Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

MINUTES

JANUARY 10, 2006

 

CALL TO ORDER Second Vice Chair Michael Dawkins called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.

 

Commissioners Present:                  Michael Dawkins, 2nd Vice Chair

                                                                           John Stromberg

                                                                           Olena Black

                                                                           Russ Chapman

                                                                           Allen Douma

Absent Members:                                             Dave Dotterrer

                                                                           John Fields

                                                                           Mike Morris

Council Liaison:                                Jack Hardesty (present)

Staff Present:                                     Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director

                                                                           Maria Harris, Senior Planner

                                                                           Derek Severson, Assistant Planner

                                                                           Mike Reeder, Assistant City Attorney

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Agenda Items for the January 24, 2006 Study Session

1.            Send top two or three goals to the Planning Department by January 19th to be discussed at the study session.

2.            Review the Citizens Guide and make any revisions by the study session. (Chapman & Douma)

3.            Review the Powers and Duties.  (Dotterrer)

4.            Begin thinking about items for the May retreat.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS

1.            December 12, 2005 Regular Meeting Minutes – Black noted a correction on page 3 just above Public Hearing, add the wording “Black asked KenCairn if this was a co-housing project for small business and KenCairn responded ‘You might say that’.”  Chapman/Black m/s to approve the corrected minutes.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

2.            Approval of the Findings for PA-2005-01674, 11 First Street, will be deferred until after the break.    

3.            Chapman/Douma m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-01833, 150 Clear Creek Drive.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

4.            Stromberg/Black m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-01476, 290 Skycrest.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

5.            Douma/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of the December 12, 2005 Hearings Board.  Voice Vote: Approved.

6.            Douma/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-01474, 893 Hillview Drive.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

PUBLIC FORUM

BRENT THOMPSON, 582 Allison Street, thanked the Commission for forwarding the amended sign ordinance to the Council, however, the Council has tabled it.  There was no need to table the sign code amendment to open up a larger discussion of infill.  He has recommended wording that would restrict signage to 50 percent of what would normally be allowed on subsequent business frontages.   He does not see it is necessarily practical to include a requirement for site review.  Some allowances need to be made for other frontages.

 

Molnar said the sign code amendment went to the Council in September.  Most of the Council’s concerns centered on whether or not the ordinance should take into consideration the quality of a business frontage.  Are there elements that commonly constitute a standard business frontage?  They are also concerned about opening up a sign permit review to a site review.  It was not a high priority for Staff.

 

PLANNING ACTION 2005-01834

ADDRESS:  479 RUSSELL STREET

APPLICANT:  RUSS DALE & DARREN LECOMTE

REQUEST FOR SITE REVIEW APPROVAL FOR A THREE-STORY, MIXED-USE BUILDING FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 479 RUSSELL ST.  THE PROPOSED BUILDING IS COMPRISED OF RETAIL AND OFFICE SPACE ON THE GROUND FLOOR, AND THREE RESIDENTIAL UNITS ON THE SECOND AND THIRD FLOORS.  THE PROPOSED BUILDING IS APPROXIMATELY 9,700 SQUARE FEET IN SIZE.  THE PROPERTY IS LOCATED IN THE DETAIL SITE REVIEW ZONE, AND IS ALSO SUBJECT TO THE LARGE SCALE DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS.  THE APPLICATION INCLUDES A REQUEST FOR AN ADMINISTRATIVE VARIANCE FOR THE SITE DESIGN AND USE STANDARD FOR THE FLOOR AREA RATIO (FAR) TO BE .60, WHICH EXCEEDS THE MAXIMUM FLOOR AREA RATIO OF .50.

 

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts

Chapman, Douma, Stromberg, Black and Dawkins had site visits.  Stromberg tried to get a sense of the angle and view the neighbors will get of this project.    

 

STAFF REPORT

Molnar reviewed this project (refer to Staff Report dated December 12, 2005 and Staff Report Addendum dated January 10, 2006).  There has been concern by the neighbors about the open carport design and a request by the applicant has been made to enclose five parking spaces in garages.  By enclosing the garages, the applicants exceed the Maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of .5 and they require an Administrative Variance to go up to .6 for the Floor Area Ratio requirement.   Molnar showed a revised design showing the five garages and outdoor space for the residential.

