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Planning Commission (View All)

Hearings Board

Minutes
Tuesday, September 12, 2000

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

HEARINGS BOARD

SEPTEMBER 12, 2000

MINUTES

CALL TO ORDER

Vice Chair Chris Hearn called the meeting to order at 6:35 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Alex Amarotico, Mike Morris, and Chris Hearn. Staff present were Bill Molnar, Mark Knox, and Sue Yates.

TYPE I PLANNING ACTIONS

PLANNING ACTION 2000-086

IS A REQUEST FOR A LAND PARTITION TO DIVIDE A PARCEL INTO TWO LOTS AT 397 HOLLY STREET.

APPLICANT: JONATHAN LANDES

This action was approved.

PLANNING ACTION 2000-087

IS A REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT TO ALLOW FOR AN ACCESSORY RESIDENTIAL UNIT LOCATED IN THE DOWNSTAIRS OF THE EXISTING RESIDENCE AT 582 HOLLY STREET.

APPLICANT: TOM KATSANTONES

This action was approved.

PLANNING ACTION 2000-088

IS A REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT FOR AN ADDITIONAL TRAVELER’S ACCOMMODATION (AT PRESENT THERE ARE FOUR UNITS PLUS THE OWNER’S UNIT). THE REQUEST IS ALSO FOR THE EXPANSION OF A TWO-STORY, NON-CONFORMING STRUCTURE WHICH WILL HOUSE THE ADDITIONAL TRAVELER’S ACCOMMODATION LOCATED AT 159 N. MAIN STREET.

APPLICANT: JON AND CARMEN REINHARDT

This action was approved.

PLANNING ACTION 2000-090

IS A REQUEST FOR LAND PARTITIONS TO DIVIDE THREE LOTS INTO SEVEN PARCELS FOR THE PROPERTY AT 556 FORDYCE STREET. THIS PROPOSAL ULTIMATELY INCLUDES THE IMPROVEMENT OF ROMEO DRIVE SOUTH TO MILL POND ROAD.

APPLICANT: SCOTT KURTZ

This action was called up for a public hearing.

ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned at 6:50 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

MINUTES

SEPTEMBER 12, 2000

CALL TO ORDER

Chair Mike Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. Other Commissioners present were John Fields, Marilyn Briggs, Ray Kistler, Russ Chapman, Mike Morris, Chris Hearn and Alex Amarotico. Kerry KenCairn was absent. Staff present were John McLaughlin, Bill Molnar, Mark Knox, and Sue Yates.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES - The Minutes of the August 8, 2000 Regular Meeting and the August 22, 2000 Study Session were approved.

PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth speak.

TYPE II PUBLIC HEARINGS

PLANNING ACTION 2000-045

REQUEST FOR A SITE REVIEW, CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT, VARIANCE AND TWO ADMINISTRATIVE VARIANCES TO THE CITY’S SITE DESIGN AND USE STANDARDS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF AN APPROXIMATELY 5,725 SQUARE FOOT ALIGNMENT BUILDING AND FREESTANDING TRUCK CANOPY FOR THE BUSINESS.

2308 ASHLAND STREET

APPLICANT: L S CONSTRUCTION CO.

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - A site visit was held on Monday, August 7th at 4:00 p.m. Commissioners Gardiner, Kistler, Briggs, Morris and Chapman were in attendance with Mark Knox leading the visit.

STAFF REPORT

Knox stated the applicable criteria for this application are found in AMC 18.104, 18.72, 18.100, and 18.72.090. This action has been continued from last month. The applicants have submitted additional information and are still proposing basically the same plan as submitted last month.

