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Agendas and Minutes

Historic Commission (View All)

Regular Monthly Meeting

Agenda
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

ASHLAND HISTORIC COMMISSION
Minutes
December 3, 2003

 

CALL TO ORDER

At 7:00 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, Jay Leighton, Tom Giordano, Joanne Krippaehne, Robert Saladoff, Terry Skibby, Sam Whitford and new member Keith Swink. Also present were Associate Planner Mark Knox and Secretary Sonja Akerman. No members were absent.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Leighton moved to approve the November 5, 2003 minutes as submitted. With a second by Krach, the motion was unanimously approved.

NEW MEMBER INTRODUCTION

Knox introduced Keith Swink to the Commission. Swink was recently appointed by the Mayor to replace Keith Chambers, who is currently on sabbatical and won't return until next summer. Knox stated Swink is a contractor who has worked on several projects in Ashland and will be able to add his expertise to the Commission.

PUBLIC HEARING

Planning Action 2003-152
Site Review and Conditional Use Permit
44 North Second Street
Trinity Episcopal Church

Because he is the architect for this project, Giordano declared a conflict of interest and stepped out of the room.

Knox reported this application is for a 715 square foot addition to the back of the Parish Hall. The roof pitch, width and depth will be similar to the existing building. He explained the need for the expansion is to accommodate more bathrooms, more storage and meeting space as well as a kitchen remodel. Although the Parish Hall is not on the National Register of Historic Places, the Sanctuary is listed so plans for the addition were submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for review. SHPO had no problem with the design.

Knox said Staff considers the addition to be an appropriate match with the existing structures and is recommending approval.

Bill Bartlett, representing Trinity Church, stated he was available to answer questions. None were forthcoming from the Commission.

Shostrom opened the public hearing, but there was no one in the audience to speak about the application.

Skibby moved and Krippaehne seconded to recommend approval of this planning action. The motion was unanimously approved.

Planning Action 2003-149
Site Review and 2 Variances
238 Eighth Street
Janet Larmore and Tom Strong

Knox explained this application is being requested in order to make lawful an illegal unit that has been in existence for at least ten years, possibly more. The applicants purchased the property last year with the understanding the unit was an approved one, but while they were in the process of remodeling the building discovered it was not. Because a unit less than 500 square feet would not be allowed on a lot less than 6,500 square feet in an R-2 zone, a Variance is needed in order to keep the structure as a rental unit. In cases such as this, Knox explained, the R-2 zone is more restrictive than the R-1 zone. The second Variance is being requested to allow a reduction in the on-street parking standards. This would allow a 1:1 credit instead of a 2:1 parking credit. The main house on the lot is 670 square feet and the illegal unit is 357 square feet. After the applicants (who own and reside in the adjacent house) bought the property, they began to upgrade the site and the buildings. Both dwellings had separate water and electric meters. Knox commented the owners have accomplished a lot of improvements since they purchased the property. In addition, the owners have offered to lock in the unit as "affordable." As such, it will be one of the conditions of approval because all proposals submitted by the applicant become conditions. Staff is recommending approval.

Janet Larmore, owner of the property, confirmed they have renovated both units on the property. She also said they have had a very positive response from neighbors, who are delighted with the progress. She has lived on the adjacent property for ten years and verified people have rented the illegal unit during that time. Additionally, Larmore stated there are only a few homes on Eighth Street that don't have driveways, so generally, parking is available on the street.

Shostrom opened the public hearing.

Paul Bergland, 255 Ninth Street Alley, stated he lives directly behind the illegal unit and he is supportive of the proposal. While it would be nice if no one lived there, he said that both units on the property look much better and he has no complaints.

Shostrom closed the public hearing.

Whitford moved to recommend approval of this application because the applicants are doing the right thing in maintaining property that has not been previously maintained. Giordano seconded the motion. Shostrom clarified that most issues are Planning Commission issues and commented that if the property were in an R-1 zone, this would comply. The scale of the unit fits in well with the Railroad District and there are unusual circumstances that triggered the need for Planning Commission approval. The motion passed with a unanimous vote.

Planning Action 2003-150
Conditional Use Permit
22 Scenic Drive
T. Michael Ryan

Knox reported this application is for a new house that will exceed the recently adopted maximum house size standards in Ashland's historic districts. The 8,569 square foot lot will only allow a 2,507 square foot house. The applicant is proposing to construct a house 25% over the maximum permitted floor area, requiring a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). This is the maximum amount that would be allowed under CUP criteria with Planning Commission approval. Knox stated the property also has steep slopes along Scenic Drive, which constrain the location of the house on the property. The proposed residence would be 2,661 square feet with an attached 473 square foot garage, totaling 3,134 square feet. Knox explained the CUP process is discretionary. If an applicant proposes more square footage than what is allowed in the ordinance and it falls into the exception area, then the proposed house needs to be worthy, fit into the neighborhood, and not have an adverse affect on the Historic District. This is the first application to exceed the maximum house size since the ordinance was adopted.

