NOVEMBER 14, 2006
CALL TO ORDER – Chair John Fields called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the
John Fields, Chair
Kate Jackson (Council Liaison, does not attend Planning Commission meetings in order to avoid conflict of interest.)
Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director
Maria Harris, Senior Planner
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary
Absent Members: None
Dotterrer had a meeting with the subcommittee on commissions within the City. He gave them an update of the Planning Commission Roles and Duties and how it might fit into what they are working on. The subcommittee encouraged them to continue moving forward with their work on Roles and Duties.
MINUTES AND FINDINGS
Dawkins/Black m/s to approve the minutes of the October 10, 2006 Regular Planning Commission meeting. Voice Vote: Approved.
There were no findings to be approved.
BRENT THOMPSON, 582 Allison, using Billings Ranch Subdivision as an example, thought the Land Use Ordinance Review Committee should look at having open space areas graded flat, shrinking the building footprint for large houses, allowing the houses to be two to two and one-half stories in order conserve land, increase the setback from six feet to eight feet to allow more flexibility in remodels, particularly in existing neighborhoods. He also believes the Fire Station should consider building up and not wasting land.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARINGS
PLANNING ACTION #2006-00612
REQUEST FOR SITE REVIEW APPROVAL FOR A MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT COMPRISED OF GENERAL OFFICE SPACE AND SIX RESIDENTIAL CONDOMINIUMS FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT
APPLICANT: SISKIYOU LLC/JAMES BATZER
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts – Dotterrer and Fields were not present at the last meeting but watched the video and read the packet and will participate at tonight’s hearing. Black had another site visit, noticing that there is a two-story vintage house across the street that would provide some balance to the bulk and scale of the proposed building. Dimitre had a site visit and noticed the site is steep. Morris and Marsh had site visits. Dawkins, Stromberg and Mindlin had no ex parte contacts or site visits.
Molnar explained that this action is continued from last month. The two areas of concern were: 1) The ground floor elevation of the building and how it relates to the adjoining sidewalk and 2) the physical or visual buffering of Building 2 (corner building) from the street – how much, if any, landscape buffering should be introduced between the sidewalk and the building façade.
The applicant has made some changes since last month (applicant’s Addendum Option A) showing the building raised slightly over a foot keeping the entry level elevation flush with the sidewalk, eliminating the need for any steps. Staff believes this change has made a significant difference in the design.
In Option A, the sidewalk has been reduced from eight feet to five feet, similar to those in the neighborhood, creating a three foot space between the building and the sidewalk. The building footprint in Option A remains unchanged. Staff would still like to see a landscape strip between the building and the sidewalk that takes the surrounding neighborhood into consideration. The three foot strip does not do a lot and does not leave very much room for plant material. The applicant’s addendum mentions they considered going to six feet but the increase by three would diminish the overall design of the building. There were no elevations identifying what those undesirable changes to the building design would be so the Historic Commission was unable to evaluate how the changes would look.
The applicant presented one alternative at the Tree Commission meeting in order to address the concern about introducing more landscaping between the sidewalk and the building. However, Staff believes the context of the neighborhood is created by a planting strip, a sidewalk and another planting rather than a curbside sidewalk. The footprint of building 2 is taking up a good portion of the lot area
MARK KNOX, 320 E. Main Street, stated that they were able to raise the building enough to reach the
MCKECHNIE showed two landscape plans and explained how the sidewalk and buffering would work. There will be bike parking in two places. The utility pole at the corner will be buried.
JOHN DUFFIE, 711 E. Main Street, Medford, OR 97504 said there were several architectural issues they had to take into consideration in making changes requested regarding the three foot strip, but they believe they have offered an ample landscape buffer. He said the setback for Option A is six feet and the setback for Option B is three feet.
KERRY KENCAIRN, 147 Central Street, said that she is not opposed to the project in general. On Helman, across from the project site, it is historic residential with sidewalks and setbacks. She does not believe, in this instance, that the curbside sidewalk is appropriate.
ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, believes the building does not meet the code for setback. How does the façade of the proposed building relate to the other buildings on Helman? Currently, it is close to the sidewalk with a very heavy look and feel and out of scale with the historic residential homes on Helman. The application should be denied until the setback issue is resolved. Bullock said the calculation issue in E-1 and use of the parking area has still not been resolved since the last meeting. Also, the Commission was given pictures that the public did not see along with items handed out at the last moment and the public has not had an opportunity to review and respond to the recent changes. Lastly, a curbside sidewalk is inappropriate on this project. He strongly agrees with the Planning Department that this project needs a parkrow, a standard sidewalk and a setback that is compatible with the rest of the street.