At the conclusion of last month’s meeting the Commission asked the applicant to resubmit a plan and apply for a Variance. The applicants have submitted a plan showing a driveway location aligned with the driveway easement that serves the back property. The applicants were asked to submit a plan that met the design standards showing the building within 20 feet of the street or otherwise have some type of plazascape in between. The other administrative variance was for the floor area ratio requirement. Lastly, the applicants were asked if they could not meet the last two requirements to illustrate why they cannot be met. The applicants have submitted plans that are contained in the record. Staff received the plans last Tuesday and did not have a lot of time to analyze the plans but have identified some problems. The site plan is not to scale and the cross-section does not show the full length of the property. The rendering shows the building along Ashland Street with a landscaped area between the building and the sidewalk with bike parking and sitting tables. In the packet there is a rendering done by a member of the Planning Staff showing a softened look on Ashland Street. Knox is trying to invoke some thought from the Commissioners and applicants with this rendering.

Staff has tried to steer the applicants in a positive direction by suggesting they look at certain sites around town and certain grading techniques and also suggesting they find a design professional skilled in urban planning and design. Staff’s overall recommendation has not changed from last month. There are still options available that the applicant has not yet explored that would allow them to meet the required design standards with no site review variances. Staff believes the applicants meet the criteria for the Conditional Use Permit and driveway Variance but do not meet the criteria nor have they provided definitive evidence for the two administrative Variances required under the Site Review permit.

PUBLIC HEARING

CHRISTINE FARRELL, Les Schwab Construction, P. O. Box 667, Prineville, OR 97754, explained there are demonstrable difficulty in meeting the specific requirements because of the unusual aspects of the proposed use of the site. Staff has compared Schwab’s site to Wendy’s. Wendy’s does not have vehicles in the wintertime circulating around its site, moving in and out of canopies, and otherwise interacting between trucks and passenger vehicles. They have tried to show why the location of the building at the 20 foot setback does not work.

RYAN WILLIS, Les Schwab Construction, discussed the renderings and their concern about the amount of fill needed to go from the bottom of the door to the grade level and changes in grade.

Farrell said this is an expansion of the existing facility. The new facility has to work together with the existing facility. It is not an option to change the grade of the existing facility.

Willis is concerned about excessive slopes and ADA issues. He explained the drawings were not to scale for ease in reading.

LARRY McMICHAEL, Les Schwab Construction, explained they are trying to get an alignment center and accommodate truck flow. With the existing topography they need to maintain an elevation of {510}. If they maintain the elevation with the truck traffic coming off Ashland Street, they want to keep the elevation as level as they can. If they do that, then there is a grade problem between that and the alignment center. They want to use the back of the building to be able to maintain a wall that would be part of the building and still maintain the elevation of the property for the truck traffic. If they wanted to change the elevation in the back parking lot and cut off the access that Staff has recommended there is not a reason because they cannot alter the {510} elevation and still get trucks around there, especially in Ashland in the wintertime with snow and ice. Another option they looked at was putting the building totally to the back of the property with parking in front which does not meet the design standards. Willis added that the building would have to be elevated or there could be drainage problems as well unless the building is raised up.

JOHN FREEDOM, 442 Holly Street, said the Commissioners are being asked to consider a variance from the standard that was set down some years ago as a result of an extraordinary collaborative effort by a group of people who were concerned about the development practices that were unfolding in the City of Ashland. While Les Schwab is an important part of the community, we have to be absolutely certain when we process a request for a variance, that we are looking at how Ashland Street is going to look in ten years. Freedom is not convinced all the avenues for this expansion have been approached. He is asking the Commissioners to re-visit particularly the policies and goals of the Comprehensive so they have a complete backing of the spirit of the Comprehensive Plan to reinforce their decision.

Chapman asked if it is still Staff’s position that the grading can be done? Knox does not understand if they drop the grade from {510} to {508) why there could not be some type of drain system.

McLaughlin said the canopy area is close to {508} now. It has been his experience that there are solutions to the drainage system because of the other sloping sites in Ashland. It seems there are still opportunities for a building to enhance Ashland Street in a greater way than their original proposal.

