Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
NOVEMBER 12, 2003


CALL TO ORDER
Chair Russ Chapman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Russ Chapman, Chair
Mike Morris
Dave Dotterrer
Kerry KenCairn
Marilyn Briggs
Colin Swales
John Fields
Absent Members: Ray Kistler
Cameron Hanson
Council Liaison: Alex Amarotico - not present
High School Liaison: None
SOU Liaison: None
Staff Present: John McLaughlin, Director, and Community Development
Bill Molnar, Senior Planner
Mark Knox, Associate Planner
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

ANNOUNCEMENTS
The community drop-in "chat" with Planning Commissioners and a staff person is scheduled for November 25, 2003 at 4:00 p.m. in the Community Development and Engineering Services Building.

There will be a study session on November 25, 2003 at 7:00 to discuss the use of a Hearings Officer in lieu of the City Council hearing appeals. This will be a joint study session with the Planning Commission, City Council and City Attorney.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

BILL STREET, 180 Meade Street, reminded the Commissioners that he spoke at length during last month's Public Forum. He reviewed the minutes of that meeting. There were 16 minutes of his testimony missing from the video recording of the meeting. He reviewed the audio recording and requested the Commissioners make some alterations to the minutes. Specifically, it refers to citing e-mails, conversations and meetings with various public officials, etc. He wanted it to be clear that he cited specifically an e-mail that was forwarded to him from Mayor Alan DeBoer. The reason it is important to reflect this in the minutes is because the e-mail came from the Mayor. The Mayor led Street and others to believe that if there appeared to be a proposal like the one under review tonight, it be brought to the Council and the Planning Commission interpretation would be applied or interpreted before the application was actually made.

McLaughlin told Street the minutes are not verbatim. The Commission can choose whether or not to revise the minutes.

Chapman asked if he wanted to add a sentence about the e-mail he got from the Mayor. Dotterrer said wording could be revised to state: He cited e-mails "including one from the Mayor...". Street suggested they approve that correction.

Street said he also specifically asked John McLaughlin if he recalled this meeting with the Mayor, assuring him and other citizens that he would bring large scale development proposals before the Council. At the time, McLaughlin said he had no recollection of that meeting. Street wanted the minutes to reflect that as well. (Page 2.)

Dotterrer doesn't think that Street's amendments change the essence of the minutes. Swales believes Street is trying to establish process that took place between him and the Mayor and the Staff and wants the minutes to reflect the discussion that took place. Swales recalled that conversation.

McLaughlin said perhaps Street can submit what he wants in writing and it can be made part of the record of the planning action. Street said it could be important for future research that the specifics he is requesting are included in the minutes.

Chapman isn't comfortable going down this road. Is this because 15 minutes is missing on the video? Street said he just wants to correct the public record so everyone can find the public record.

KenCairn wondered if it would be possible to have this portion of the tape that Street is referring to transcribed and entered into the record. Street said if the minutes are amended, he would be pleased.

Chapman moved to amend the minutes with a transcript of the 16 missing minutes and enter it into the record.

Swales said on page 3 (2nd paragraph from the bottom) reads: "Swales said since there is no minimum lot size, the lots could be subdivided (add 'ad') infinitum, making this part of the design standards completely meaningless." He would like the minutes to reflect that Molnar concurred. Add the words "Molnar concurred".

Dotterrer moved to amend Chapman's motion and to further amend the minutes of the October 14, 2003 meeting with the above amendments. Chapman seconded the motion and the minutes were approved.

PUBLIC FORUM

BILL STREET, 180 Meade Street, asked to speak to the process leading up to the application that will be discussed tonight. Chapman said he can't give Street extra time that he can't also give the applicant. Chapman thought it sounded like he would be talking about the application and discussing information he wants the Commission to consider when talking about tonight's planning action. Street's ultimate goal is to make the Commission and citizens of Ashland aware of the process that has led up to this application. He wants to inform people of how things are working in the City based on the research he has done and let them judge for themselves whether there needs to be attention paid to the process - how we process applications, how we develop and grow.

