ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
MARCH 9, 2004
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Russ Chapman called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.
|Commissioners Present:||Russ Chapman, Chair|
|Absent Members:||Cameron Hanson|
|Council Liaison:||Alex Amarotico (Council Liaison does not attend Planning Commission meetings in order to avoid conflict of interest)|
|High School Liaison:||None|
|Staff Present:||Bill Molnar, Senior Planner|
|Sue Yates, Executive Secretary|
Chapman announced there would not be a study session on March 23rd.
The monthly Planning Commission "Chat" will be held on Tuesday, March 23rd at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building, 51 Winburn Way from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Swales and Dotterrer will be available to answer questions from the public.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
February 10, 2004 Regular Meeting Minutes: Chapman asked for a clarification on page 2. Under Staff Report, second sentence, change it to read" "The existing house will be on its own lot and a fifth lot common area, covering all the open space. Briggs moved the minutes be approved as corrected, KenCairn seconded the motion and the minutes were approved as corrected.
February 24, 2004 Study Session: Swales noted on the bottom of page 1, last sentence, remove "side setback".
February 10, 2004 Hearings Board Findings for PA2003-118, 265 Glenview Drive, DeBoer: Morris moved to approve the findings. (Note: From the audience, Bill Street asked to speak to the findings and was told by Chapman this is not a public hearing.) Dotterrer seconded the motion and the findings were approved.
No one came forth to speak.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
PLANNING ACTION 2004-002
REQUEST FOR SITE REVIEW AND TREE REMOVAL PERMIT TO CONSTRUCT A MULTI-FLOOR, 8325 SQUARE FOOT MIXED USE BUILDING AT 88 NORTH MAIN STREET. A PHYSICAL CONSTRAINTS REVIEW PERMIT IS REQUTED TO PERMIT "DEVELOPMENT WITH THE ASHLAND FLOODPLAIN CORRIDOR.
APPLICANT: LLOYD HAINES
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - The commissioners all had a site visit. KenCairn has had a little exposure to the Tree Commission, but all the information conveyed to her is contained in the packet.
Molnar said the site is located at the entrance to the downtown. The proposed area of construction currently houses the uncovered wooden deck of the Ashland Creek Bar and Grill. The site slopes significantly from the sidewalk along North Main to Ashland Creek. Ashland Creek and the associated floodplain are located to the rear of the property.
The application has three elements. The Physical Constraints Review Permit applies ordinances and regulations to the portion of the project that encroaches into the floodplain area. There is a Tree Removal Permit. In a Commercial zone, under a Site Review process, trees greater than six inches in diameter are required to be identified and those that are proposed to be removed require a Tree Removal Permit. There are approximately four trees in the area that are potentially impacted by the project. Three are proposed to be retained and the largest of the four, a 36 diameter alder tree close to the sidewalk on North Main, is proposed for removal. The third aspect is Site Review. This is design review, looking at consistency with the City's Downtown Design Standards as well as height requirements and other aspects of site design.
Molnar explained the City has a lot of standards regarding development in floodplain corridor lands. Chapter 15 of the Ashland Municipal Code sets a number of other standards that generally pertain to elevating and flood proofing structures. He continued stating our regulations are set up to look at the impact of potential floods on the proposed building as well as the impact associated with constructing the structure near the floodplain and how it might impact downstream and upstream property. Another piece is the riparian preservation land. This an overlay that looks at minimizing or addressing the impacts associated with the creek's riparian environment. Our floodplain regulations allow commercial buildings a little bit more latitude than if zoned residential. Flood regulations allow the buildings not only to get close to the 100 year floodplain, but may allow the buildings to encroach into the floodplain corridor but not into an area of the floodplain corridor that is more than two feet below the 100 year floodplain. It allows a minor encroachment into the floodplain as long as the building is flood proofed and the building is adequately engineered. The 100 year flood elevation for this property is approximately 1872 feet, as established by FEMA. The City's ordinance would allow certain structural parts to encroach into the floodplain at 1870 feet. The ordinance also allows for upper floors to be cantilevered out over floodplain corridor lands but sets a maximum projection of 20 feet and any part of the 20 feet has to be ten feet above the flood elevation.
