Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
APRIL 13, 2004

CALL TO ORDER
Chair Russ Chapman called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.

Commissioners Present: Russ Chapman, Chair
Mike Morris
Dave Dotterrer
Kerry KenCairn
Colin Swales
John Fields
Ray Kistler
Cameron Hanson
Absent Members: Marilyn Briggs
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
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

ANNOUNCEMENTS
There will be a study session April 27th at 7:00 p.m. McLaughlin said the Commission would likely discuss the proposed ordinance amendments brought forth a couple of months ago. There might also be some new amendment suggestions coming from the Council.

The Planning Commission drop-in "chat" will be held from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on April 27, 2004 at the Community Development and Engineering Services building.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
It was moved and seconded to approve the March 9, 2004 Regular Meeting Minutes.

It was moved and seconded to approve the findings for PA2004-002, 88 North Main, Lloyd Haines.

PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak.

PLANNING ACTION 2004-025
REQUEST FOR SITE REVIEW AND TREE REMOVAL APPROVAL TO CONSTRUCT A THREE-STORY, 37,285 SQUARE FOOT HOUSING FACILITY TO SERVE UPPER LEVEL SINGLE STUDENTS, LOCATED AT THE SOUTHWEST CORNER OF THE INDIANA AND MADRONE STREET INTERSECTION. THE PROPOSAL INCLUDES AN AMENDMENT TO THE APPROVED SOU CAMPUS MASTER PLAN TO PERMIT THE SITE TO BE DEVELOPED IN HIGHER DENSITY STUDENT HOUSING.
APPLICANT: OREGON STATE BOARD OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts
Site Visits were made by all.
Kistler stepped down (left the room) as he is the project architect. (He did not return for the second public hearing.)

STAFF REPORT
Molnar stated the application involves Site Review, a Tree Removal Permit, a Conditional Use Permit and amendment to the SOU Campus Master Plan. The site is approximately three acres bounded by Madrone, Indiana and Oregon Streets and slopes significantly. There are about twelve residences currently located on the property. Eight or nine will be removed. It is hopeful the structures will be relocated within the city or valley.

The project is a three-story student housing facility geared toward upper level students. On each of the three levels will are 32 rooms for a total of 96 single occupancy rooms. The rooms are designed in quads, each quad sharing a common kitchen and small common area. There is an appearance of two wings to the building. The footprint is just over 12,000 square feet. The main Site Design aspect is a grand entrance coming up from the intersection of Indiana and Madrone. The large plaza and landscaped courtyard area in front of the building has been designed around a large California Black Oak, the key design feature in the landscape plan. The parking area provided behind the building consists of 36 spaces. Driveway aisles to access the parking area are both from Madrone and Indiana. Indiana is a collector street with a signalized intersection at Siskiyou.

There is currently an alley running south to north through the project area. It is a dirt, unimproved alley, lining up with Sunrise Street at the top and goes all the way down to Madrone. The University has filed a request with the City Council to ultimately vacate the alley. The Planning Commission is charged with forwarding a recommendation to the Council, a separate part of the Commission's decision.

The housing projects on the University's campus are subject to the City's Multi-Family Design Standards. They tend to deal with orientation of building towards the street. Parking is required to be behind the building. There is direct access to the building from the sidewalk. Architectural guidelines were adopted as part of the 2000-2010 Master Plan. One major element is that new buildings on the campus should relate to public spaces. In this project, there are multiple plaza areas accessed through a procession of stairways leading up to the entrance, focused around the large California Black Oak.

A major aspect of the project is Tree Removal. Development will take place on the lower two-thirds of the site. The majority of the trees (approx. 38) are within the developed portion of the property. About 15 trees are defined as "significant" (greater than 18 inches diameter at breast height -dbh). The majority of the trees within the area subject to development will be removed with the exception of the large California Black Oak. The healthier trees at the far southerly area of the site, abutting the existing residential neighborhood will be retained as well as the three residential units in that area to maintain a buffer.

Because of the grade changes, the building has been dug into the natural slope, setting the building down and in order to not obstruct the views of the residences south of the project. In order to accommodate the parking lot, there are a series of five foot cuts with retaining walls. The parking lot will be placed at about the second floor level of the facility.