Kistler asked for an explanation of why they are not involving an architect because of the size of the building. McLaughlin said he spoke with the City Attorney. Nowhere in our ordinance do we require plans be designed by a licensed architect. It is not a criteria the Commissioners can use. In the ORS there is a section on limitations on what designers can do versus architects. Even though it has not been the Commission’s practice in the past to require that plans be prepared by a licensed architect, the Commission can find that if the information is not meeting what is appropriate to the site that a licensed architect or engineer would be helpful in getting the design that meet the City’s standards.

Rebuttal

Farrell said they are not asking for a change in the Comprehensive Plan but an administrative variance based upon the unique aspect of their use. They are a vehicle oriented business. They want to better serve the community by improving their facility in a safe, convenient manner. If they are required to hire a licensed engineer, they will come back with the same result. She is not sure it is even legal.

McMichaels said they do use licensed engineers and architects.

Farrell said they are asking for a variance from the 20 foot setback from the public sidewalk. They are requesting this variance because they have determined through their investigations that facing the bays toward the back won’t work because of the grade, the use, and because of their requirements for truck circulation around the site. They have to face the bays toward the front and they need room between the building and sidewalk for vehicles to maneuver, therefore, the building needs to be set back more than 20 feet. Can they face the bays toward the front of the property and still meet the objective for the street design? She believes they can do that.

McLaughlin agreed that the Commission cannot legally require the applicants to hire a licensed architect. It can be a recommendation. There is a balance of meeting the purpose and intent of the Site Review Ordinance which includes pedestrian, mass transit and bicycle facilities as well as meeting the needs of the site (business). Staff understands the desired needs and the grade plan but the mitigating factors for the variances have not been seen yet.

Briggs said when looking at the Wendy’s site, "aggressive bulldozing" was the expression used to explain what they did to change the terrain. With retaining walls and double fall lines with landscaping, it all seemed to work. She does not understand why it cannot be done at this site. In particular, on the side of the building where it goes down to the street, there is a natural place to have a double fall line. McMichaels said they can drop the building down but they are trying to maintain {510} for trucks.

Fields said if you cut the pad so it is sloping away and level all around, and drop the building (2’6"), it would seem the problem goes away. He does not hear the applicants say the grade seems irrelevant. He suggested cutting the whole thing to {508}. The Commission is saying they do not want to see the bays. He does not hear the applicants saying that the big trucks need to circulate around the back and the cars need to enter in the front and they don’t want to mix the traffic. McMichaels said that is what he is trying to say. Fields would like to be clear on Schwab’s business need and that should be the case the applicant should be making.

Gardiner asked if the public would be entering in and out of the alignment bays. Farrell said employees drive vehicles driven in and out of the bays. The truck owners drive trucks. It doesn’t matter who is driving. If there is an unsafe circulation pattern there are going to be accidents.

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Hearn said he is hearing there is still room for approaching this application with an improved plan.

Chapman agreed and feels it is a work in progress. The applicants are saying now that the grading is really not the problem but the issue of conflict between cars and trucks.

Amarotico concurred with Hearn and Chapman and strongly believes that a licensed designer would make him feel more confident with what they are being told.

Briggs would hate to see Les Schwab go away because they cannot do this. She would like to see them come back showing more complete grades and how the trucks move, as well as more complete drawings. The lot is so long that it seems possible it can work.

McLaughlin said this action can be continued if the applicant agrees.

Kistler is beginning to think that if this does not work because of the conflict between cars and trucks that it might be best to have the doors facing the front. If he could be sold that something was happening in the front that was a lot more significant and then push the building further back, he would be willing to consider that. He would like to recommend an architect look at the project. There is something missing on aesthetics.

Fields said we are missing the rest of the streetscape. The issue he sees is Ashland Street. This is our service end of town. You create a parking lot right on the street because you have engine grease, cars idling, and it is unsafe to walk. That is why the Commissioners want to move the building forward. It gives a buffer from the street and creates a streetscape. He understands the applicants’ need, however, it is not compelling enough to approve.

Morris said there are a lot of unknowns as to how this is going to look. He would like more detail and more thought on how things operate.

Gardiner said he personally deals with car and truck conflict. He did not get a feel for the flow of the project. He would like to see the applicants try to tie the new structure with the old structure so they can see the flow. He asked that they try to use the ideas by Staff and the Commission.

