Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, April 12, 2005

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

APRIL 12, 2005

MINUTES

 

CALL TO ORDER

Chair Russ Chapman called the Ashland Planning Commission meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. on April 12, 2005 at the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.

 

Commissioners Present:                      Russ Chapman, Chair

                                                                                Mike Morris

                                                                                John Fields

                                                                                Marilyn Briggs

                                                                                Allen Douma

                                                                                Olena Black

                                                                                Michael Dawkins

                                                                                Dave Dotterrer

                                                                                Kerry KenCairn

                Absent Members:                                  None

Council Liaison:                                   Jack Hardesty – present

Staff Present:                                        John McLaughlin, Planning Director

                                                                Bill Molnar, Senior Planner

                                                                Maria Harris, Senior Planner

                                                                                Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Chapman reminded the Commissioners their Statement of Economic Interest is due April 15, 2005.

 

The Planning Commission “Chat” will be held April 26, 2005 at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The public is invited to drop in and discuss planning issues that do not involve current planning actions.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS

March 8, 2005 Regular Meeting Minutes

Under Staff Response on page 5,  change the sentence beginning with “Douma said this project has…” to read “Douma said taking 140 square feet from the open space to make an accessible parking space does not seem onerous.”  Dotterrer/Douma m/s to approve the March 8, 2005 amended regular meeting minutes.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous.

 

March 30, 2005 Study Session Minutes

Chapman asked for clarification of paragraph 7 on page 1 under “Topic…Roles and Duties.”   Leave the sentence beginning with “Dawkins believes one of the functions of the Planning Commission is to set policy.”   Change the next sentence to read:  “It is up to the Commission to work within the parameters of the criteria.  If specific criteria are no longer applicable or are problematic, it is the Commissioners job to undertake the process of reviewing those criteria.  Chapman agreed.”   

 

Findings

Dotterrer/Douma m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-008, 593 Crowson Road.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous

 

Black/Dotterrer m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-00224, 400 East Nevada Street.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous

 

Harris noted changes to the Findings for PA2005-00046, 2001 Siskiyou Boulevard, RVCDC.  Section 2.5, page 5, delete the sentence “The future residents do not include any disabled persons.”  In that same paragraph, delete the sentence “Additionally, this is an affordable housing project…of which none are disabled persons.”  Under Section 2.6, page 6, the sentence beginning “The proposed development is unique…” should end with “will be occupied by households at less than 80 percent of median income.”  Briggs/Dawkins m/s to approve the amended Findings.  Voice Vote:   Chapman, KenCairn, Morris, Dawkins, Briggs, Fields, Black and Dotterrer voted approval and Douma cast a “no” vote. 

 

 

PUBLIC FORUM

BRYAN HOLLEY, 324 Liberty Street, encouraged the Planning Commissioners to become involved in moving the downtown vision forward rather than spending $100,000 in taxpayer dollars.  He would suggest using a subcommittee or something similar to what the Charter Review Committee is doing.

 

He asked the Planning Commission to get involved with the Lincoln Elementary School site by perhaps assigning a task force.  He is afraid the decision regarding Lincoln School is happening only through the lens of the School Board. 

 

TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING

PLANNING ACTION 2005-00084

REQUEST FOR SITE REVIEW APPROVAL OF A MIXED-USE COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT TO BE LOCATED AT 165 LITHIA WAY AND 123 N. FIRST ST.  THE PROPOSAL INCLUDES TWO 3-STORY MIXED-USE COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS.  IN ADDITION, SIX ROW HOUSES ARE PROPOSED.  A TOTAL OF APPROXIMATELY 14,700 SQUARE FEET OF RETAIL AND OFFICE SPACE AND A TOTAL OF 41 RESIDENTIAL UNITS ARE INCLUDED IN THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT.  THE SITE IS LOCATED IN THE DETAIL SITE REVIEW ZONE, AND IS SUBJECT TO THE DETAIL SITE REVIEW STANDARDS AND TO THE DOWNTOWN DESIGN STANDARDS.  IN ADDITION, THE PROPOSAL IS SUBJECT TO THE LARGE SCALE DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS BECAUSE IT EXCEEDS 10,000 SQUARE FEET IN SIZE AND INCLUDES BUILDINGS GREATER THAN 100 FEET IN LENGTH.  AN ADMINISTRATIVE VARIANCE FROM THE SITE DESIGN AND USE STANDARDS IS REQUESTED FOR THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE BUILDINGS.  A TREE REMOVAL PERMIT IS REQUESTED TO REMOVE FOUR TREES ON SITE.