Another aspect of the project is an amendment to the Master Plan. Currently a map in the 2002 Master Plan identifies anticipated projects throughout the planning period. The project before the Commission tonight is identified on the Master Plan under the improvements plate as "Residence Halls, Complex Addition, Student Housing". Other references in the Master Plan refer to it as a major addition to the Cascade Hall's complex on the property west of the existing Cascade Hall's complex (across the street on Indiana). On the one hand there is a map in the plan referencing what seems to be a larger housing complex. However, earlier in the plan under "Existing Architectural Guidelines - Building Density" discusses areas of the campus and their anticipated development. This area is referred to as low-density, similar to R-1 and states the area south of the campus between Madrone and Oregon Street, west of Indiana will possibly be developed as attached or common wall units to preserve open space. In some respects the two parts of the plan seem to contradict themselves, therefore, Staff felt to be cleaner to propose an amendment to the plan. Overall, Staff is supportive to the change in the Master Plan. The size of the building is not out of character with the types of buildings seen on campus. Generally, Staff supports higher density concentration of housing close to the Boulevard, proximity to transit and the other services available at the Boulevard. It is a balance of accommodating the University's need to provide a different type of housing.

The Tree Commission reviewed the plan at their meeting last week. Their comments are in the packet. They wanted to the applicants to explore the possibility of modifying the parking area to retain tree #36 (incense cedar). They wondered if rather than a stepped retaining wall system, a larger retaining wall system could be built to alleviate multiple cuts.

With regard to vacation of the alley, the Transportation Element has a policy through the City's street vacation policy, that we maintain public easements for public pedestrian or bicycle access. The applicant has proposed as an alternative a five foot wide path system along the west boundary with a six foot wide landscape buffer. Generally, the City's requirement would be a six foot wide path with a buffer. Staff's main concern is that throughout the process, the applicant did not seem to have an interest in trying to maintain the alley where it exists currently. There is no engineering on the design. Staff's concern is that mid-block connections need to be visible and easily accessible. They want to make sure the proposed alternative is equal to what is there now in terms of location, visibility and directness from the upper neighborhood down to Madrone Street. A Condition has been included stating the final grades should be very similar to the grade of the alley.

Staff wonders if the best efforts have been made to retain as many trees as is reasonably feasible. The Tree Commission understood the difficulty of the site, given trying to consolidate a building of this size to the lower half of the property, reducing bulk and retaining views. There is significant grading. The applicant felt the best way was to retain the most notable tree and submit an elaborate landscaping plan to allow new trees to get the best start to grow to maturity.

The parking is based an ordinance standard - two spaces for three dormitory rooms. It is assumed most dorms are double occupancy. The applicant is asking that for the single occupancy standard to apply. Staff did some comparisons and parking standards were similar. The one variable is some universities are in urban areas. If we are short parking spaces, it is the surrounding neighborhood that will have to deal with that issue.

Dotterrer asked about the Conditional Use Permit. Molnar explained that the CUP is required because the project is within 50 feet of privately owned property. The purpose is to make sure there is a greater review of potential impacts to the neighboring properties. SOU made an effort to review this project with surrounding properties through neighborhood outreach and neighborhood meetings

Swales said R-1 zones have quite a bit of flexibility as far as the number of rooms that can be provided in a single family residential home. Were any other pans considered with regard to a kind of grain that is existing with single family homes or attached townhouses? Molnar said they did not have any discussions nor saw any plans reflecting anything other than what is before the Commission. The applicant has been anticipating a higher density complex across from Cascade Hall.

PUBLIC HEARING
BRUCE MOATS, SOU Facilities Planner and Construction Manager said the team consists of JEANNE STALLMAN, Project Manager, and DIANE BRIMMER, Vice President of Student Affairs. Other members on the design team are: PETER SCHMITZ and MATT SMALL, Ogden Kistler Architecture, GREG COVEY, Landscape Architect, and JEFF HIGDAY, Civil Engineer, Hardey Engineering.

Moats said (1) this is the first project to provide housing for single students in over 30 years. (2) The 2000-2010 was in conflict in terms of the density issue. Though the plan did suggest this particular portion of the campus could be developed similar to R-1 density, they strongly believe the greater density proposed makes much better sense. (3) They are trying to provide a more environmentally friendly solution for heating and cooling the building while providing a more efficient, cost effective support to the facility over its lifetime. (4) With regard to Condition 13, not all structures lend themselves to relocation. For example, some have stepped daylight basements and it would not be economically feasible to move them. They have issued a request for bids asking to either demolish or relocate the houses. He would suggest wording in Condition 13, instead of "insure" to say, "endeavor to sell for relocation the maximum feasible number of existing houses".

