CALL TO ORDER
At 7:02 p.m., Chairperson Dale Shostrom called the meeting to order in the Siskiyou Room, located in the Community Development/Engineering Services Building at 51 Winburn Way. In addition to Shostrom, members present were Alex Krach, Joanne Krippaehne, Jay Leighton, Rob Saladoff, and Sam Whitford. Also present were Council Liaison John Morrison, Associate Planner Mark Knox, and Account Clerk Derek Severson. Terry Skibby arrived at 7:06 p.m. (Member Keith Chambers is on sabbatical.)
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Krippaehne requested the following correction to the October 8th, 2003 minutes, in the fourth paragraph of page six: "Krippaehne asked about using access for parking from the alley between the
hotel existing parking garage and the proposed building."
Whitford/Saladoff m/s to approve the minutes of October 8th as amended. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Krippaehne stated that in the fourth paragraph of page one, she would like to make the following change in the third sentence: "For example, she cited Craftsman and Queen Anne styles as being completely different at the turn of the century;
however, new they are compatible styles."
Krippaehne/Leighton m/s to approve the minutes of October 21st as amended. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Planning Action 2003-118
Physical & Environmental Constraints Permit
265 Glenview Drive
Sidney and Karen DeBoer
Krippaehne noted that she had a conflict of interest due to a professional relationship with the applicants and would be removing herself from the meeting.
Knox recounted the background of this application and noted that it had originally been granted staff approval but was then called up to a public hearing. He noted three maps that had been posted to illustrate the site, and discussed the proposal.
Knox explained that the property is zoned R-1-7.5 and has an existing house that was built in the 1980's which is to be removed. He added that the remaining parcel is 22,000 square feet with a roughly 11,000 square foot home proposed to be built.
Knox reported that an addition was initially proposed for the 1910 Frank Clark-designed Humboldt Pracht house but that plan was changed to the current design to address concerns expressed by this commission. Knox pointed out that multiple architects had been involved in the project and that there had been numerous meetings between these architects and staff.
Knox further explained that the previously proposed addition to the Pracht house would not have required public review by the Historic Commission. He stated that the changes in response to commission concerns lead to the current design and this public review.
Knox noted that the design minimized the mass and scale of the structure given the large size. He added that he had seen the evolution of the design resulting in the structure being setback into the hillside and mitigating the impact.
Knox discussed the nature of Physical and environmental constraints permit applications. He stated that they are a staff permit and the applicable criteria do not address design within the historic district. Knox pointed out that the proposal is located within the historic district but is classified as non-contributing due to its age. He explained that the proposal was to locate the new house thirty feet away and up the hill from the National Register-listed Pracht house. Knox reiterated that that a Physical and environmental constraints permit review has no design controls within the historic districts. He added that such controls were specifically omitted to avoid limiting typical design features of historic homes such as gables, steep roof pitches, and masses. He emphasized that there were no design criteria to approve or deny the application, and further explained the need to consider erosion control measure, cut and fill aspects, and tree preservation in the motion. Knox stated that the applicants had employed a geotechnical engineer to address these aspects of the application.
Saladoff clarified that the lot containing the Frank Clark home was being reduced to 8884 square feet, and asked staff whether lot coverage issues had been looked at. Knox confirmed that staff had looked at lot coverage and that the proposal would barely meet the lot coverage standards by removing some elements such as a brick courtyard in order to address impervious surfaces.
Saladoff questioned considering the attic as a half-story, and he noted that there was clearly living space above. He stated that while the basement might not be considered a story he felt there was clearly a third story of living space. Knox responded that the standard is for two-and-a-half stories and a maximum height of thirty five feet. He stated that the bottom floor here, as seen from Vista Street, is by definition a basement as it is covered by earth. He explained that the home consists of a basement, first and second stories and a half-story above. He added that the average height is right at thirty five feet.
Skibby asked whether only one structure was being replaced. Knox stated that the garage would remain and that only the 1980's house would be removed. He added that the house to be removed is three-and-a-half stories, and that the proposed structure is not as high. He stated that the new structure is similar to the garage but wider.
Applicant Sid DeBoer/234 Vista Street thanked Knox for providing a history of the application. He stated that he finds this proposal to be a better solution than the original proposal. He emphasized that the applicants do not want to damage the town, and added that he feels that they have enhanced the town. He stated that the new home will one day be historically significant. He emphasized that the proposal has a 4,000 square foot footprint. He explained that the original design was more prominent and not set into the hillside, but after meeting with staff and the commission the decision was made to set the structure into the hill and meet all of the standards.
DeBoer pointed out that the elevations do not illustrate the degree of coverage provided by the hillside in mitigating the impact of the structure. He discussed how the design mitigates the impact; Karen DeBoer added that a new paint color will be used to further lessen the impact.
Project Architect Ken Ogden, of Ogden Kistler Architecture/2950 E Barnett Road, Medford, OR 97504, emphasized that if the house were built on the lawn area no review would have been necessary. He explained that the applicants desire to nestle the structure into the hill out of respect for the neighbors lead to the need for this application. Ogden noted that the proposed design emulated Greene and Greene-designed houses in Pasadena. He added that the trees on site will screen the structure, and he suggested that the applicants' role in the community necessitates the inclusion of a large room for events. He stated that at such events, they have valet parking at the nearby parking structure. DeBoer added that they also sometimes have guests staying at the Ashland Springs Hotel and walking to their home for events.