The Commissioners should discuss the following design details: 

1.            Solar Calculations – There has been an agreement between the neighbors and developer to use the standard residential Solar Access Standard A.  Staff is uncertain if the height of the shadow producing point is measured from natural grade.  They will need to verify that the measurement is taken to natural grade based on the topographic survey of the property prior to installation of the public infrastructure.  This can be reviewed at the building permit stage.

2.            Location and Design of Bike Parking

3.            Adequacy of the pedestrian coverings.  Are they wide enough to shade pedestrians from the elements? 

4.            If additional design choices need to be considered for east and west elevations to further break up the mass, Staff would need direction from the Commission as well as the applicant. 

5.            The Commission would have to identify if there is a demonstrable difficulty in meeting the specific requirements of the Design Standards due the unique or unusual aspects of the site in order to approve the Administrative Variance up to .6 of the FAR.  Discussions between Staff and the neighborhood have been about abutting districts (example:  employment against residential) where some different site planning issues exist that would not exist when evaluating a project surrounded by a similar zone.   Due to the site’s proximity to a residential district, Molnar believes the Commission can find that there are some unusual circumstances surrounding it. 

6.            The adjacent properties believe the carport design will negatively impact them and would like to see the garages enclosed.

 

Staff has identified 21 Conditions if the Commission decides to approve the project.  If the Commission would like to see changes made to the project, they might need to extend the 120 time limit.

 

Molnar asked the Commission to consider two additional Conditions.  Condition 22 discusses that the applicants revise solar setback calculations and be provided for review prior to issuance of a building permit.  The height of the shadow producing point shall be measured at natural grade based upon topographic survey completed prior to construction of the subdivision structure.  Condition 23 would state:  That all conditions of the Outline and Final Plan be complied with prior to building permit.  Specifically, installation of the pedestrian bridge shall be modified so the location of its eastern terminus complies with the approved construction documents.  The final erosion control methods employed along Mountain Creek have been approved by the Public Works Department prior to issuance of any building permits. 

 

Molnar noted that the covered spaces are required parking and they are required to accommodate an automobile.  If there is extra room, storage shelves would be permissible.  He said in the past concerns have been raised about incorporating enclosed garages as part of mixed use projects.  As we build larger residential units in mixed use where people want to cover their parking spaces, we lose some ability to gauge how parking is working in a project.  What makes this project different is that the covered parking is triggering an Administrative Variance for the FAR. 

 

Molnar commented on the stepping back of masses as noted in a memo from Colin Swales.  Molnar said in looking at the back of the building, he feels there is enough going on with the treatment of the doors, railings, windows, that the three story masses are of a proportion and size that incorporate elements of human scale.   

 

PUBLIC HEARING

RUSS DALE, 585 Allison Street, introduced the other team members:  TOM GIORDANO, JEFFREY HYATT, DARREN LECOMTE, KERRY KENCAIRN and LAURIE SAGER.

 

Dale said they tried to merge the E-1 zone successfully with the adjacent residential area.  In this case, the residential component preceded this project.  They’ve divided the property into seven lots and set aside the seventh lot to accentuate the aesthetically pleasing drainage area to create a separation between the residential and E-1 zone.  He has signed an agreement to restrict the project to a Solar Schedule A.  They have stepped the building away from the neighbors.  The decks are for some outdoor living space on the back side of the building.  This is, however, still an E-1 zone.  He can build language into the Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions (CC&R’s) to use the garages for parking an automobile, enforceable by the homeowner’s association.

 

TOM GIORDANO, 2635 Takelma Way, stated it is important to understand the history of this parcel.  It was always understood where the residential development would occur. The area around the residential boundary to the railroad track was going to be industrial.  He lobbied hard to get the residential component added.  The Planning Commission agreed and gave them the residential overlay. 

 

Giordano noted the solar calculations were taken from the old topographic maps.

 

KERRY KENCAIRN, 545 A Street, said the bioswale adjacent to this proposal has more of an impact on the public space than the landscaping around the proposed building. KenCairn said their team is aware and embarrassed by the placement of the bridge and they plan to move it.  She believes the plaza area is active because of the width of the sidewalk and the plazas pushing in toward the buildings.  All the entries to the building are bracketed by a large amount of landscaping.  They talked about bringing the sidewalk paving and concrete to and through the doors to further emphasize the doors, making the sidewalk entry relationship even stronger. 