This proposed building will be built on pillars, allowing the floodwaters to go beneath the basement area. The structural elements are at 1870 feet. The initial design showed a second and third floor cantilevered, projecting beyond the 20 foot maximum, making it in conflict with the standard. In addition to the large alder tree, there are three maple trees (upon closer examination, it is one tree with three large trunks) by the creek area, 20 to 25 feet in height, right below the second and third floor projections. The projections are 17 feet above the base of the trees. The trees would have to be drastically cut to fit underneath the second and third floor. The applicant has modified the design by pulling back the second and third floor as shown in the drawings dated March 5, 2004. It now meets the floodplain standard, allowing for retention of the maple trees.
The lowest floor of the building is proposed to be a restaurant with an outdoor deck at creekside. The second floor level is at sidewalk level and proposed for retail and office. The third floor is proposed to house two large apartments.
Fields asked if there was a property line adjustment being made. It looks as though it is one tax lot.
Swales thought this appeared to be a development in excess of 10,000 square feet and should be subject to the large-scale building requirements. He could see nothing in the findings addressing that or public space that would be required for such a building.
Briggs asked if Staff is satisfied with the pullback on the revised plans. Molnar said they are satisfied with the changes at this point and feel the applicant complies with the riparian preservation and floodplain regulations. The current wooden deck goes approximately right to the water's edge. It is probably non-conforming with our current ordinance. Staff directed the applicant early on to bring back some of that degraded riparian area adjacent to the creek. They have pulled the deck back so there is at least ten feet between the water's edge and the deck. The applicant will try to bring the area back to a more natural state with riparian planting. The applicant is proposing a planting plan for the other side of the creek as well. There is a Condition that the applicant coordinate the plan with the Tree Commission and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODF&W), given the disturbance in the area. ODF&W has expressed an interest if the applicant is considering additional placement of boulders or other armoring to stabilize that area, if appropriate.
KenCairn asked if there has been any assessment of the current bridge over the creek in relationship to flooding. Molnar said part of this project is a redesign of the pedestrian bridge, allowing it to be hoisted above a 100 year flood event.
Molnar said the applicant has proposed removing the 36 inch alder tree. The tree removal criteria have been addressed in the application as well as the Staff Report. (1) Without removing the tree, the design of the project would be inconsistent with the City's design standards. The applicant has noted the downtown development pattern has most of the buildings up along the sidewalks with a zero front and side setbacks. If the pattern is kept consistent and the applicant complies with the downtown standards, the tree could not be retained. The further the building is set back, the closer it gets to the floodplain issue. The area of development of the property starts shrinking. There is an arborist's report and the landscape architect noted the alder trees are not very tolerant to construction on their root zones. (2) The applicants also have to show the removal will not have a negative impact on erosion or windbreaks. Staff does not feel it will have a negative impact because the tree will be replaced by a building and the precipitation would be taken to a storm system. (3) The removal of trees will not have a negative impact on tree density, sizes and canopies. While it is a notable tree at this location, alder trees are not unique in a riparian environment. There are approximately 30 to 35 trees adjacent to the property within the state right-of-way and existing floodplain area. Staff feels adequate findings were presented in the record along with expert testimony from the arborist and landscape architect to meet the criteria for approval of tree removal.
The Historic Commission reviewed the application. They are happy with the design and feel it meets the downtown design standards. They are pleased with the removal of the second and third floor projections and recommended approval.
The packet contains the recommendations made by the Tree Commission at their January meeting.
Staff supports the application and has suggested 21 Conditions if the Commission wishes to approve the application.
Molnar showed some of the flood zones in the area. Staff wants to minimize flood potential to the proposed building. There is a small triangular piece of property under the applicant's ownership. Staff has stipulated that as part of the floodplain modeling, there be some kind of deed restriction precluding any kind of permanent encroachment from being placed there, such as a building or shed that could impede the natural overflow.
Swales thought there was some mention about the culvert downstream being changed or taken out. Molnar said the OTAK study indicates the culvert crossing is probably undersized and at an awkward angle given the flow and velocity. Long term, he thought OTAK's recommendation is the bridges need to be evaluated. Molnar said the last he heard, the 1974 event was a 30-35 year event and similarly, the 1997 event was not a 100 year event, but a much lesser event.
CRAIG STONE, Craig Stone and Associates, 708 Cardley Avenue, Medford, OR 97504, is representing 88 North Main, LLC (Lloyd Haines, applicant). Dave Richardson is the architect and John Galbraith the landscape architect. They also worked on the project with civil engineers, OTAK and with a certified arborist, Tom Meyer.