APPLICANT:  ARCHERD & DRESNER, LLC, AND REDCO, LLC

 

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts

All the Commissioners had a site visit.  Dotterrer attended a couple charrettes a year and a half ago. Black attended a charrette.  Briggs attended all charrettes.  Morris attended two charrettes.  Fields, Chapman, and KenCairn attended the first charrette. 

 

Colin Swales (from audience) asked the Commissioners to explain their ex parte contacts.  Did anyone have a significant influence on the project or did anyone make suggestions they thought should be incorporated into the project? 

 

KenCairn, Morris, Fields and Chapman attended but did not participate. 

 

Briggs doubts she had an influence, but she had input.  She expressed what she felt was the inappropriateness of the saw tooth roof on the row houses on First Street because it is industrial and should not be next to the residences along B Street.  She noticed the row house design tonight has been slightly modified.  She talked about Building 1 on the corner across from the Post Office.  Briggs did not find the curve very interesting especially driving down Lithia Way and that it had no pride of place.

 

Black said she made no contribution but asked some pretty detailed questions at the charrettes. 

 

Dotterrer made suggestions but doesn’t believe they incorporated anything specific that he mentioned.    

 

Briggs, Black and Dotterrer stated that they could review the application impartially and in accordance with the criteria.  None of the Commissioners disagreed.

 

STAFF REPORT

Molnar said this application involves a large redevelopment project in the downtown area.  It involves Site Review approval and an Administrative Variance to the Site Design and Use Standards for the distance between buildings.  There four trees on the property that will be removed and a Tree Removal request will be reviewed. 

 

Part of the proposal involves removal of the existing buildings currently on this site.  Buildings 1 and 2 are proposed to be three stories in height and built along Lithia Way.  Building 1, located on the corner, is just over 29,000 square feet.  Building 2 is approximately 36,000 square feet.  The ground floor of Building 1 consists primarily of retail space with some residential units at the back.  The second and third floors will be entirely residential.  Building 2 ground floor is identified as primarily medical office space with live-work offices at the back and two floors of residential above the buildings.  The combined number of residential units for Buildings 1 and 2 is 35.  At the back of the site, closer to First Street are three buildings consisting of six three-story row house units. 

 

The parking area is accessed off First Street.  There are two levels.  The surface parking area has 60 surface parking spaces.  There is a two-way driveway system that services an underground parking area below Buildings 1 and 2, housing 46 underground parking spaces.   

 

There is a plaza area between the two buildings extending back between the townhomes.  The sidewalks will be twelve feet wide along with pedestrian scale street lighting.  Between the two buildings there is a more urban hardscape with seating and a water feature continuing back to the townhomes.  The parking area will be surfaced with concrete, pavers and flagstones in order to utilize the back parking area with outdoor events such as a farmer’s market.    

 

Molnar showed building elevations.  Both buildings are approximately 40 feet in height.  Building 2 is slightly higher in elevation than Building 1. 

 

Problem Areas

Adequacy of Public Facilities

The Traffic Impact Analysis underestimates the potential amount of traffic generated by the project. This project is estimated to generate about 800 vehicle trips per day.  Staff does not have real concerns about capacity of the area.  The applicant has submitted a traffic study today but neither Staff nor Public Works have had an opportunity to review the study.  An accurate traffic count needs to be provided for the record. 