RON DAVIES, 6795 Rapp Lane, Talent, owns two houses at 159 and 171 Helman, across the street from the proposed development. A three story building across the street from a one and two story neighborhood will dwarf the neighborhood. It would set a questionable precedent if this three-story building is granted approval.
Molnar announced the photographs are available if the public wishes to view them.
JOANNE HADDAD, 6795 Rapp Lane, Talent, OR, owner of
ERIC NAVICKAS, 363 ½
Stromberg asked Richard Appicello, Assistant City Attorney, if it is a problem when we get new materials, typically from the applicant, at the very last minute and the public has not had an opportunity to view it. Appicello said it is not uncommon to have evidence submitted at a public hearing. Getting a written document is not that much different than hearing testimony for the first time. However, if anything is submitted in writing, especially items that are complicated, at the public hearing, there is a risk that someone will ask for a continuance or to leave the record open.
Stromberg remembered Mike Franell, City Attorney, making an interpretation for looking at the criteria for multiple buildings. Molnar said Franell gave the Planning Commission options. He believed the parking required for the commercial space was accessory use to the permitted use.
· Gross floor area calculations - Knox said they calculated the square footage/lot coverage two ways. He explained how they made their calculations and concluded they meet the requirement whether using the 65 percent or the 50 percent.
· Building setback - Knox argued for a balance of the historic area with a predominant landscape strip by using a meandering sidewalk.
· Bulk and scale – Knox said the E-1 zone allows for buildings 40 feet in height. Dealing with the shape and grade of the property, they have tried to create square footage and mass so it is less impacting to the R-3 neighborhood across the street.
Fields closed the public hearing. Art Bullock requested, and the Planning Commission granted the record be left open for seven days. The written record will close no sooner than seven days from today (November 22, 2006 at 5:00 p.m.). The applicant expressed a desire to submit final written argument before November 29, 2006 at 5:00 p.m. The applicant agreed to an extension to the 120 days of 14 days. Final deliberations will occur on December 12, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers.
TYPE III PUBLIC HEARING
PLANNING ACTION #2006-01663
REQUEST FOR AN ANNEXATION AND COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AND ZONING MAP CHANGE FROM JACKSON COUNTY ZONING RR-5 (RURAL RESIDENTIAL) TO CITY OF ASHLAND ZONING R-2 (LOW-DENSITY MULTIPLE FAMILY RESIDENTIAL), R-1-3.5 (SUBURBAN RESIDENTIAL) AND R-1 (SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL) FOR AN 11.64-ACRE SITE COMPRISED OF FIVE PARCELS LOCATED AT 87 W. NEVADA ST. AND 811 HELMAN ST. (ASHLAND GREENHOUSES). THE
APPLICANT: GREG & VALRI WILLIAMS
Site Visits Ex Parte Contacts
Morris, Dotterrer, Dimitre, Dawkins, Marsh and Stromberg are familiar with the physical characteristics of the site as they currently exist. Dawkins has known the Williams family his whole life and shopped at the greenhouse for years. Black had a site visit and noticed the bank had been part of a dredging operation in the past and she is curious about when it was dredged. She heard noise from the freeway. Fields and Mindlin had neither site visit nor ex parte contact.
Harris reported there are eight different approval criteria connected with this application as outlined in the staff report. She gave a detailed review of the project. The positive aspects of the project are the provision for building energy and water conserving housing as well as the park dedication and the multi-use path. Overall, Staff believes the project has a lot of potential, but is recommending a continuance because there are some inconsistencies with the approval criteria as well as some clarifications and additional information that are needed before the Planning Commission should make a decision. Staff is recommending they focus on four major issues.
1. Zone Change – Staff’s believes the R-2 designation has been requested in order to take advantage of using the east/west solar orientation. More flexibility of the standards is allowed in the R-2 zone. Not all streets are required to be public, dedicated streets, whereas in R-1 development, all the accesses have to be public streets. Staff believes since the R-1-3.5 request follows a traditional layout, it could also be achieved under the already targeted designated R-1 zone. It seems the main reason this zone change is being pursued is that is because there is less R-1-3.5 land supply available than R-1 land. The current buildable lands inventory shows an adequate supply of land. In terms of street layout, lot layout and density, the development is much more comparable to an R-1 single family designation.
