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Hearings Board

Minutes
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

HEARINGS BOARD

MINUTES

JANUARY 10, 2006

 

CALL TO ORDER – Russ Chapman called the meeting to order at 1:40 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street.

              

Commissioners Present:

 

Absent Members:

 

Russ Chapman

 

None

 

Olena Black

 

Council Liaison:

 

Allen Douma

 

Jack Hardesty

 

 

 

Staff Present:

 

 

 

Maria Harris, Senior Planner

 

 

 

Derek Severson, Assistant Planner

 

 

 

Amy Anderson, Assistant Planner

 

 

TYPE II PLANNING ACTIONS

PLANNING ACTION 2005-01830

REQUEST FOR A LAND PARTITION TO CREATE THREE PARCELS FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 309 ALTA STREET.  THE APPLICATION INCLUDES A REQUEST FOR A VARIANCE TO REDUCE THE PAVING OF WEST AND ALTA STREETS TO BELOW THE REQUIRED MINIMUM WIDTH OF 20 FEET.  A PHYSICAL CONSTRAINTS REVIEW PERMIT IS REQUESTED TO CREATE PARCELS WITH SLOPES 25 PERCENT AND GREATER IN HILLSIDE LANDS

APPLICANT:  URBAN DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, LLC

 

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

 

STAFF REPORT

Harris showed a site plan and explained the project as outlined in the Staff Report.  The applicant is requesting a Variance to permit a 15-foot pavement width instead of 20 feet to both Alta and West Streets.  The applicant argues the situation is unusual because both Alta and West Streets are older platted streets that haven’t developed at this point.  He is saying the benefit of the proposal is by making the paving a lesser width, there will be fewer trees required to be removed.  The conditions are not self-imposed because the applicant did not plat the right-of-ways or the old existing situations. 

 

Another issue is the accessory buildings.  There are two accessory buildings located on proposed Parcel 1.  In the past, Staff has always required an accessory building has to be accessory to some use.  In a Single Family zone, an accessory building has to be accessory to a home.  When a new lot is created and there isn’t a home to be accessory to, the small extra buildings have to be removed before the City signs the plat.  The applicant handed out written information addressing this issue and Harris believes he is saying that in this case since the lots will be contiguous, then the property owner would retain two of the lots and therefore they can consider it one lot and let the sheds stay. 

 

If the Hearings Board approves the application, Staff is recommending 17 Conditions.  There is a correction on page 9 of the Staff Report.  Condition 12 should say, “Solar Setback Standard A.”  Also, add Condition 18 stating:  “That the Alta Street property line for Parcel 2 shall be narrower than the West Street property line on the final survey so that the Alta Street property is the front lot line. 

 

PUBLIC HEARING

MARK KNOX, Urban Development Services, 320 E. Main Street, Suite 202, introduced ROBERT AND BARBARA HINDS, owners of 309 Alta Street.  Knox explained that the natural grades of the property range from 14 to 33 percent.  There have been some physical changes to the property over the years that have created some flat spots.  On the upper lots, there is a big cutout and that is where the building envelopes have been designed.  The owners intend to remain in the house and would someday like to build on one of the partitioned lots and that is why they would like to keep the accessory structures.  The owners built the art studio only nine or ten years ago and they believe there is room for the Planning Commission to allow the accessory buildings.  It is Knox understands that a person can have an accessory building if he/she owns the adjacent property.  The owners do not have a problem with some deed restriction language that would state that prior to selling it to a third party or another party that they would then remove the buildings. 

 

Knox noted the Tree Commission recommended approval of the Variance in order to preserve more trees.  It was only around 1995 that Alta, when tied to a partition proposal, that it received any improvements.  Knox has met with Public Works and the Fire Department and they are satisfied with the proposed improvement.  On Alta Street, they are continuing the improvement that is already there for approximately another 200 feet.  On West Street, there are a number of significant cedar trees.  The project arborist is present and helped them conclude that they want to keep the roadway at 15 feet.  They want to minimize the overlay of the asphalt in the root zones.  To widen the road to 20 feet would require removing every tree in one area and it would require a five to six foot retaining wall.  They are trying to minimize the disturbance to the neighbors and to the site. 

 

Staff Comments – None

Rebuttal - None

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Chapman is satisfied the Variance has been justified and would much prefer to see the trees remain.  The Physical Constraints Review Permit will come into play when a house is proposed.  He does not have a problem in allowing the accessory unit to remain. 

 

Harris re-worded Condition 17:  “That the accessory structures on Parcel 1 shall be removed prior to change of ownership or submittal of a building permit for Parcel 1.  The property owner shall sign a deed agreement to that affect. 

 

RE-OPENED THE PUBLIC HEARING

Knox wondered what will happen if the current property owner stays.  The owners might want to live there, build on that property and then retain the existing house.  They might continue to own contiguous lots.  Harris said the problem on the City side is enforcement because we have little or not control over when properties change hands.  She suggested changing the wording to say: “Unless there is evidence at the building permit that the ownership hasn’t changed.”