JEANNE STALLMAN said the dorm experience is something we outgrow after the first year. The proposed housing is a good second step and transition. Currently, second year students are moving off-campus to Medford or Ashland. SOU loses many of their college students to other communities. This proposal is to bring some of the students back, reduce commuting, traffic and parking demand. This project is not intended to be a set of apartments or townhouses. The 96 residents enter through one of two main entrances. They pass through the common areas to reach their own individual apartment and bedroom. The theory is to limit isolation. The design fosters community. The building will have conference and study space.

The pedestrian path is an issue for SOU of public right-of-way. Because this project is a student residence, they are eager to control the right to control the access near the building. An easement allows them to put the path in place and still handle any individual problems as they might arise to insure the safety of the residences. The walkway is aligned with Palmer. The thought is to improve the visibility and line up with something across the street.

PETER SCHMITZ, Architect with Ogden Kistler, 2950 E. Barnett, Medford, OR 97504, said they tried about 25 different footprints on the site. The property is severely sloping. They wanted to save as many trees as possible, minimize the cuts and fills, increase the open space and terrace the slopes to soften the impact of the cuts and fills. The driveway route was selected to have a drive through access to the site, minimizing the turning movements necessary, and exiting the site on two different streets to distribute the traffic on both streets. They followed the contours of the land to minimize the steep slopes the driveways would have to follow. The driveway has been located in the rear of the building to follow the City's Design Standards. The building shape is a shallow crescent, mirroring the road, driveway and parking area. They wanted a full three floors sitting on the ground, not cutting into the hill. The rooms on the backside would have windows rather than facing earth and retaining walls. They didn't want to pile up earth against habitable walls. Pulling the earth down to the main floor level allowed them have windows across the entire back side of the buildings with a view of the landscaped, terraced retaining areas.

They were notified today the Staff would like to double the parking shown. They believe the 36 spaces meet the current code.

They have some alternatives for the pedestrian way along the west side. If they brought the path toward the retaining walls, it might cause an unsafe condition.

Chapman said with regard to the parking he is willing to trust that not all students will have cars. His main concern is the public right-of-way and what is the best place for realistic pedestrian movement. Some residents have said a straight path down the hill with a buffer to their properties might cause a hazard.

Swales said he appreciates the University providing some housing for upper level students. He is concerned with the R-1 zoning. McLaughlin said the property is zoned SO with R-1 as the surrounding zoning. Swales said under what is allowed in a single family zone, one could get 12 units per acre. In looking at the CUP criteria, it is compatible with the other dormitories. It is not architecturally compatible with the surrounding housing. It seems with a steep slope, there are a lot of opportunities for underground parking. What are some other designs they explored? Schmitz said they looked at the townhouse concept for part of the project and mixed with a larger project. They found they were using up so much more land with townhouses because of individual sidewalks, setbacks and articulating the townhouses. The amount of student capacity was pretty low compared to the wishes of the Housing Department.

MATT SMALL, Ogden Kistler Architecture, 2950 E. Barnett Road, Medford, OR 97504, said the students can use the kitchen facilities, but they can use the cafeteria at Cascade too. Small said the University believes this building tends to create the community they are looking for rather than having a bunch of small separated units.

Dotterrer said he noticed in the application (page 12) the building is 45 feet in height. Schmidt said the midpoint of the roof is 39 feet, 4 inches.

JULIE BOERSMA, 1401 Oregon Street, said she is a Residential Assistant in the Cascade complex and will graduate in June. The freshman experience is geared toward a community living experience with shared bathrooms and living, coming into contact with everyone everyday. Upper level students generally prefer more privacy and still have that communal living. The town homes would not lend themselves to that. It takes only two minutes to walk to class. Driving takes time and costs money. Anyone entering into an apartment situation has to deal with leases, bills, trusting your roommates. A lease can be for a year and it is difficult to get out of it, a roommate can leave. It is stressful. The study environment would be better at the proposed facility. It would afford more privacy. There is really nothing else that caters to upper division students.

Chapman asked Boersma what she would like to see with a walkway. Boersma said she would probably like anything that would be the easiest way to get from point A to point B.

Staff Response
Molnar said he never meant for the applicants to double the parking. Staff stressed to the applicants that parking is a major issue and shouldn't be taken lightly. The applicants should explore opportunities for additional parking. Currently, the proposed parking is consistent with the ordinance and consistent with some of the other universities they looked at. There is certain vagueness in the Master Plan.

With regard to the CUP, the target use of the zone is educational uses affiliated with the University. When Staff evaluates the use, they look at this building in terms of architectural compatibility, bulk and scale. It did not seem inconsistent with the CUP criteria when comparing it to other educational facilities being built around campus. They weren't looking at the scale of the residential neighborhoods across from Oregon Street.

