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August 8, 2006 Hearings Board

Minutes
Tuesday, August 08, 2006

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

HEARINGS BOARD

MINUTES

AUGUST 8, 2006

 

CALL TO ORDER – Vice Chair Michael Dawkins called the meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR.

 

Commissioners Present:

 

Council Liaison:

John Fields, Chair

Michael Dawkins

John Stromberg

 

 

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

 

Absent Members: 

 

Staff Present:

None

 

Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director

 

 

Derek Severson, Associate Planner

 

 

Angela Barry, Assistant Planner

 

 

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Stromberg/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of the July 11, 2006 Hearings Board.  The minutes were approved as written.

 

TYPE I PLANNING ACTION

PLANNING ACTION #2006-01294

REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT TO CONVERT THIRTY (30) EXISTING APARTMENTS TO THIRTY (30) CONDOMINIUM UNITS FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 719 PARK STREET.

OWNER/APPLICANT:  Park Street Apartments, LLC / Urban Development Services, LLC

 

This action was called up for a public hearing.

 

PLANNING ACTION 2006-01293

REQUEST FOR A LAND PARTITION TO CREATE TWO SINGLE-FAMILY PARCELS, FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 2331 MORADA LANE.

APPLICANT: SCHUMACHER/VANLANDINGHAM

 

This action stands approved.  Stromberg wondered if signing to not remonstrate is legal.  Molnar said he knew that issue had been raised with the Council and an interest on their part to look at the LID process, but Staff has not had any direction from the Legal Dept. to treat the agreements any differently than in the past. 

 

John Fields arrived and chaired the meeting.

 

TYPE II PUBLIC HEARINGS

PLANNING ACTION 2005-01869

REQUEST FOR A LAND PARTITION TO CREATE THREE PARCELS FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 1751 DRAGONFLY LANE.  A VARIANCE IS ALSO REQUESTED TO EXCEED THE MAXIMUM OF THREE LOTS PERMITTED TO USE A FLAG DRIVE (DRAGONFLY LANE).  

APPLICANT:  PEGGY GEORGE

 

Ex Parte Contacts & Site Visits - Dawkins had a site visit.

 

STAFF REPORT

Severson said there was a request from Chris Hearn, a neighbor’s attorney, requesting this action be called up by the Hearings Board to the Full Commission for a public hearing.  Severson spoke with Hearn prior to the meeting and he said he and his client are agreeable to moving ahead with today’s hearing. 

 

The applicant’s proposal, site description and Staff comments are contained in the Staff Report provided in the packet.  In addition to requesting a three lot partition, the applicant is also requesting an Exception to Street Standards.  The parent parcel has legal access via the flag drive to Crestview, but the functional access is strictly by easement over Dragonfly Lane, a private driveway.  The flag drive is unimproved and has a slope of around 27 percent with several trees on it.  The TID ditch and trail run through the property.    One of the Conditions of approval from the 1979 annexation was that access be taken only via Dragonfly from Park Street, not from the flag drive to Crestview.  As proposed, the land partition request would result in seven lots taking access from Dragonfly and would require the approval of the Exception to Street Standards. 

 

Since the packet was prepared, a lease agreement came in from a neighbor indicating the flag drive portion of the property had been leased to them so there is no legal access allowed to the property.  The neighboring property owner is unwilling to dedicate right-of-way or accommodate improvements to bring the driveway to street standards.

 

The applicant’s submittal is unclear and does not speak to the health, condition or recommendation for the treatment of the trees on the property, and there is no tree protection plan included as required by ordinance. If the Commissioners decide to approve the application, Staff is recommending a Condition that a revised tree protection plan be provided to meet the standards of the Tree Ordinance and incorporate any recommendations of the Tree Commission.  The Tree Commission suggested three items as outlined in the packet.

 

No new information has been provided by the applicant to questions raised in the pre-app conference demonstrating adequate capacity and no indication that the applicant has worked with individual City departments to identify and resolve any capacity issues. 

 

Staff recognizes the difficulty in taking access from a flag drive to Crestview, however, the applicant has suggested that the Dragonfly Lane 30 foot width will result in equal or superior transportation facilities and connectivity as would a 20 foot wide driveway.  Staff believes the applicant has failed to address how the proposal will be equal or superior to the improvements required by ordinance which would require a public street. The applicants have to be able to provide adequate access for emergency vehicles.  The Fire Department noted several conditions in the pre-application conference.  The applicant submitted no proposal detailing any proposed improvements that would result in equal to or superior facilities for transportation or fire apparatus access.