 

Dale concurs with the neighbors regarding the enclosed garages.  The garage doors make the building look more attractive. 

 

DARREN LECOMTE, 1110 Gay Park Drive, Central Point, said the not all the garages are enclosed due the requirement of maintaining no greater than 35 percent for residential on the ground floor.  Dawkins felt by leaving a couple of the carports open, that the building doesn’t seem complete.

 

Douma said there is a disabled parking space in the back.  LeComte said the disabled parking has been addressed with a walkway directly to the elevator that will take someone to the residential.

 

LeComte said if the back deck was lowered, there would be steps going out the back of the units on the occupant’s first floor and that wouldn’t be practical.  It would also create an accessibility issue for those living on the ground floor.  There could also be a headroom issue in exiting the commercial building. 

 

Black noted that the tops of the garage doors are the same height all the way across.  LeComte said the bottoms of the doors will vary a little due to a slight drop in grade.

 

Dale said the parking lots were designed to do storm water retention.  KenCairn said this whole project was designed so the back of the parking lots along the property line were raised because the whole thing was supposed to detain storm water.  Through various changes over time, it was decided to do away with the surface detention of storm water.  But, the project structure remained the same.

 

LaComte said the drawings on the wall are different than the drawings in the packet.  They made some adjustments to the ends of the buildings per Staff’s comments pertaining to the canopy and the solid wall. 

 

EDWARD HUNGERFORD, 456 Williamson Way, said he is concerned about the excessive height of the buildings throwing a significant shadow and he asked that the buildings be kept to two stories.  He would support the idea of a variance to allow the garages to be enclosed. 

 

GWEN MCMAHON, 421 N. Mountain Avenue, said she is President of the Homeowner’s Association of Mountain Creek Estates.  The Homeowner’s Association, by a vote, will be paying in perpetuity to water the proposed project’s landscaping as part of a cooperative effort with the applicant.  They have 57 units in their development and they have only one carport.  Almost everyone uses their garage for something other than a car.  To enforce the use of a garage for a car just isn’t practical.  She believes aesthetically a garage door is a necessity. 

 

SURYA BOLOM, 470 Williamson Way, stated the proposed building is right in back of her property.  There is no land barrier to ensure her privacy.  She will look up from her yard to a 40 foot building with layers of parked cars at her fence, making her backyard visible to people parking their cars.  Trucks will tower three to four feet above the fenceline. Cars and trucks bring cell phones, radios, night lighting, smoking and additional noises. The Draft Railroad Plan calls for new buildings to be compatible with and complementary to those adjoining neighborhoods.  She would like to see the carports enclosed and the building brought as close as possible to Russell Street.  She is requesting parking lot signs addressing the concerns she mentioned above.  She showed pictures of her yard and fence and someone standing in the parking lot to give size perspective.

 

MERA GAGNON, 466 Williamson Way, is impacted on two sides by the project.   In the photos she passed around, there is a truck parked alongside the parking lot.  Note the height of the truck.  There was noise reverberating in her yard from across the fence.  They are planning to put dumpsters in that corner.  She’ll smell it and hear it and it will be within 15 to 20 feet of her yard.  She has requested a two story building and she would favor the garage doors except it all needs to be further away. 

 

NOLA KATOPOTHIS, 473 Williamson Way, said Dale told them in a meeting that the buildings will be only two stories.  Whether it is a residential property or a commercial property, there needs to be a buffer.  When people get out of their car, they can look right into the houses along the back. 

 

NANCI KENT, 460 Williamson Way, said she had an intoxicated intruder jump from the parking lot into her backyard and into her house one night and it was terrifying.  She is looking for a sense of safety, especially for families with children.  She was told the railroad tracks are a highway for undesirables.  She would like enclosed garages as they would provide a sense of safety.  This is an unusual situation with E-1 backing a residential.  There should have been an area of transition. 

 

DOUG KENT, 460 Williamson Way, stated when they first moved in and met with Russ Dale, they were told Russell Street would connect to A Street.  When commercial traffic comes in, he would like to see that connection.  He doesn’t want to see more cars up and down his street along with Fed Ex trucks and delivery trucks.  He has safety concerns for the children in the neighborhood.