Knox remarked the proposed residence will consist of various roof heights and stepped back walls, thus providing character to the design while breaking up the massing. The house will sit below Scenic Drive because of the steepness of the slope so only a portion of the roofline will be visible from Scenic. The attached garage represents 19% of the 25% over the allowable size. If the garage was detached and separated from the house by at least six feet or made into a carport, the applicant would only need to ask for a 6% exception, and 6% represents 154 square feet. Knox said the Commission needs to consider what would happen to the volume and design of the house if the square footage was reduced by 6% and the garage detached. He also asked the Commission to pay attention to the maps, the location of the house on the property and the historic ranking of the houses surrounding the property. The unusual circumstances of the sloping lot and the odd shape should also be considered. According to Knox, Staff is in the middle on this application.

Applicant Michael Ryan stated he and architect Carlos Delgado began designing this house last September and were not aware of the maximum house size ordinance that was adopted in October. He said he had been in to the Planning Department several times but never made aware of the ordinance. Considering the proposal with the many constraints, he feels the design works well within the spirit of the ordinance. There is currently an eclectic mix of homes in the area. Ryan asked that this application be judged on the merits of the house rather than being the first one to ask for the exception.

Architect Carlos Delgado verified this was a difficult site and difficult timing. The owner wanted to submit his application for a building permit around the same time the maximum house size ordinance was being adopted. Regarding the neighborhood, Delgado said the average size of the houses in the immediate area is 2,750 square feet. Issues with this site include the hillside, shape of the property, setbacks and where to put the garage. The two-story house was designed with the walls stepping back and will actually look more like one story because of the slopes. He also explained the application will be up against the hillside ordinance because of the steep slope. According to the geo-tech that is working on this project, the grading and erosion control plan will be fairly simple.

Giordano remarked that normally, when there is a difficult site such as this, the proposed residence would be smaller, not larger. Delgado explained the difficulties in separating the house from the garage because of the constraints of the site.

Ryan clarified his options would be to receive approval for the project as proposed or to separate the garage by six feet if the CUP is denied. If denied, he would also need to reduce the size of the garage so it would be for a single car and take off 154 square feet from the house. He asked the Commission to consider what would happen to the mass in that case. In his opinion, by moving the garage six feet away from the house, the perception of mass would be increased because the buildings would be spread out. Also, he stated a denial would result in a hardship for him.

Shostrom asked about the lot lines of the property and Ryan explained the lines were adjusted before he bought the property to make the lot more saleable.

Delgado noted they had looked at separating the garage from the house but felt the design worked better if it were attached. Skibby recalled the applicant had come to a Review Board meeting before October and the design has remained unchanged. Knox reminded the Commission that regardless of when they came to the Review Board, the decision needs to be based on what is currently before it and base that decision on relevant criteria in the recently adopted ordinance. Ryan asked if 6% reduction would really be perceived as less mass.

Shostrom opened the public hearing.

Stuart Gray, 1227 Munson Drive, stated Michael Ryan designed and built the addition on his home. He wanted to mention that fact because in his opinion, Ryan is an artist. He knows how to build so a structure doesn't look too big.

Nick Damon, 2379 Old Military Road, Central Point, commented the design for Ryan's house will enhance the value of the homes in the neighborhood and community. Reducing the square footage will not help the design, which has merit as it is. He has seen and admired Ryan's renovation projects.

Sara Sanders, 1227 Munson Drive, said she moved from a large home to a small home. Because of the lot size, expansion was limited. When he was initially contacted, Ryan came with a list of references. She stated he is an ethical person and built their addition to the letter of the code. She also commented that most people have a grace period when ordinances are adopted and would like to see Ryan receive that consideration.

Marlene Mills, 34 Scenic Drive, noted she has lived on the adjoining property for 35 years and she is against this proposal. She supported the Historic Commission when it recommended a lower figure be used for the maximum house size in the historic districts. There has always been an empty lot there. After Robert McKee bought the property, he divided it in half. She said if the lots were one, a beautiful house could be built with a yard. Since there are now two lots, another large house of the same size could also be built. Her lot could accommodate three homes, but she wouldn't think of doing that. Infill that has occurred in the area has always allowed space around the houses. The lots have been larger and the identity with the neighborhood has not been lost. In addition, she does not feel the design is compatible with the neighborhood. She acknowledged it is a lovely house but not for that difficult lot.