Dotterrer asked the purpose of Condition 3. Molnar said on lower Indiana, as the road curves, there is a large curved wall. To the right side of the wall is an entrance to the Visual Arts building. The purpose, when the Visual Arts building was approved was for supplies to be brought in at that entrance. At the time of approval, a Variance to the Site Design Standards was not approved for parking in front of the building right off the street. It was supposed to just be used intermittently. Staff has noticed that a lot of students are parking in that area. The grass pavers are really beaten up. The connection to this project is that Indiana is a collector that has over 2200 trips per day. The proposal is going to generate more trips on that street. Now there is a situation where students are using this entrance area during off-hours to back out onto Indiana. It is not being used for the sole purpose of what was portrayed to the Planning Commission back when it was approved. They would like to put the driveway apron back to the approved function. It might need some bollards to preclude it from being a de facto parking area and backing out onto a collector with large amounts of traffic crossing at the signalized intersection.

Molnar said he had a voice mail message from a neighbor, Christopher DiLorenzo, supporting the project and commending the University on their outreach to the neighbors on this project.

Rebuttal
GREG COVEY, Landscape Architect, said the biggest challenge was dealing with ten to 20 percent grades throughout the site. They were trying to build overlays in the neighborhood of two to five percent. They tried to come up with a building form that reflected and responded to the contours. At the same time, they wanted to maintain accessibility to key points in the building. They tried to save as many trees as possible. They have somewhere between a ten and 15 percent cut they have to perform at the south edge of the parking lot.

The Tree Removal and Protection Plan was put together by Tom Myers, Upper Limb It, project arborist. There are 68 trees on site, six inches dbh. Thirty-seven are within the project area. Thirty-two will be removed. Of the 32, seven are poplars. Several are hazard trees. Many of the remaining trees are in extremely poor health. They felt the compromise they were making in removing trees is made up for in the landscape plan. They are proposing about 90 trees on the site. Twenty-two trees are street trees and 68 are within the interior of the site. They tried to have the building fit into the surrounding landscape and minimize the obstruction of views.

Covey said they wrestled with the public easement. There is not a consistent slope.

JIM HIGDAY, Civil Engineer, Hardey Engineering, said the existing alleyway is roughly at 12.25 percent grade. It is a dirt, granite road, in poor condition for walking. He also has concerns about slope on the lower half of the proposed walkway to the west. A new sidewalk will be installed along the Indiana frontage. If he were trying to get through there, he would be walking along Indiana. To put a walkway on the west, the lower half has some pretty serious grades requiring some retaining walls and a lot of thought. The Commission could make a path with steps that would be more usable and limit it to pedestrian use. It would be difficult to do it without steps because of the grade changes.

KenCairn wondered if they would be open to taking off on contour diagonally across the corner of the site to get a pretty flat pathway and connect about halfway up with the proposed walkway. Higday has concerns about the bottom half. Following the contour would make it about 15 percent grade. Covey said it is possible to engineer it. KenCairn that one of the nicer experiences of living in Ashland is to enjoy walking the dirt, potholed alleyways.

KenCairn wondered if they could go with two retaining wall systems and save a couple more trees. The Tree Commission is recommending they try to save one of the trees, perhaps a deodar. Can the walls be wiggled away and save #36? She would like them to at least consider this option. What about #41, 42 and 43? Covey said the one most likely to save is the maple.

KenCairn said it looked like three or four parking spaces could be added.

Fields said the natural shortcut for those trying to get someplace (like Blockbuster) is through the diagonal. What if they did the diagonal to give a direct route, but allow people to step to the parking lot, allowing pedestrians to cut over to Indiana? Higday said they considered that, however, they would have to introduce steps because of the grade change. Fields said a bicyclist would follow the street. He is thinking more about pedestrians.

Morris didn't think there were any paths on the north side of Madrone. Covey confirmed and said there was a slope off the edge. Unless you are dropping off the edge of Madrone into the campus, he doesn't see why anyone would want to go in that direction. Higday agreed, especially if we have to introduce the stairway system to make it safe. He believes 90 percent of pedestrians would use the sidewalk on Indiana.

Chapman agreed with Morris. If the alley was taking a pedestrian to something that connected on campus, he could see it. He is leaning toward vacating the alley and leaving it up to Council to decide whether something should be there

KenCairn said there are other people walking around besides students. It is on the edge of a neighborhood and we want to respond to the neighborhood and students. She is sensitive to the residences on Madrone where this is an opportunity to pull the path away from the back of their property. It seems like we would want to put a path through the trees and pull it off the backs of the homes.

