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Planning Commission Minutes

Minutes
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

MINUTES

SEPTEMBER 12, 2006

 

CALL TO ORDER – Chair John Fields called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR  97520.

 

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 conflict of interest.)

John Stromberg

Pam Marsh

 

Staff Present:

Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director

Melanie Mindlin

 

Maria Harris, Senior Planner

Mike Morris

 

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

Tom Dimitre

 

 

Dave Dotterrer

 

 

Absent Members:  None

 

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS – Stromberg said the Commissioners may have read in the newspaper the idea that it may be time to consider expanding the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) at the freeway interchanges to try to have a higher degree of control over lands not in the county that may have Measure 37 claims on them.  He’d like, at the next study session, for the Commissioners to frame the subject by trying to identify the key questions and information we’ll need to prepare as a Commission in anticipation of the day something like this would come before us and also to begin informing the public.  He said he would do some preparation for the study session.

 

Fields will be out of town for the next two study sessions and the October Planning Commission meeting. 

 

The Commissioners received a memo regarding ex parte contacts from Mike Franell, City Attorney, and decided they would have a more comprehensive conversation at the September 26, 2006 study session.  Molnar said the main thing to keep in mind is trying to avoid ex parte contacts before and even after the public hearing has been closed before the findings have been adopted.

 

Molnar announced that Community Development Director interviews will be held next Thursday and Friday, September 21st and 22nd. 

 

Molnar said the Council is looking at all the Commissions to review their powers and duties and bring consistency to all the commissions. 

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES & FINDINGS

Approval of Minutes

      Dawkins/Stromberg m/s to approve the minutes of the August 8, 2006 Hearings Board meeting.  Voice Vote:  Fields, Stromberg and Dawkins approved.

      Black/Marsh m/s to approve the minutes of the August 8, 2006 Planning   Commission meeting.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

      There was one correction to the July 25, 2006 Study Session minutes.  John Fields will be taking Dave Dotterrer’s position at the August 8, 2006 Hearings Board. 

Approval of Findings

      Stromberg/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings for PA2006-01299, 404 Bridge Street, ACLT.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

      Black/Dimitre m/s to approve the Findings for PA2006-01295, 1948 Siskiyou Boulevard, RVCDC.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

      Stromberg/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings for denial of PA2006-01869, 1751 Dragonfly Lane, Peggy George.  Voice Vote:  Approved. 

 

PUBLIC FORUM

ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, gave Part 6 of Development Access Streets – Non-Remonstrance Agreements and specifically the right to vote.  By what action are developers going to be required to pay their fair share of the costs of traffic mitigation on a neighborhood?  He is suggesting the Planning Department and the Planning Commission look at the option of charging the developer their best estimate of the cost for mitigating the traffic as a dollar condition for approval of a subdivision. 

 

Stromberg asked if Bullock was aware the Planning Commission has asked the City Council to have the City Attorney address the contradiction in the code that asserts citizens rights to remonstrate and the part in the Land Use Ordinance that requires the Planning Commission to add those conditions.  Bullock was aware.

 

Molnar announced that 247 Otis Street (the Helman Baths development) has been appealed and is scheduled for a public hearing before the City Council on October 17th. 

 

PLANNING ACTION 2006-01091

REQUEST FOR OUTLINE PLAN APPROVAL UNDER THE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS OPTIONS CHAPTER 18.88 TO SUBDIVIDE THE PROPERTY INTO 14 LOTS INCLUDING 13 LOTS FOR SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES AND ONE LOT FOR OPEN SPACE PURPOSES FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 203 N. MOUNTAIN AVE.  A LOT LINE ADJUSTMENT IS INCLUDED IN THE PROPOSAL TO INCORPORATE THE WESTERN END OF THE PARCEL LOCATED AT 185 N. MOUNTAIN AVE (HAVURAH SHIR HADDASH JEWISH TEMPLE) INTO THE SUBDIVISION.  A TREE REMOVAL PERMIT IS REQUESTED TO REMOVE A 40-INCH DIAMETER AT BREAST HEIGHT BLACK WALNUT TREE IN THE N. MOUNTAIN AVENUE STREET RIGHT-OF-WAY ADJACENT TO THE FRONT OF THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 203 N. MOUNTAIN AVE.