 

ERIC NAVICKAS, 711 Faith Avenue, asked for denial of the Variance and FAR. Dale has failed to show a demonstrable difficulty to allow the Variance.  Dale has the option of scaling back the building to meet the FAR and maintain the enclosed garages.  If Dale has to go without carports then it does meet the City’s ordinances.

 

Stromberg asked if Navickas believes it is possible to get a more substantial appearance and still have carports.  Navickas believes it is possible but a better option is to maintain the garages and require them to meet the FAR, including the garages and scale back the entire project.

 

ARLEN GREGORIO, 474 Williamson Way, (also speaking for ALLYN GREGORIO too) thanked Russ Dale for being accessible and for meeting with the neighbors.  The pictures he passed around illustrate the problem that they have.   One photo shows the difference in grade between the single family homes immediately adjacent to Lot 4 and the filled parking lot.  The five foot strip is their only physical protection between their homes and the mixed use development.  The other factor is the proposal of a gigantic building looming not just over a home, but over a whole neighborhood.  Another picture shows several front yards and front porches on Williamson Way from Lot 4 so the streetscape on Williamson Way is going to be directly impacted by the massive structure.  The whole neighborhood is impacted in a unique and unusual way.  This same situation would not happen citywide.  Gregorio would like to explore with Dale the elimination of the ten foot setback to Russell Street.  He asked the Commission to approve the Variance and allow enclosure of the carports.  If they do enclose the carport, LeComte has indicated to the neighbors that the northeast roofline on residential unit C (east unit) can be moved back.  That is the highest shadow producing point on the building.  Any part of the roofline that can be moved back will help them.  Gregorio said they would like the five foot landscaping strip reviewed again and adapted based on written input from the neighbors.  He would like Dale to have written understandings with each neighbor so there are no misunderstandings.  He would also like signage to help with noise.

 

LEE TUNEBERG, 327 Starflower, said his property is the one with the footbridge.  Looking out his back door, he can see how high the roads have been raised.  He thinks they’ll find a problem with solar.  He said if the project is kept at two stories there won’t be a problem for people. 

 

JODY COLENDIA, submitted a letter opposing the project. 

CAROL KIM, 422 Rogue Place, submitted a letter opposing the project.            

COLIN SWALES’ e-mail was entered into the record.

 

Dawkins announced the Planning Commission will not be reviewing Planning Action 2005-02107, 1500 Oregon Street at this meeting but it will be continued to January 24, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers. 

 

The Commission brought up several issues:

  • Is it an undue burden on the residential neighborhood to allow car and truck headlights to shine in their homes? 
  • Is this a special situation where the houses are set down, generating a canyon effect?  Can this effect be considered when determining the height of the building? 
  • Can the five foot landscape buffer be planted more heavily?  Molnar said the Commission is allowed to impose conditions.
  • The Site Design Standards generally reflect the relationship between the proposed buildings on the adjoining street.  Focus on the standards and the illustrations.  In order to lower the building height, the Commissioners would have to specify a certain standard. 
  • Is it possible to require the applicant to move the building towards the street and reducing the plaza on Russell to get the building back from the neighborhood?  This would probably require an Administrative Variance to the Design Standards. There could also be a domino affect if the building is moved as the public space might be reduced.
  • Is it possible to move the northeast corner roofline back?  Staff said there are probably some Design Standards that address off-setting upper story massing.
  • Can signage be required?  Molnar affirmed.
  • What latitude does the Commission have to decrease the distance between the backs of the garages and the edge of the parking lot? 
  • Can all the garages be removed (would also remove the garages) to make the commercial parking face the building rather than face the residential? 
  • Can the fence height be increased to obscure the light into the residences from headlights?

 

Rebuttal

Dale said the site is unique.  The parking lot was designed at the original grade and he did not raise his building pad.  The neighbors cut their pads down in order to make their driveways and streets work in order to get the drainage to work on Hersey Street.  

 

Dale said he would do everything he could to address the headlight issue by working with each individual property owner and by entering into written agreements with each owner to give them the landscaping they want individually. 

 

With regard to eliminating the ten foot setback, he is willing to work with Staff to move the buildings forward if they can help him find a way to comply with all the other ordinances required such as plaza space, bike parking, etc. 

 

He is required, as one of the conditions of approval to sign in favor of the LID to pave a part of connectivity to A Street when it happens. 

