Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
JANUARY 11, 2005

I. CALL TO ORDER
Chair Russ Chapman called the Ashland Planning Commission meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. on January 11, 2005 at the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.

COMMISSIONERS PRESENT: Russ Chapman, Chair
Mike Morris
Kerry KenCairn
Marilyn Briggs
Allen Douma
Olena Black
Michael Dawkins
John Fields
ABSENT MEMBERS: Dave Dotterrer
COUNCIL LIAISON: Jack Hardesty - present
HIGH SCHOOL LIAISON: None
SOU LIAISON: None
STAFF PRESENT: John McLaughlin, Planning Director
Maria Harris, Senior Planner
Derek Severson, Assistant Planner
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary
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II. ANNOUNCEMENTS
There will be a study session on January 25, 2005 with Rogue Valley Council of Governments. The topic will be Integrated Land Management and Transportation Plan.

The Planning Commissioners "Chat" will be held on January 25, 2005 at the Community Development and Engineering Services building at 51 Winburn Way from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The public is invited to stop by.

The kick-off for the Downtown Plan will be held at the Historic Ashland Armory on Oak Street on January 26, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.

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III. MINUTES AND FINDINGS
Douma/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of the December 14, 2004 Hearings Board. Voice Vote: Unanimous.

Black amended the December 14, 2004 minutes on page 6, beginning "Black believes…," change the last word in the sentence from "drainage" to "wetland preservation." At the top of page 7, Chapman noted Briggs had been omitted from the vote to approve. Black/Briggs m/s to approve the minutes as corrected. Voice Vote: Unanimous.

The Findings for the December 14, 2004 Planning Commission meeting will be approved later in the meeting.

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IV. PUBLIC FORUM
PHILIP LANG, 758 B Street, presented a letter previously presented to the Planning Commission on August 13, 1996 discussing the problems with the planning process. Planning applications should be reviewed with an eye on a project's conformity to ordinance and law and pass or deny accordingly.
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V. TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
A. PLANNING ACTION 2004-150
REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT TO MODIFY A NON-CONFORMING SITE INVOLVING THE CONSTRUCTION OF AN APPROXIMATELY 3,837 SQUARE FOOT ADDITION TO THE EXISTING UNITARIAN CHURCH BUILDING LOCATED AT 87 FOURTH STREET. THE ADDITION WILL ACCOMMODATE A SOCIAL HALL, KITCHEN, RESTROOMS AND STORAGE/MAINTENANCE SPACE. IN ADDITION, THE CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT REQUEST INCLUDES THE CONVERSION OF THE RESIDENCE AT 65 FOURTH STREET TO ADDITIONAL MEETING SPACE, AND THE BACKYARD INTO A PLAYGROUND.
APPLICANT: UNITARIAN UNIVERSAL FELLOWSHIP CHURCH

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all.

STAFF REPORT
Harris said there are two parts to the proposal. The first part is the addition of a one-story, approximately 3800 square foot social hall addition on the north side of the existing church building and the addition of five off-street parking spaces at the back of 65 Fourth Street adjacent to the alley, and 2) use the residence at 65 Fourth Street (separate tax lot) for a meeting space and conversion of the rear yard area of that parcel into a playground. The property is considered non-conforming because it is short ten parking spaces (including proposed parking) in meeting the required 29 spaces.

Exterior changes to the building include removal of the steeple and some changes to the windows that face the alley. The alley will be paved. Landscaping improvements are proposed along with replacement of the C Street sidewalk and addition of a parkrow and street trees along Fourth Street.

Staff has recommended approval of the social hall and the addition of five parking spaces at 65 Fourth Street as there should be no net gain in activities or frequency in hours, thus the material affect on the neighborhood should remain at current levels.

The use of the residence as an additional meeting space, though used for the last five years, is a relatively new component of the overall church use. It is difficult to justify an incremental use in the overall level of activity as meeting the criteria, particularly when it is non-conforming and does not meet the currently required level of parking. It is an increase. Goals in the Comprehensive Plan address keeping existing units in the housing inventory with a mix of different types of units for all the components of Ashland's population. The loss of residential units through the CUP process has been an issue at past Councils and Planning Commissions. There is a concern from neighbors that every time a unit converts to a non-residential use, it changes the character of the neighborhood. Additionally, there is no residential presence at night.