Stone said this project is mixed-use to be enclosed in a single building. This building does not touch the adjacent buildings and is separated by at least six inches. It was on separate tax lots. The Jackson County Assessor consolidated the tax lots and currently it is on a single parcel. It can be re-divided.
Landscaping is proposed even though it is not required in the downtown. The deck will be moved back to make it more functional and integral to this building and to enhance the riparian landscaping within the riparian corridor. The existing pedestrian bridge is noted as a stipulation in the application. The intent is to replace the bridge with a bridge that can be raised or lowered during flood events. It is important to have this type of pedestrian connectivity.
Stone said the approval standards and development standards have been addressed. They have tried to address the impacts or potential for impacts. (1) The building has been set back so it won't impede the flow of waters. It has been designed to increase the volume of water that can be stored on this property during a flood event. The retaining wall has been designed to channel the normal stream flows downstream underneath the culvert. (2) They do not propose to remove any riparian vegetation. They want to remove the existing deck and construct a new deck away from the creek corridor. They've made great efforts to preserve the maple trees. Since it is one tree and not three, the tree can be pruned to accommodate the building design. Stone noted Galbraith's revised preservation plan, Galbraith's letter and Tom Meyer's letter. (3) Stone said removal of the alder tree is unavoidable. The tree has to be removed to comply with other standards in AMC. There is no way to accomplish building up to the sidewalk, if the tree is retained. If the tree was set back 20 feet, it would put the tree in jeopardy, having development close to the tree. The applicant wishes to create an art park beneath the viaduct. It would involve sculpturing the tree that is proposed to be removed. The sculpture would occupy this property or the adjacent art park.
Stone said with regard to Condition 3, the applicant would be glad to armor the creek and to work with the city and state. He would like wording such as: "Pursuant to the approval of state and federal agencies having jurisdiction over such matters (add wording in Condition 3).
Condition 18 cites a Tree Commission recommendation from January 9th. He believes there is a more recent Condition. Stone would like clarification on Condition 14.
LLOYD HAINES said the first floor is at 1877 feet, five feet above FEMA and a foot and half above Ashland's floodplain.
Molnar said Condition 14 could be deleted because what the applicant is proposing shows they have well exceeded the flood elevation. He said they have also noted pruning guidelines.
Haines commented that though not part of the application, he would like to complete his vision for this area by making improvements to the creek on both sides and make it pedestrian accessible from the park all the way down Water Street.
Swales said he is not referring to the big box ordinance. He is talking about IIC3 - Additional Standards for Large Scale Projects. The one building is 8000 square feet and the aggregate of the two buildings would put it in this category. You can't split the lot and have the same development that is proposed because of fire restrictions. He believes we need to address the issue of these large-scale projects.
Briggs asked if they are rebuilding the existing staircase.
DAVE RICHARDSON, Architectural Design Works, 1105 Siskiyou Boulevard, said the stairs go from the second floor to the upper floor of the new building. It has no connection to the existing building.
Fields asked if this is one building or isn't it? Richardson said it is one building and it is less than 8000 square feet. The part of the building closest to the existing building will contain firewalls.
Fields mentioned that Criterion 23(2)(A) Landscaping Requirements, C-1-D requires ten percent landscaping. Is that an error? Swales said this was a conflict in the ordinance (reviewed on 2-24-04 Study Session). He said the Site Design Standards conflict with the AMC. It says ten in one place and in the other it says zero. Molnar said that needs to be corrected. Fields referred to page 30 of the applicant's findings. Molnar said that must have been taken from the Site Design and Use Standards. He added that in C-1-D there are no landscaping requirements.
Swales said most of the concerns from the public seem to be surrounding removal of the tree. The applicant's findings deal with this issue on page 51 (top bullet point). When you look at the ordinance as it is written, it goes on to say, "An exception to this standard would be an area specifically designed as plaza space, courtyard space, dining space or rear access." In other words, there are allowable ways to have the building not extend from side lot line to side lot line. The second part of the setback requirement states: "Areas having public utility easements or similar restricting conditions shall be exempt from these standards." It seems the tree removal permit would fit the "similar restricting conditions" and therefore the building would be exempt from the standard of that setback. When you look at the rules for exceptions available, is there demonstrable difficulty in meeting the specific requirements? It is a very difficult site to build on. The standards go on to say that you can have an "alternative design that encompasses the purpose of the Downtown Design Standards in a manner that is equal or superior to". It would seem there are other options available to the applicant under our Design Standards. He believes the Commission would look favorably on the application if there had been some attempt on this site to actually retain the tree. He believes there are omissions in the findings that speak to alternative proposals that could be on this site.