Street continued. Last month, he referred to the Planning Commission's unanimous interpretation of the Big Box ordinance. Chapman stopped Street as he is not comfortable letting Street discuss the Big Box because it ties in with the tonight's application. He asked Street to bring it up during the public hearing of the Bemis application. Street said he wants to take advantage of this opportunity to create a process that is transparently honest and fair for the people of Ashland. He is trying to let people know how things work so we can reflect on how the process is working. He would like to talk about the bigger issues, not the specific application.

Street thanked the Commission for the community drop-ins.

TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING

PLANNING ACTION 2003-127
REQUEST FOR LAND PARTITION AND SITE REVIEW TO CONSTRUCT A MULTI-FLOOR, MIXED-USE (CONDOMINIUM AND COMMERCIAL) BUILDING WITH UNDERGROUND PARKING UPON THE AREA OCCUPIED BY THE EXISTING ASHLAND SPRINGS HOTEL SURFACE PARKING AREA AT 212 E. MAIN STREET. A VARIANCE IS REQUESTED TO ALLOW LESS THAN 65 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL GROSS FLOOR AREA OF THE GROUND FLOOR TO BE OCCUPIED BY PERMITTED OR SPECIAL PERMITTED USES. IN ADDITION, AN ADMINISTRATIVE VARIANCE AND EXCEPTION IS REQUESTED TO SITE DESIGN AND USE STANDARDS RELATING TO SEPARATION BETWEEN BUILDINGS {II-C-3A(3)} AND TO ALLOW BALCONIES ON STREET FACING ELEVATIONS {VI-B-(3)}.
APPLICANT: ED & TANYA BEMIS

Site Visits or Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all and a letter was received by most and will be read.

STAFF REPORT
Molnar said this action has been continued from last month. The applicants have been working with the Historic Commission and Staff and the applicants have provided considerably more information with details, dimensions, and colors. They have provided amended findings. Staff feels sufficient detail has been provided in this application for the Planning Commission to make a decision whether a particular design standard has been met or not.

Specifically, last month there was a request for a design exception to allow projecting balconies. The projecting balconies have been eliminated along the public street frontage. There are fewer outdoor spaces along those street frontages and they are flush or recessed. There is a slight projection of balconies facing the back of the Ashland Springs Hotel, along the pedestrian arcade. There is still a design exception for recessed balconies. Staff's feeling is that recessed balconies on street facing elevations are acceptable.

The application included a variance to the requirement that 65 percent of the ground floor be within a permitted use. Last month, approximately 56 percent was within a permitted use. The applicant has removed that variance by incorporating five of the proposed parking spaces and designating them as public spaces. Public parking is a permitted use in a commercial zone and that would count toward the 65 percent requirement. Staff's agrees no variance is required.

Molnar said last month Staff was concerned the project might not have enough public space to meet the requirement for large scale buildings. Looking at previously approved large scale buildings and how that standard has been applied, it was generally linked to the interior heated floor area. One square foot of public space is required for every ten square feet of interior floor area. If the area devoted to structured parking is excluded, the approximate floor area is 43,500 square feet of interior heated floor area for residential or commercial use. That would mean the proposal would require around 4,300 to 4,400 square feet of public space. The applicant's findings have broken down the area of public space provided. The pedestrian arcade/walkway is around 3,500 square feet. The internal courtyard is a little over 2,000 square feet. The area needed to widen the existing sidewalk is 2,600 square feet. Staff said the plaza and courtyard meet the standard. The interior courtyard meets the standard if access is not restricted. With those two spaces, the project clearly meets the requirement. Staff's primary concern is whether or not the area used for public sidewalks is counted toward public space.