Staff is concerned that the playground is going beyond the current church site property. The area proposed for the playground has adjacent residential units. It is not clear from the proposal how often the playground is used. It seems it could make more of an impact than a single family home.

Staff is recommending denial of the residence as a meeting space and installation of the playground in the backyard.

The Tree Commission reviewed the proposal and made five recommendations as outlined in the packet.

The Historic Commission reviewed the proposal and felt the design met the basic Site Review Standards. They requested the existing sanctuary architecture be preserved except for the steeple removal. They requested that the architectural details on trim and materials come back to the Historic Commission before the building permit is issued.

Staff has suggested 17 Conditions with a revision to Condition 8 in the Staff Report Addendum. Eliminate the first sentence. It then would read: That the final engineering for the sidewalk improvements, including the wheelchair ramps at the corner shall be reviewed and approved by Ashland Planning and Engineering Division prior to the installation of the improvements. The sidewalk shall be installed prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy.

Add Condition 18. The plantings in the parkrow shall be grass, ground cover or similar low-growing plantings as shown in a revised landscaping plan.

PUBLIC HEARING
TOM GIORDANO, 2635 Takelma Way, agent for the Unitarian Church, said the proposed social hall will not cause an increase in the church's current activities. The annex (residence) has been used by the church as office space and teen activity for the last several years. There have been no complaints issued. The use could be converted back into residential at some point in the future. With regard to the playground, only a few children use it infrequently. The target use of the zone would probably allow for another unit. The proposed use seems less intense.

BILL EMERSON, 90 Fifth Street, stated there is a buffering of fencing that is offset from the property line. They could add some landscaping on the apartment side and have a low wall that would buffer the actual play area.

With regard to the social hall, Emerson created a separate, individual design, not adding to the mass of the existing church. The original building on the site 100 years ago extended to the corner.

PHILLlP HART , 505 Guthrie Street, reported the annex is only used a couple of times a week. They meet Sunday and one day during the week in the evening and it is used primarily by the teens in the church. The space is important for the teens. The proposed use is an important element to their plan. There is no equivalent space for this use. The implication, if the use of the residence is not allowed for a meeting space, is that it would be converted to a viable residence. The house needs significant improvements. That would be an additional expense as well as the expense of administering it. It would seem then that the house would not be used at all in the immediate future.

He emphasized the play area would be used infrequently by just a few children and will have little impact.

GIORDAN0 said the home was originally given to the church specifically for the teens. The teens are supervised while there. He also does not like to see the loss of a residential unit. However, in the C-1 and E-1 zones, the City has allowed residential uses that have counterbalanced the loss of residential in other areas.

KenCairn suggested the lot with the annex (house) could be split off from the church. The house could stay on its own lot and the church could build a meeting hall that acted as a teen meeting space/daycare center building with a playground on the back and parking.

Giordano and Emerson said there would not be enough room.

REV. PATT HERDKLOTZ, 384 Clinton Street, understood that given the size of both properties, their expansion was as large as they could go. If they sold the house, their land size would be smaller. Would the expansion still be legal? The annex has also served as an overflow meeting place.

PHILIP LANG, 758 B Street, is speaking for himself and RUTH MILLER, same address. He handed out a letter and a map of the neighborhood. He reminded the Commission the house has been converted to an illegal use. It is a residence and must be used as such. It is not an issue to condition whether they could or should approve it as a meeting room. It is an enforcement issue. He is opposed to both the expansion and conversion. He is directly affected, as he owns five rental units in the area. He referred to 18.68.090 as evidence that the application should not be approved since it is a non-conforming use and removes a possible affordable house from the housing stock. Because he and his tenants have not filed complaints, does not mean the parking problem created by the church doesn't exist. During church use, the streets around the church are jammed, making parking difficult for residents, his tenants and visitors. The proposed development will exacerbate the parking problem. The addition of a large multi-purpose space and a commercial kitchen is meant to enlarge and extend the church's capacity to expand or extend the use, thereby creating additional parking demand. Lang referred to 18.104.050C, specifically, generation of traffic, air quality (kitchen odors from exhaust fans), generation of noise, light and glare (people and car noises coming and going), development of adjacent properties. The adjacent properties are all developed as multi-family. In this request, the weight of interest as well as law are on the side of residential character, designation and the residents of the neighborhood. He favors denial of the application.