 

Douma believes it makes sense not to pull down a structure that is useful.  Why destroy something and build it back up again?  He believes we should leave it there until something else happens.

 

Harris said she would come up with language for the Findings. 

 

The Public Hearings was closed.

 

Douma/Chapman m/s to approve PA2005-01830 with the attached Conditions and corrected Condition 12, added Condition 18 and wording for Condition 19 regarding retention of the accessory buildings to be included in the Findings.  Roll call:  Douma, Chapman Black approved unanimously.

 

PLANNING ACTION 2005-01836

REQUEST FOR CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT TO USE A PORTION OF A NEW HOME FOR AN ACCESSORY RESIDENTIAL UNIT FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 695 WALNUT STREET.

APPLICANT:  STEVEN J. ASHER

 

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all.  Chapman and Black met up there at the same time but did not discuss the application.

 

STAFF REPORT

Anderson gave the history and description of the property and application as outlined in the Staff Report.  Staff believes the proposed accessory residential unit does not meet the criteria for a Conditional Use Permit approval.  Staff is concerned it will be difficult to make a finding that the accessory residential unit, along with the single family home will have the same amount of negative impacts on the surrounding area as the target use of the zone (single family residence).  Specifically, there may be a threshold on minimally sized lots where an accessory residential unit combined with a single family home may significantly change the massing, bulk and scale, architectural compatibility, available yard area and generated vehicle trips in the area.  However, if the Commission decides to approve the application, there are 18 Conditions of approval.

 

Chapman asked if there is adequate turnaround.  Anderson said cars have to be able to exit the lot in a forward manner.  Staff is asking the applicant how they can meet this requirement.

 

Douma understands the mass and scale on this lot and the impact to the neighbors.  If someone wanted to building a 2800 square foot house, would the same issues about mass and scale apply?  Anderson said it would apply mainly in the additional generation of traffic and having/seeing more than one entrance. 

 

Anderson said the existing fence along the northern property line is required to be retained as part of this partition. 

 

PUBLIC HEARING

STEVE ASHER, Asher Homes, Inc., is representing the property owner, Patricia Armstrong.  Asher is planning to create a 1511 square foot home on the main level and a 498 square foot accessory residential unit with a basement area of 772 square feet.  He does not see bulk and scale as a major issue.  The surrounding homes don’t follow any particular architectural style.  If Asher does not receive approval for the ARU, he will build the house with the ARU square footage but it will just be part of the house.  He stated the goal was to provide more affordable housing, infill and desirable housing for the community.

 

Backing out of the parking area is tight.  A turn can be made with cars less than 14 feet in length.  It was difficult to get the impervious portions to fit.  He said they have already reduced the depth of the garage. 

 

Shawn Branaugh, Ashland Fire Dept., said there is enough width in the driveway to get to the house to fight a fire.  There is not a turnaround requirement for this driveway length.   

 

Asher said by trying to reduce mass and scale, they have left as much open space around the house as possible.  They are looking at a 2000 square foot footprint on a 7500 square foot lot seems adequate.

 

BARBARA SMITH, 707 Walnut Street, said she lives off the flag lots.  She submitted a letter that is in the packet.  Even though the structure above will be 1500 square feet, the structure below will have a living space.  They and the other neighbor definitely want to keep the six foot fence for privacy because the front yard proposed is off their private driveway.  The flag lot was not intended to access 695 Walnut.  She noticed on the plans that the house will extend above the six foot high fence for their view.  It will be more people, more noise, more cars, etc. 

 

Staff Comment – Harris said the measurement from the garage to the other side of the driveway is 22 feet.   That is the minimum back-up requirement according to the code.  She noted the maximum number of unrelated people that can live in a single family residence is five. 

 

Harris said the parking space at the end of the drive is one that is required.  They have to be able to pull out and go forward.  There is no dimensional requirement in the ordinance that says what you need in order to be able to do that turn.  The burden of proof is on the applicant to show that turning movement can be made.  They need to have a total of four parking spaces.

Rebuttal – Asher said it is a tight turnaround, but it’s a gray area.  If it’s too difficult to make the turn, people will back all the way down the flag.  He believes a three point turn is workable.  He still believes a two bedroom house with an ARU will cause less traffic impact than a single family residence with three bedrooms.

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Douma said he does not have a high level of concern about bulk and scale because someone could build the same size house that is proposed with two entrances without the ARU.  The entrances are in an alcove and won’t even be seen.  The parking space/turnaround should work.  It meets the 22 feet.  He assumes the impact of this proposal and a three bedroom house is equivalent.  He wants to be cautious about denying an ARU if the ordinances allow an ARU on a 7500 square foot lot.  Having more affordable housing is good for the community. 

 

Black does not see any reason not to have an ARU in this area.  She understands it meets the ordinance.  The testimony indicated there are numerous single family rentals in the area.  It seems having the ARU as part of a home, makes the rental situation no worse; in fact, it spreads the apartments into areas where they are more monitored. 

 

Chapman does not think we can fault people for building to the maximum.  It’s part of the philosophy of this town.  Based on his personal experience, he believes the impact of the ARU is less than a house that could eventually have five renters in it.  He supports the project.