Molnar said the notice still identifies an administrative variance for separation between buildings. Staff does not believe it applies to separate parcels of land. This application involves a partition to separate this building from the Ashland Springs Hotel.

The Historic Commission voted 4-2 to approve the project at their meeting last week. Staff has suggested they add a condition 20 that the recommendations of the Historic Commission be incorporated into the final design and approved by the Staff Advisor. The applicant shall continue collaboration between the Staff and the Historic Commission during the refinement of the design.

Molnar said this could very well be the largest structure proposed in the downtown. Given the many design standards for the downtown and Historic District, Staff agrees with the Historic Commission that it can meet the standards. If the Commission chooses to recommend approval, there are 20 attached conditions.

Molnar reported there are one or two members of the Historic Commission present that can speak to the Historic Commission's comments.

Briggs wondered how five parking spaces can be counted for commercial use because commercial parking is not required in the first place. McLaughlin said the public parking is a permitted use allowed in a commercial zone.

Swales could not find it in the C-1 zoning ordinance. Molnar said it is under "I." - public and quasi public utility buildings and public parking lots.

Fields asked if the applicants will deed the public parking spaces to the City. McLaughlin said the public spaces can't be restricted in use. The parking has to be available to the public 24 hours a day.

Molnar said the Commissioners have some room for interpretation with regard to the courtyard. Staff is basing their interpretation on some past applications. What is the purpose of the public space requirement? It doesn't necessarily mean it has to be dedicated to public spaces. It doesn't mean an internal space can't be valued as well.

PUBLIC HEARING
ED & TANYA BEMIS
KEN OGDEN
DAVID WILKERSON

E. BEMIS reminded the Commissioners this project going to be their home. They are very excited about the revised plans.

OGDEN said the original findings included reference to the Big Box ordinance. He thinks that just confused the matter. They have deleted that reference in the amended findings. The application should be based on the merits of the ordinance as they stood at the time. He distributed a packet clarifying some of their points.

Last week they made a presentation to the Historic Commission and they were satisfied with the level of detail. They have eliminated the projecting balconies from the First Street elevation. They still have balconies on either side of the main vehicular entrance that project about nine to 12 inches. The remaining two balconies on the central part of the building are recessed and fully flush with the building façade. The outdoor terraces are associated with Hargadine. Ogden believes the new architectural detailing enhances the building. Also, the plans are dimensioned, scaled and have north arrows.

Ogden said one reason they dedicated the permitted use to parking was because of the comments regarding handicap accessibility. Two of the five spaces allocated to public use have been allocated as handicap spaces specifically.

Ogden reported they will be able to retain the evergreen tree.

Ogden explained an analysis of the traffic count in the back of the amended findings discussing how they factored into the development. They met with Paula Brown, Public Works Director, and she endorsed the numbers.

Ogden said they have satisfied the Historic Commission. They are willing to continually work with the Historic Commission on this process. They want the Historic Commission's endorsement throughout the process.

WILKERSON handed out a packet of materials containing color elevations and the four wall sections.

Wilkerson said all of the calculations were done using Autocad, measuring every in and out of the building to calculate the gross area. They are hoping the central court will be a place for the public to stop and enjoy public art and other amenities. They have included all the critical dimensions. The elevations include the 40 foot height limitation and how the building looks below that height. The plans and elevations correspond with each other.

The request for a variance for the amount of permitted use has been withdrawn and they have 67.5 percent of their ground floor area in permitted use, including the five parking spaces. Their intent has always been that the handicap spaces would have access through the elevator to the plaza. The request for an administrative variance from the downtown design standards regarding the balconies has been withdrawn. The request for the exception for large scale project standards regarding the separation between buildings has been withdrawn because the proposal is on its own separate lot. They are well within the building height envelope for the project. The design has been modified according to the comments from the last meeting. The tall wall on the plaza side has been reduced. The buildings have been more clearly divided and the corner of the building on First Street backs up, per the Historic Commission's request.