DeBoer concluded that the applicants had compromised to the extent possible, and that they hope for the commission's support. He emphasized that the project was not undertaken lightly.
Ogden showed color and material samples. Ogden added that engineers Amrhein and Taylor had worked to design the stair-stepped cuts into the hillside in order to avoid destabilization, and that the structure would be appropriately founded into the hill with appropriate retainage.
Ogden stated that the structure's being nestled into the hillside reduces its solar impact. He stated that it was fifteen to twenty feet below the limit calculated under the solar ordinance, and would cast no shadow on the neighbors' properties. He reiterated that the new structure is lower than the existing structure which is to be removed. He added that the Demolition Review Committee had approved the demolition proposed, and the intent was to salvage materials from the demolished structure if site constraints prevent it from being moved off-site. Ogden pointed out that the design as viewed on-site will be less harsh than the two dimensional elevations as the elevations cannot adequately illustrate the way the structure is setback and articulated. He explained that the grade at Glenview will lessen the structure's profile by reducing its massing. He restated that it will appear less massive than the existing house.
Ogden stated that he was available for questions by the commission, and he commended the applicants for their efforts. He stated that the proposal represents true architecture rather than mere gingerbread surface treatments. He stated that the home's essence is a truism reflected in functional features such as the prominent exposed beams, and he suggested that the home will be long-lived.
Morrison clarified that the new structure is roughly two-and-a-half times wider than the existing. DeBoer noted that this is somewhat deceptive due to the amount of city street right-of-way nearby. DeBoer discussed the need to get space in the new home for events without dominating the site. He added that much of this was accomplished within the basement area which is not visible from the street.
Ogden noted that from Vista Street, some of the roofline would be visible. He added that the vegetation to remain will screen the structure and a berm will be used to offset excavated areas.
Shostrom opened the public hearing at 7:40 p.m.
Phil Selby/ spoke in favor of the application. He noted that he was a longtime Ashland resident and that his father had the Chevrolet dealership in town when DeBoer's father had the Chrysler dealership. He stated that he has known the DeBoers for years. Selby noted that when his father built one of the largest homes in Ashland in 1953 on Walker Street there was a similar outcry from the citizens. He suggested that while it may bring envy and resentment, he feels that if the project meets city standards and fits the site the applicants should be allowed to build it. He emphasized that the proposal meets city requirements, and added that the applicants have done a lot for the community. He concluded by noting that criticism of large houses occurred in the past as well, and those houses are now considered historically significant.
Bill Patton/110 Terrace Street stated that he lives directly above Glenview, and that he built his home there forty years ago. He stated that he likes his site for the view, and he was concerned with the proposal initially. He explained that after seeing the design, he is very impressed with how well it fits the site. He stated that it is lower than the present structure and enhances the site. He suggested that it will be nearly unseen from the street. He commended the DeBoers for their community work, and added that the house would be a community asset and an enhancement.
Chris Adderson/ Vista Street neighbor stated that he agreed with others in favor of the project, and added that it will be magnificent. He stated that this is not a "show-me" house, and he added that he felt that jealousy and small-mindedness had lead to the negative comments about the proposal. He pointed out that the community benefit from the house will outweigh any personal benefit to the DeBoers in that the house will allow events in support of community resources such as the hospital and the YMCA.
Bryan Holley/324 Liberty Streetnoted that he has been given testimony at public meetings for a long time and is frequently told he must stick to criteria not irrelevant issues. He asked the commission, with all other issues aside, to consider whether this proposal was a single family home or an entertainment center.
Bill Street/180 Meade Street asked for clarification about the commission's role. He noted that his feeling is that the commission's role gives them the freedom to comment and express their opinions. He reiterated that commissioners should be able to evaluate based on their historical expertise and comment. Street recounted that the DeBoers had moved to the site ten or eleven years ago and had since demolished two houses that fit the neighborhood. He reiterated that the commission's role was to comment in order to preserve the historic neighborhood. Street discussed local historian George Kramer's call for a maximum house size ordinance in historic districts; he emphasized that this ordinance had been approved by this commission, the Planning Commission and the City Council as a clear indication of the community's will. He asked that the commissioners keep this in mind when making motions as this structure has no resemblance to any historic pattern, and he added that the construction of such a structure would create a huge disruption for the neighborhood. He restated concerns with the impact of the large home and its proposed role as an entertainment center with potentially late hours on a small town historic neighborhood.
Joan Steele/332 Glenn Street asked commissioners to recognize that the DeBoers' philanthropy was not at issue here. She added that Holley's analogy to an entertainment center was apt, and questioned what would happen to this home in fifty or one hundred years. She stated that it would endure even though the DeBoers would be gone. She asked whether there will be a need for a palace or entertainment center at that time. She added that a person can entertain in many places, and she noted that DeBoer's brother was remodeling a large home outside the district. She stated that the commission has a moral obligation to preserve the district and protect the character of the town.