Fields said when we are abandoning a connection we have to be careful not to just give it away.

McLaughlin said they made the applicants aware when they were considering the vacation of the alleyway, that the Transportation Element, Policy 4, Bike and Pedestrian Goals "require pedestrian and bicycle easement to provide neighborhood connectors and reduce vehicle trips. Modify street vacation process so pedestrian and bicyclist through access is maintained." The vacation process has been modified to put the Planning Commission in the loop to make a recommendation, especially when it is part of a planning action. That's why we were hoping an option would be brought forward that would incorporate the connectivity.

McLaughlin said the Commissioners could give some general guidance on this topic and give the applicant a chance to address the issue. KenCairn asked if they could ask the applicant to bring alternatives to the Council. McLaughlin affirmed and added the Council can make the final call.

Chapman asked Moats his preference for the pathway. Moats said they want the ability to discourage open public access to the back of the residents building. With the slopes they are concerned about the safety of public pedestrians. He would favor a path from the driveway to Madrone.

COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Everyone concurred with the change suggested by Moats to change Condition 13 - "to endeavor to sell or relocate the eight homes".

KenCairn suggested a Condition 15 regarding the path cutting through the project and at the same time recommending vacation of the alley predicated on creating a preferred alternative. Hanson agreed on vacation of the alley, but he does not see a point in putting a path that goes to Madrone. KenCairn is not interested in vacating the alley unless there is an alternative created. Swales agreed. Dotterrer is concerned about the safety and cost to the applicant. Other than the for esoteric reason, it has nothing to do with transportation planning. KenCairn said it is a livability issue, not esoteric. Fields said if we don't get it now, we might never get it. We definitely want the easement. McLaughlin said they could require an easement with no improvements. Morris noted we have never put pedestrian pathways down driveways. Fields liked the path/stairs with railroad ties at the top of Grandview and Wimer.

The Commissioners defined the easement. It would follow the grade. Delete the last sentence of Condition 2. They are looking for a six foot wide dirt path that enters close to the middle of the site from Oregon Street down to Madrone. Enter the property anywhere west of the alley. Pick up the six-foot landscape buffer wherever it is adjacent to a residential area.

Chapman moved to recommend to the Council vacation of the alley as proposed with the adoption of the new easement and improvements as per the Condition - an identifiable, walkable path. KenCairn seconded the motion.

The applicant asked for a point of clarification. Schmitz asked for their landscape architect to have an opportunity to provide a design. They might be able to mitigate the requirements of going through the steep portion. Fields believes there is some flexibility on how they allow people to go through.

Covey said he designed the access path from Wimer to Grandview. If that is acceptable, they could look at doing a similar system and coming up with some kind of alternative to drop into the parking lot. They would be prepared to present that to the Council.

The vote on the recommendation to the Council was unanimous.

Dotterrer asked what mitigation plan is needed for the removal of trees (Condition 8). Molnar said it is from the Tree Preservation Protection Chapter. Dotterrer does not understand why, when something is already in the ordinance, it needs to be a Condition. Molnar said it is a checks and balance for Staff.

Dotterrer is concerned that Condition 3 pertains to an area not on the site and he doesn't see how it connects to the project. McLaughlin said the nexus is transportation and traffic. Fields said it gives us leverage. SOU is modifying their plan. Staff felt this needed addressing. It has been something that has been neglected and this is a way to fix it. Dotterrer does not believe it is a good policy. Molnar said SOU was asking for an increase in density within a reasonable proximity to where there is a problem. The problem can be handled through enforcement.

Fields moved to adopt PA2004-025 with attached 14 Conditions, with changes to Conditions 2 and 14. Hanson seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

PLANNING ACTION 2004-030
REQUEST FOR OUTLINE PLAN APPROVAL FOR A FOUR-LOT (ONE COUNTY LOT) DEVELOPMENT UNDER THE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS OPTIONS FOR THE PROPERTY AT 795 ORCHARD STREET. THE APPLICATION INCLUDES A VARIANCE TO PERMIT MORE THAN THREE LOTS TO HAVE ACCESS FROM THE EXISTING PRIVATE DRIVEWAY. ADDITIONALLY, THE APPLICATION INCLUDES A PHYSICAL CONSTRAINTS REVIEW PERMIT TO ALLOW SOME DISTURBANCE OF FLOODPLAIN CORRIDOR LAND ASSOCIATED WITH WRIGHT'S CREEK.
APPLICANT: ARCHERD AND DRESNER, LLC

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts
All except Swales made site visits.
Fields is doing a different project for the applicants. They have not discussed this project and he believes he can review it without bias.
KenCairn heard some issues brought up by the Tree Commission and noticed the couple that was present at that meeting is also at this meeting.