 

Public Space Requirement

This project has buildings greater than 10,000 square feet, and is subject to the City’s Large Scale Development Standards.  The public space requirement is one square foot of public space for every ten square feet of floor area.  The approximate total floor area is 75,180 square feet; 7,518 square feet of public plaza is required.  The application is showing six areas accommodating the public space requirement.  The largest area, the space between Buildings 1 and 2, moving back to the row houses meets the standard for public space.  However, Staff believes the application fails to meet the standard in the area of the bioswale and storm water retention.  The landscaping plan shows some of the area in ground cover and Staff feels some of the areas do not meet the intent of public space because of location and treatment.  Four of six elements need to be included in those areas:  seating, sunlight and shade, protection from wind, trees, water feature, public art, and outdoor eating areas or food vendors.  Of the 7500 square feet needed, only about 3500 square feet meet the criteria. 

 

Downtown Design and Large Scale Development Standards

The difficulty with this project is that most of the graphics in the standards were based upon a Main Street pattern.  This application is one large property, not as narrow as those lots on the Plaza.  How do you take some of the concepts of the Downtown Standards and apply them to these larger buildings, still being respectful to two individual large buildings and not a series of large buildings?  The Staff Report notes five of the standards where the application does not comply. 

 

1.     Height Standard - Little variation in the building heights.  The Commission could find that an exception needed to be taken. 

2.        Materials – It is important as the building gets larger, to incorporate distinct elements to break up the building mass.

 

3.        Building frontages greater than 100 feet in length shall have offsets, etc. 

 

4.        Divide large building masses into heights and sizes relating to human scale.  The footprint and plane of both buildings is fairly constant.  Staff would like to see the applicant take a closer look at recessed entries serving as jogs or offsets on the ground floor to help break up the building mass relating more in human scale. 

 

5.        Ground level entries are encouraged to be recessed from the public right of way to create a sense of entry.

 

Administrative Variance to Large Scale Development Standards

Forty feet is the required distance between the buildings.  The application identifies 50 to 55 feet at the widest portion narrowing down to 27 feet for the remainder. The applicant has requested a Variance.  Staff has not rendered a strong opinion on the Variance request because of a concern of how the public space is met or not met.  Increasing the distance between the buildings by incorporating the required elements would be logical for inclusion of additional public space.  They could still maintain their second and third floor space, but at the ground level it widens the space between the buildings.  The Historic Commission had said creating more recessed ground floor entries, not only around the front but in the plaza areas too would be helpful in breaking up the mass of the building and help the applicant to come closer in compliance with the public space requirement by creating a more dynamic active pedestrian environment not only along the public sidewalk, but along the key public space that will ultimately feed the back area.

 

Staff has recommended continuance of the Planning Action for the Planning Commission to have adequate discussion and give the applicant some direction.

 

The plan was reviewed by the Tree Commission and Staff believes there is evidence in the application to support the tree removal.  

 

The Historic Commission reviewed this application at their last meeting.  The minutes are included in the packet.  They have outlined some detailed recommendations.

 

Douma thought the elevator override would go above the 40 foot height limitation.  Molnar said the applicants have assured Staff in their latest design the elevator override would not exceed 40 feet.  Condition 16 states that calculation of building height be reviewed at the building permit review. Because the elevator override is an integral part of the structure, it is not considered mechanical equipment. 

 

Dawkins noted that Staff did not comment very much on the row houses.  Molnar feels it is a transition area.  The row houses are three story and approximately 30 feet in height.  They comply with solar.  He might want to question the Historic Commission.  They had concerns about height and the shed roof, but felt the applicant had done a good job creating transitional style housing.  The Historic Commission wondered if each of the units could use surface parking for a better transition into the Railroad District. 

 

KenCairn is concerned about dumping potentially commercial traffic onto a one-way street (First Street) that takes it to B Street.  B Street is already congested.  Molnar said initially Staff had concerns about the impacts of the project, specifically during the summer months when there are high pedestrian volumes.  He said it is within the Commissions’ purview to ask the applicant to explore looking at First Street as a two-way street or having just one way into the development. 