Farrell said it is not the conflict but the grade. She agreed to a continuance and waived the 120 day rule. McMichaels does not know how they can display to the Commission how their business functions.

Gardiner said the applicants’ testimony gave little indication that Ashland Street is an important part of the community. Can they find a way to make our ordinances work for their business so it will for us too. He would like to see them come back with either a more comprehensive plan of why it will not work and possibly take their ideas a little further.

Briggs suggested they make a sandbox to scale with cardboard boxes and little cars that would give the Commissioners a visual. The drawings are not doing it. She does not understand why they keep saying this is impossible.

Kistler said if the front-loaded design is the only way they can go, he would like to see a lot more depth and more mitigation in landscaping and design.

Hearn explained that Ashland Street is the entrance to our town. Even if it does not meet every detail, he would like to see some mitigation.

Kistler asked if they would be willing to have an architect look at the project. McMichaels said they would be willing.

Farrell agreed to a two month continuance and to come back to the November 14, 2000

regular meeting.

PLANNING ACTION 2000-081

REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT TO CONVERT FOUR EXISTING APARTMENTS TO SEASONAL TRAVELER’S ACCOMMODATIONS FROM JUNE 15 TO OCTOBER 15 FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 130 HARGADINE.

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all. John Fields had an ex parte contact with Philip Thormahlen about selling his house.

STAFF REPORT

Molnar reported this application is subject to a Conditional Use Permit and Variance. Notice was mailed to the affected property owners.

There are six apartment units in this complex. There is a four-plex orienting towards Hargadine. There is a parking area that is accessed off South Pioneer. The traveler’s accommodation would operate June 15th through October 15th and then revert back to month-to-month rentals the remaining eight months. The duplex behind the four-plex would house the business manager and the other unit is proposed for long-term rental. There is also a request for a Variance. Under the Traveler’s Accommodation ordinance, the properties are required to be within 200 feet of a city collector or arterial street. The closest arterial street is Main Street that is approximately 400 feet away.

There is some history of similar applications for the site dating back in the mid-1980’s. Both of the applications were denied. The past denials emphasized the loss of rental housing. In the late 80’s there were similar problems that Ashland is facing today in terms of a low vacancy rate and high cost of housing and a limited supply of low and moderate rental housing. In both cases, the Commission stated in their findings that the Variance was not warranted because the loss of rental housing conflicted with the City’s Housing Element calls for providing a wide range of housing.

The same concerns still exist with this application. There are doubts as to the uniqueness of this property. The application raises issues regarding the impacts that have developed on this corner due to the increased vitality of the downtown including increased traffic and more parking demands in the area. The property owners feel this has affected the marketability of the rental units to a wide range of individuals and their market tends to be more the SOU student population. This would allow the property owner to still rent the units during eight months out of the year and convert to traveler’s accommodations the rest of the year. There are many residential units near and around the downtown that are located to the commercial areas and yet in excess of 200 feet of an arterial. The people that live in and around the downtown live there for a reason, primarily because it provides a different housing type. The proposed use would be only seasonal, Staff’s concern as well as the concerns of the Historic Commission is the practicality of operating a business and then going to eight-month rental units. The SOU academic years runs late September to the middle of June. The seasonal use of the traveler’s accommodation will run through October 15th. How would that transition work and not over time creep into more of a traveler’s accommodation function with those units slowly being removed from the rental market?

Staff does not see a clear public benefit of a traveler’s accommodation. In the past, generally a traveler’s accommodation application might include a renovation of a historic building. In this case, these are apartments.

Staff has added four Conditions if the Commission chooses to approve the application. Molnar passed out Historic Commission minutes. They unanimously recommended denial due to the degradation of the mixed use area and stated the application does not meet the Comprehensive Plan criteria for affordable housing. It would set a precedent for other properties in the area. A map was handed out showing properties adjoining a downtown commercial area but are in excess of 200 feet from an arterial or collector.