 

Based on the information submitted, Staff could not recommend approval of the application, but if the Commissioners approve the application, Staff has recommended a number of Conditions included in the Staff Report.

 

Severson said Dragonfly is 615 feet long.  It is not being proposed to be a public street.  It is still a driveway.

 

MARK BARTHOLOMEW, attorney and applicant’s representative, 717 Murphy Road, Medford, OR 97504, prepared a memo for the record including the easement. 

 

Bartholomew said with regard to the Exception to Street Standards, there is a demonstrable difficulty in meeting the specific requirements of the code due to a unique or unusual circumstance of the site.  Portions of the Crestview access are over 40 percent slope.  The TID canal almost forms a moat around part of the property.  There is a lease on that portion of the property, though not relevant.  The applicant was told by the City she would not be able to use the Crestview access because it is too steep.

 

The variance will result in equal or superior transportation facilities and connectivity.  Dragonfly is 30 feet in width and there are already five units that take access.  They are requesting two more homes to take access.  They believe the increase is mitigated by the additional width of Dragonfly.  They believe it is equal to a road where three lots are taking access off a 20 foot drive.  If they were able to dedicate the street, they could have a 47 foot wide street and they wouldn’t need to ask for a variance.  Bartholomew said they have to demonstrate that the variance is the minimum necessary.  They are not asking for a variance to the number of lots, but how many units can take access off the road. 

 

He believes they meet the Performance Standards criteria.  They have struck a balance between providing infill and increased density but are still not asking for the maximum number of lots that could be allowed under the zoning.  He said they can meet the Conditions.

 

CAEL NEATHAMMER, 3132 State Street, Ste. 110, Medford, OR  97504, project surveyor, said he did the survey.  They located any trees eight inches diameter at breast height (dbh) and over.  The existing utilities come up from the existing flag access from Crestview.  He did not believe adding utilities would impact the trees.

 

Fields read comments from DAVID WILSON, 1221 Park and LES JENSEN, 1845 Dragonfly Lane both opposing the proposal.     

 

CHRIS HEARN, 515 E. Main Street, attorney representing Margaret Jenny Elam, 1819 Dragonfly  Lane, read the Staff Report and feels that it is representative of the same concerns that Elam had.  He handed out a memo entitled “Summary Points in Opposition to Application” and reviewed the points.  He added that the Planning Commissioners have the discretion to allow an Exception or variance to the standard.  The applicant carries the burden of proof and she has not yet reached that.

 

MORGAN PAULL, 1819 Dragonfly Lane, is representing Mrs. Elam and her daughter.  A road is inconceivable and he doesn’t know how it would be done.  Traffic is at maximum, in his opinion. 

 

PEGGY GEORGE, 1751 Dragonfly Lane, said the City Electric Department put in a transformer on her property that was larger than required to allow additional development.  The Fire Chief put a fire hydrant on the property that would serve additional development. 

 

STEVEN BRADLEY, 1219 Park Street, (located on Dragonfly Lane), said his chief concern is Dragonfly Lane.  Dragonfly is adequate but would have to be improved to handle additional traffic, even though it is only for two additional lots.  It would not just be used by those that live there. He is not anxious to see Dragonfly widened.  An improved City street would change the area and he doesn’t want to help pay for it.  He is not against the project, but the access issue needs to be resolved.    

 

JAN CHAIKEN, 1800 Crestview Drive, lives adjacent to the flag drive and would be concerned about using the flag drive as access.  There is a prohibition against access.   However, the Conditions proposed by Staff are so onerous that it might turn out to be easier to use the Crestview access and that is of concern to him.  He can’t imagine that the trees on Crestview access wouldn’t be endangered if that drive is improved. 

 

Staff Comments – There were no further Staff comments.

 

Rebuttal – Bartholomew said there is nothing in the record that has been adjudicated that would prevent further partitioning or taking access.  He believes the neighbors’ concern about the condition of Dragonfly Lane could be alleviated if they knew there was a private road agreement, providing for collective maintenance of the road.  He believes it would be in keeping with the Comp Plan to approve a road because there is an existing non-conformity and approving a variance would cure the non-conformity.

 

Stromberg wondered if Bartholomew should be making a comparison of Dragonfly Lane to the Crestview access (the flag that is part of the original partition).  Bartholomew responded that only to the extent that you are comparing the condition of the access. 

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Severson said the applicant is asking for an Exception to Street Standards and the alternative that would be required is a full public street improvement.  Demonstrating equal or superior facilities would mean demonstrating they are equal or superior to what the applicant is requesting the Exception to. 