APPLICANT:  URBAN DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, LLC

 

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts

Mindlin had a site visit and noticed the walnut tree is not particularly tall but is impressively spreading and majestic.  Black had a site visit and it occurred to her that the designation on the map regarding the extension of the road goes straight through some old willow trees possibly creating some tree issues.  She was aware of the extent of the wetland grasses in the field.  Stromberg, Dawkins, Dimitre, Dotterrer and Marsh had site visits but had no specific observations.  Fields and Morris did not have a site visit.  Morris is familiar with the project and the Railroad District Master Plan. 

 

STAFF REPORT

Harris reviewed the project as outlined in the Staff Report.  Staff believes the applicants need to provide additional information with regard to the following items and recommend the application be continued.

1)               Preliminary Utility Plan

2)               Bicycle Facilities

3)               Impact of Storm Drain Changes

4)               Street Frontages for Lots 12 and 13

5)               Tree Protection Plan

 

If the Planning Commission decides to approve this project tonight for Outline Plan, Staff is suggesting the attached 31 Conditions.

 

Harris said the applicants submitted a storm drainage plan after the packet was put together.  The plan delineates the two storm drainage options:  1) Directing the storm drainage to a detention area that would meter out to Mountain Creek and/or 2) Taking everything out to North Mountain Avenue, installing a storm drain pipe from North Mountain to Village Green Drive and putting it into the system that drains into the Beach Creek drainage.    

 

The Tree Commission recommendations have been included in the packet.  They support the applicants’ efforts to retain the black walnut tree unless it will not survive or if it becomes hazardous. 

 

Harris said the drainage comes through a culvert.  There have been adjustments to the drainage over the years.  It is a natural drainage that starts at the top of Beach Street.  This is the only remaining section that hasn’t been culverted. 

 

Dimitre asked if any traffic study has been done with regard to the impact on Mountain Avenue, particularly left turns from the new street onto Mountain and the left turn going into the new street.  Harris said no traffic impact study has been done for this application.  They are proposing 13 residential units creating 130 vehicle trips per day. 

 

PUBLIC HEARING

MARK KNOX, Urban Development Services, 320 E. Main Street, Suite  202, said he is representing Dean Walker and Larry Medinger, partners in the application.  They are requesting there not be a continuance tonight.  He has worked on resolving Staff’s issues and believes most are fairly simple to resolve. 

 

The utilities are indicated as a narrative on the map, but he just didn’t show the lines. 

 

They will have no problem putting the bike path and the public easement on the plan.  The path is a public path.  These are positive transportation connections. There is a clear connection between Eighth and A Streets and it is a perfect opportunity to provide the north/south pedestrian link.  The path is a general plan at this point in the process. 

 

With regard to storm drainage, pipes have been put in over the years with water just getting dumped on the property.   They have suggested the storm drainage will go down the new street to Ashland Village Drive or possibly the storm drain inlet on top of Mountain.  The objective, however, is to retain the hydrology in the wetlands.  They have a wetlands specialist on their team.  They are trying to fix the problems and maintain the natural amenities.  They propose to remove the blackberries.  Their plan for removal will be reviewed at Final Plan and will also need to be reviewed by the Division of State Lands (DSL).

 

They are going to be able to save the trees.  They are not proposing to do any alterations in the area of the black walnut so it can survive.

 

Knox said they are agreeable to putting the flag drives out to Mountain Avenue. 

 

Knox added that a neighborhood commercial street has a range of 2000 to 5000 vtpd.  This development is important because of the street.  It will be the east side connection for a commercial area. It will provide an important connection that disperses traffic.  They’ve been talking to the Fire Department to do a temporary dead end design.  They stopped it short because of the willow trees.

 

Dotterrer asked for clarification of the proposed flag lots.  Knox explained that Staff is concerned about making sure there is a property line connection with a public street.  The new plan shows the flag poles that are eight feet wide each, extending all the way down to the sidewalk.  There will be an easement over the flags to access the other units.    

 

Mindlin thought the flag drive had to be 20 feet wide.  Knox said the alley standard is 16 feet.  There is some flexibility with the PUD.  He believes there is 20 feet in the section needed for a fire truck turnaround approved by the Fire Department.

 

Marsh questioned the solar for Lots 12 and 13.  Knox said the idea was to give the lots as much flexibility as possible and still keep the intent of the solar ordinance by not shading habitable spaces.  They will tighten it up when it comes to Final Plan.    