Chapman understood there has to be a 20 foot buffer around the tree during construction. Though Swales does not claim to be a tree expert, it seems it is possible to build a building on this site if you are required to save a tree. It is also in the Site Design Standards to retain as many healthy trees as possible. This tree is of huge stature.
KenCairn said one of the criteria is that you don't have to follow the Design Guidelines if you are creating plaza space, etc. If you were to do that around this tree, you couldn't pave it. You'd have to leave it in its natural state.
Stone argued that taken as a whole, the Downtown Design Standards were established for the purpose of replicating a traditional downtown façade treatment and compatibility with the those buildings that historically existed. You can make the argument that Swales makes and make some efforts to establish a building with a small feature on the back of the property, sandwiched between the tree setback area and the creek and call it a plaza. He does not believe these standards require you to do that. Stone is not going to say Swales is wrong, but the result of it is a building that doesn't meet what the design guidelines have sought to achieve.
Haines explained this property is three tax lots. The assessor joined the property into one parcel.
Molnar is not sure, but based on revisions to the Big Box ordinance, outside the downtown, buildings sharing a common wall shall be considered one building. That was not a provision placed with the downtown area.
JAMES KOLKER, 1030 Morton Street, said he is a business owner in the area adjacent to the creek. If the building moved back 20 feet, it would end up with a 30 foot gangplank going to a tiny building. He is most concerned about the area containing a dumpster, bike racks, and a large deck with a concrete parking lot. There is a huge electric box there too. The area is a heavily traveled pedestrian area that meanders up from Water Street. Pedestrians are confronted with this bar scene that is very unattractive and uninviting. This area sorely needs something to connect to the main walkway.
JOAN VAN LEHN, 310 Holly Street, agrees with Kolker. There are two beautifully developed areas. People enjoy sitting by the creek. The state right-of-way area is a blight. There are boom boxes, loud music, and beer cans. She would just like it to be cleaned up. It could be an incredible asset to the community.
JACK HARDESTY, 575 Dogwood Way, said he supports the Haines project. He believes the plan is in keeping with the rest of the downtown area. The plan to provide public space and access to Bluebird Park is decidedly in the public interest. It will improve the entrance to downtown. .
SKIP ANDREW, 216 Scenic Drive, favors the project. He used to live at the north end of town and the only place to walk in a nice quiet green space was at Glen Vista Estates. Haines built that project. In walking downtown, he would walk in Bluebird Park. Haines built that as well. His first response was to save the tree. It is an alder tree that has only about 30 years left. The tree will be gone and the building will still be there. He does not agree with Swales' position. He believes the building needs to be up against the sidewalk. He does not believe it is in the City's best interest to build around a tree.
RON ROTH, 6950 Old Highway 99 South, believes this is a good plan and a good project. Downtown Ashland is not a small town, but a small city. What downtown Ashland needs is more people living in or near the downtown core. This proposed building will provide more housing where more residents can walk to shops and parks. The large tree needs to be removed. He does not think removing the tree will have any significant environmental impact. Alder trees are very plentiful and grow very quickly. They also die at a relatively young age. He would be more in favor of the project if instead of two large apartments, the plan was for half dozen small apartments. He's watched affordable housing disappear in Ashland.
ORIANA SPRATT, 212 Patterson Street, said she had also submitted a written opinion. She is not in favor of killing this plan, but she doesn't think enough work has been done to save the tree. She agrees with Swales. This is the most beautiful part of the plaza. She spoke with an arborist who said this is one of the prettiest trees in Ashland and he is upset it has to be removed. Roots would be damaged by being too close to construction. .
DIANE MCDERMOTT, 208 Patterson Street, sent a couple of letters. She said if we didn't have to line up all the buildings, we could save the tree. She is hearing that we don't have adequate information tonight to review this. We don't know if a building can be placed there and still preserve the tree. The tree is 40 years old. You can't see the maple tree. It would be a shame to remove the alder tree if we don't have to.