STAFF REPORT
Molnar reported this is an about a seven acre piece located at the intersection of Orchard Street and Wright's Creek Drive. The dark line on the site plan is the boundary of the parcel. It does not abut a public right-of-way. It is a landlocked parcel with access through a private easement. Half the parcel is outside the city limits. The existing residence on the parcel is in Jackson County. The portion that pertains to this proposal (about 3.4 acres) is in the city limits and split zone. The bulk is Rural Residential, but a small portion that goes along the Wright's Creek tributary (south to north) is in Woodland Residential.

The applicants would like to take the 3.4 acres within the city limits and divide it into three lots. That would leave the County portion still in the County, reducing the overall lot size. Access to the property is proposed by upgrading the existing private roadway to more of a city standard. The beginning of the road would be widened to 22 feet but would not have a sidewalk. Once into the property, it would have full street improvements. The street improvements would stop short of the south boundary and the applicant is proposing a 47-foot wide overlay where the road travels. They are granting an irrevocable consent to dedicate it as public property in the event someday this street continues to service additional property that is in the city limits. Staff feels it is probably cleaner to grant the right-of-way at this point and build a facility within the street right-of-way. Staff does not have a problem with having the street improvements (22 feet) to where it accesses the final lot, Lot 3. The unimproved right-of-way would go up to the southerly boundary of the property.

Wright's Creek runs through a portion of the property. There are open spaces associated with the three new lots. They are proposing the area where the Wright's Creek channel goes through, the steep banks and the area within 20 feet of the banks to be in a private open space and left in its natural state. It would not be a public open space.

There is a Variance requested. The City allows for a maximum three lots to be served off a private drive. Since this portion is not in control of the applicant and would still be within private ownership, it still requires a Variance because we are adding to this situation that currently isn't a street standard and serves more than three parcels.

A Physical Constraints Permit is requested. Areas associated with Wright's Creek tributaries within 20 feet of the bank and the floodplain area are considered floodplain corridor lands. There is a possibility the culvert that goes under the private road is undersized and as that roadway is widened to the 22 feet, there will be some minor disturbance in that area.

Concerning the Variance criteria, overall, Staff would agree with the applicant that a parcel of this size zoned for additional divisions when it was made part of the City's Urban Growth Boundary and landlocked is to some degree unusual. A case could be made that this is an unusual circumstance. It has not been purposefully self-imposed. What are the benefits of approving the action and improving the driveway to allow three home sites access? Staff did not see any adverse impact on adjacent properties. In the adopted Parks and Open Space plan, this section of Wright's Creek tributary has been identified as a conservation area. If the Commission decides to approve the application, we would go with what is stipulated in the application. By putting this area in a conservation easement, it would not allow public access. It would insure the natural creek environment would be retained and not be incorporated as part of the more domestic landscaping on the project.

An issue that came up at the Tree Commission was the Tree Preservation Plan. Sixty-five trees have been identified. Seventeen are scheduled for removal. Thirteen are in building envelopes and three or four in closer proximity to the drive. There are a couple of oak trees not identified on the plan. It was difficult to determine at the Tree Commission, if in fact, the oak trees would have to be removed. A recommendation of the Tree Commission was to locate the trees and come back at Final Plan. Staff's concern is that once Outline Plan has been approved and the road location is determined, it is hard to come back at Final Plan and change it. Staff would recommend that the trees need to be identified, but possibly a final approval would have to be continued next month in order to know where the trees are and if they should or should not be approved.

The tree preservation plan shows the improvements suggested in the Condition. The project is supportable. Staff's recommendation, without knowing if the trees have been identified, would be for a continuance until we know exactly where the trees are located.

There was an e-mail from Thomas Heumann concerning the sequoia's planted along the eastern boundary of the triangular area. Molnar said the trees are not identified on the plan at this point and the minor expansion of the roadway should not affect those trees.

Swales thought if a property didn't have frontage on a public street, they had to have a physical flag drive. Molnar said there are provisions in the state statute that allow for granting access to landlocked parcels. Some of the building code and special plumbing code requirements assume you are making a connection (sewer/water) from the parcel to the public system. It wreaks havoc with the codes where you have to cross private property to get to the public system. Different easements have to be worked out. Swales ask if the proposal is continued that Staff looks into whether or not a physical connection is needed from the lot to the public street.