Briggs asked about the math for the 67 percent. Wilkerson said it is contained on the project data sheet in the packet.

Wilkerson submitted a sample of building material types and colors to be used on the bulk of the exterior. There will be varying window styles on each building. Ogden said the three buildings will have different cornice styles along with other elements that will break up the building mass.

Swales said though he appreciates the break-up of the building mass, he is concerned that the buildings on the other side of the street step down the hill along the steep street. This building seems to have the feel of a flat roof all at the same level. One of the design guidelines for the downtown encourages the individual terracing of small buildings, giving a difference in height between buildings.

Ogden said it would give them the opportunity for a 40 foot height on Hargadine if they stepped the three buildings. This is one structure. If they treated it as three buildings, he believes a 40 foot high building on Hargadine would be more objectionable.

Ogden said in response to the Historic Commission's concerns about the treatment of the stairwell on Hargadine, they have kept it visually penetrable so the courtyard can be seen from Hargadine. They will encourage public art and the area will become a destination point.

Dotterrer asked about the Historic Commission recommendations.

DALE SHOSTROM, Historic Commissioner, stated the Conditions should be in their motion contained in the meeting minutes in the Planning Commissioners' packet. The Historic Commission approved the project in concept (vote - 4/3). It is a large project and a lot of details are missing. They met with the architects on Monday and the Commissioners asked for more drawings and more clarifications that will be forthcoming.

Swales said with regard to the building stepping down the street, the four-story annex from the Ashland Springs Hotel is about 45 feet in height from the sidewalk on East Main. The plaza along the front of the proposed building has a façade next to it that is about 52 feet high. Did the Historic Commission feel this was an appropriate scale for this area? Shostrom feels the same thing; the building has a very high elevation. On average, it seems to meet the code. The plaza directly related to it is rather narrow, in Shostrom's opinion. The Historic Commission has had about five weeks to review this large project. It is overwhelming to address all these issues and there have been many details to gather and review. They've had two formal and informal meetings. Swales reiterated that it's not so much with the details as it is with the massing and bulking for the entire project. On the very tall four-story section, should more than a little corner be removed, but a stepping back of the façade? It does produce a very tall building on the downside of the slopes. Shostrom agreed it is tall and the plaza space feels fairly narrow.

DOUG NEUMAN, 951 Emigrant Creek Road, said they are trying to build a building that is the essence of Ashland. They looked at numerous buildings and photos and this feels like a better fit than the plan presented last month. It is a big building, but it looks like it could work. It's a challenge to meet all the criteria and still have a residential element.

RAMONA DEVAUL, 865 Palmer Road, wrote a letter to the Commission. She said she was always under the impression that the downtown and the plaza had a different square footage requirement than other parts of Ashland. She could not believe it when she saw how large this building was and how it would fit into the downtown. What was the square footage prior to the 45,000 square foot limitation? Prior to the recent change, McLaughlin said it was a 45,000 square foot footprint. It changed to total gross square footage of the building.

DeVaul wondered if there were members that are a part of the architectural firm that are sitting on the Planning Commission or did they excuse themselves for this? Chapman said Ray Kistler is a part of the architectural firm and he has excused himself from the proceedings.

Because this project is so large and complex, DeVaul believes it is up to the Planning Commission to have the interests of this community in mind and try to follow what the citizens would want.

BILL STREET, 180 Meade Street, would like it made clear why the applicants are no longer asking for a variance for the separation of buildings and how that has changed since the last meeting. McLaughlin said it is because there are two separate parcels.

Street believes the devil is in the process and the size of the building. The Commissioners all voted last February to limit buildings in the downtown to buildings smaller than what is proposed tonight. The building will entail approximately 90,000 square feet. About 60,000 square feet will be visible. He asked Molnar if those figures were correct. Molnar agreed.