Planning Consultant Laurel Prairie-Kuntz, 522 Park Avenue, Medford, stated she represents Chris Wood and Dr. F.F. Sharkey. She read a letter into the record from Chris Wood, who has lived next to the subject property for 26 years and who was unable to attend the meeting. He asked for denial of the proposal, citing the tradition and need for more moderately sized homes with yards, and his concern that more people will be asking for exceptions. He feels the effect on neighborhood relations can be lasting, and not for the better. Prairie-Kuntz also submitted a letter identifying the third criteria under Conditional Use Permits as not being met in this application and supplying supportive tables. She stated her clients are concerned about the compatibility of the proposed design with the neighborhood. There are currently homes on various sized lots with beautiful yards and trees. The proposed house is much larger in mass than surrounding homes. She also stated that from a planning perspective, ignorance of the law does not get you out of the law. She commended the City for adopting the ordinance and added it has already served as an example. Prairie-Kuntz also addressed concerns that the drainage flow is proposed to the northeast of the property, which is uphill.

Francis Sharkey, 163 Granite Street, said the lot is adjacent and up the hill from hers. The lot is deceptive because of the steep hill. Granite Street is a beautiful and much used street. From Scenic, only the top of the roof of the proposed house will be seen. From Granite Street and Lithia Park, however, it will be quite visible because the view will be looking up at it. She feels the owner should enrich himself and build his spec house elsewhere. She is concerned about the drainage because during the flood of 1997, the Bed & Breakfast at 163 Granite Street she owns was flooded for a week. Historic neighborhoods need to have homes that don't stand out like sore thumbs. Sharkey also stated she does not feel the style will fit in with the neighborhood.

Delgado stated the drainage will be accomplished as proposed through a legal access following the contours of the site. He also stated the data brought forth in the findings he submitted contain the sizes of homes within a block of this lot. The neighbors submitted data from a larger area.

Ryan commented it comes down to the fact that the neighbors want the lot left vacant. The ordinance was passed with a 25% allowance. There would be no perceived difference in mass if he reduced the size of the living area by 6% and detached the garage. He stated he would be willing to work with the neighbors on landscaping by bringing in soil, etc. at his own expense. For his logic, this is a viable option, as the neighbors would see less of the proposed house.

Shostrom closed the public hearing.

Skibby stated the issue seems to be what could be built vs. what will be built if not approved.

Whitford remarked that he does not see the structure as fitting into the neighborhood. As the neighbors pointed out, the existing homes are on larger lots. While he realizes the house will be built and that it is a beautiful design, historically, it is not compatible.

Giordano said he feels divided. Part of him sees no reason to grant approval because the applicant has suggested ways to make it comply with the ordinance. The garage location will always be an issue because there are problems with the lot and by moving it, it could create more of a mass. It is a difficult site. Usually, the building size would shrink rather than grow with sites like this. On the other side, it is on the fringe of the Historic District. He can see the transitional size of the house, but it seems out of character with the neighborhood. It is incompatible because of the ratio of lot size and building size. He would have a hard time supporting a 25% increase.

Saladoff stated he has the same two ways of looking at the project as Giordano. The purpose of the ordinance is to keep a more traditional streetscape by managing and controlling the scale, volume and rhythm of the street, including patterns of lot coverage. There is a street perspective and neighbor perspective. While the house sits below Scenic Drive, the neighbors have a point about seeing it from Granite Street. The lot coverage is inconsistent with the neighborhood. The house is well designed and looks great, but Saladoff said his concern is about the coverage and the applicant has pointed out ways he could meet the house size limitations.

Swink could also see the pros and cons. The lot size vs.size of the structure is a big concern. However, the house will be built. The owner is willing to work with the neighbors to mitigate the appearance of size. It is important to find a way to make this work for the community. There is quite a mix of homes in the area. Also, there are different lots that will be built on. The trade-off of the 6% could backfire and it might be best to recommend approval. Skibby agreed.

Leighton, however stated she would like to see the size of the home shrunk. She wondered if it mattered if the size of a spec home were reduced 100 to 200 square feet. In her opinion, design choices were made that allowed the house to be larger. Also, she acknowledged this is a difficult lot.

Krach commented the Commission is getting proposals regarding large homes one after another and it is more than a little disheartening. He would like to see a house built that would fit the lot, rather than maxing out the CUP criteria. He would also like the people involved to work together, perhaps reducing the size of the house.

Krippaehne stated she understands what the applicant meant when he said the house could be perceived to be larger if the garage was moved away from the house. She also thinks that because property is such a scarce land resource, it is only a matter of time before larger lots are split into smaller ones. Like it or not, more and more similar applications will be seen. If the size is reduced, the Historic Commission would have no authority to do anything about the design. She added this is a nice design for the property. She would not like to see an old style arbitrarily assigned to that property. Krippaehne also noted there is no dominant style that she could discern in the area.