BRYAN HOLLEY, 324 Liberty Street, is still frustrated by Ashland's planning process. Nothing in his comments probably approach the criteria. From a lay perspective it seems funny that the Chamber of Commerce wants more retail. This is a values debate. On the one side we have the property owner and their rights and on the other side we have all the other values. He is supportive of some of the ways the applicant is trying to make this area better. We will find a way to explain away why a particular tree has to go. He would urge the Commission to look at the Valdez principles adopted by the Council. He wondered if it would ever happen that someone couldn't build because of the Valdez principles. Or, maybe they are too idealistic for our town. He mentioned the current Council goals. Another goal in the Tree Ordinance is 18.61.094 B(1). " Conditions of approval may include, but are not limited to, requiring modifications in the location, design or intensity of a development or activities on a site, or to require or to prohibit certain construction methods. Modifications may result in a decrease in size of residential or commercial structures and modification shall not reduce the density of residential development below the permitted density allowed by the zone." He would like the Commissioners and the Planning Dept. to keep this section in mind. He would hope this action could be continued for another month.
KenCairn asked about the most recent response from the Tree Commission concerning the project. Holley said when you have a multi-trunked tree and take it back to where you would normally prune, it creates a weak spot in the tree. The Tree Commission said if the alder has to go, we would like the Planning Commission to work with the Planning Department and the applicant and ODOT. If the alder acts as a gateway, then we have an opportunity to work with the multiple parties and make that gateway the best it can be. It will take some political will.
CYNDI DION, 897 Hillview Drive, said she works on the plaza and walks daily in that area. There are some wonderful aspects of this project she is in favor of but she is opposed to removal of the signature alder. She is extremely concerned that this project is set to be very close to the Ashland Creek riparian area. She is on the Ashland Street Watershed Partnership committee and they are currently working with the City to draw up a riparian ordinance. Some of the ordinances could be stricter than what is on the books now. If it is absolutely necessary to remove the alder tree, the mitigation should be exactly as stated by the Tree Commission. The best choice would be to replace it with another tree of equal girth and size, planted specifically along the creek. She personally doesn't feel that a carving of the dead tree trunk mitigates the removal of the tree. The plantings along the riparian area must be riparian plants. Perhaps some sort of work can be done so the maple does not have to be trimmed back as severely as proposed.
KenCairn asked if Dion favored the effort between ODOT and the City to do some mitigation to the north of the property boundary. Dion approved of the plan. She believes it is a wonderful idea to work diligently to put more plantings along the creek.
RANDALL HOPKINS, 735 S. Mountain Avenue, suggested the Tree Commission made their decision they way they did is because they heard from only one side. There was no notice on the City's website before January 9, 2004. It went to the Tree Commission a second time on March 4, 2004. The agenda was posted on the website, however, under public hearings, no planning actions were proposed for the month. The public would have no clue anything was happening. He attended the meeting on the March 4th. It was clear that the Tree Commissioners believed that there is a zero setback requirement. As Swales pointed out, the applicant has been very careful not to include references to the many exceptions and exclusions. He read from the standards: "other recessed features". He believes it is possible to incorporate a recessed feature that would comply with the setback requirement and bring the rest of the building to the sidewalk.
Molnar noted that this application was adequately noticed and met the statutes for pubic noticing.
Molnar referred to the question about whether this is one development or part of another development. Staff reviewed this as a stand-alone development of approximately 8000 square feet and would not be subject to the large-scale development standards. By taking off the second and third floor cantilevering, the building is about 7700 square feet. The dining deck and reception area is about 800 square feet and a finding could be made this space is public space.
Molnar said the other issue is whether or not to grant tree removal of the alder tree. Staff doesn't take lightly the removal of large trees. We rely on expert testimony from the applicant's team. What is the long-term vision for the downtown based on the downtown development standards and the downtown plan? It talks about buildings up on the street. Given the factors in the arborist's report that any disturbance within 20 feet of the tree would be detrimental to the long-term health of the tree, etc. would it be in the best interest of the Downtown Standards if that tree in 30 to 35 years ultimately declined. This is a unique site because of the state right-of-way next to it.
