Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg cont'd from 3-14-2006

Minutes
Tuesday, March 28, 2006

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING (CONTINUED FROM 3-14-06)

MINUTES

MARCH 28, 2006

 

CALL TO ORDER – Chair John Fields called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1175 East Main Street.

 

Commissioners Present:

 

Council Liaison:

 

John Fields, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Olena Black

 

Kate Jackson, Council Liaison does not attend Planning Commission meetings in order to avoid a conflict of interest.

 

Allen Douma

 

Staff Present:

 

John Stromberg

Pam Marsh

 

Maria Harris, Senior Planner

Derek Severson, Assistant Planner

 

Absent Members:

 

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

Dave Dotterrer

 

 

 

Mike Morris

 

 

 

Russ Chapman

    

 

 

 

APPROVAL OF FINDINGS

PA2005-02105, 145 East Main Street, Urban Development Services, LLC -Douma/Stromberg m/s to approve, amending page 3, second paragraph under 2.4, second sentence should read “proposal ‘to’ pivot.”  Voice Vote:  Approved.

PA2006-00088, 588 N. Main Street, Ashland Community Hospital Foundation – Douma/Black m/s to approve.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

 

PUBLIC FORUM – No one came forth to speak.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Downtown Plan Update - There will be a two-day event Tuesday, April 25th (Study Session) and April 26th with Crandall Arambula, the downtown consultant. They will be conducting a two-day charrette to work with the different stakeholders in several public meetings.  The times and location will be announced.

 

TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING

PLANNING ACTION 2006-00285

REQUEST FOR CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT AND SITE REVIEW TO EXPAND THE USE OF THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 631 CLAY STREET FOR A PRIVATE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (WALDORF SCHOOL).  THE SCHOOL IS GRADES K-8 AND INCLUDES THE ADDITION OF FIVE BUILDINGS AND SITE IMPROVEMENTS INCLUDING PARKING AND LANDSCAPING INSTALLATION.  A PHYSICAL CONSTRAINTS REVIEW PERMIT IS REQUESTED FOR A PEDESTRIAN CROSSING OF THE DRAINAGE, CEMETERY CREEK, AT THE NORTHWEST CORNER OF THE PROPERTY.

APPLICANT: KULA OHANA

 

Site Visits or Ex Parte Contacts

Black had a site visit and noted there were pedestrians using the walk between the park and the applicant’s property. 

Stromberg had a site visit and mentioned that his children had attended a Waldorf School and his wife had once served on the board of a Waldorf School.  He knows a teacher at Ashland’s current Waldorf School but there has been no communication concerning this action and he believes he can be unbiased.

Fields had a site visit.  A next door neighbor is an old friend but they have not discussed the action.  He walked in this neighbor’s driveway and looked across the property.  He can make an unbiased decision.

Site visits were also made by Dawkins, Douma and Marsh.

 

STAFF REPORT

Harris described the site and explained the project as outlined in the Staff Report.  There is currently the large building (previously a church), a two-way driveway system with a lot of asphalt and parking around the building and a smaller building that was converted to a classroom, all on the east side of the lot.  There are trees around the perimeter of the property, 19 that have been identified that are six inches at breast height and greater. 

 

The parameters of the previous Conditional Use Permit (CUP) were that there would be 50 students and staff combined and the school would operate Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with daycare going until 5 p.m.

 

The proposal is for a two-phase master plan to expand the school and make it a permanent facility for the Waldorf School.  Phase I involves an increase to eight classrooms and 120 students.  This would involve the installation of two to three buildings.  Other changes include undergrounding the storm drain on the Clay Street frontage and adding landscaping in the parking lot.  The circular drive will be retained, however, there will be more landscaping around the building and the buffer on the sides will increase too.  Bike parking will be installed.  There will be a total of 22 parking spaces.  The target completion date is by the fall of 2006. 

 

Phase II time span is from fall 2006 to fall 2009 with the increase to 12 classrooms and 180 students.  The application proposes that a half street improvement would be made to the Clay Street property frontage if a local improvement district had not been completed by that time.  Four parking spaces would be added and one new building installed.

 

A pedestrian path linking Clay Street to the corner of the property and a bridge to access the park is proposed.

 

Harris suggested the Planning Commission focus on three main issues.