 

Chapman/Douma m/s to approve PA2005-01836 with the attached Conditions.  Roll Call:  Chapman, Douma and Black approved the action unanimously.

 

PLANNING ACTION 2005-02186

REQUEST FOR MODIFICATION OF THE OUTLINE PLAN SUBDIVISION APPROVAL FOR THE BIRNAM WOODS SUBDIVISION TO MODIFY THE APPROVED BUILDING ENVELOPE AND TREE PRESERVATION PLAN FOR LOT 5 WHICH IS THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 1449 WINDSOR STREET.  THE PROPOSAL INCLUDES THE REMOVAL OF THE 24 INCH DIAMETER AT BREAST HEIGHT PINE ON LOT 5 WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY SLATED FOR PRESERVATION.  A REQUEST FOR A TREE REMOVAL PERMIT FOR THE PINE IS INCLUDED IN THE APPLICATION.

APPLICANT:  GARY S. PLANO & MARK C. MEYER

 

Site Visits or Ex Parte Contacts - Black drove by the property.  Chapman and Black had a site visit.

 

STAFF REPORT

Anderson gave the history of this property.  The applicant is proposing to remove a 24 inch diameter at breast height (dbh) Ponderosa Pine that is located within a proposed modified building envelope.  She showed a site plan.  The applicant has secured a certified arborist to evaluate the health of the trees.  He found the pine was infected with western gall rust, an irreversible disease that weakens the structure of the tree and spreads with windborne spores.  The arborist determined the black walnut tree is in excellent health and is structurally sound.  The applicant has also provided documentation of the effects of western gall rust as well an excerpt from their Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R’s) that are in the packet.  The Tree Commission reviewed the application at their January 5, 2006 meeting and recommended retaining the pine tree and implementing treatment methods as prescribed by a certified arborist. 

 

Should the Hearings Board approve this application, there are nine Conditions of approval.  There is a correction to Condition 6.  It should say “recommendations”, not “recommendation.”

 

Anderson did not want the pine tree removed because in their knowledge of trees they have found western gall rust can be treated to a degree with the removal of some of the branches and limbs that are diseased.  The applicant’s arborist is present to answer questions.

 

PUBLIC HEARING

GARY PLANO, 2606 Queen Anne Avenue North, Seattle, Washington, stated he is requesting the removal of the Ponderosa Pine that the arborist has recommended be removed.  Under his CC&R’s, he is allowed to remove a tree if it suffers from an irreversible disease.  In his application he has attached two sources explaining western gall rust and the fact there is potential injury if limbs and branches should fall.  He is concerned about building a house around the tree.  Any dead branches could bring an insect infestation.

 

TOM MYERS, Upper Limb-it, P. O. Box 881, Ashland, stated he is a certified tree arborist.  The Ponderosa Pine looks good right now but it does have gall rust. The galls can be cut off.  The fungus is systemic within the branches.  Within three years there will be more galls and further die-back of the tree.  It’s a long process of decline.  He would prefer to remove the unhealthy tree.  The black walnut has a much better chance of surviving the building process.  He did not present at the Tree Commission meeting because he forgot there was a meeting.

 

Anderson said the Tree Commissioners said their minds would not have changed if Myers had been present. 

 

Myers added that the problem can be treated but it cannot be solved.  If the house is built around it, he doubts the tree will survive. 

 

Plano has the same concerns as Myers.  He requested he not be held responsible for any potential damage that might result from the pine tree. There was support from the residents of 720 Indiana for keeping the Black Walnut during the original subdivision approval.  There is a letter in the file from Paul and Lynn Nylund, 1559 Windsor Street requesting the Ponderosa Pine be removed in favor of saving the Black Walnut Tree.  With respect to meeting the standard of a non-hazard tree, he is trying to remove a diseased tree in order to save a healthy tree, necessitating moving the building envelope.  The proposed building envelope is smaller than the original building envelope.  The removal of the pine would not have a significant negative impact on the densities, sizes and canopies of trees in the surrounding area.  There are 18 trees in the nearby area; several Ponderosa Pines.  His concern is that the gall rust will spread and will begin infecting other trees in the area.

 

He has met the conditions for modification of Outline Plan.  He wants to move the building envelope closer to Windsor Street thus allowing more light and space to ensure that his neighbor will enough light.  Moving the building envelope allows for a back yard so the two houses are not so close together.

 

Staff Comments - Harris explained that the CC&R’s are private restrictions, not applicable to City regulations.  When there is a modification of an old subdivision approval, it is not just a modification of the building envelope, it is also a modification of the tree protection plan for the whole subdivision.

 

 Rebuttal Plano said he has a letter from Jim Olson, Engineering Dept. requesting a ten foot easement as a Condition of approval.

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Condition 6 should be stricken.

 

Condition 2 covers the ten foot wide utility easement. 

 

Douma/Black m/s to approve PA2005-02186 with the removal of Condition 6.  Roll Call:  Black, Chapman and Douma voted unanimously to approve.

 

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 3:45 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

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