Minutes, May 4th, 2000
Call to order: The meeting was called to order at 5:10pm by acting chair January Jennings. Additional commissioners in attendance included Bryan Nelson, Dan Moore, Tom Piel, Greg Covey and Donn Todt. Staff present were Robbin Pearce and John McLaughlin.
New Business: Site Review – Planning Action 2000-039 City at the Library. Staff presented the project as a request for a Comprehensive Plan map Amendment (Multi Family to Downtown Commercial), Zone Change (R-2 to C-1-D) and Site Design and Use Review. Staff stated this discussion would primarily address the interior space and the parking along the alley as the parking and landscaping on Gresham and Siskiyou will be reviewed and determined through public hearing within the next 6 months.
The application was represented by Carol Mayer-Reed, Landscape Architect of Portland. Ms. Mayer-Reed gave an overview of the project including the challenge of balancing all aspects of the project: grade changes, drainage, existing buildings and plant material, size of the proposed new building while remaining sensitive to restoration and creating a long term project designed in accordance with Site Design and Use Standards. Ms. Mayer-Reed recommended thinning out some of the existing plant material. She reiterated the street improvements will be designed within the next six months after an extensive public hearings process and any changes to the plan including Siskiyou and Gresham parking will come back to the full Commission.
Additional public testimony was as follows:
Anna Hirst (655 Reiten Drive) – Anna is a member of the Friends of the Library Board. She felt confident about the long term final project based on all the experience and professionals involved. She also felt native plant species were important to this project.
Treva Tumbleson (655 Leonard) Treva felt the long term project and effect were very important.
Bob Wilson (410 Siskiyou) Bob is the head librarian in Ashland. He stated this site has multiple problems only one of which is drainage. He looks forward to creating a safe environment.
Barbara Ryberg (373 Vista) Barbara stated we need a new library and we need trees. There must be some trading. We should memorialize the trees being removed. This will e the very best type of building – “green” – for the future.
Dennis Donahue – (48 & 54 Gresham) Dennis feels the choice of the trees on the Boulevard is very important. Dennis doesn’t want to loose the view of the hills. He also felt the library is one the most heavily used public buildings in the City and that creates serious paring issues.
Amy Blossom (140 Susan) Amy is a reference librarian in Ashland. She stated drainage is a big problem. The proposed size of the new building meets the future needs of the citizens of Ashland.
Edmund Dews (470 Siskiyou) Edmund has been a library patron for 70 years. He doesn’t believe they are saving the maximum amount of healthy plants. He is also concerned about saving the Ethel Reed Park. And the proposed parking plan won’t meet the needs of the library patrons.
Colin Swales (143 8th and 461 Alison) Colin believes the original plan didn’t take into account zoning or the impact on the historic neighborhood. The mature trees at this juncture carry the downtown into the historic residential district. There is no reason to remove the landscaping around the front ‘original’ door if the door isn’t going to open. And why should you remove the existing street trees and replace them with flowering ‘pom-poms’?
John Freedom (Holly Street) John is opposed to the comprehensive plan change and sideyard setback from commercial to residential. The Comprehensive Plan plans the development to develop the building in accordance with the comprehensive plan. John recommends any recommendation to the Planning Commission be clearly stated and the library plans and any comprehensive plan changes apply only to the library project. Each development should either follow the comprehensive plan or request a change of its own.
Russ Silbiger (562 Ray Lane) Russ stated the tenants of the new library will be the sme tenants as the old one, who didn’t maintain the existing landscaping.
Bryan Holley (324 Liberty) Bryan stated – who speaks for the trees? Why must you support the trees and oppose the library? We must protect our urban forest.
Jim Lewis (640 A Street) Jim stated – This is a Tree City USA which has a slogan of ‘Sustainable Ashland – Where green is mainstream’. Jim asked, “Is this lip service or reality?” The zone change puts the new trees that will be planted at risk. The type of trees being proposed to be planted won’t ever reach the size of the existing trees.
Cheryl Lewis (640 A. St) Cheryl said Be strong and say NO! Make a statement for Planning. Be creative – this is not the right location for this project.
Beth Towner (1120 Oak Knoll) Beth shared – After numerous forums – no one spoke up for the trees. The best effort has been made. Additional parking was not possible.
Charles Ryberg (373 vista) Charles stated 67% of the voters approved this project and the limited amount of money to renovate and expand the existing library.
Rebuttal – Ray Kistler, as a member of the design team stated the ginkgo and the evergreens on the alley were considered for over a year. Ms. Mayer-reed stated this is not about ‘tweeking’. This is a direct hit. This new plan is planting for the next generation – looking at this project and this site for the long term.
This concluded the public hearing (7:35pm)
Commission Discussion and Motion – Each commissioner summarized his or her main points and due to the shortness of time the meeting moved to the jury room.
Staff read back the discussion points of each commissioner and the points were summarized as the following
The Tree Commission unanimously approved the Comprehensive Plan Map Amendment, the Zone Change and the Site Design and Use Review for this project with the following recommendations:
· On Siskiyou keep the Red Maple at the corner of Siskiyou and Gresham. Consider species with a larger stature for the parkrow along Siskiyou and utilize a structural soil mix in future changes in the parkrow. We believe the library grounds represent a gateway to the residential area and as such should have a more densely landscaped appearance. Views from the library should not be the main consideration for tree selection.
· On Gresham Street the existing elms should be retained. We encourage underground utilities provided this can be done without disturbing the existing trees. Protection during construction should be required for the existing trees. And structural soil mix should be used for any changes to the parkrow.
· The Tree Commission would like more history o the existing Ethel Reid Park. They also recommend the Mt. Fuji cherries be replaced with trees of a larger stature in order to blend the new addition into the landscape.
· If proven necessary, the Tree Commission supports the Comprehensive Plan Amendment and zone change for this project only
· In regards to the interior landscaping: 1)All trees to be planted should be of larger caliper (min 3”) depending on species and location; 2)an arborist should be on site during initial construction and throughout the development process to ensure protection of existing trees.
· In the parking lot in the alley structural soil should be used in the parking islands.
· The trees to be planted in the alley should be large stature solar friendly trees and a comparison should be made of the cost/benefit of these proposed trees ability to reduce heating/cooling cost vs. the cost/benefit of the proposed solar system.
· The Tree Commission requests the trees proposed for removal to be tagged for review and requests the opportunity to meet on site with the design team to review the decision to remove the trees in order to see if retention is possible for any of the trees and to determine whether or not the maximum amount of vegetation has been saved.
· The Tree Commission retains the opportunity to review the revised landscape plan.
· These recommendation do not imply support for the location of the building footprint. However, should the building placement remain as drawn the Tree Commission recognizes the Ginkgo will not be saved.
Due to the length and complexity of the Planning Action the balance of the business on the agenda was tabled until June
Adjourned – Meeting was adjourned at 8:45p.m.