The approval criteria require compliance with the Comprehensive Plan. The plan addresses all the other requirements for a Comp Plan and Zone Change and though it concentrates on the energy and water savings, it does not address the Comp Plan policies such as:
2. Transition to Existing Neighborhoods - Staff is recommending the project layout be situated on the south and west side of the project that reflects the existing neighborhood development pattern (traditional single family lots with traditional front and rear yards). Specifically, Staff’s concerns relate to the two parking areas that are situated in close proximity to some yard areas which is not typical of a single family development style. No information has been provided on how many stories the perimeter units will be. Outline Plan requires that around the perimeter of a subdivision, that a standard setback of the zone be maintained.
3. Street System & Connectivity - The Street Standards outline specific inner connectivity of streets. There are two dead end streets proposed. There does not appear to be a reason why the streets cannot be connected. The Exception in the Street Standards is only for the purpose of natural features. The Street Standards are based on Comp Plan policies that talk about making a modified grid system that produces multiple route options, that disperses traffic, increases safety and increases the possibility of bicycle/pedestrian trips. There are two dead end streets proposed. Access to the existing dog park path is by way of a multi-use driveway that curves into the Greenway path. The new path shown along Ashland Creek ends at the driveway. Staff recommends taking another look at the new path and considering a re-route of the existing path. Whatever facility is put in should be as safe, direct and navigable as the existing path.
4. Setback from the
Dimitre asked if there is a guarantee the affordable housing will be built at some point. Harris said there is a provision under the annexation criteria that allows the land to be dedicated to a non-profit. She suggested a Condition that the property be deed restricted for affordable housing under the City’s program. The applicants are asking there not be a timing requirement. Molnar said if the Commission wishes to provide guidance to the Council, they could require the affordable housing be constructed at a certain time during the development.
Harris has not had an opportunity to review the parking update that was received late today.
Appicello noted there were a couple letters that came in and have been entered into the record. Fields explained the public hearing process.
GREG WILLIAMS, 744 Helman Street, property owner, said they want to build energy efficient smaller homes, making wise use of resources, including water, natural landscaping, and sustainable building products as well as being a model for the City, the state and the region.
GALEN OHMART, SOLARC Architecture and Engineering, Inc., 233 W. 12th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97401, talked about the sustainable homes they have planned for this project. They are looking at having homes that will be net zero energy ready and it begins with how homes being oriented in an east/west direction on the site. They hope to take advantage of the rain and wind too.
ALEX FORRESTER, Forrester & Forrester, 545 A Street, Suite 1, said they want to provide a variety of unit types. The owners wanted to run this project with three different market types (communities) – cottage, single family and townhomes – and set an example for the different types. They want to use a Certified Sustainable Development Practice and can be done through Earth Advantage. The cottages and townhomes will range in size from 800 to 1200 square feet. The single family homes will be no larger than 2500 square feet. They want to work with natural forces on the site first and mechanical systems second. They are giving the land and infrastructure to Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation (RVCDC) in Phase I. They are reluctant to tie themselves to a timeline.
Forrester explained the street design.
Forrester said the townhomes are in the northwest corner with the highest density they could fit in the smallest space. They will have park land immediately adjacent to lessen the burden of the density on the inhabitants. The cottages have no garages. The larger homes have attached garages. Driveways and garages are not sustainable but they have to meet the demand too. They are at 88 percent of base density for their annexation. They are requesting a Variance for one sidewalk at the corner setback at Sander. The parkrow will be on the other side of the bioswales. They are requesting a Variance for the townhome rear yard setback. They are asking for side separations of the cottage not in the north/south direction. They are asking that Canine and
Fields asked that the applicants to turn in their base density calculations.
Forrester said they turned in a parking design but are two spaces short for the on-street parking requirement. He said they are showing the sidewalks on
Forrester showed slides of the creek setback. They are not in the floodway/floodplain. All of the vegetation is in the low bank area. Some fill has been added but it is limited to near the end of the greenhouse.
Williams said their plan is to install a minimum 3K photovoltaic panel on all the units.
Forrester explained the building envelope is being drawn and they are getting the design with the proper orientation. Without that, they don’t have a chance to do this project. It’s all a package.
Stromberg asked Forrester if they are depending on any of these energy characteristics to apply the criteria. Forrester affirmed because climate change, peak oil, and environmental concerns have created an urgent need for net zero energy sustainable housing. They are not providing density as much as there is a need for this type of housing. Forrester offered to do a performance standard listing the standards the homes will have to meet to achieve occupancy as a guarantee that they are going to do what they are promising.