 

DALE SHOSTROM, Historic Commission Chair and ALEX KRACH, Historic Commissioner.

Shostrom directed the Commissioners to the Historic Commissions' recommdation 11 with regard to the row houses.  He was part of the minority that did not feel the applicant had accomplished the transition from row houses to residential.  He took issue with the shape of the buildings (vertical and height) with flat roofs, stucco and hard surfaces of  galvanized metal.  Krach concurred.  He added that as a Commission they have worked well with the applicants thus far and should be able to continuing dialoguing with them in changing the design.  Shostrom believed both buildings lacked recessed entries.  They agreed with the arcades.  Shostrom and Krach said there is a pretty good mix of materials.

 

PUBLIC HEARING

EVAN ARCHERD, 550 E. Main Street, read his comments.  He stated this is a culmination of two years of planning and public input.  The result is the community’s vision. 

 

BILL LENNERTZ, National Charrette Institute, 3439 N. E. Sandy Boulevard, Portland, OR, hosted and facilitated the charrette process.  He outlined the process for gathering public input.    

 

GEORGE KRAMER, 386 N. Laurel Street, explained the history of Lithia Way.  After their first meeting with the Historic Commission, they were told the Historic Commission wanted to see two very different architectural style buildings for each building.  They chose a Moderne style building for Building 1. 

 

GENE CALLAN, GBD Architects, 1120 Couch Street, Suite 300, Portland, OR  97209 explained the building design.  Building 2 is more contemporary.  The retail fronts on Lithia Way with live/work smaller studios on the north side facing the multi-purpose plaza, with two levels of housing on top of both Buildings 1 and 2.  There are 46 parking stalls under Building 1 dedicated to the housing occupants.  The public and visitors will use the multi-purpose stalls. They distributed detailed elements of the open space to the Commission.  In the sixth open space zone, there is almost 8300 square feet of open space.  They plan to do a LEED Green environmentally sensitive project.  There is about a one and one half foot difference in height of the two buildings.  He showed and described the building elevations. 

 

Briggs said Moderne is about a half century old.  She is not happy with any of the parts of it.  It doesn’t seem to fit.  It will be the first thing one sees driving down Lithia Way.  Briggs questioned C-1 zoning giving way to so much housing.  Could the bottoms of the row houses facing the public plaza become the work/live so one could move back and forth across the public space?  She is uncomfortable with the bulk of the three row houses facing First Street.  She would like a different symmetry.  She does not like the sawtooth roofs.  The awnings are too industrial.  Use softer materials.  The houses along First Street need to look more residential.  She likes the idea of the arcade and would like to see more space between Buildings 1 and 2. 

 

KenCairn would like to see better cross reference between the commercial building and the downstairs work/live area.  Unless the bollards are raised, it is a parking lot.  It is only a plaza when it is closed.

 

Callan said during the day it will be comfortable and safe to walk across the lane because there is a breezeway.  The garages make up the majority of the ground floor but there is a multi-purpose space that could be used as an active live/work space. 

 

Archerd said they are trying to be true to what they heard at the charrettes.  The neighbors to the north wanted a buffer. 

 

With regard to the special setback requirements, Archerd said the code talks about setting buildings back from Lithia Way 20 or 30 feet which is in direct conflict with what is seen in downtown where buildings are built right up to the sidewalk.  After discussions with Staff, they feel this standard does not apply. 

 

The other design conflict is in the section of Large Scale Development.  It says buildings over 10,000 square feet have to be separated by the height of the tallest bldg.  (40 ft. in this case)  The Downtown Design Standards encourage and almost dictate that buildings be built lot line to lot line.  Using that standard, in the downtown buildings can be built right up against each other.  However, the minute buildings are separated by one inch, the buildings have to be separated by 40 feet.  Archerd said they decided to separate the buildings by 50 feet, narrowing to 20 feet.  He appreciates all the comments about arcades and entries, but to say the buildings have to be separated by 40 feet at their height does not make sense.  There is no precedent for it.  . They are asking for an exception because they believe it is a more sensible approach to look at the historic development patterns of downtown and create a separation and public plaza and create an opportunity for pedestrian activity but not necessarily adhere to a strict part of the code that was never intended for downtown.