1)     Target Use of the Zone.  Make a determination of the comparison to target use (six to ten residential units for this site).  The building sizes are 2200 to 2800 square feet and Staff believes the buildings and coverage are comparable to residential structures.  The neighborhood has a mix of architectural styles.  Noise, light, glare and environmental pollutants are discretionary.  With regard to vehicle trips, generation of traffic and effects on surrounding streets, the applicant has identified 111 vehicle trips per day (vtpd) for Phase I and 167 for Phase II.  The target use for six to ten residential units is 60 to 100 vtpd.

 

2)     Transportation.  a) Clay Street is still under county jurisdiction.  In 2009, the applicant is planning to do a half street improvement if the City hasn’t formed a local improvement district.  The LID for Clay is scheduled for 2008, however, the City Engineering staff is expecting delays.  If the Planning Commission moves toward approval of the project and concurs with the applicant’s proposal of delaying the improvement, Staff has suggested a Condition that instead of signing in favor of an LID, the applicant would make a monetary contribution toward an LID fund.  The applicant is paying a fee up front, saving administrative problems.  b)  The Engineering Department has requested an added Condition that the applicant is required to participate in funding a corridor study of Ashland Street, looking particularly at the intersection of Clay, Faith and Ashland Streets.  The Traffic Safety Commission reviewed this application at their last meeting. 

 

3)     Public Pedestrian Easement and Crossing.  Staff originally suggested installing a public pedestrian link to the park.  If the property were developed as a residential subdivision, the connectivity standards allow the Planning Commission to require connectivity.  The connection is considerably shorter than accessing the park through the Stratford Apartments.  The Commissioners received an e-mail from Don Robertson, Parks Director, concerning the access.  They suggested installing a path along the east side of the bank and hooking up with the crossing rather than installing another crossing.  However, they are not sure there is enough area to put in a path.  Also, Staff can’t find that a public pedestrian easement exists for the path.  It is questionable whether or not there is enough room for a bridge.

 

Staff has suggested 21 Conditions of approval if the Commission wishes to approve the application.  Condition 8 responds to the Parks discussion.  The beginning of the second sentence begins a new Condition 9 and everything else gets renumbered.  Add to Condition 8:  That a public pedestrian easement shall be recorded for the length of the path from Clay Street to the Clay Street Park and evidence submitted to the Planning Division prior to issuance of a building permit.  That the applicant shall be responsible for the full cost of the pedestrian, improvement, design and installation.  That evidence of the approval of the design and location by the Ashland Parks Department shall be submitted prior to installation of improvements.  Condition 23 (renumbered):  That the property owner shall agree to participate in funding of an Ashland Street Corridor Study for up to 20 percent of the cost with the total maximum cost of $15,000.  The property owner shall sign an agreement to this affect to be recorded on the deed to the property prior to issuance of a building permit.  Condition 24:  That the rest of the lighting undergoes the same treatment so there isn’t spillover light into the adjoining properties.

 

Marsh wondered if there is an option to keep traffic from going to the back of the building other than using a chain so an unsafe situation will not be created in the parking/driveway area.  Harris thought mostly staff would use the parking in the back and would undoubtedly be self-enforcing.  Perhaps an alternative could be offered by the applicant that would be acceptable to everyone, including the Fire Department.

 

Marsh expressed concern regarding the front drop-off area.  Is there a way to meet the Site Design Standards and still retain the parking on the east side?  Harris said a non-conforming site has to be brought into conformance with the Site Design Standards an equal percentage to what is being built.  The proposal doubles the square footage on the site which means they would have to be in 100 percent conformance with the Standards.  There is an Administrative Variance to the Site Design and Use Standards that could be explored.  The Commission has discretion.  Staff was trying to find a reasonable balance.  Harris noted that at Phase II buildout, they are at 50 percent lot coverage. 

 

There were questions about the Ashland Street Corridor Study.  The study will go from Normal to Tolman Creek Road. 

 

PUBLIC HEARING

STEVEN SENDAR, 707 Morton Street, is speaking on behalf of 105 families involved with the Waldorf School and on behalf of the owners. He gave some history on how they got to where they are today.  There are currently seven classes on two campuses.   The access to the park is a critical piece.  They would, along with the neighbor, rather not have a public access to the park.  They will always only be K-8.  The extra spaces are for music, art, woodworking, etc.  They are currently at approximately 135 students.  When they go to eight grades they will be adding at most 24 more students.  The kindergarten could bring them closer to 180 students.  Historically, with Waldorf Schools, the children in the older grades disperse to other schools. 