 

In response to a question from Marsh, Knox said there is eight feet between the alley and the garage structure for houses with alley access.    The minimum back-up dimension is 22 feet and they are proposing 24 feet.  Marsh does not believe there is enough room for anyone to park.  Knox said each house will have a 16 foot front yard setback, including the porch.  There is more than one on-street parking space per unit.  There is quite a bit of on-street parking on the south side of the street.  He thinks they can probably increase the parking at the west side on the end of the alley.  They can add parking next to the garage.

 

Dotterrer asked if Knox believes they can meet Conditions 28, 29 and 30.  Knox said they could, however, they are asking the second sentence of Condition 28 be eliminated.  They would like some flexibility to widen the distance between houses and thereby increase the sizes of homes. 

 

Knox said the black walnut tree will be retained unless it has to be removed. They are asking for a tree removal permit in the event it cannot be saved.   If they have to remove it, another tree will planted before removal of the black walnut to allow the new tree to get established.

 

Medinger interjected that he is working with Knox and Walker because he is planning to purchase the property. 

 

Dimitre asked where the off-street parking spaces are going to be located for Lots 1-11.  Knox said the off-street parking spaces will be in the garages.  On Lots 12 and 13 they are not shown but they will have three spaces each.  There are also on-street parking spaces along the street.

 

ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, believes it is inappropriate to allow the applicant to ask for a continuance during the rebuttal because it’s new information.  If the Planning Commission decides to make a decision tonight, he would recommend they reject the application on four grounds: 

1)  It does not meet the development access street standards.  The code doesn’t say “capacity,” it says “existing street standards.”  Mountain is an arterial and has even higher standards, so the applicant has to deal with neighborhood collector standards and the arterial standards.  The burden is on the applicant to demonstrate it meets the development access standards and it’s not in the application. 

2)Wetlands – The ditch is an existing and natural feature under the code.  As the Planning Commission interpreted in their last findings, the word “and” is interpreted “and/or.”  Under that interpretation, the ditch and the square footage and all of it, even if it has been moved in the past qualifies under the code and must be included in the wetlands.  The evidence indicates it could be a significant amount of water.  Where is all the water going? 

3)     There has not been time to review the new information submitted by the applicant in the last two days.  The public has been denied the right to rebut because they don’t have the new information.    

4)    Continuing accumulation of shunting all water from the land into storm drains.  The wetlands act as a buffer to prevent flooding; piping does not.  With widespread development, the water entering Bear Creek has an increased temperature. The problem can be resolved by increasing the buffers and thereby increasing the time it takes for the water to absorb and get to Bear Creek rather than all the water getting dumped in the winter months.  In addition, do we want to poison the plants in the wetlands? 

  

KERI GREEN, 288 Ninth Street Alley, commended the developers for their design.  She will be looking directly at it.  She passed around photos.  There is a significant amount of water that flows through the ravine and she would like to see an analysis of the capacity to carry water without causing flooding or drainage problems.  Green supports the walking path to the north and south.  She is hoping there will be minimal to no use of Round Up when the blackberries are removed.  She would like some tree screening along the back alley with smaller stature trees that won’t obscure her view, but to soften it (maybe an apple tree). 

 

Staff Response

Harris said of the five issues identified the applicants addressed the bike facilities.  She believes there is still some work to be done by the applicants on the other four. 

 

Molnar clarified the issue of requesting a continuance.  He read from the Procedures Chapter in the code.  The Commission may approve, approve with conditions or deny the request.  They may also continue the hearing to the next meeting to allow the submittal of additional information.  The Commission can move to continue without the applicant agreeing.  If they do that, Staff needs to know where everything falls within the 120 days.  Staff would recommend if they are going to continue, they would need a 60 day extension.  

 

Fields read a letter into the record from Arlen and Allyn Gregorio, 474 Williamson Way and Bill and June Holmes, 357 Starflower, expressing their concerns about storm water drainage.

 

Rebuttal

Knox said the applicants have agreed to a 60 day extension.   He said the flag poles go to Clear Creek Drive.  The bike path is on the map.  The pedestrian path is also shown on the plan.  The utility plan is available (shown on overhead) delineating utility sizes and capacity.  The tree protection plan shows fencing.  There is a note from Tom Meyer, Upper-Limb-It, showing tree protection.  There is a storm drain plan showing a new pipe extending from the project, down the new street, down Mountain Avenue over to Ashland Village Drive, connecting with an existing storm drain pipe. 