Colin Swales/461 Allison Street noted that he was a Planning Commissioner speaking on his own behalf. He added that he would recuse himself from the Planning Commission hearing as he had been the one who called the demolition application up to a public hearing at the request of concerned neighbors. He stated that he would be speaking as a private citizen at the Tree Commission meeting and the Hearings Board hearing. He stated that the historic pattern was for smaller houses, and the proposal represents a different pattern. He suggested that the Historic Commission should not be limited to dealing with criteria and should instead be considering the historic district impact. Swales pointed out that the DeBoer house was on the cover of the document George Kramer prepared inventorying historic district homes for the city. He added that the new house will be visible from all around the city, and as such the view from the district, from downtown, and from all over the city must be considered. He pointed out that the Humboldt Pracht house was the largest home in the city at one time, and that the proposed home is four times larger. He urged the commission to consider LCDC Goal 5 and the city's Comprehensive Plan. He noted that the proposal involves cutting down the historic home's lot to the bare minimum, and he suggested that the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) should be contacted for their ruling on the impact of the proposed boundary line adjustment on the Frank Clark-designed home. Swales recalled the meeting where the initial proposal of a 4,000 square foot addition was considered and suggested that this proposal is no better. Swales added that his own inquiry about the Physical and Environment Constraints permit review requirements were all that brought this item before the commission. He also stated that the house could not be built more to the front of the lot due to the solar ordinance, and he suggested that it would be better in his estimation if houses were built to the front of their lots. He suggested that the placement of five feet of fill on the lawn area was inappropriate.
Louis Leger/243 North Laurel Street explained that he owned a small home in the Skidmore Academy District. He emphasized that the commission's role is not to carry out Planning Commission or City Council functions but rather to provide historical expertise. He questioned how the proposal could be seen to fit in any historical concept. He added that the hospital on Laurel and the Swedinburg house on the SOU campus are the only structures that come close, and he emphasized that neither were single family homes. He suggested that the only exception seems to be that there is always one standout, prominent citizen, but he added that those homes are normally built within context. He stated that this proposal is not in context for Ashland. He noted that it does not look like the Ashland of the past, and he challenged anyone to explain the house in a historical context. He questioned the role and mandate of the commission. He pointed out that as a citizen, he was proud of the small 1911 single family home that he had restored and he likes Ashland for that sort of character. He stated that he did not want someone moving in and disrupting that character. He reiterated that he like the districts and their small homes, shacks and garage, with some homes a little larger than others. He concluded that the proposed neo-Greene and Greene is pretend, not Ashland.
Knox explained the role of the commission as listed in the Comprehensive Plan as protecting the historic district, streetscapes and historic resources. He recognized that this home is to be the biggest in Ashland by his estimation. He noted that staff and the commissioners have worked to list each district in the city on the National Register in order to protect the homes and the city's heritage. He added that the city has adopted a maximum house size ordinance for its historic districts, and that he and the commission co-authored this ordinance to limit the maximum house size within the district at 3,249 square feet. He suggested that there was no intent on the part of the applicants to beat the deadline on this ordinance as the process began two years ago.
Knox stated that the Historic Commission Review Board looks at single family home plans every Thursday afternoon, and he explained that they have no "yea or nay" power only an advisory role. He reiterated that this application is narrowly limited by the ordinance to address site issues as the historic district is intentionally excluded form the Physical and environmental constraints permit review criteria. He stated that the ordinance criteria cannot be shifted midstream, and he added that commissioners may comment on the design but should be clear to state whether their comments are based on opinion or criteria.
Knox added that he had spoken to SHPO and that they basically support the commission's decision as a body recognized for its expertise by the state and federal governments. He stated that the commissioners must base their approval or denial on criteria.
DeBoer stated that they would avoid disrupting the neighborhood during construction. He noted that he owns two of the neighboring houses, and added that there was no new driveway encroachment proposed. He pointed out that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival already has events all night through the season, and his events would be planned on Mondays when the Festival is not running. He concluded that in fifty years, the property would be donated to the Sid and Karen DeBoer Foundation, and would likely be sold by the foundation with proceeds to be used to support educational charities in Southern Oregon. He indicated that this proposal meets the criteria without hurting the neighborhood, and is not an entertainment center but rather a two person single family home that will host an occasional party or event.
Shostrom closed the public hearing at 8:12 p.m.
Shostrom emphasized the criteria were the focus here, and noted that the commission would not even be hearing the item if it had not been called up to a public hearing. He reiterated that historic district design considerations are specifically excluded from the Physical and Environment Constraints ordinance. Shostrom suggested that the design is vertical as recognized by the applicants, but he recognized that that is not a criterion for consideration here. He concluded that while the issues of impact on the historic district are valid they are not at issue here.
Krach asked staff if there was any way for the commission to protect the district in this case. He stated that he was disheartened that there was such a lack of protection and suggested that he feels that the commission's hands are tied.