The Mayor sent out an e-mail in March, 2003 saying he agreed with the Planning Commission's interpretation (re: Big Box) and in particular he sent an e-mail regarding Cameron Hanson's comments. Hanson is not present tonight, but voted to deny this application at the last meeting. At the February meeting, Hanson said the interpretation that was advanced and the findings for the Shakespeare building were ridiculous and he expressed they didn't reflect what should have been the interpretation. The Planning Commission agreed by endorsing the interpretation they passed along to the Council. According to the April minutes of the Historic Commission meeting, the applicants mentioned they had begun planning this building. He spoke with Gino Grimaldi, City Administrator, and he said there were two informal meetings after the meeting in April, before the pre-application meeting in August. He viewed the file last week and it was very clear from the pre-application meeting that City Staff was aware this was a very large building. He believes Staff knew this building would draw the attention of those who have spent the last four years making sure they had a Big Box ordinance that limited buildings in the downtown to an appropriate size. The formal application was submitted in September. It wasn't until the Historic Commission meeting in October that John Morrison, Councilor and liaison to the Historic Commission, even became aware of the size of the building. At this point, if the Planning Commissioners have concerns about this process, he wishes they would express that and as the applicant requested, judge the application based on the merits of the ordinance as it stood at the time of his application. When this application advances to the City Council, they will have a chance to interpret this as the Mayor suggested. At that time, he hopes they will interpret it as the Commission has interpreted it recently and we will establish once and for all that we really don't want buildings of this size in Ashland.

ERIC NAVICKAS, 711 Faith Avenue, said he does not understand the setback. It seems they can make a much better public space in the corridor building and forget about the public parking by pushing the building out to the edge of the sidewalk and opening up the irregular triangle. With regard to design, he believes the architects need to look to a certain level of restraint as we move away from kitchen nostalgia. Ashland Springs Hotel has very little relief and it is a really handsome building. The proposed building with high baroque facades and extremely heavy, deep articulation doesn't really have any precedent in our City and is not appropriate for the Historic District.

This is an enormous building. Compared to Ashland Springs, this is a really large building in the downtown. They have used a short time period after the reinterpretation of gross to mean footprint to get this building approved. Cameron Hanson stated the Council gave an exemption to OSF to meet their needs. We don't need to change the entire ordinance. We need to stand behind the original reading of the Big Box ordinance. Let's see if the interpretation holds in court. He would rather see a building that does fit the scale of our downtown.

BRYAN HOLLEY, 324 Liberty Street, said the building is either 90,000 square feet or 60,000 square feet, at least 25 percent larger than what would be allowed under the current Big Box ordinance. If this application is approved, it is going to lead to the continuing cynicism Ashlanders now have. Though this application was submitted just four days before the Big Box ordinance was enacted, the applicants say it wasn't rushed. They must have read articles in the newspapers, City minutes, and letters to the editor about sentiments in town about Big Box. That didn't seem to influence the applicants at all.

Holley said there was some sense of urgency that many people had about Big Boxes in town. The Mayor made a commitment that he would let everyone know about this. When this gets to the City Council, Holley is looking forward to Mayor DeBoer explaining how he could make a commitment and then what happened after that commitment. There is growing cynicism in town that the Planning Commission and/or the Council will not make tough decisions to protect our quality of life.

Holley proposed an alternative vision for this property - a senior sitting area with terraced gardens, a children's playground, splashing fountains, a place for shoppers to stop - a place for hotel patrons to say how wonderful that Ashland set aside the property for a community value right in the downtown. Isn't that smart planning? Instead we let capitalism and bottom line money politics drive every planning decision in this town. Holley is frustrated. He cares about the town. The planning process is flawed.

JACK HARDESTY, 575 Dogwood Way, said the project is completely out of scale with the downtown and it does not fit appropriately. He finds it hard to believe this is the same group that last February turned down the Planning Department version of the Big Box amendment and even suggested the 45,000 square foot size might be too large. The project may be legal but it certainly flies in the face of what the Planning Commission discussed and a little indignation would be appropriate.