 

Knox said the applicant has the ability to retain the same amount of water that is currently in the wetlands.  All new storm water is being handled by new pipes.  Medinger added that the water is on the property whether they do anything there or not. 

 

Knox said he’d show the trees along the bike path (Green’s request) at Final Plan.  The blackberries will not be removed with poison but with hand tools.

 

Marsh noted that she just realized that she has a potential conflict of interest.  Her husband does contract work for Medinger but has not been involved on this project.  She believes she can be impartial.   No one on the Commission further questioned her potential conflict.

 

Bullock called for a point of order.  Molnar said he thought there was an opportunity for anyone to speak about a potential conflict of interest.

 

ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, asked the Commission to recuse Marsh from any further participation because she said she didn’t know if her husband would be part of the project or not.  That means it’s a potential conflict of interest.  She had to disclose it at the beginning of the hearing. 

 

Dotterrer rejected Bullock’s argument that Marsh should have recused herself at the beginning because she did not know there could be a potential conflict.  He believes she can be completely impartial.

 

Molnar believes unless there is an actual conflict, it is up to the Commission whether Marsh should recuse herself.

 

Black/Dotterrer m/s that Marsh’s admission of a potential conflict of interest and her ability to participate in a non-partisan manner, that the Commission would vote to retain her as part of the negotiations.  Roll Call:  The motion carried unanimously.  Marsh was not included in the voting.  Marsh emphasized that she did not know until Medinger was introduced that he was even involved in the project.  Harris added that there was no reference in the written materials submitted to the City that Medinger was a participant in the application.

 

Harris said with the addition of about five conditions, the Commission could move toward a decision tonight, if that is their desire.  The storm drain plan is a large piece that needs a resolution. The Commission has to decide if they are comfortable with the information they have.

 

Molnar said at Final Plan they will need to delineate the wetlands.

 

Dimitre believes there are several loose ends and he has real concerns about doing anything but continuing. 

 

Fields closed the public hearing and with a continuance it would be re-opened.

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Review of the issues:

1)  Utility plan

2)  Flag lot – extend and give an easement.  Harris believes that needs more work, but the applicants could adjust and come back at Final Plan. 

3)  Tree protection not coordinated with the utility plan

4)  Impact of the storm drainage on the wetlands

5)  Bike facilities – this issue has been resolved.

 

Dawkins/Black m/s to approve PA2006-01091 and work out the conditions. 

 

Dawkins believes almost everything can be worked out and he’d rather not postpone this on top of an already full schedule. 

 

Dimitre has an issue with materials coming in late and the public not having a chance to see them.  He would like to see the five issues addressed that Harris has mentioned.  

 

Molnar said any time there is a public hearing, there is always the possibility of new information being presented and the technical nature of the information can vary.  There is an opportunity before the close of a hearing for anyone to request that the record remain open for seven days in order to take additional time and put comments into the record.  No one requested the record remain open during this hearing.   

 

Dotterrer called for the question.  Stromberg seconded the call for the question.  There was confusion on Dawkins’ motion.  They decided they were ready to deliberate on Dawkins’ motion to approve.

 

Mindlin took issue with the neo-traditional style of development.  She is coming from a sustainability point of view.  By putting an alley all the way through the back of the property, a huge amount of impervious surface is created.  Additionally, to the south of the buildings, there are garages and the whole south façade of the homes is cut off from having any access to solar with patio covers, etc.  This is a beautiful property and the homes could have been set up to have solar access with a yard in back if they’d been done in a more traditional manner with the driveway off the street.  She believes there is a significant question about the hydrology of the wetlands.  What is going to happen to the water coming off the culvert on the east portion?  What is going to happen to the water needing to be absorbed? 

 

Dawkins agreed with Mindlin's first point.  He is hoping the east culvert and its importance to the wetlands gets worked out. 

 

Black said the water that is being dumped onto the property from the east culvert is something the applicant is inheriting and they aren’t required to drain it.  The applicant has said they will work this out. 

 

Marsh felt that because Staff has a record of the issues, she will move ahead with some degree of comfort.  One of the primary issues is the volume of the street and the need to not have cars backing out into a heavily traveled street relating to traffic and safety.  She thinks everyone will be parking at the curb and walking  up to the front of their home.  She’d like to see the alley more permeable.  Molnar said it should be able to hold fire apparatus.  She is concerned with the parking in the back.  She’d rather see single car garages with a single open space parking spot with pavers.  It seems more likely to get used and also it would allow more yard space. She would like to see a condition requiring a back line of trees to shield the subdivision from the back views. 