Staff Response
Harris referred to a letter in the packet from Karen Geise regarding parking. The lot coverage is 65 percent, the maximum for the zone, and that is what is proposed (the whole site).

McLaughlin mentioned there have been only two revocation hearings in the past. One was for the Yoga Studio because they were not complying with conditions but it was ultimately resolved and the CUP was not revoked. The other was a traveler's accommodation where the owner had lived on the site but then no longer lived on the site and the CUP was revoked for year. They applied again and operated legally ever since.

McLaughlin said the impact of the church is linked to the size of the sanctuary. The parking demand is measured off the seating capacity of the sanctuary. In the normal operation of churches, there is a fluctuation in membership, however, the Commission could place a limitation on the number of services if there is a concern for the neighborhood.

Rebuttal
Giordano said this is not a development and there is no commercial kitchen. If that is stated in the findings, that is not correct. The building is larger, but the use, activities and intensity will not change over what is happening there now. It is a redistribution of the space for better function. They are making the situation better by adding additional parking. There are other CUP's that would have more of an adverse impact than a church use.

Emerson agreed there is a parking problem in the Railroad District. By adding spaces, it will help the overall neighborhood situation. There cannot be an increase in usage unless the sanctuary size increases. The annex has worked well since 1998.

McLaughlin noted that an approval would be specific to these two parcels. If one lots sells or changes, it becomes a modification of the CUP.

Emerson said they were able to not ask for a Variance in the application.

COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Dawkins/Black m/s to approve the social hall addition. Dawkins withdrew his motion and Black concurred with the withdrawal.

A straw poll indicated two Commissioners were in favor of Staff's recommendation to convert the house (meeting space) back to a residence.

The Commissioners discussed the merits of the proposal. They stated the social hall is an expansion of services and could result in an increased use and demand on parking. However, no evidence was presented to indicate a parking problem currently. There are other CUP's such as daycare or a public school that could have more negative impacts than a church use. The use of the annex is infrequent. The proposal will be meeting a community need. A church is part of being in a town and part of a neighborhood. Everyone felt the playground use would have minimal impact. There did not seem to be a concern in the immediate neighborhood about traffic or use of the house as a meeting space. No complaints have been filed on the annex or the church. The house will not be lost as residential because it was lost when it was illegally converted to a meeting space. The trade-off of residential in E-1 and C-1 does not really matter. It is still important to have a 24 hour presence. Though somewhat reluctant to lose the residence, most were willing to accept the change of the use from a residence to a meeting space.

Dawkins/Morris m/s to approve the social hall use and the annex as a meeting hall use with the amended Condition 17 and added Condition 18. Roll Call: Unanimous.

APPROVAL OF FINDINGS - December 14, 2004 Regular Meeting
Briggs/Black m/s to accept the Findings for denial for PA2004-128, Fordyce Street Cohousing, Mindlin. Voice Vote: Unanimous.

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B. PLANNING ACTION 2004-161 IS A REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT TO CONVERT A NON-CONFORMING STRUCTURE AT THE REAR OF THE PROPERTY TO AN ACCESSORY RESIDENTIAL UNIT (ARU) LOCATED AT 968 GARDEN WAY. THE STRUCTURE IS NON-CONFORMING BECAUSE IT IS LOCATED APPROXIMATELY ONE FOOT FROM THE REAR PROPERTY LINE WHICH DOES NOT MEET CURRENT REAR YARD SETBACK REQUIREMENTS. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENTIAL; ZONING: R-1-7.5; ASSESSOR'S MAP #: 39 1E 15 AC; TAX LOT 4600.
APPLICANT: MILO SHUBAT/ASHLAND DESIGN SOLUTIONS

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by Dawkins, Briggs, Chapman, Morris and KenCairn.