KenCairn wondered if we could ask for mitigation or a condition that would require the applicant to exhaust mitigation opportunities with another public entity. If the alder tree is a gateway tree, the best opportunity for mitigation is on the ODOT property. It would force negotiations with the applicant and ODOT to do mitigation plantings in that area. To be responsible to the community, we would try to force that opportunity.
Chapman said Condition 19 addresses the issue. KenCairn would like stronger language. She wants the public to know the measures that the applicant had to go through to do mitigation in that area. Molnar asked if the Tree Commission's recommendation was sufficient. "The applicant shall plant either a minimum one and one-half inch caliper, healthy and well-branched deciduous tree or five or six foot tall evergreen tree." Molnar said the Commission has the ability to increase landscaping.
Chapman's wording for Condition 19: To mitigate the loss of the alder, the applicant will exhaust all opportunities with ODOT to implement the recommendations of the Tree Commission on the property directly to the north. Fields thought, in order to satisfy the gateway issue around the tree, perhaps plant three trees. KenCairn said there is room for two along that sweep. She thought there should be a larger canopy than a one and one-half inch caliper tree.
Stone believes the proposed development does not fall under large scale development. If the County Assessor consolidated three lots into one, Haines is willing to partition the property the way it was originally partitioned, separating the buildings onto individual tax lots. The single building is about 7500 square feet.
Stone said the tree doesn't have to taken out to comply with the Design Standards. To create a 20 foot notch around the building would probably not allow it to even hit the sidewalk. It would be pretty disastrous to the design of the project. This project ought to move forward despite the removal of the tree because if by making some heroic efforts in the design of the building to preserve the tree and it dies, we are left with a building that has a comprised design for a feature that is no longer around. He does not believe it is a requirement to put in alcoves and plazas.
He believes ODOT will be cooperative. This is a piece of remnant property within the state right-of-way that looks like it won't be necessary for any transportation purposes. He believes it will be a simple matter to gain their authorization to plant one or multiple replacement trees. Haines would be willing to stipulate three trees.
KenCairn asked if they could be two to two and one-half inch caliper. Haines said yes. There are already eight trees going on the right-of-way. It may be the City would rather have a work of art there. KenCairn suggested they could integrate both.
Stone said possible language for Condition 19 could read: "Applicant shall seek ODOT's consent to permit the planting of not less than three trees of not less than two to two and one-half inch caliper on the adjacent right-of-way." KenCairn appreciated their generosity and thought three could be too many. Haines will be glad to mitigate even if it's not at that site, but another part of the City.
KenCairn wondered if we want to mitigate in that area particularly to honor the canopy/gateway idea. Chapman thinks there is a loss at that site and we would like to put something there to replace that loss. KenCairn said maybe we should go for canopy cover rather number of trees. That's why larger is better and maybe one is enough.
COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND DECISION
Chapman suggested losing the alder and replacing it on the piece of property to the north. Dotterrer concurred. The Condition can use words that talk about our goal rather than number of trees. Briggs would like wording that would signify the desire for a special or "specimen" replacement tree.
Molnar's wording for Condition 19 as worded with the additional wording - "That the applicant shall seek ODOT's consent of the planting to mitigate the loss of canopy from the alder to a large specimen tree (one to two trees, depending on the species and what canopy it will reach) of two and one-half inch caliper. The landscape architect can make the decision as to what tree(s). At maturity the tree will be considered a signature tree.
Chapman suggested adding a sentence to Condition 3: "The location of the creek armor shall be noted on the revised landscaping plan and approved by the Staff Advisor prior to commencement of building permit review, pursuant to the approval of appropriate government agencies with jurisdiction."
Delete Condition 14 (renumber the rest of the Conditions).
Chapman said it is always a balancing act between the urban environment, where we choose to build our buildings, and the City's commitment to trees. We have a tree protection ordinance and a Tree Commission. He has to balance that against what he sees as a substantial improvement to this property. He believes it will be an attractive space and an opportunity to make some improvements down toward the creek. He does not believe the tree ordinance was intended to preclude the construction as evidenced by the Tree Commission's recommendation to remove the tree. The Historic Commission has signed off on the building.