 

Harris said it would be tight near a multi-use path.  There isn’t any extra room unless the trees are put in the rear yard of Lots 12 and 13.  They could add it to the landscaping but not condition it. 

 

Dimitre did not like getting information at the last minute.

 

Dotterrer is comfortable with what he’s received this evening.  Most of it is the applicant’s response to what is in the Staff Report.  He’s seen that all of the runoff onto the property has nothing to do with this project.  The current plan shows that the east culvert is going into a storm drain.  Lots 12 and 13 make sense to him.  He thinks a condition should be added about tree protection.

 

Morris did not believe the information they received this evening was difficult to understand.  He can’t see two weeks or a month getting any data that would help them understand this any more.  No one really understands this area and the wetlands, yet we are asking for the information to decide what is best for it.  He would like the hydrologist and Staff to be allowed to do their jobs.  He does not believe it is the Commission’s job to quantify a wetland, a drainage ditch and a couple of culverts.  They should condition it and that it should be resolved.  

 

Fields said the big issue for him is the impact of the wetlands.  It is DSL’s responsibility.  The applicant has all their work ahead of them.

 

Stromberg agreed we need a condition covering tree protection and an explicit condition addressing the applicant’s assertion that when the storm water moves across the property that they will reserve enough flow to preserve the wetlands.  He thought the sustainability comments were interesting and important for future discussions.

 

Harris read the following modified and added conditions.

Add Condition 32 – That the Final Plan submittal shall meet the fire access turnaround and fire hydrant requirements of Chapter 18.76 (standard language).

 

Add Condition 33 – That the impact of the re-directed storm drainage to the wetlands shall be evaluated at Final Plan submittal.  Adequate water flow shall be maintained to retain current sized wetland.

 

Add Condition 34 – That the Tree Protection Plan shall be revised in accordance with Chapter 18.61 to include the trees within 15 ft. of the site and the utility line information provided.

 

Condition 35 – That the electric transformer shall not be located in the planting strip that was shown on the new plan. 

 

Condition 36 – That the flag lot lines shall meet the requirements of Chapter 18.76.060.   

 

Mindlin thought the applicant’s request for the change to Condition 28 was legitimate. 

 

Delete Condition 29.  Change the language of Condition 30 from “Lots 1 – 11” to Lots 1 – 13.”  

 

Change “impervious surface” in Condition 31 to “pervious surface.”

 

Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to make amendments to the original motion to strike the second sentence in Condition 28, delete Condition 29, add Lots 1-13 in Conditions 30, correct  the second sentence in Condition 31, add new Conditions 32, 33,  34, 35 and 36. Voice Vote:  Unanimous.  (This was a vote on just the amendments to the original motion.)

 

Vote on the original motion:  Roll Call:  Stromberg, Fields, Black, Dotterrer, Dawkins, Marsh, Morris voted “yes.”  Dimitre voted “no.”  Mindlin “stood aside.”

 

Fields announced that Item C, PA2006-01548 has been postponed until next month. 

 

PLANNING ACTION 2006-01548

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.

APPLICANT:  PARK STREET APARTMENTS LLC/URBAN DEVELOPMENT SERVICES LLC

 

Site Visits or Ex Parte Contacts

Dawkins, Dimitre, Dotterrer and Morris had site visits.  Black had a site visit and saw Marsh.  They discussed artist’s housing in Ashland, but did not discuss this application.  Marsh had a site visit and chatted with Black.  Fields and Stromberg did not have a site visit.

 

STAFF REPORT

Molnar gave a presentation based on the written Staff Report.  The action was called up for a public hearing by Philip Lang based on issues related to public policy that the application should be denied due the loss of affordable units.  And, the application falls contrary to the proposed condominium ordinances that have not yet come before this body and are not adopted and the project reduces affordable housing.   It’s Staff’s opinion that Lang’s comments do not address the approval criteria.  According to Mike Franell, City Attorney, this application is subject to the standards currently on the books.  The

Resolution adopted in June establishes a 30 years affordability requirement.

 

A proposed modified ordinance has been reviewed by the Housing Commission (not applicable in this case).  The main change will address additional tenants’ rights.  The applicant has agreed in their application (Condition 8) that the existing tenants shall be given 60 days to address the first right of refusal and shall not be evicted prior to the 60 day time period.  Currently, there can be a loophole, while the applicant is obligated to get the first right of refusal, a tenant could get an eviction notice, incur additional costs to find another place, then they get the first right of refusal.  The change would allow the tenants to stay in the units throughout the duration while they decide if they would like an opportunity to purchase the property. 