Knox stated that this was unfortunate, but he added that he would not want to see an appeal filed over the commission stepping out of bounds. Knox emphasized that the protections in place in Ashland are among the best in Oregon. He pointed out that the maximum house size ordinance is the most imposing restriction in the state without limiting design, just mass and scale. He explained that the Review Board's power of persuasion has been very effective in the past and that he feels most projects reviewed have benefited. He stated that the powers of the commission are limited by the state, and that there are no regulations on design review of single family homes within historic districts and even less review on new structures. He noted that this may change down the road, but that changes are not in place now. He recognized the desire for change that he hears from the community. He concluded that the commissioners could certainly state their opinions and express their frustration.
Skibby reiterated that this was not a site review application. He added that it seemed to be an improvement over the proposal that had the structure placed nearer to the street. He stated that the current placement lessens the impact and is scaled down with less massing. He cited the reduced mass from Glenview. He recognized that the proposal is wider than the existing house, but he added that it is also more set back. He suggested that the visual impacts are comparable to the condominiums or apartments across the street. He also stated that the site is somewhat isolated, with newer homes down the street, and as such it is in an area where it will have a lesser impact. He recognized that the home will be seen from a distance, and that the windows suggest more mass, but he stated that the design had been scaled down. He concluded that the area is different than if this were proposed for B Street or Siskiyou Boulevard.
Leighton stated that she did not feel that the commission was able to critique the design. She cited the huge mass, the disruption of the street pattern, and the impact to views from the entire valley as areas of concern. She emphasized that the commissioners were not skilled in areas needed to address the physical and environmental constraints review criteria.
Shostrom suggested that the projects engineers had addressed the physical and environmental constraints criteria. He stated that he too was disheartened by the proposal, which he noted was six times the size of the average home and four times that which would be allowed under the new maximum house size ordinance. He stated that while this is disturbing it will be the last one and lead to the rally for the ordinance. He added that he feels for the neighbors who will have to deal with the construction's disruptions and the size and massing.
Skibby emphasized that these issues could not be addressed tonight.
Shostrom asked if the commission was really in a position to vote on this; Knox responded that commissioners could approve or deny based on criteria with a note of their opinions. He stated that he felt commissioners could review the proposed design details and identify any specific concerns. He reiterated that he believed the commissioners could still voice design concerns.
Whitford noted that he is a Greene and Greene fan, and stated that he feels the proposed home is beautiful and totally inappropriate to the district. He recognized that this could not be addressed however, as the submittal predates the maximum house size ordinance. He pointed out that the view from little-used Glenview will be beautiful, but he stated that from Vista Street it appears more like a hotel with all of the decks and balconies.
Skibby suggested that perhaps the commission could speak to this in its decision and recommend lessening the impact of the windows and decks while retaining their function. He reiterated that the proposal was quite an improvement over the original.
Leighton agreed that the house was more visually interesting from Glenview, but she noted that the asymmetricity from the Vista Street side was heavy on one side. She noted the massing by the chimney and in the area near the garage. She questioned if the nearby garage would have the effect of increasing the massing.
Skibby pointed out how the lower railing was broken by a bay window. Ogden stated that the elevations were more broken up into multiple planes than could be shown in two dimensions. Skibby suggested that some offsetting might lessen the hotel-like appearance. Knox referred commissioners to floor plan sheets 3.1 and 3.2 in their packets as an illustration of how offsets are being used in the design. Skibby stated that he felt the mass would be lessened when viewed in three dimensions.
Saladoff noted that numerous planes are used to mitigate the mass. He agreed that in two dimensions, the elevations seem hotel-like, but he stated that the floor plans help to clarify.
Shostrom stated that the architects had done a good job with what they were given to accomplish; he suggested that it might be as good as could be done with such a project.
Saladoff stated that his concern was not with the design, it was with a 10,000 to 11,000 square foot home being built on the hillside. He agreed that the project was nicely designed, and added that his objections are more philosophical. He added that he had concerns with the size, scale, neighborhood patterns, and issues of sustainability. He questioned the amount of waste material that would be produced by such a project, but recognized that this was not an issue that fell within the criteria to be considered. He suggested that from a design standpoint, the applicants had come as far as they can and any design comments would be minor.
Leighton questioned if the commission had previously simply passed on reviewing a project that fell outside of their purview. Knox stated that this may have been done on a minor item before. He stated that the commission could opt to do the same here, and he added that the physical and environmental constraints review criteria were clearly outside of the commission's charter purview. He reiterated that members could simply opt to not make any recommendation. Leighton stated that without being able to speak to the massing or design it leaves little room for a decision.
Knox suggested looking to craft a motion that managed to somehow express the opinion of commissioners as well as a decision. Krach stated that he could see a motion that moved to approve based on criteria with an expression of concern. Leighton stated that the decision needed is outside of the purview while design and scale are real concerns. Krach agreed that the voice needed seemed to be powerless but was still there. Whitford stated that the laws are stronger now. Krach suggested that the commission had influence with no real power.