 

Stromberg asked why a flag was created when it was impossible to use it as access.  Molnar said there is a provision in the code for the purpose of creating a legal frontage on a street.  The flag pole can have a legal access but the functional access comes in a different way because it is more appropriate.  Severson said in this case, the application came through as an annexation in 1979 and there was some concern about the use of the flag drive.  Even though there was a Condition that only one home could be built, the Planning Commission discussion eluded that if access and topography could be addressed, there would be additional development potential for the property.

 

Stromberg/Dawkins m/s to deny based on the applicant not having met the burden of proof.  Fields said there is no plan or final product for a full street improvement.  Roll Call:  The action was denied unanimously.

 

PLANNING ACTION 2006-01299

REQUEST FOR A VARIANCE TO USE AN EXISTING 12-FOOT WIDE DRIVEWAY TO ACCESS SIX FUTURE PARKING SPACES LOCATED AT THE REAR OF 404 BRIDGE ST.  A 20-FOOT WIDE DRIVEWAY IS REQUIRED.  THE DRIVEWAY SHARES A DRIVEWAY STRADDLES THE SOUTH PROPERTY LINE, AND SHARES THE DRIVEWAY WITH 416 BRIDGE ST.

APPLICANT:  ASHLAND COMMUNITY LAND TRUST

 

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts – Stromberg had a site visit.  Fields is familiar with the site because he built an addition on the house next door about 20 years ago.  He had a discussion with Habitat for Humanity about building the houses there but they are no longer actively involved in the property.  He has no financial interest in the project.  Dawkins had a site visit.

 

STAFF REPORT

Severson gave a brief overview of the application as outlined in the Staff Report.  Ashland Community Land Trust (ACLT) has purchased the property with the intent of providing affordable units.  The request is for a Variance to use the existing 12 foot driveway that straddles the south property line, to access six parking spaces that would be needed to serve two additional units and the existing duplex.  Two new units will be proposed in the future to be built at the rear of the property.  They want to formalize the Variance now in order to move ahead in the design process.

 

The property to the south at 416 Bridge Street has two existing parking spaces along the driveway that they are proposing to recognize and formalize through this application.  Typically a driveway that serves seven or more spaces is required to be 20 feet in width.  Because this would be serving six spaces on the 404 Bridge Street site and an additional five to seven on the site to the south, it requires to a Variance to service it with a 12 foot drive.  The applicant has noted there is an existing retaining wall, significant trees and the existing duplex building that constrains them from expanding it further.  The driveway is accessed by a mutual easement and the property owner at 416 Bridge has not expressed any willingness to allow them to remove his trees and retaining walls.

 

The Fire Department has reviewed the proposal and indicated several conditions as outlined in the Staff Report. 

 

If the Commission wishes to approve this application, there are six attached Conditions.

 

PUBLIC HEARING

TOM BRADLEY, ACLT Board Member (VP), 700 Terrace Street, said they negotiated with Santo Cominos, the neighbor.  They are asking for the Variance request in order to obtain HUD money.  One requirement for the release of funds is negotiation of this variance to the driveway width.  The unrecorded driveway is shared by both properties.  ACLT felt it would be more appropriate to work with Cominos for a joint access and maintenance agreement.  They came up with an idea to move the driveway apron north four feet, allowing Cominos to have an extra parking space and ask him to co-apply with ACLT in the hopes he could obtain approval for one or two parking spaces adjacent to the driveway.  Cominos endorsed that idea.  In order to keep the neighbor happy, they had to work out a way to validate at least one parking space along the side of the driveway, he would agree to sign the access and maintenance agreement.

 

They have agreed to sprinkle the back building and provide a work area and record the access easement so there won’t be a question in the future about fire vehicle access to the property.

 

The benefits of the proposal outweighs any negative impacts because it is providing affordable housing and compact urban design.  The trade-off is that cars won’t be able to come in and go out at the same time. 

 

Stromberg asked if the Fire Department is bothered by the narrow access.  Margueritte Hickman, Fire Department said if the applicant wishes to make the driveway narrower, they would accept fire sprinklers and an area for the Fire Department to work within.

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

The Commissioners discussed at length the pros and cons for having additional parking spaces. Fields is not sure two parking spaces can work, but it shouldn’t affect ingress and egress of cars.  Stromberg said what it does affect is whether the agreement between the two properties holds together.

 

Dawkins/Stromberg m/s to approve PA2006-01299 with the attached six Conditions  They approved only one off-street parallel parking space adjacent to the driveway, but the owners of 416 Bridge can ask for an additional space at a later date.  Voice Vote:  The motion carried unanimously approved.

 

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 3:25 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

 

 

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