 

Staff believes the application meets the standards as provided in the current ordinance and is recommending approval.

 

Black/Stromberg m/s to extend time to 11:00 p.m.  Everyone approved.

 

PUBLIC HEARING

BOB MAYERS, Adroit Construction, 4890 Hwy 66, Ashland, spoke.  Mayers said that his company built the apartments in the early 1990’s.  Over the time they have managed and rented the units, they have allowed single mothers to live there free at times, his employees have lived there for reduced rents, and some elderly people pay the same rent as the day they moved in.  The apartments are all two bedroom, two baths.  Their intent is to clean and upgrade the units. They have no problem meeting all the regulations.  They agree with the affordability requirement.  He does not believe that many tenants will be able to afford to purchase the units at $130,000 so they will probably continue to rent to low income households. 

 

CHRIS HEARN, 515 East Main Street, is representing the applicant.  This application was approved administratively by Staff in conformity with the Land Use Ordinance.  All the units will be affordable in the sense they will be the most affordable units listed in Ashland.  If these units are converted to condominiums, it will increase by eight the number of affordable units in Ashland this year for a 47 percent increase in the number of affordable units built.  There were only 17 units completed in Ashland this year.   Hearn presented a Power Point presentation addressing the criteria (part of the record). Resolution 1993-39 is directly applicable.  The applicant is complying with the currently adopted resolution and that is what the Commission needs to address.  This application meets all the standards the Council has given them.

 

Stromberg noted that this application is taking rental units out of the affordable market and 24 are no longer available to rent and would be available for sale.

 

Hearn said there are seven approval criteria.  Criteria one through six are all the physical attributes of an application and none of those are changing.  Criteria 7 is the catch-all – other factors found to be relevant by the hearing authority – to catch something that might have been missed in 1-6.   

 

Mindlin wondered if Mayers would be willing to do anything the Housing Commission recommended such as reducing the sales price to a 60 percent or below standard and dispersing the units throughout the complex.

 

MARK DIRIENZO, Urban Development Services LLC, 320 E. Main Street, Suite 202, stated that they are meeting the existing criteria that is 80 percent.  The 60 percent was mentioned by the Housing Commission that they would desire, but rents are already pretty depressed in Ashland.  He believes there is a push for conversions because the rents are depressed enough that owners can’t collect enough funds to improve them so they are converting them, selling one or two, improving the existing units and keeping them as an investment going forward.

 

The applicants would have favored disbursements of units throughout the complex, however, after talking with the non-profit agencies such as ACCESS, who have to go out for money in the form of grants, etc., they say that banks have a hard time with a unit here and a unit there.  They want them all grouped together.  It’s the long-term flexibility that is attractive to Mayers.  Mayers said this isn’t a huge complex.  It just makes it tougher to manage the units if they are dispersed. 

 

Black asked why they didn’t consider building condominiums when he built them. 

 

MARK KNOX, 320 E. Main Street, Suite 202, Urban Design Services, said the R-2 zoning allowed condominiums in 1991 too.  The reason we aren’t seeing more apartment projects today is because they are regulations forcing the owners to give up 25 percent of the units if they ever convert.  People are approaching him and Mark DiRienzo to propose condominiums up front that don’t have any regulations whatsoever. 

 

PHILIP LANG, 758 B STREET, protests the condominiumization of Ashland with this project as an example.  He is also here to establish the grounds for further appeal to the City Council. He’s here to educate.  This is a bad direction in which to go in Ashland.  He is unalterably opposed to condominium conversions.  A developer buys a multi-unit development perhaps a bit old and dowdy – a place that provides affordable housing for citizens.  The developer upgrades or rehabs the property.  The current tenants are displaced.  The property is condominiumized.  The prior renters cannot afford to buy.  The average working person or family cannot afford to purchase either.  The developer, rather than getting profit from long-term renting, makes the quick profit from sales.  Those who can afford to buy are wealthy enough but don’t want to or don’t have to occupy the units.  The units are purchased as investments to ultimately flip and in the meantime get write-offs.  The rents set by these new absentee owners are now double or more except the old renters can’t afford to come back.  This is a socially destructible process.  This happened to an adjacent property where his son lives.  Of the ten units that were sold, seven are now absentee rentals. 