Chapman read DeVaul's letter into the record.

Rebuttal
Wilkerson read the Historic Commission motion from the minutes and explained how they have addressed those items. He addressed the criteria from the Historic District Design Standards. The illustrations for massing under IV.C.3 show buildings all the same height. The massing is broken up to avoid a box-like appearance. They have tried to keep the Hargadine end of the building lower to relate the size of new structures to the scale of adjacent buildings. There is no way the numbers in the building add up to 90,000 square feet. Refer to the Project Data Sheet showing that every square inch of the building is 81,212 square feet. No one here can say with any reliability how much of that is exposed above ground.

Wilkerson said with regard to the size of the building, it was their intent to comply with the spirit of the law. The intent of the new ordinance, as they understand it, that went into effect after this project was submitted was to allow for buildings while excluding the below grade parking areas, but understanding that buildings of this size will require structured parking. They have done everything they can to put the parking underground.

Ogden said the pedestrian plaza edge does have some height associated with it. With the articulation of the forms that have been addressed, he believes the design has taken the scale and broken it up appropriately to break down the façade and massing. It is in compliance with the criteria for the heights set forth in this zone.

KenCairn asked how many square feet of the building is commercial space. Wilkerson said the residential square footage is 24,260, the commercial space is 13,206. They are well under 45,000 square feet. The parking partially above ground is about 19,000 square feet.

Molnar addressed the separation of buildings. There is a standard in the Detailed Site Review Zone that says buildings not connected by a common wall shall be separated by a distance equal to the height of the tallest building. That has been a standard for about a decade. There have been a number of circumstances where they have not applied that to buildings that are on separate parcels under separate ownership. The ordinance does not specifically say the ordinance does not apply in the downtown. The new ordinance does. They were trying to be consistent with how it has been applied in the past. He brought up an example of the difficulty of applying it to separate parcels, creating a pattern very different that what is seen in the historic downtown.

Swales wondered how legally this works. At the time the application was made, the lot had not been split and was under one ownership. Molnar said that is true. As part of this application, they are requesting to divide off this portion from Ashland Springs, creating a separate parcel.

KenCairn asked how this current application does not meet the current Big Box ordinance. Molnar said, as stated in the previous Staff Report, that the underground parking is considered as basement level parking and not considered in the calculation. As you go around the perimeter, not enough of the parking is buried to be considered a basement.

Briggs recommended a Condition that sets up some signage so people will know there are public parking spaces.

Swales said the parking for the hotel will replace the existing parking. He would assume the existing parking is non-conforming. Wouldn't the parking have to be brought up to the current standard for 70 hotel units? Wilkerson said it is their understanding that the CUP in place for the hotel to have the spaces (68) is not changing. They are just insuring the same number of spaces will be provided.

Wilkerson said it is also their understanding that the partitioning of the property can't be done unless it is part of a planning action. This partition is part of this planning action. The applicant is not the owner of the hotel. Two different entities have a need for separate ownership of the property.

COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
KenCairn moved to approve Planning Action 2003-127 with none of the variances, attaching the 19 Conditions and adding a Condition regarding further involvement from the Historic Commission and a Condition addressing signage of the public parking.

Molnar said the wording for Condition 20 would read: "That the recommendations of the Historic Commission be incorporated into the final design and approved by the Staff Advisor. The applicant shall continue to collaborate between Staff and the Commission throughout the refinement of the design. Dotterrer seconded the motion.

Briggs said she looked every which way possible to deny this application, but she can't find it. It fits all the criteria. She feels really emotional about the fact that it is more than 45,000 square feet. She hears everything the opponents are saying but they are not sitting here and they haven't taken the commitment to abide by the criteria. She is ready to approve it, but she has to say out loud how she feels. She would like to add under Condition 21 that signage in at least two places indicate five public parking spaces, two of which are handicapped. KenCairn and Dotterrer so amended the motion.