 

Lennertz said in other towns and cities where the main streets are being revitalized, it has been found if there is more than a 20 foot gap between store fronts, people lose interest in the retail continuity.

 

JOHN GALBRAITH, Galbraith & Associates, 145 S. Holly Street, Medford, OR  97501, addressed the elements of the public space as outlined in his handout.

 

Archerd said the purpose of the public space is two-fold.  There is a definite need for a hardscape public space between the buildings and predominately hardscape in area 2.  There are 41 housing units and a softer more residential space is needed.  That would be areas 3, 4, and 5.  He said they envision the plaza behind the building as being usable by the public during different times of the year.  They are excited about the community being able to use this space for events such as a grower’s market.

 

KenCairn is concerned there is not enough space that is car-free to support the access running through the parking lot.  Perhaps they could drop a couple of parking spaces and widen the car-free zone.  She doesn’t support what they are trying to do with the visual connection. 

 

Callan said his concern about recessed entries is creating dead space when what they want to create is a focal point.  Recessed entries can collect trash, attract panhandlers, etc.  He said the overhead clearance into the underground parking is ten feet.  Trash will be wheeled out from the lower level.

 

Kramer said the Moderne style came out of the need to separate the buildings visually.  They tried to come up with a style that had some residence in Ashland’s history.  It was offered as one of the options to the Historic Commission and they chose it as a good model.  It made sense for the 100 feet of frontage on which they were building.  Moderne buildings are bigger.  When someone had a large lot in the 40’s and 50’s, Moderne, stucco, concrete is what they did. 

 

Black noted that she has a problem with the Moderne architectural style.  She would like to see a concept of the project as it relates to human scale.  There is going to be a visual impact with these buildings.

 

Briggs noted both buildings are trimmed with red.  She suggested using a different color on one building.  On Building 1, on the breezeway side, the windows are vertical and stacked. Could they consider using round oculus windows so it is not a strip of glazing?  Briggs is bothered by the awning supports that are "X’d" on the side of Building 2.  They come too much out into the street and it gives an illusion the building is falling over.  

 

DAVE WILKERSON, 1120 Barrington Circle, architect with Ogden Kistler said the City would benefit by building a LEED Green building.  Environmentally, sustainable design is about meeting the needs of today without compromising future generations. He read a list of advantages.    

 

ERIC NAVICKAS, 711 Faith Avenue, attended numerous charrette meetings.  He believes this project falls under the Big Box ordinance.  The gross square footage, including the parking is 103,000 square feet.  The buildings share a similar foundation, constituting a single building.  It could be dangerous when looking to the future and possible development of the Elks parking lot, the Railroad property and the types of developments that could occur once we allow a developer to set a precedent, allowing all types of exemptions.  The developer could go back to the original two lots.  If the developer had brought the model, the Commissioners could get an idea of the scale of the buildings. The size of these buildings in relationship to other buildings in town is very different.

.

KenCairn responded that when parking is 100 percent underground, the only opportunity to have a parking lot underground is not to see it as a building and see it as a positive attribute to the community.  It is not going to happen otherwise.  Navickas suggested it may not be appropriate for the downtown because you’d have to do really large structures. 

 

SANDRA PROEBSTEL, 749 Eagle Mill Road, owns four tax lots directly behind the alley near the Post Office.  The Post Office allowed traffic to go both ways down the alley for the first 15 years.  She is concerned people will use the alley to exit the project.  She would like to see them exit First Street (to Lithia Way). 

 

BILL THOMAS, 4110 South View Terrace, Medford, owner of Lawyer’s Title, said he likes Northlight  project as it offers Class A office space.  It is difficult to find professional office space in town that has a good image for business and is conducive to doing good business.  