 

TOM GIORDANO, 2635 Takelma Way, architect, addressed the three areas mentioned by St

1)    Target Use.  They have tried to implement the Site Design and Use Standards to use compatible architecture and landscaping to improve the property.  The buildings are one story and similar in scale to what is existing.  The buildings have a somewhat residential character to them.  They tried in the front of the school to work with what they had (church and site conditions) and still make the building oriented towards the street.  He agrees that having the automobile circulate around the church building is not a good idea.  He spoke with the Fire Department and they thought using a locking chain would work best.  On school days, it would not cause a conflict between students and cars in the rear.  There are nine parking spaces in the front.  They believe that is adequate, however, when there are special functions, the rear parking would be utilized.

2)  Transportation.  They are willing to participate in the Traffic Corridor Study, but hopes they will be responsible for no more than $3000.  They are willing to pay for the LID upon the completion of Phase I. and prior to getting building permits for Phase II.

3)  Easement.  There are three options for them. Incidentally, the property will be fenced.  a)  The easement goes along the north property line.  There is a five foot gap in the fence that gives them access to the park.  They have negotiated with the neighbor and he is willing to give the school a corner of his property so the school can use it as access to the park.  It was be fenced and gated.  If public access is going to be retained, the neighbor will not be willing to give up the corner of his property.  If done this way, no bridge would be required.  B)  Put the path on the east side, tie it to the bridge and cross over to the park.  c)  Install a bridge that crosses to the park.  Giordano noted that the park has public access from Clay, Glendale and through the Stratford Apartments.   

 

Sendar believes the spaces in the rear would be used for staff and faculty as they arrive before the students.  Marsh wondered if they’d thought about shifting the parking from the back and trying to retain the parking in the front (perhaps redesigning).  Giordano responded if they provide more parking in the front, they’ll be losing landscaping.  Two cars can be stopped in the drop-off bay at one time.  Marsh assumed that 55 car trips will be arriving within a very short period of time.  Fields asked if the applicant had their own statistics for the number of car trips a day.  They did not.  Giordano said the only complaints he’s heard is parking for special events.  The situation should improve by culverting and graveling the ditch. 

 

R.C. HEUBLEIN, 678 Glendale Avenue, distributed copies of two maps.  He’s heard different enrollment numbers.  He wants to support the school but he has concerns.  The proposed access will increase activity at his corner of the parcel.  He is adamantly opposed to public access.  The City of Ashland Stormwater Master Plan talks about protecting undeveloped sections of the corridor from future development along Cemetery Creek.  The pre-application conference said Cemetery Creek is regarded as severely degraded with banks in poor condition and showing signs of erosion. The proposed access will have an adverse impact on the creek.  There is a feasible access to the park 200 feet away.

 

DAN GRAY, 659 Clay Street, submitted a photograph showing  vehicles on Clay Street.  He believes the size of the project and the number of students is quite a bit higher than the target use of the zone. Ten families living in the area would not produce the congested traffic that a school will generate.  The impact would be dispersed over the entire day instead of compressed into short time periods.  The Clay/Faith/Ashland Street intersection is very unsafe and the congestion from this project will have a negative impact on the residents in the neighborhood.  He would be happy to see music classes and other activities housed inside buildings in order to reduce the noise.  What are the additional, non-classroom curriculum activities?  It will mean more vehicle trips. 

 

Staff Response - Harris said it is not clear from their application whether they would have non-school related activities.

 

Fields asked Staff if the creek crossing is a problem.  It looks like a 12 inch culvert.  Harris said it would be similar to a bridge built over Wright’s Creek.  She referred the Commission to Don Robertson’s, Park Director memo, stating Parks want final review of the crossing.

 

Harris said the Commission should use a common sense approach to figure out the benefits of the concentrated traffic and lulls.  Traditionally, when schools were built in neighborhoods, many adults would be leaving in the morning for work in peak masses just like school trips coming and going.  Questions Commissioners wanted answered were regarding the drop-off of children:  How long does it take to drop-off a child?  How much back-up will there be?  Are there any comparable situations with other private schools?  Is there a way to compare with churches?  Should non-school related activities be allowed?  Where do people park during community events at the school?

 

Harris explained that the base density of the site is 6.78 units.  Ten units would be the maximum allowed with full density bonus of 60 percent. 

 

Rebuttal - Giordano clarified the maximum student population will be 180 students.  They have tried to phase the project to coincide with the Clay Street improvements.  The vehicle trips per day for Phase I are 111 versus 100 trips for residential.  With the added street improvements, Phase II will be able to handle the additional vehicle trips.  The school would be willing to stagger start times.  School ends at 3 pm, two to three hours earlier than people coming home from work.  The assembly hall will not be rented out to other groups.  The school has about four major activities a year where everyone is invited.