Swales agreed with the owner of the Blue Giraffe (Andrew) that the state right-of-way area needs cleaning up. Andrew discussed the building not having an entrance right on the street and how it can work. Swales said the building occupied by Christopher Briscoe on Fourth Street has the entrance on the diagonal with the corner of the building taken off. The Golden-Fields building that won an award has a similar entrance on the corner. He feels this particular location is workable because it is at the end of the block, the gateway; it doesn't necessarily have to face Main Street. It could have an entrance on the corner without being a detriment to the design standards. With regard to construction of the building within the root zone, if there was a danger of the tree catching a fungus, he is sure the ground could be treated with a fungicide. He believes there are creative solutions to the problem. His main contention is this should come under the purview of the large-scale development due to the large size of the lot and the existing buildings on it. Under the code, he doesn't believe a little private eating deck for the restaurant in back qualifies for a plaza or public space. If we take Stone's interpretation that this does not fall under large-scale development, it seems it would be setting a precedent. Anyone that has a large lot could develop a building of 9999 square feet and come back a year later with another building of the same size without having to meet the requirements of the ordinance. It seems we have to address this as a large-scale development and therefore require a public plaza or we have to ask for a continuation for the applicant to come back with a lot partition in association with a revised plan. He can't support the application as it is.
Morris wondered how much of the building would go away if they left room for the tree. He referenced the letter from Tom Meyer stating the roots go all the way to the creek and it is likely that any construction on this lot would release fungus to the root system of the alder. To change the building to accommodate the tree doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to him. He can't see it is a large-scale development. The survey shows the lot lines as dashed lines so evidently they were individual lots at one time, so that does not seem to apply. With regard to a gateway, he likes the tree that is there, but he does not understand how to change the building. It looks like a 12 foot drop. The one thing he would like to see is to remove the power poles, the transformers, the utility pedestal and everything else that is sitting on the corner.
Though KenCairn stated she has already made her comments, she added a personal comment. Historically, 20 years ago, that whole area was a gathering place for locals. So while she believes it is valuable to upgrade it for the tourists and the Plaza Hotel, she also sees development of it as a loss to the historic community. It's going to end up depleting part of the downtown that a lot of the locals use.
Briggs likes trees but knows alders need their water. If they try to save this alder and put a building between the tree and the water source, it won't live. When she was part of the development of the Downtown Design Standards, they meant definitely for buildings to come to the street. She is concerned about the mitigation. She would like to see the new trees to the north in the widest part of the arc, something that will create a canopy almost equal in size even it takes 20 to 30 years to get there. If it's a cluster to make that size canopy, that's all right. She likes the idea it is downtown infill.
In looking at the planting plan, Kistler thought it looked like even if you notched around the dripline of the tree, there is about four feet left over to the corner of the property. He would prefer to see the building all the way to the sidewalk. Fifty years from now, it will look like we took the right course. He does not feel like this is a Big Box building. It doesn't matter to him where the property line is.
Fields likes the building. The scale is not the issue. We are trying to establish a precedent about what is contiguous and how buildings interrelate. He thinks they can mitigate the plaza area. He thinks it is Haines' intent to create public space all around the building. He wants to make it clear that this is an important issue. This is like the gateway building into town. There will be windows peaking through the trees with people living in the building. It is infill and he likes the character and quality of the building. Right now there is only 2500 square feet of ground floor area. If they had to save the tree, it would deprive development rights to put a restriction to save the tree. Fields does not understand the wheeled arches. Is it a gateway into the walkway? Molnar said the stand-alone that enters the future walkway is just a possibility. The Historic Commission expressed concern that it might be a little too overdone. He would like to see a true partition between the windows. It is unfortunate the tree is lost to development.
Dotterrer agrees with those in support.
Molnar added a Condition requiring wood clad windows on the front windows and a four inch mullion (separation). Delete Condition 14.
Chapman moved to approve PA2004-002 with the attached Conditions and changes and additions to the Conditions. Dotterrer seconded the motion and it carried with Swales casting a "no" vote.
Chapman had an article in the packet from the Wall Street Journal regarding solar. McLaughlin told Chapman we might be able to have an ordinance that would include wording that any access to the sun shall not be restricted. We might want to talk about this at the retreat or a study session.
Briggs mentioned an article Swales had. Swales said in Arcata they have an ordinance with a cap on the number of chain stores allowed in a community in order to encourage small, locally owned businesses. Briggs thought this could be on the agenda for the retreat. Molnar has found that we get many inquiries from chain stores but our design process is so restrictive that they lose interest.
ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned
End of Document - Back to Top