PUBLIC HEARING

MIKE LANIER, Richard Stevens Co., 211 Genessee Street, Medford, OR, handed out a packet. Most of his testimony was a review of this packet. He introduced JEANNETTE WILCOX. This application would allow his client to change, in a very small way, the way she rents the property. There will be no changes except some upgrading of the landscaping. It is not the role of the city how a person operates their business. They chose a window from June 15th to October 15th so people can move in and out of the units reasonably because the month-to-month rental is almost exclusive to the SOU student body. With regard to the map handed out by Staff, almost every house above Hargadine is a boarding or rooming house or was at one time. This has always been a rental area.

Lanier said they meet all the criteria for the traveler’s accommodation section of the ordinance except for the proximity of the project to an arterial or collector. These four units are not going to be a significant impact on the housing in Ashland. They will probably generate less traffic than if they are rental units. He has letters from surrounding property owners supporting this application.

With regard to the Variance, Lanier believes the location, age, characteristics and size, combined with the existing market (long and short-term) are conditions that do not typically apply elsewhere in the City.

MARTY LEMPKE, 1335 Prospect Street, President of the Board of Directors of OSF, stated they are supporting the applicant in this application. She read a letter from Paul Nicholson supporting the application.

LARS SVENSGARD, 183 Vista Street, said he is a neighbor and the neighborhood is multi-family residential. He is personally acquainted with the residents of Windsor Arms. They are not college students and they are upset about losing their homes. The impact cannot be discounted too strongly by shifting it to a different kind of function. The parking in their neighborhood is abysmal. What if someone shows up at the traveler’s accommodation with a RV? There would be no parking. Overnight lodging generates late night entering and early exiting. They are in an amphitheater situation and cars coming and going will be amplified. He submitted letters from three neighbors. This is a place where people live. He is here representing the neighborhood. If this is approved, it will creep up the hill. It will become a Shakespeare annex. He urged the Commission to turn this application down.

COLIN SWALES, 461 Allison Street, said he agrees with both sides. He is just looking for a level playing field and that everyone should be treated equally and fairly. He would like the Commission to withhold their opinion until after the OSF appeal is over.

SHARON THORMAHLEN, owner of the property, said if the Commission is concerned about precedent, there is an additional uniqueness to this property. Their streets are barricaded which limits access to their property. Are any of these other streets barricaded? The Green Show is more amplified and more of a show than in the past and it impacts all the surrounding properties. There are going to be conflicts in trying to recapture the residential qualities of that property during the summer.

Rebuttal

Lanier said while he understands those in opposition, these units are old and small. They are available to a fairly limited scope of tenancy. Wilcox manages 70 other units and would be able to take care of displaced renters. This is not a significant change in use and meets the criteria for a variance and CUP . The site is impacted by off-site uses. The traffic impacts will probably be less.

Chapman asked Lanier what Staff and the Historic Commission have missed. Lanier explained that he has just become involved in the application. Wilcox was probably not prepared when testifying before the Historic Commission.

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Hearn sees the logic of a lot of the arguments Lanier made. However, the Commission hears comments about affordable housing in Ashland and the "Aspenization" of Ashland. With a one percent vacancy rate, it is hard to justify removing this place from the rental inventory.

Amarotico and Chapman mentioned Jon Warren’s application on Helman and Central. The Commissioners felt that if they approved that application it would have meant turning the corner that would start coming into a residential neighborhood. Is this the point at which the neighborhood feels infringed upon?

Fields said if we approve this application, it could run a certain segment of the population out of town. It’s going to be tough with growth to stop it, but someday there will be another application down the road. It is an erosion and it is a "giving" (instead of a "taking") and Fields sees it as a loss.

Gardiner is reluctant to approve because of the reduction in inventory.

Hearn moved to deny PA2000-081. Fields seconded. The motion carried unanimously to deny.

OTHER - McLaughlin announced Oregon Planning Institute will be held in Eugene October 5-6th. Anyone interested in attending should call the Planning office.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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