Morrison discussed his experience that matters like this are seldom clear cut, and he suggested that the key was to find a balance between the competing interests through the process. He stated that commissioners could certainly express their opinions from their historic and design expertise. He cautioned members away from pessimism, and pointed to the small victories achieved in retaining the Pracht house and finding the DeBoers responsive to earlier concerns. He added that the applicants have chosen an area near the downtown where larger buildings are more appropriate. He emphasized the need to find a balance through small victories. He added that members should make suggestions, and stated that he found the applicants to have been responsive. He stated that this had lead to a design that was as compatible as it could be. He recognized the difficulty that commissioners were experiencing, and he encouraged them to find a way to express this collective opinion.
Knox confirmed for Saladoff that the commission would see this application again at the building permit review stage.
Shostrom and Leighton suggested that the commission could move for denial based on the opinion that this decision would best preserve the neighborhood.
Leighton/Whitford m/s to deny Planning Action 2003-118 based on the purview of the commission set in the city charter, reflecting the opinion that the structure does not fit the historic district by its mass, scale, and partitioning of the site. Discussion: Members clarified that they were not recommending denial based on the Physical and Environment Constraints permit criteria. Krach suggested that this was an honorable motion even though it amounted to tilting at windmills. He recognized that the building was a beautiful design, but added that it was just proposed for the wrong place. Voice vote: Krach, Krippaehne, Whitford, Leighton, and Saladoff, YES. Skibby, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
Shostrom called for a brief break at 8:46 p.m. The meeting resumed at 9:00 p.m.
Planning Action 2003-127
Land Partition, Site Review, Variance, and Administrative Variance and Exception
212 East Main Street
Ed and Tanya Bemis
Knox noted that this item had been continued from last month, and he added that the discussion at that time had to do with the lack of detail in the proposal. He explained that the Planning Commission had agreed that more information was needed to resolve design comments. He stated that the applicants have since provided additional information to the Review Board, and have attempted to eliminate all variances from the proposal except for the balconies. He stated that there was one additional area of staff concern, and that he was seeking the commission's help to resolve it. He stated that this would be a more formal discussion, with plenty of detail presented now including the cut-out's and renderings the applicant had posted. He stated that the plans presented give some options while the packet information that was distributed speaks to the prior comments.
Knox clarified that the two relatively minor issues identified by staff as remaining were: 1) the balconies and 2) the vertical rhythms. Knox explained that the ordinance says that recessed or projecting balconies shall not be incorporated in a street-facing elevation. He pointed out that the prohibition on balconies in the design standards came out of looking at the downtown streetscape in its entirety. He stated that there are very few projections into the downtown streetscape, and in establishing the standards the Martino's building was seen as very foreign due to its stepped-back, recessed balconies. He clarified that the design standards intend to give the best guidance possible; he cited page 8 of the Site Design and Use Standards where exceptions are illustrated as showing a balcony that does not dominate the building's appearance or deviate from the collective historic façade. He added that the Gen Kai building at 180 Lithia Way had recently been granted an exception. He stated that staff feels that while the proposed design meets the intent of the ordinance it is still technically a request for a variance.
Knox stated that the second staff concern had to do with the vertical rhythms. He explained that along Main Street, properties are typically distinguished by color variations, material treatment, or vertical breaks. He added that in addition to this pattern, buildings also typically step down with grade. He suggested that the architects need to establish these patterns here to address staff concerns. Knox stated that staff feels that the application is complete and can now move on to the Planning Commission with support from the staff. He added that he feels the design represents a wonderful investment in the downtown urban core with housing, hidden parking, and sustainable design. He stated that the minor design elements could be resolved here tonight.
Shostrom opened the public hearing at 9:10 p.m.
Applicants Ed and Tanya Bemis and architects Ken Ogden and David Wilkerson of Ogden Kistler Architecture introduced themselves. Ogden noted that the colored elevation displayed was based on the commission's comments from the last meeting. Ogden discussed the previous design as a single mass with no breaks and lots of glazing. He pointed out the changes made to reduce the glazing, repeat vertical patterns, extend columns to the ground, articulate the column caps, and separate the mass into a building, a core area, and another building wrapping around the side of Hargadine Street. Ogden noted that the commercial area nearest the hotel would have steel-framed windows with divided lights, and the central core structure would be slightly different. He stated that the more residential portion near Hargadine would have wood-framed windows. He discussed the anchored central point, the arches, refined historic details, cornices, and use of the base to anchor the structure. He noted that the proposal continued to read as one element due to the horizontal aspect.
Ogden presented a new suggested design with a more definitive element in the form of a go-away strip to divide the structures. He explained that the central portion retains its sense of being the core through its different vocabulary, while the portion nearer to Hargadine gives rhythm and continuity while remaining distinct. He explained that he attempted to have each respond and communicate with the other, such as in the use or arches, without copying details. He added that the light fixtures, windows, and molding would be distinct.
Ogden stated that each building has a clear sense of entry, and he noted that the unit nearest Hargadine had its entry to Hargadine. He also addressed the erosion of form on the Ashland Springs side of the development, noting that he was proposing less stair-stepping and modifying the single depth arch element to a cube. He stated that the changes result in a more powerful feeling of a streetscape with different buildings.