 

BILL STREET, 180 Meade Street, presented a checklist of reasons to deny the planning action.  He does not believe the Ashland Design Standards have been addressed fully.  He addressed 18 items that will be entered in the record. 

 

Those items not yet discussed include:

VI-D-3) Vertical upper window orientation.

VI-D-6) Blank walls alongside the breezeway and the sidewalk.

VI-E-2) There are number of areas it is not clear and the standard is not met with regard to clear visual division between ground and upper floors.

VI-F-2) Spacing and rhythm of historic openings refers to front facing Lithia Way where there are only two entries in the first building and only two entrances in the second building.

VI-H-1) Materials: traditional found in downtown-block, brick, wood, stucco, stone.  Looking at the back of the site and some the materials listed are:  metal rails, galvanized metal, stainless steel.

II-C-2f-2) Glass: majority of the skin facing the Post Office is glass.

IV-C-1) Height: comparable to historic buildings in vicinity.  Buildings in the area such as the newest building across the street, Naturals, All’s Well.  These are not comparable.

IV-C-5) Roof shapes: avoid introducing nontraditional roof shapes.  The roof shapes are not traditional.

VI-3) Weather protection on pedestrian paths.  The shelter above Lithia Way is 14 ½ feet off the ground and will not provide shelter.

II-C-2c-2) Parking: More than 50 spaces above ground - divide in separate areas.  Sixty spaces are shown.

 

He showed some photos. The Knox Building was built to human scale.  The applicant could reduce the height of the buildings and get another housing space. 

 

A real collaborative process took place in the Downtown Design Standards in 1992.  Under the Site Design and Use Standards, the proposal must be “must meet all the design standards.”

 

RICHARD HANSON, 25 North Main Street, said while recessed entries are aesthetically pleasing, it is a magnet for trash, those who want to smoke, pet dogs and panhandle.  A recessed entry is a detriment.  He disagreed with Briggs on almost every point. He supports this project and appreciates the citizen input and believes it will be an asset to the community.

 

Fields/Black m/s to continue the meeting until 10:30 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous.

 

COLIN SWALES discussed bulk and scale.  This is a huge building. The Staff Report is slightly wrong.  There is 14,000 square feet of retail space.  The applicant stated the retail is 12,464 square feet.  The purpose of retail commercial doesn’t mention anything about residential in 18.32.  The Downtown Design Standards states it is to promote growth in the retail and services sector.  The amount of commercial space in this development is 17 percent.  The remainder is in housing.  The preapp document states the project is proportionately heavy with residential.  Seven percent of the downtown is in retail.  That calculates out to 38,000 square feet of downtown residential. 

 

Swales referred to the special setback.  The 1988 Downtown Plan (most current) states that bypassing Main Street downtown is imperative.  The special setback was put in to provide space to widen Lithia Way should it become necessary to have two-way traffic along that street or turn lanes or another bike lane or whatever it might be.

 

There is no public plaza space facing the street.  We are allowed under our ordinances to insist on a 20 foot setback from Lithia Way in order to have those amenities. The sidewalk can be set back 20 feet and have a wider plaza out in front for people. 

 

Is a cancer center appropriate for Lithia Way?  We have a dedicated zone for Health Care.

 

If the public hearing closes, Swales requested the record be left open for seven days in order to submit more information.

 

GERRY LEHRBURGER,, 1639 Jackson Road, has worked as an emergency room physician and offered the history of health and wellness.  He turned in a written statement.  He envisions Ashland at the forefront of modern medicine and what better thing than to lead the way with an integrative cancer center in this location. 

 

RON ROTH, 6950 Old Highway 99 South, supports the projects primarily because of the large residential component, however he would like to see more units.  This is an excellent opportunity to mitigate a portion of the small rental units lost over the years to restaurants and offices.  He cited several examples of 400 to 500 square foot rental units that were home to singles or couples that worked downtown.  A car is not needed for someone living downtown.  He proposed one floor of one building containing 500 square foot units rather than 1000 square foot units.  Donate, trade or give the land to the Ashland Community Land Trust or another non-profit to help provide low income rental housing within the downtown core.  He suggested the City waive all the Systems Development Charges (SDC’s) for the whole project.  In the long-term it would benefit  our kids and grandkids or retirees.  He thought the developer is considering giving the underground space to the City for an underground parking lot. 