Fields said the Detailed Site Review standard is an Administrative Variance. This is an unusual case and applying the ordinance is not an unusual hardship. We could say the other alternative is building 40 feet off the street and stepping three sections down at 40 feet. That's a whole redesign. What was never clear to him on this project was solar orientation. Where is the sun in the winter? The crack between the buildings will never get direct sun except in the summer. The plaza area looking across the mountains gets an incredible amount of shade from the Ashland Springs Hotel and quickly comes around the corner and leaves the back pedestrian alleyway pretty well protected. He would like to see some building breathing room. If you extend the eaveline of the roof across to Ashland Springs, looking up a the building from Main Street, the height of the cornice is actually seven stories high from the Main Street elevation. Maybe decrease the number of condominiums to open up the diamond. Now it is narrow. What is the wind dynamic? He sees no direct sun. He doesn't see it as a great people place. Maybe the major season is summer and the shade will be appreciated. He is willing to say we do have the discretion to say this building should have more of a setback. Somewhere between 52,000 and 60,000 square feet of building could be considered above grade. Underground parking is a great resource. It's a trade-off. Either you'll have a parking amenity for the people living there or you are going to have more condominiums to sell. If we could determine the mass and scale of the building, then they'd have the latitude to work through these issues. Based on that, he would vote for denial.

Swales agrees completely with Fields. If Briggs is looking for a way to deny it, one only has to go back to the original Big Box ordinance. The Commissioners have in front of them the interpretation of the original ordinance. During the discussions that led up to the final approval by Council [of the big box] there was only one mention of footprint and it was certainly not in the content of building size. There is no mention of footprint in any of the minutes or proceedings for the original Big Bo. In the case of OSF, there were two buildings, both of which were very big. The parking structure was 46,000 square feet. The question was not about a footprint. They were told by Council that they would grant approval provided the buildings were moved apart any distance. They were moved apart to make them non-contiguous and that's the reason they managed to comply with the Conditions. There was ambiguity in the interpretation. Councilor David Fine spent 20 minutes reading the 84 pages of findings and decided it didn't reflect the Council's interpretation and should therefore be sent back for editing. Swales recalls his conversation with Fine. Fine said, as a lawyer, if he spent 20 minutes reviewing an 84 page legal document, he would be considered criminally negligent. Swales explained that to rely on this interpretation of these findings which was buried deep within it, and to have never had any prior discussion, either by the Council, Planning Commission, applicants or those in opposition, is stretching it. First he believes they ought to refer this to Council for interpretation to see what they actually did mean. What is the actual interpretation of 45,000 gross square footage? Everyone he has heard has never made any mention of footprint. That was just slipped into the 84 page document and rubber-stamped by Council. Swales continued. The Council construes "contiguous" to mean "touching". The application contains contiguous buildings and does not meet the original Big Box.

Morris disagreed. The interpretation was the 45,000 square foot footprint.

KenCairn does not believe we are here to interpret what the ordinance says. .

McLaughlin said the City Attorney has stated the Council's interpretation is the 45,000 square feet applies to footprint. It is disturbing every time we go back to OSF. He wishes we could just evaluate the application on its merits. He believes there are two separate tax lots. You could have an unbuildable lot. Fields said that would be a hardship. He believes we have discretion. Where does it say it has to be a separate tax lot? Morris believes each lot has its own setback.

Knox added that the Downtown Design Standards require through design to build to the lot line. Look at the historic pattern. Fields said the historic pattern is level. When you have a grade going up over a block, it changes. It's not the same and it requires discretion.

KenCairn likes the project and would rather see this design. She loves parking underground. It is a negative part of the site that brings some of the parking above ground. She does not think we have criteria to drop the third building. She agrees with Fields that the outdoor public space is not that inviting throughout the year, but she does not see it as an issue to deny the application.