Ogden pointed out that the scale, massing and height are all within standards for the zone. He explained that while there is some volume, the overall height is less than the Old Masonic building on the Plaza. He emphasized that the varied forms, the level of detail, and the articulation and undulation were in direct response to commission comments. He stated that while there are still six balconies in the proposal, the articulation of the primary face means that the balconies only project eight inches. He explained that this would soften the face from a pedestrian point of view, and noted that this change was in response to Planning Commissioner Marilyn Briggs' concerns that the balconies conflicted.
Ogden reaffirmed that this was not the last time the commission would be seeing this design, and he stated that he would be coming back to the commission as design options presented themselves. He suggested that the applicants, architects, staff, commissioners, and city will be proud of the end result.
Skibby inquired about the First Street elevation entries. Ogden discussed the retail space and plaza entries, and the entry on the core retail area. Skibby stated that this retail entry would be strengthened by double doors. Ogden suggested that these could be recessed back for a more protected feel. Wilkerson noted that the design being shown was a notch up from the packet materials as it had been redesigned today from staff input in a morning meeting. Ogden emphasized that the form and imagery better separate the three units.
Knox stated that staff was very pleased with the changes presented. He noted that the Site Design and Use Standards do prefer recessed entrances. Ogden accepted that this could be made a condition of approval.
Ogden discussed the Hargadine Street edge. He pointed out that there were a series of repetitive forms that steal somewhat from the Hotel behind. He stated that the design had a solidified base with a solid mass and centered focal point, broken up by planters, and fairly consistent with the original design but with increased loft area and windows over the stair tower.
Ogden explained that the alley elevation would mirror the articulation of the new First Street elevation. He noted that where there were previously diagonal diamond grills to screen the parking, he had now added half-height walls with a horizontal pattern. He noted that the uphill door from the parking area would be an exit only. He stated that an awning at the pedestrian plaza would be the only highlight from the alley edge.
Ogden reported that the pedestrian plaza edge had entry elements balanced back with an erosion of the façade and a centered plaster reveal that presented a public art opportunity. He stated that the artistic elements were yet to be defined, but he added that there would definitely be solid panels for the elevator shaft.
Knox questioned whether the applicants would consider offering this space up for the Public Art Commission to design. The Bemis were agreeable to this request, and added that they felt that the hotel should be given some input as well given the proximity and orientation.
Leighton question how the Hargadine stairwell would be defined. Ogden stated that he would love something besides leaving it blank, and suggested that he could bring ideas back to a later session. He emphasized that he was eager to discuss this item, and drew a proposal on the board with radiused roof forms and cabling to give an airier, open, contemporary feeling. He stated that he was excited by the opportunity to create an architectural sculpture. Wilkerson added that this would enliven the streetscape while letting light and air into the parking area. Ogden stated that it would draw in pedestrians.
Saladoff stated that he felt the element was symmetrical, with the street all at one elevation. He agreed that the street read as more of a single elevation from Hargadine and stated that he would not be opposed to something contemporary as a break-up. Skibby stated that he was open to this idea as well.
Ogden explained that the horizontality was overcome by material differences, cap articulation and height variation to break things up. Whitford asked whether the color changes reflected material differences. Ogden responded that they were similar materials but with differences in the color, texture and finish. He noted that there was a transition from smooth plaster to repetitious control joints that gave the appearance of stacked block and back to smooth plaster. Ogden added that plaster seemed to be the pattern in the downtown. He noted that there would be some plaster moldings but that most would be pre-cast. He stated that the cornice profile would be unique on each building.
Doug Neuman/951 Emigrant Creek Road noted that he was the owner of the Ashland Springs Hotel and had been working a long time to bring this project forward. He explained that he had first intended to match the existing hotel structure on the lot behind but had found that this would be less appropriate and might detract from the existing. He added that he liked Portland Pearl District and it provided some guidance here. He noted that the last meeting's comments had redirected the design to a truer sense of Ashland architecture. He emphasized how excited he was with the current design, which he feels is appropriate to both Ashland and the historic district. He stated that he was available for any questions the commission might have.
Shostrom closed the public hearing at 9:45 p.m.
Leighton questioned the open layout development where each tenant would be able to determine the arrangement of interior spaces rented. Wilkerson responded that spaces have been allotted to each use, and Ogden added that there was a new matrix that had been prepared breaking out the allocations. He added that generally the upper two levels are open for residential use but the commercial layouts are clearly defined. Bemis clarified that tenants will be able to configure their units uniquely and it gives them the opportunity to design their own interiors. He emphasized that the flexibility was in interior design details, not wall spacing.
Shostrom questioned the total gross floor area; Wilkerson responded that it was not the 90,000 square feet stated in recent pieces in the Tidings and was closer to 80,000. Shostrom stated that based on the roughly 19,000 square foot footprint and three levels it is roughly 60,000 feet. Wilkerson and Ogden concurred with that assessment. Shostrom expressed his concern with the volume and scale, but noted that it was well-mitigated since the last meeting as the applicants had addressed the eighty foot vertical rhythms.