Shostrom said he agrees with all he has heard but what this comes down to is a design issue. He feels the prairie style is fine in that location. From a design standpoint, the owner wants a larger house for a sale point of view. Shostrom also remarked there appears to be a three-foot overhang everywhere except the garage, which was drawn with an 18-inch overhang. He also noted there is no sense of entry on Scenic Drive because the garage is on the front of the house. He asked what would the house feel like if there were no garage or carport? Could this be mitigated? Would it really change the volume? Would it be any better if the application was denied? Would the perception of the scale and bulk change?

Saladoff said that Krach's comment about maxing out the Conditional Use Permit process made an impact on him. Leighton added the applicant has calculated the exact square footage exception that would be allowable for this lot.

Giordano asked if it is sufficient reason to approve because the property is located on the fringe of the Historic District. Leighton noted it is still important to respect the line, even if it is on the fringe.

Knox pronounced the Commission does not have to feel obligated to vote yes or no on this - it is all right to be in the middle. He doesn't want the Commission to make a decision that will set a standard on the first application. It is necessary to look at the pros and cons. The applicant has said there are options. What will the next application be? The way we are going, infill will occur at the maximum exception. Consider the adjacent lot/house ratios. Look at the target zone. He recognized this will be a tough decision for the Commission to make.

Krippaehne moved to recommend approval of the basic plan of this application with the condition a sense of entry be accommodated on Scenic Drive. Swink said he would like to amend the motion to provide a condition that the applicant work with the neighbors in mitigating the mass with landscaping. Saladoff stated he would like a condition that the applicant attempt to reduce the overall square footage volume. Shostrom asked what attempts are being made to reduce the size? Giordano agreed - there has to be some areas where rooms can be reduced and stated he would like to request a continuance in order for the applicant to come back with reworked issues. Shostrom reiterated the design seems to turn its back on the street. Historically, entries are apparent on the street side of a house. There was no second to the motion.

Krippaehne then moved to recommend approval of this application subject to the applicant working out the entry. In addition, the applicant needs to work with the neighbors on landscaping to mitigate the issues on volume, and reduce the size of the house by 154 square feet but retain the attached garage. Leighton seconded the motion. Discussion ensued. Whitford stated he did not hear anyone speak in favor of the application that lives near the property. Shostrom stated the Commission has heard the neighbors and noted he does not feel the scale is out of proportion, rather the setbacks are out of proportion compared with the surrounding properties. Swink commented the bulk is locked in, but not having a sense of entry could have a negative impact. Krach said he does not feel this application should be pushed through and that if it were continued, it would allow the applicant to come back with design changes. Krippaehne withdrew her motion and Leighton withdrew her second.

Krippaehne moved to continue this application in order to give the applicant and architect time to work on the following issues:

    • Sense of entry on Scenic Drive.
    • Work with neighbors on landscape issues.
    • Reduce size of residence by 154 square feet.
    • Retain attached garage or turn into carport or surface parking area.
    • Make roof eaves consistent.
    • Reduce modernization of south elevation where second story cantilevers over the first story.

Leighton seconded the motion and it passed with a unanimous vote.

Planning Action 2003-150 should come back to the Historic Commission on January 7, 2004.

OLD BUSINESS

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

December 4th

Skibby and Krippaehne

December 11th

Skibby, Saladoff and Swink

December 18th

Skibby, Leighton, Giordano and Whitford

December 24th

Skibby and Krach

December 31st

Skibby, Shostrom and Swink

 

Project Assignments for Planning Actions

PA #2000-120

485 "A" Street (Steve Hoxmeier)

Shostrom

PA #2002-100

142 East Main Street (Earthly Goods)

Leighton

PA #2002-125

44 North Second Street (Trinity Episcopal Church)

Skibby

PA #2003-005

35 S. Second Street (Winchester Inn)

Krippaehne

PA #2003-035

665 East Main Street (Kirk McAllister)

Shostrom

PA #2003-045/110/122

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

Leighton

PA #2003-090

125 North Main Street (Lynn Thompson)

Krach

PA #2003-094

45 Wimer Street (Paul Crafft)

Whitford

PA #2003-108

115 Church Street (Nancy Seward and Tim Bond)

Saladoff

PA #2003-092

124 Alida Street (Kirt Meyer and Vadim Agakhanov)

Krippaehne

PA #2003-152

44 North Second Street (Trinity Episcopal Church)

Swink

Possible National Register Nomination for Lithia Springs Property - There has been no change on this.

Carnegie Library Restoration - There was nothing new to report.

NEW BUSINESS:

None

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Knox announced the design charrette for the old Copeland Lumber site was occurring simultaneously with the Historic Commission meeting. The facilitators will take input from the meetings in order to generate an application. He invited the commissioners to stop by the existing building on the site to look at drawings that were created from input during the last charrette. The members would like a special session for the applicants to present proposals to the full Commission. Knox will set something up.

ADJOURNMENT

With a motion by Leighton and second by Saladoff, it was the unanimous decision of the Commission to adjourn the meeting at 9:52 p.m.

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