 

Dale was caught off guard at a meeting and agreed to a Solar Schedule A.  By complying with Solar Schedule A, that pushes the building front closer to Russell Street.  If he cuts the top off and makes it a two story building, that part of the living dwelling has to come down over the tops of the decks, and then he can’t comply with Solar Schedule A. 

 

Stromberg sees two alternatives.  Move the building up ten feet as it stands or move the front of the building up ten feet, keep the back where it is and keep it two stories. 

 

LeComte said they will entertain the option of moving the building up ten feet toward the street if it is reasonably viable.  Giordano told the Commission the way the project was submitted (with carports), it met all the criteria.  The designer has done a great job.  The building has a lot of articulation.  They can move the covered area on the third story (northeast corner) without any problem. 

 

Dawkins asked if there is a problem creating a deeper landscape buffer.  Dale said he has to meet the City’s standard for back-up space radius.  Molnar would not recommend allowing beyond Ashland’s standards that are very minimal. 

 

Stromberg/Black m/s to continue the meeting to 10:30 p.m.  Everyone favored.

 

Chapman believes a case can be made for moving the building ten feet closer to the street or whatever it takes to allow the building to come forward.  He would agree with Dale to enter into an agreement with each property owner for their buffering requests. 

 

The applicants would have to investigate whether or not they could do back-in parking.  They thought there might be other kinds of fencing products.

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Overall, the Commissioners favor the applicant bringing the project forward to the street.  Potentially, this is a unique situation that could be addressed through an Administrative Variance.  Does the plaza out in front really serve any purpose?  Pulling the project away from the neighbors is a viable solution.  Generally, doing more landscaping on a property-by-property basis addresses a concern raised by the neighbors.  If it is feasible to bring the building up to the street, pull everything including the garages up ten feet.  Keep garages where they are, pull the building up to the street and keep it two stories.  Can the applicant come back with an alternative design using some of these ideas?

 

Stromberg/Chapman m/s to extend the meeting to 11:00 p.m.  Everyone favored.

 

RE-OPENED THE PUBLIC HEARING

Dale stated he was willing to agree to an extension of the 120 day time limit.  He will work with the Planning Staff on the items noted by the Commission and come back with a more clearly defined project. 

 

PLANNING ACTION 2005-02105

REQUEST FOR A SITE REVIEW APPROVAL FOR A THREE-STORY, MIXED-USE BUILDING COMPRISED OF COMMERCIAL SPACE ON THE GROUND FLOOR AND TWO RESIDENTIAL UNITS ON THE SECOND AND THIRD FLOORS FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 145 E. MAIN STREET.  THE PROPOSED BUILDING WOULD BE LOCATED O THE VACANT LOT SITUATED BETWEEN LITHIA WAY AND THE WILL DODGE WAY ALLEY, NORTHEAST OF THE OLD HARRISON’S AUTO PARTS BUILDING. 

APPLICANT:  URBAN DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, LLC

 

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts – Site Visits were made by all.  Stromberg noted that the sidewalk in front of Mojo’s seemed narrow and he wondered how it was approved.  Dawkins noted the sidewalk in front of the new office building on the other side of the proposed building is only a foot or two wider.

 

STAFF REPORT

Harris noted the approval criteria.  She showed a site plan.  This is currently one parcel but is unusual because it is split by a public alley.  The project description is contained in the Staff Report.  Three issues have been raised in the Staff Report:

1.      Building Height – The staircase enclosure brings the building up higher than the maximum 40 feet. 

2.      Pedestrian Corridor and Sidewalk Width – Staff has recommended eight feet of sidewalk area be provided between the tree well and the face of the building.  The Historic Commission looked at keeping the building the same but angling the building as the sidewalk narrows toward Mojo’s.

3.      Electric Utilities – This issue has been resolved. 

 

Staff is recommending a continuation unless the applicant can address these issues tonight. 

 

PUBLIC HEARING

MARK KNOX, 320 East Main Street, Suite 202, said the building has been designed by SERA Architects in Portland.  Knox presented a plan to address the sidewalk width.  They agree they need more sidewalk width.  They put together a plan that does not change the building façade at all but puts it at a 90 degree angle.  He believes this is a good compromise.  The applicant will lose some square footage on each floor. 

 

PA2005-02105 will be continued and the public hearing left open until January 24, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center.  This action will be first on the agenda.

 

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 11:05 P.M.

 

Respectfully submitted by

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

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