STAFF REPORT
Severson explained how this application does not meet the current setbacks and is non-conforming because it is one foot from the property line. Based on neighborhood objections to a prior planning action at 904 Garden Way, staff decided to schedule a public hearing for this action. At the prior hearing, neighbors raised concerns about additional traffic, potential for a number of occupants, and potential for the property to be non-owner occupied.

Severson showed slides and explained the project as outlined in the Staff Report. The unit is within walking distance of Siskiyou Boulevard and a bus route. The proposed accessory unit will have some modifications with the addition of a porch on the north side. The addition will comply with current setback regulations. One off-street parking space will be added west of the accessory unit, off Ross Lane. The landscaping adjacent to the accessory structure will be upgraded. The accessory residential unit is proposed at 975 square feet. There are adequate public facilities in the Ross Lane right-of-way.

Staff is proposing a Condition that the applicant signs in favor of future street improvements to Ross and Garden Way.

The applicant is providing the four required parking spaces. The applicant's daughter is planning to live in the front house and the owner plans to reside in the accessory unit. Staff believes the application meets the criteria for approval and is recommending approval with 17 attached Conditions. The Tree Commission reviewed the proposal and recommended six conditions included in the packet.

Severson said the solid wood fence would be reduced to four feet in height and moved to accommodate the parking.

PUBLIC HEARING
MILO SHUBAT, 350 Taylor Street, agent for John Backus (applicant), stated the only constraint is the non-conforming condition. The structure was built as a garage in the 1950's. In the late 70's, it was converted to a habitable structure. The current owner is hoping to bring it into full compliance. Shubat described the parking. The modifications to the structure will be occurring to the north which is not visible to Garden Way or Ross Lane. It is the applicant's intent to use the as owner occupied.

KEITH SWINK, 231 Gresham Street, previously lived on Harmony and is building a house on Peachey. He supports this project, but is very concerned about the general tendency of bringing accessory residential units to this neighborhood. It has an impact. The houses on upper Harmony are rental houses with three to four adults living in a house. The street is narrow and he believes the more rental units that occur, the more it degrades the single family neighborhoods, causing traffic and safety problems. When these applications come before the Planning Commission, he would hope the Commissioners require the most stringent guidelines possible to help maintain neighborhoods. Little by little, rental units encroach and the neighborhood changes and there is no turning back.

Staff Response - None

Rebuttal - None

COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Black/Douma m/s to accept PA 2004-161 with the Conditions as written. Roll Call: Unanimous.

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VI. OTHER
A. COUNCIL GOALS
The Commissioners' goals were forwarded to Council for their goal setting. Douma thanked those that participated. He would like to see the Planning Commission set goals. Chapman said it would be ideal for their annual retreat.

Black wondered if there was a current goal to reassess our traffic, transportation and parking. McLaughlin said there was not.

B. MISCELLANEOUS
Douma would like to have input in the Charter Review with regard to planning. McLaughlin said the Charter Review doesn't say anything about the Planning Commission. There is some discussion about how the Planning Commissioners are appointed. McLaughlin will get more information. Douma would like to be informed if and when the Council discusses the role of the Planning Commission.

Briggs noted an article from the New Yorker that mentions Measure 37. Copies will be made for the Commission.

Briggs mentioned some letters to the editor she has read recently with regard to the cohousing project. The letters don't mention the request is for a Zone Change. The Planning Commission felt the compassion for what the applicants were doing. She is sensing they are trying to build compassion and sympathy. The "campaign" is not being fair the Commissioners as a group.

McLaughlin said the Council will be looking at possible revisions to the appeals process at their next meeting, for example, alternating testimony of proponents and opponents.

The Commissioners received a letter from Brent Thompson. The Planning Commission should get to the modifications in the next month or two.

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VII. ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 10:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Yates, Executive Secretary


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