 

KenCairn noted the applicants would need a parking waiver if they wanted more housing units.

 

BOB RASMUSSEN, 1530 N. Mountain Avenue, favors the project.  He has looked forward to having an entrance to downtown from Lithia Way.  The proposed height of the streetscape is pleasing and compatible with downtown. He was on the Downtown Design Committee about seven or eight years ago.  He is impressed at the transition this project makes between the commercial and residential boundaries.  . 

 

Douma/Dotterrer m/s to continue the meeting past 10:30 a.m.  

 

TOM BRADLEY, 700 Terrace Street, urged the stakeholders to measure this project against the realistic alternative.  He has participated in this project for the last two years.   If we as a community create too many obstacles to revitalization and investment in our downtown core, we risk discouraging that investment and creative energy from seeking a home in our town.  This project seeks LEED certification, it leverages a bike and bus route with its mixed use and proximity to Lithia Way, and it significantly improves a large site downtown.  Bradley quoted former Councilor Don Laws letter in the last Sneak Preview supporting the project. 

 

STEPHEN STRUM, M.D., 538 Granite Street, is a cancer doctor and he favors the project. He moved here in 2002 and has been working on an oncology task force to create an integrative cancer center in Ashland.  He is speaking as a representative of the task force.  He read two letters, one from the Ashland Community Hospital Board supporting the medical center in downtown Ashland, addressed to the Planning Commission, dated February 4, 2005.  The other is a letter to the editor of the Daily Tidings from Dr. David Jones supporting the Northlight project. 

 

Dotterrer asked why the building has 16 foot ceilings and open windows across the front.  Strum said the high ceilings lend warmth and comfort to the patients.  The space is still evolving. 

 

PAM HAMMOND, 632 Walnut Street, co-owner of Paddington Station (125 East Main Street) is representing the Ashland Chamber of Commerce. She read a letter from Laurie Gibbs in support of the project because it will provide quality office space and affordable housing.  The Chamber supports the cancer center as it will generate jobs and over $2 million annually in revenue to the community.  This project would help the economy during the winter months.  On a personal note, Hammond said we have a one-time shot to look at underground parking on the site.  She would also like a realistic projection of the traffic at Lithia Way and First Street.     

 

MIKE CURTIS, 14356 Hwy. 62, Eagle Point, OR  97524, President of Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market, supports the project.  This is the first time someone has wanted them.  People are finding that a growers market benefits downtown.  He would favor underground parking.   

 

LARRY MEDINGER, 115 Fork, said as a cancer patient himself, the proposed center is unique and is a fantastic opportunity for cancer patients.  He urged the Commission to approve the project.

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION

KenCairn/Briggs m/s to have the applicant address the following issues:

Address all the issues on Bill Street’s list.

Look at the zoning as far as residential versus commercial.

Explore the options with car traffic on First Street.

Look at the distance between buildings.

Look at warming up the modern building or changing the façade.

Alter buildings so they are not all the same height.

Address the entrance issue so there are recesses and changes.

Widen the public access between the two sides of the project.

Address the row house massing on First Street (not a good transition to the residential on B).

Public space adequacy.

Voice Vote:  Everyone favored except Dawkins.  He said they are in the midst of doing the downtown plan and there is still a chance Lithia Way could return to two-way.  That could change the nature of the project.

 

The public hearing will remain open.

 

The meeting is continued until the next regular Planning Commission meeting scheduled for May 10, 2005.

 

OTHER

The Planning Commission retreat is scheduled for May 20, 2005 from 11:00 until 4:00 p.m.

 

ADJOURNMENT -  The meeting was adjourned at11:00 P.M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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