 

The technical reasons are for further appeal.  This is an R-2 multi-family residential target use zone.  Condominiumization is a conditional permitted use.  The summative affect of granting endless CUP’s on a case-by-case basis results in defeating the essential target zone uses.  The proposed development violates 18.104.050 C in that it has a greater adverse material affect on livability.  We are not providing affordable housing; we are actively reducing affordable units by allowing condominium conversions.

 

Lang said we did have an ordinance (2035) amending Section 18.08.102 dated July 24, 1979.  It was adopted with the declaration of “emergency” and it says condominium conversion of rental units are subject to a demonstration of public need and lack of detrimental effect on the supply of rental units or the land for such units.  Unfortunately, on April 2, 1991, we had ordinance 3624 repealing 2035, giving us the conditions we have today. 

 

Black/Stromberg m/s to extend the meeting to 11:30 p.m.  Everyone approved.

 

Stromberg asked Lang to supply more detailed or factual information concerning the livability criteria that comes into play because of having absentee owners.  Lang said, for example, when the homeowners try to have meetings regarding CC&R’s and maintenance, it is difficult having non-resident owners. 

 

ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, said the applicant is proclaiming a 47 percent increase in affordable units and in fact those people might need to move out.  That gives grounds for considering the livability issue.  With regard to the policy issue, we have a continuing problem of ordinance development.  We have a counter-productive dynamic that ends up producing the opposite of what the ordinance is trying to do.  Because ordinance development drags out so long, when there is a situation like this application, it is an opportunity under criteria 7 for the Planning Department to talk to the developer about what the issues are which would improve the ability to get the ordinance developed and implemented.  It would give us a way of moving toward the ordinance.  It’s a way to find out at least what the issues are.  He believes the Commission has grounds to disapprove under livability.

 

Staff Response

Molnar said Ashland’s CUP criteria were amended in the early to mid-nineties.  We used to have a standard that the use would have a minimal impact on the livability of the area.  What they found is that on the applications that got appealed to LUBA that it was a very difficult standard to uphold because LUBA said we had to identify what factors we considered to define livability of an area and then address them in the findings.  Based on that decision, we re-formatted the CUP criteria to really define livability.  We should be looking at criteria 1-7.  For this reasons, Molnar would disagree with Bullock and Lang on their characterization of livability.

 

Rebuttal – Hearn believes that affordable housing is an important issue and requires community discussion, public hearings and the elected officials of the City to make a determination after a public hearings process.  On June 20, 2006, after this application was in the works, the Council passed Resolution 2006-13.  The applicant has complied with 2006-13.  If the Council wanted to put forth a different public policy as the legislative elected body they could and would have done so.  What is being suggested by the appellant is that the Planning Commission, a quasi-judicial body, should make policy and go outside of a resolution adopted by the Council.  He would suggest the Commission should apply the existing criteria.

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Dotterrer/Marsh m/s to approve PA2006-01294. 

 

Stromberg thought the only criteria that might fit to deny the application would be Criteria 7 concerning absentee owners.  There are times when we don’t apply specific criteria but we have recourse to the Comprehensive Plan and he thinks CUP’s are one of those situations.  Then, it’s up to someone to actually find it in her Comp Plan and it has to be something that will stand up at LUBA.  So far tonight, he hasn’t heard that.

 

Black said the Comprehensive Plan doesn’t say it has to be a rentable apartment, but by the way the buildable lands inventory identifies single family, the obvious implication is that R-2 would be apartments. 

 

Dawkins and Stromberg wondered why this is a CUP because if you don’t change the structure, they why would it require a CUP?  Molnar said it is structured similar to a Special Permitted Use. 

 

Marsh said there are a lot of units moving from apartments to condominiums and when we have an ordinance pending on the horizon, it is unfortunate.  She believes we should ask Staff to expedite the new ordinance as soon as possible.  She believes they have no choice but to approve it as presented.

 

Stromberg said they could ask for the Council to pass the ordinance with an emergency clause. 

 

Fields said he doesn’t think the community debate has even happened yet about whether this is an effective way to get affordable housing. 

 

Roll Call:  Marsh, Stromberg, Dotterrer, Fields and Morris voted “yes” and Dawkins, Dimitre, Mindlin and Black voted “no.”  PA2006-01294 was approved.

 

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

 

 

 

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