Dotterrer agrees with KenCairn and Briggs. He believes it meets the criteria. He likes the design and does not think it will overwhelm the downtown. He understands the idea about the big box but likes the project.

Chapman thinks it meets the criteria at the time, based on when the application was filed. He believes it will be an asset to the downtown. It is an efficient use of our downtown space.

The motion carried with Morris, KenCairn, Briggs, Dotterrer and Chapman voting "yes" and Swales and Fields voting "no".

OTHER
RECOMMENDATION TO THE COUNCIL ON NOW X 2

McLaughlin said two detailed study sessions have been held with the Planning Commission, looking at potential future growth areas. They last met with the Council and Housing Commission and heard some varying points of view. The Council asked that the Planning Commission make a formal recommendation back to them.

The main areas are AD1 (90 ac. off Tolman Creek Road & Siskiyou Boulevard) and AD2 (north side of E. Main, adjacent to existing UGB). Three areas have been proposed by private property owners: 15 ac. behind Mountain Meadows owned by Madeline Hill and Larry Medinger, 5 ac. owned by Dr. Young located near the intersection of North Mountain and I-5, and the 440 ac. Neil Ranch near the Ashland Airport (no public access at this time).

Staff has recommended not including the three privately owned pieces of property. AD1 and AD2 each have merits along with concerns. Both have always functioned as open space and gateways to the community. The East Main parcel is zoned EFU.

The City may not want to add any of these as indicated by some of the straw polls taken at the previous study sessions. By looking at the community as a whole, what is most appropriate for Ashland? Should we be looking at expansions beyond our Urban Growth Boundary? There are two options. Option 1 would include one or more of the potential growth areas outlined. Or, choose Option 2 - that no potential growth areas be adopted, consider infill and increasing density in future development areas within the UGB, and review overall community form and development specific to Ashland.

Dotterrer asked if this is just saying "if we decide to grow, this is the direction we would take." McLaughlin affirmed. They would have to identify a need.

Swales saw in the study session minutes that Larry Medinger was pitching the Mountain Meadows area and wondered if that is a conflict of interest. Swales thought Option 2 seemed to be the overwhelming direction of those at the study session.

Swales moved to recommend Option 2 to the Council. Chapman seconded the motion.

KenCairn said people seem to be objecting the most to all the infill we are doing. We need affordable housing. At some point, we are going to have to grow or people are going to be less and less satisfied with the quality of life that we have. There is a real strong conflict of interest for all of us in saying yes or no. Ultimately, we will have to add land when we are filled up. Does that represent what the public wants?

Chapman said a woman spoke to them at the last community drop-in about how to improve infill; add walk-through's between the intense apartment/condominium complexes and the less dense residential areas. There are some ways we could improve our infill process. He has not heard anyone talking about working our way into affordability through sprawl.

Dotterrer has a problem with the motion. We are not saying this is where we are going to grow. This is only a planning decision that says "if" we decide to grow. What we are saying is let's not plan for the future. He has a problem with just saying "no".

Swales said we have a UGB and plenty of unbuilt land outside the City. He thinks we need to send a message to the rest of the RVCOG that Ashland is keeping a tight UBG and we will use infill. If we find this is not adequate, we can always expand it.

Dotterrer thought the whole idea behind NowX2 is that communities get together and if we are going to grow, this is where we want to go.

Fields said he has incredible optimism that we will start planning county-wide. Rather than the obligation to grow being met by each town, it would be a community base and the community would be the whole Rogue Valley and Ashland might see population limits. By saying "no" maybe we can do it differently.

Dotterrer is concerned we will be sending the wrong signal - the signal that we don't want to plan. He is concerned it will isolate us.

The motion carried with Morris, Swales, Chapman, Briggs, Fields and KenCairn voting "yes" and Dotterrer voting "no".

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 p.m.

End of Document - Back to Top


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