Molnar said Public Works raised an issue that if and when this street would actually go through, that they would at Final Plan be responsible for maintaining the dedicated section of public street.

PUBLIC HEARING
EVAN ARCHERD, 120 North Second Street, addressed the trees. He has a revised map showing the locations of five trees not shown on the original plan. They are located in an area where they are planning to provide the access road. The proposed right-of-way is wide enough that they can work around the trees and at most, remove one tree (oak - 10 dbh).

JOHN GALBRAITH, Galbraith & Associates, Inc., 145 S Holly, Medford, OR 97501, will look at saving the oak.

Archerd said he believes they meet the Variance criteria. The project's benefits include the advantage of putting the Wright's Creek drainage area in a conversation easement. They will, if necessary, provide right-of-way all the way through the site. It will provide better wildfire protection. The implementation of the Wildfire Protection Plan they have provided will better protect their own and adjacent properties. It is a better use of urban land. Having three plus acres in the city undivided does not serve the Comp Plan well. This proposal allows at least some division of a very large parcel.

They are removing 16 trees. They have been very careful to make sure they are the smallest trees on the property (between six and nine inches dbh). They are making sure not to disturb the prime trees on the site.

Archerd mentioned that the Performance Standards reference the regulation of new development in Ashland. It states is should be done in such a way to minimize the impact to the environment. With the Variance they have tried to minimize the amount of street and still provide the minimum necessary to provide access to the site.

Molnar said out of respect for the process, Staff would suggest continuing this action. The Tree Commission was not provided with location of the trees. Molnar has not seen it until tonight. If all other aspects of the proposal seem fairly clear, and it is continued and the Tree Commission endorses the layout with the tree identification, it is possible when we come back next month, we can have findings prepared for adoption.

Fields is confused about the parcel and the easement and the legality. Are they dedicating the part that is part of the easement? Molnar said the "gap" stays there. After leaving the dedicated portion, you'd fall out onto the existing 30-foot wide easement. There is a limitation of three homes off a private drive. This application would add to that, thus creating the need for a Variance.

Fields sees the "gap" in the street system that will never be condemned and will always be a private road. He is not sure how this is different than any other kind of private drive. Molnar said one difference is that a private drive is required to be improved to 15 feet in width. Even though the applicant can't dedicate the last portion as public right-of-way, he is does have a certain amount of control, because he is one of the benefited property owners to the easement. He is trying to widen it more to a city street standard in width. Fields said it seems like we are going out on a limb to take this unknown piece and build it to city standards and the applicant has no control and we have no control. It seems like the City enters into a murky area. Molnar said if the proposal is continued, perhaps we could get additional review of the easement language.

McLaughlin said the applicant is looking to do development of the parcel within the City. There is no way to do it without a Variance. The options of a Variance are to allow for a relatively large number of homes off a private drive that is not approved to city standards. The idea is you want to have the improvements that meet a city standard. The applicants are saying they can meet all the requirements as if it is a city street except for the separate piece of property in the middle cannot be dedicated to the City but they will make it meet all the other standards. You couldn't make the connection any farther south. It would take additional efforts to dedicate that portion in the future, but no one is bound by that.

Swales asked if the easement is going to be improved to city standards. Archerd said the easement would be improved to 20 feet wide pavement and curb. The easement is 30 feet wide. They can only get about 22 feet improved. Once it is on their property, it will be improved to full city street standards. He noted that when the lots are improved, they do in fact have frontage on a city street because the portion they are creating is a city street. The access beyond that is a Variance. Swales believes it becomes a legal question.

McLaughlin said it the Commission's determination if these are unique and unusual circumstances. The property is already developed with a home. They have a substantial property right. It is not a clear cut issue. Just because this is a situation they haven't seen before does not make it unique in terms of a Variance or that it meets the hardship requirements for a Variance. That is for the Commission's deliberation.

BOB DINKEL, 565 Orchard Street, stated he found the plan confusing. Are they going to hook up to Jackson County facilities too? What stipulations did the County put on the property when it was sold to a prior owner? He does not see any mention of additional traffic on Orchard, Grandview or Sunnyview. He doesn't see any mention of the size homes that can be built. He does not see any road improvements that lead into town. There is more than a 20 degree slope. When people come down the road fast and come into a very narrow road - what is going to happen to traffic control? He is concerned with water pressure. He has noticed diminished water pressure on Orchard. Will three houses create more pressure on the City's system?

When you have stream valleys that are very young, the upper level flow in a 100 year storm will be so strong it will create floods in the floodplain downstream. They have to be very careful with what they are going to do and how they mitigate anything sloping. He does not see a geological or environmental report. They may have to do blasting before he builds. He finds the proposal incomplete.

