45 Wimer Street (Paul Crafft)


PA #2003-108

115 Church Street (Nancy Seward and Tim Bond)


PA #2003-092

124 Alida Street (Kirt Meyer and Vadim Agakhanov)



Carnegie Library Restoration - Whitford explained he is on the Jackson County Library Foundation and there is currently no money to finish the restoration work in the back of Ashland's library. He suggested the Ashland Friends of the Library have a fundraiser. Skibby stated he is a member of the group and will bring it up. He will also compose a letter for the Historic Commission to send to the Mayor and Council asking that this not be forgotten.

Possible National Register Nomination for Lithia Springs Property - There has been no change on this as there is no longer an intern available to work on it. Knox will keep the Commission informed on the status.


Topics for Potential Goals - Goal topics will be discussed at the orientation meeting on September 17 and the regular meeting on October 8.

Election of Officers - This was postponed until the next meeting, since Shostrom was not in attendance.


Leighton stated an Ashland citizen had spoken to her about the Letter to the Editor written by Andy Kuzmitz pertaining to light pollution, what the City of Ashland is doing about it and Kuzmitz' solicitation in support of an ordinance compliant with the International Dark Sky Association. The citizen thought it was an issue that the Historic Commission should address. Knox stated the City of Ashland's lighting policy has been to replace streetlights as needed with those in conformance with Dark Sky. The Electric Department also has standards for new developments. Giordano suggested asking someone from the Electric Department do a presentation to the Historic Commission. Skibby said that while he basically agrees with Kuzmitz, perhaps there could be a few exceptions, as he would not want to change the lights on such historic structures as the Perozzi Fountain. He also noted he has photos of all the streetlights throughout the years since the 1860s. He will put these together and bring in for further discussion.

Skibby related a person whose mother had recently passed away had contacted him regarding the possible donation of an historic steam train bell. The bell was actually purchased in Arizona. The Commission felt that since the bell most probably didn't have anything to do with the history of Ashland, this person should contact the Medford Railroad Park.


Election of officers will be on the October 8th agenda. Officers include Chair, Vice Chair, Planning Commission Liaison and City Council Liaison.

Project sites to visit on October 18th will be on the October 8th agenda, as well as topics for potential goals.

Leighton announced she will have to miss the Goal Setting meeting on October 18 due to a conflict. She will be overseeing a booth for Southern Oregon Historical Society at North Mountain Park. The booth will have information about "Food through the Ages".


With a motion by Leighton and second by Krippaehne, it was the unanimous decision of the Commission to adjourn the meeting at 9:50 p.m.

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