Wilkerson responded that they had tried to address the design within an Ashland context and had tried to look to the Plaza for similarities. Shostrom and Skibby agreed that this was moving in the right direction. Wilkerson reiterated that the separation was based on comments to reduce the scale.
Whitford suggested that the applicant had made huge strides in two weeks, with the appearance of three separate, smaller buildings. Ogden added that they were continuing on in that direction.
Skibby reminded the applicant to clearly define the entrances on the First Street elevation and added that the motion should reflect this.
Krippaehne agreed that well defined commercial entries from the street side are important. She expressed her disagreement with the arbitrary breaking up of the structure. She stated that this is a sham that does not make a better building. She emphasized that the exterior should reflect what is going on inside and that in this case there was no reason for the separation except for the standards. She agreed that the applicants had come a long way in getting to the standard. She reiterated that the arbitrary separation was not her preference, but added that the applicant had done a lot to meet the city standard.
Shostrom stated that he appreciated Krippaehne's comments, and he suggested that there had been so much change to the design that the members did not have for the other three sides that they must interpolate. He stated that he was fearful that the applicants' malleability could lead them in the wrong direction. Ogden stated that they could take a step back.
Bemis expressed his concern that a design by committee process could be nonstop. He emphasized that the design is already generating calls from prospective tenants at this stage, and that he feels that the design presented tonight is "it." He added that there did not seem to be a collective input being provided but rather a collection of individual opinions.
Krippaehne emphasized that she felt the applicants had done a great job in designing to city standard, and that she was merely questioning the design standard as focusing on frosting. She stated that she has a philosophical disagreement with the standard here, and she added that one building should not have to look like three separate buildings.
Saladoff explained that the project represents a type and scale that had not been seen when the standards were set. He noted the community's resistance to the big box idea, and he added that his reaction is that he does not want the look of one big box. He recognized the applicants' concern that the commission was not speaking with one voice. He stated that the applicants' malleability could lead to getting mired in details, but he added that this is pushing the design to the standards. Saladoff pointed out that historically development did not come all at once and the separation is a reflection of that. He agreed that it can seem artificial on a project built from scratch, especially when done only to meet the code, and he acknowledged Krippaehne's trepidation. He added that he likes the direction the design has taken.
Bemis stated that he feels the appearance is very pleasing; he pointed out that while the fire station demonstrates the requested separation the library does not.
Knox noted that the standards were adopted to give the commission a "place to hang its hat" in decision making. He cited the Bard's Inn as an example of a design by competing interests, and he agreed that this was unfair to the applicants. He stated that the standards are fair in that they represent an objective goal post. He added that the standards represent a commitment by the community.
Skibby stated that he likes the direction taken to date with the Site Design and Use Standards as a guide. He added that he would not be for a single, solid structure and he finds the current design to be an improvement over last month.
Whitford suggested that the applicant has affirmed that approval will not end the commission's involvement, and he stated his belief that the applicants are committed to true design collaboration.
Ogden stated that he had created appropriate imagery for Ashland and had shown on the elevation provided that he has the technical ability to develop the other three elevations accordingly. He reiterated that he would run other design features by the commission throughout the project. He suggested that commissioners look at the big picture, and rather than seeing responsiveness as too malleable seeing it as being comfortable with working in a committee setting. Ogden added that he is able to glean valuable input from group comment through his experience with designing schools and hospitals and dealing with their committees and boards. He emphasized that the tools for a great design are here and he expressed his hope for a little faith on the part of the commission.
Skibby agreed that the architects had established their credibility.
Shostrom clarified that his statements about malleability were meant positively.
Skibby added that having exterior designs were important to ensuring compatibility.
Morrison noted that the big box ordinance as recently clarified by the council intended to limit size while making allowance for parking, as provided here. He suggested that this application meets the intent of the ordinance and that the applicants were doing a very good job through their design. He added that he found the appearance of three separate buildings quite pleasing. He noted that frosting is important, or more cakes would be sold without it, but agreed that the exterior appearance should harmonize with the interior workings. He stated that he felt the applicants could articulate this through their design, and he noted that there are other large buildings all around, some of which are huge and ugly. He concluded that this proposal is a step up.
Whitford/Skibby m/s to approve Planning Action 2003-127 with the understanding that there would be continued collaboration between the applicants, staff and the commission throughout the remainder of the design process to address recessed entries to the commercial areas, clarify the stairway along Hargadine Street, work out the plaza view elevator shaft treatments, and resolve other details as established.
Knox suggested that there would be a typical condition recommended by staff that the final design incorporate all recommendations of the Historic Commission.
Saladoff questioned the process for addressing further detail on the remaining elevations if the action were approved here and now. He asked whether those elevations were necessary prior to making a decision.
Whitford stated his trust in the architects' explanation that the other elevations would reflect the changes made in the First Street elevation and added that he was comfortable that these changes could be carried out in good faith.
Skibby concurred with Whitford and he added that there would also be additional opportunity for review of the final design through the building permit approval process.
Knox pointed out that the applicant might be able to complete the remaining three elevations prior to next week's Planning Commission meeting. He suggested that one member of this commission could attend and comment of the final elevations.