 

Giordano is hopeful the Commission will remove the public easement since the neighbor is willing to grant a corner of his property.  The creek is on the neighbor’s property to the west.  The students would be more than happy to participate in a restoration project for the creek.   

 

Fields closed the public hearing.

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Vehicle Trips - The application is exceeding the targeted traffic impact by 60 percent.  The maximum is ten houses and 100 vtpd and this application is 170 vtpd using the standard.  Harris said the trips don’t have to be equal.  The Commission has some latitude.  Most of the Commissioners did not feel the vehicle trips would be a reason to deny the application.

 

Pedestrian Access - Are we creating the pedestrian links?  The neighbors absorb the brunt of any pedestrian traffic, however, the more links, the less concentrated the pedestrian traffic. 

 

Dawkins does not believe it is out of the way to go through the Stratford Apartments parking lot and he does not have a problem if the path and crossing are private.

 

Marsh absolutely supports an access through the property.  One of the compensating qualities of a school is the provision of open space and the ability to cut through school grounds (example:  Lincoln School to SOU).  One of the reasons they need park space is because the site is inadequate for the number of students they are planning to have.  In turn, for use of the park it is only fair that they provide a public access to the park through their property.  The path shouldn’t go down the middle of the property, but signage is not necessary.  She hasn’t heard that the neighbor has experienced any significant problems from the de facto accessway.  Black supported the easement and crossing.

 

Harris said it is questionable whether there is enough room to do a bridge.  The creek may have to be culverted.  Stromberg asked if the culverted area is treated as a riparian area and does it require a setback?  Harris thought in the past a culverted area has not been treated as a riparian area. 

 

Site Design – There was discussion concerning the vehicle circulation on the property.  The applicants are trying to pack a lot into this parcel. 

 

Ashland Street Corridor Study – The Commissioners feel this puts an undue burden on this property owner and recent developers have not been asked to participate.   

 

Site Design Standard – The primary issue is an inadequate drop-off area for the children.  Marsh believes Phase II is too much for this area.  Maybe they can condition Phase II.  The parking on the east side of the lot has pretty much been eliminated, creating a very small drop-off point, particularly if any of the parking is being used by staff.  Cars might be backing up on Clay. Children can be slow getting in and out of cars and there will also be parents leaving their cars to walk their children into or out of the school.  It would ease the problem by prohibiting staff from using the parking in front.  It appears there is room through the drop-off area for only one car width.  Is a way to use the big loop to make the drop-off work? 

 

The applicant and the school are going to have to come up with solutions to these issues.  Regulating traffic/drop-off/hours of operation is difficult to condition. 

 

The amended and new Conditions are those suggested by Staff.  Condition 8 will be separated into two Conditions.  A renumbered Condition 23 refers to the LID.  Condition 24 referred to lighting and Condition 25 referred to restricting the school from leasing or renting for non-school based use.

 

Would they want to add school sponsored events such as Girls Scouts or child care? 

 

Giordano said the drop-off is wide enough for two cars.  Fields said they need a breakdown of who comes to school when and how they arrive.  Do they carpool?  How many cars are stacked in the street?  Is it safe?  How many students bike to work?

 

Black did not believe bringing additional information back will bring the Commission anything.  Black/Dawkins m/s to accept the application with the Conditions noted above. 

 

Marsh believes this is a school that can probably fit fine into this neighborhood but she is not convinced the design of the front accommodates 180 kids with drop-off and access issues.  With more information, she is certain she could happily support this project.  Without it, she cannot.  Fields agreed.  

 

Fields re-opened the public hearing.

 

Giordano asked if they want a modified circulation design or statistics.  Fields said they need both.  Would the applicants accept a continuance?  Black withdrew her motion. 

 

Giordano and Sendar accepted the opportunity for a continuance and requested a 60 day extension to the 120 days.

 

Fields said the Commission wants to know both street impacts in terms of circulation.  That would include transportation systems, peak hours that can be modeled after the 50 students currently attending Waldorf.  They need numbers, perhaps a graphic representation of how it all works.  Black asked them to look at stacking all the way around the building. They are asking for the internal traffic and spillage onto the street.  And, show how this will work without unduly impacting the neighborhood with 180 students.  Marsh said if stacking cars side by side, show how to unload kids safely. 

 

The public hearing will be re-opened when this comes back to the Commission.  This action will be re-noticed as well.

 

It would be beneficial if an easement and crossing can be worked out.

 

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

  

 

 

 

 

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