He has an astronomical research observatory that points into the dark area. He hopes we do not get street lights. There are fox in the gulley that have been there for years.

The proposed project abuts his property. He would like a buffer zone between his property and the applicant's.

He believes the Variance is self-imposed. When someone buys a property and they see it is this kind of property, it is self-imposed.

Swales said Condition 13 addresses fire hydrant pressure.

MARGUERITTE HICKMAN, Fire Prevention Officer, Ashland Fire and Rescue, 455 Siskiyou Boulevard, said on the submitted utilities plan, she has a concern about the third lot. The fire hydrant does not meet the 250 foot distance. Given the building envelope, it would probably even exceed the distance allowed with sprinklers installed. She was pleased to hear Archerd mention the wildfire control plan. If this is approved, the plan needs to be submitted, approved and implemented prior to issuance of a building permit.

Dotterrer wondered if we could add to Condition 13. " The wildland fire control plan shall be submitted, approved and implemented prior to issuance of a building permit."

Swales wondered if the current owner of the property is required to implement a wildfire control plan. Hickman said there is an incentive and encourage, but once the property develops, it is a requirement under the City's code.

KenCairn moved to extend meeting past 10:30. The motion was seconded and approved.

Staff Response
McLaughlin said the property in Jackson County outside the UGB cannot hook up to City water or sewer.

Dotterrer wondered if the access to the existing house (Lot 4) would change. Molnar said access is from the same location and veers off to where the new improvement will be located.

Fields asked the grade of the street. Molnar said the tentative grade is less than 15 percent. Fields asked if the street would be required to have street lights. Molnar said generally, the Electric Dept. only requires the lighting of intersections. But, given the uniqueness of the site, he is not certain.

Fields asked if we have any evidence about hydrant flow or water pressure. When is it addressed? McLaughlin said no concerns have yet been raised by the Water Department. Molnar said it would be addressed at Final Plan.

Swales asked if a geotechnical report is required? Molnar said it is not required because it is not Hillside. Any changes to the crossing through the floodplain have to accommodate a 100 year flood flow so it should improve flood issues. It has to be designed by a civil engineer. The final design would be at Final Plan.

Dotterrer asked if there was any issue regarding traffic control - a STOP sign? McLaughlin said there could be, given the orientation of the intersection. Public Works could require it as part of the design.

Chapman asked how far away from the top of bank the development can occur. Molnar said the building envelopes indicate at least 20 feet and then delineated by a short fence. It will be no closer than 20 feet.

Rebuttal
Archerd said they are not planning to connect the Jackson County part of the property to any City services whatsoever.

They addressed transportation as part of the original findings. The streets have plenty of capacity.

They are going to have make sure the existing culvert will meet the 100 year flood standard. If anything, they will be improving flood control, not hindering it.

Archerd said they are not proposing or advocating condemnation of Dinkel's property.

COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Chapman said it would be his preference to make sure the Tree Commission reviews this. He wouldn't object to doing Outline and Final Plan at the same time.

Swales asked McLaughlin to find out if it requires frontage on a street.

Fields needs to have utility easements going through there. Does the present easement allow easements to be given to a third party?

KenCairn wondered about liability and maintenance issues for the "gap".

Fields suggested a Condition that the applicant provides legal access for a public utility easement.

McLaughlin said it is the City's opinion that adequate water, sewer and street capacity can be met. They don't know for certain that access is met legally. One question deals with capacity. They are looking for a yes or no with regard to access.

McLaughlin said next month the applicant needs to address private property access to the right-of-way - does that meet the requirements for a subdivision - not having access from this subdivision to a public right-of-way? Can a Variance cure that? Can you have a physical gap in the right-of-way, but do you have to have the public utility easement? The applicant needs to address the liability and maintenance issue for this "gap". Even if it is a public utility easement, the road surface will have to be maintained. How does the responsibility fall to the homeowner's association or property owners? The Tree Commission will review the revised plan.

Molnar requested the applicant grant a continuance and a 60-day extension to the 120-day time limit. He asked the applicant to stop by the office and sign the form this week. The applicant agreed to continue until next month.

Chapman said public testimony will be restricted to the following: the tree issues, private property connection and right-of-way for a subdivision, public utility easements as it connects to the right-of-way, and liability and maintenance issues for the part that remains in private ownership. .

OTHER
RETREAT - The Planning Commission Retreat will be held Saturday, May 1st from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 10:50 P.M.

End of Document - Back to Top


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