Morrison stated that the concern expressed at the last meeting was that there was a lack of detail and he suggested that the question now is whether there is enough. He emphasized that the issue must be whether commissioners feel they have enough detail at this stage.
Shostrom expressed his reservations with granting approval at this stage based on the level of detail presented here. He emphasized that he has confidence in the ability and responsiveness of the architects, but he stated that he was fearful of granting approval without seeing all of the completed elevations.
Ogden briefly noted how the new First Street elevation related to the other elevations and would tie into the floor plans.
Skibby reiterated his feeling that there was enough detail to move ahead at this point.
Skibby/Leighton m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Leighton/Saladoff m/s to extend the meeting to 10:45 p.m. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Shostrom emphasized that he could not support approval with this level of detail. He added that he appreciated the concerns expressed by Krippaehne and would like to have time to discuss and consider the issues they raised.
Morrison clarified that he was not being critical, and was simply asking members to consider whether they were comfortable with the level of detail being presented.
Knox expressed his opinion that there was enough information to accept the application. He added that design is a subjective process with the devil in the details. He suggested that the applicants should be told what more is needed. He concluded that staff supports the commission in reaching a decision either way.
Skibby suggested that the commission had approved projects before contingent upon resolving details. Shostrom clarified that this reservations had to do with working out details given the scale of this project. Saladoff noted the information that was lacking last time. He recognized that some of the details would not be set for sometime in the process, but he added that the commission still had not seen three of the four elevations in the detail needed or how the floor plans relate to these elevations. He noted that the applicants had addressed the concern with the balconies. He stated that he would be more comfortable with another continuance given the size of the project. He emphasized that he was confident the applicants would get it right.
Ogden stated that he could prepare the other elevations to reflect the new revisions and to match the floor plans by next week's Planning Commission meeting. He emphasized that he felt the applicants had addressed the information requested by the commission, and added that they simply had not worked out all specific details as they are not at that stage in the project yet. He emphasized that they were at the conceptual design stage at this point.
Knox clarified for Skibby that this action would be considered by the Planning Commission next week at the Planning Commission meeting on November 12th.
Ogden reiterated the architects' willingness to improve the designs through input from the commission over the course of the project. Wilkerson emphasized the level of detail that had been added to the upper levels since the last meeting as a good faith illustration of their willingness to incorporate commission input.
Bemis suggested that based on staff comfort levels and the proposed conditions that the commission allow the project to move ahead. Knox added that staff would draft a condition holding the applicants to their commitment to ongoing discussion with the commission over the course of the project. He added that this condition would involve finding an acceptable level of design deviation that would trigger bringing the project back to more formal review.
Ogden emphasized that they would be back throughout the project because of the intensity and scale involved. Wilkerson noted that the architects would also continue to work under staff oversight. Skibby asked if staff could provide verbal updates to the commission on the progress made in dealing with the applicants as the design develops further.
Shostrom noted that an approval at this level of detail would set a precedent. Knox reiterated that staff was comfortable at this point, but he emphasized that the commission must be comfortable with the design too. He added that the applicants are putting themselves on the line in committing to ongoing collaboration throughout the project.
Wilkerson emphasized that the architects were not trying to alter the process or set precedent. Knox noted that the process usually involves one building, and he added that normally only small details are left to be resolved on follow up. He clarified that designs are typically at 65% complete or more when they reach this point in the commission's review, and he explained for the applicants that normally details being looked at would involve plans with scalable trim and other specific detail.
Shostrom questioned what format an ongoing collaborative process would take. Knox suggested that there could be recurring off-agenda items as needed. He added that he felt the scale of the project was too much for Thursday review board consideration.
Ogden stated that he believed they would be bringing in material samples. Krippaehne suggested that this could be done organically at an appropriate point in the process.
Leighton stated that it might be too early for a decision in her view.
Krippaehne explained that the commission may be expecting an inappropriate level of detail for a site review. She agreed with the need to have things come back through the design process. She emphasized the need for an organic coming-together of the design, and she stated that the design here was understandable with refinements to follow.
Morrison stated that this will be a large building that he felt would be a credit to the community, but he added that with the scale of the project comes an increased level of scrutiny. He suggested that commissioners must be scrupulous in their decision. He emphasized that if commissioners were not comfortable he would suggest taking more time rather than truncating the process given the degree of scrutiny expected.
Skibby clarified that the commission normally has finalized plans at the point of when they make a decision. He added that there was a motion on the floor yet to be voted upon.
Voice vote: Krach, Krippaehne, Skibby, and Whitford, YES. Leighton and Saladoff, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
Leighton/Krippaehne m/s to extend the meeting to 11:00 p.m. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
Review Board - Following is the November schedule for the Review Board, which meets every Thursday from 3:00 to at least 3:30 p.m. in the Community Development & Engineering Services Building at 51 Winburn Way:
Skibby and Krippaehne
Skibby, Krach and Leighton
Skibby and Whitford
Skibby and Saladoff
Lloyd Haines and Architect Dave Richardson informally presented a proposed design for new building located at 88 North Main.
It was the unanimous decision of the Commission to adjourn the meeting at 11:07 p.m.