Mindlin believes it does not look like they have good solar access in the affordable housing building. Ohmart said they want the photovoltaic and the solar thermal on the roof. Forrester interjected that the primary goal for the townhomes is that it is affordable housing. There are some agencies that have some money for affordable green housing.
Dotterrer/Black m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: Approved.
PAM LOTT, Oak Street, said she lives in an off the grid passive solar home. She supports this project because it is time for a project like this to move forward. The plan is pointing out some of the challenges of moving forward. She is looking to this body to point out how to promote this type of development for this community because it is critical to have the backing of this community.
RISA BUCK, Oak Street, emphasized that this project is what she has in her mind for our whole community. It works, makes sense and is a great opportunity to bring together to create “Where Green Becomes Mainstream.” This is an ideal we need to strive toward.
JUDY BEYER, 825 Faith Avenue, stated that she runs a group home for developmentally disabled adults at
Fields read comments in support of the application by SUSAN POWELL, 180
MELISSA SCHWEISGUTH, 305 Luna Vista, said she supports the project, particularly in the face of growth and natural resource limitations.
RON DEMELE, Executive Director of Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation, 495 Chestnut #4, said The Williams’ have made it possible for them to entertain the idea of building solar homes that are affordable. It would be a first. They could partner with The Enterprise Foundation that has brand new green initiatives, a funding source to work with private developers and non-profits to do affordable sustainable housing. The homes would be put into the land trust to have affordable housing in perpetuity. He sees the site for affordable housing lending itself to a higher degree of livability for low income families.
Williams said they are donating the land with all the affordable housing to be built in one place in the development. Demele said it is in RVCDC’s best interest to build the land out as quickly as possible and not let it sit vacant. He said they are required to build the units for families at 80 percent or less of median income.
JENNIFER BACON, 602 Fairview Street, supports this project for the reasons already stated by the other speakers. She has been interested in building a green, energy efficient home, but doing it on her own would be overwhelming. She feels like she can jump into a project like this without being overwhelmed.
JOHN FISHER SMITH, 945 Oak Street, lives in a solar home he designed. He is excited that we may finally be waking up to start doing sustainable, green and solar. He feels like he has come home to the Promised Land and it’s
MIKE GARDNER, 349 Orange Street, said he supports the project. He is currently on the Parks Commission. The Williams’ and Forrester came to the Parks Commission and talked about their project and the possibility of a land swap. The Parks Commission is excited about the possibility of incorporating not only the dog park but utilizing some land and getting some creek frontage, a continuation of their goal to have a passageway along Ashland Creek – it helps achieve what they want to get in the way of connectivity.
STEVE JENSEN, 355 Otis Street, believes this is a worthy project. This project will require a significant amount of trust, therefore, implored the Commission not to drag this project unnecessarily through knotholes. Please be open and courageous. Trust is essential for this project. If this becomes too difficult, it is his sense it could go away. He asked the Commission to approve the project.
DAVID BERNARD, 378 Terrace Street, addressed concerns raised in The Tidings in last night’s paper. The development is three-quarters of a mile from town and relatively flat. This seems like the type of development the city in general wants, but then make almost impossible to create. The land both in the City and that proposed to be annexed is proposed for single family homes on very large lots. The applicants are trying to do energy conservation on a neighborhood scale and yet it doesn’t quite fit nicely into our current rules. It seems if we want to be out front in energy conservation and want to do more than give lip service to the idea of affordable housing, the City is going to have to start giving a little to make it happen. Annexing the land, approving the few minor variances and allowing the applicant to move forward with this development would be a great step in that direction.
RYAN LANGMEYER, 1700 E. Nevada, lives in a sustainable home. He wouldn’t want to live any other way. He supports the Williams and their project. He believes the Planning Commission needs to educate themselves, be courageous and look beyond the limits of our current ordinances.
COLIN SWALES, 461 Allison Street, said the criteria have to be addressed. He is not certain it is appropriate for the applicants to be asking for a re-zone to R-2. He understands the land exchange is the City trading some of their buildable land for some unbuildable land owned by the property owner. This will be a liability to the City. The City will be responsible for picking up the tab for flood clean-up. The City does not have to have the creek frontage owned by the City in order to control it. He is not sure why there has to be an exchange. He noticed none of the Conditions or Staff Report mentions green development. He believes this needs to be made clear in the Conditions. He is concerned that putting all the affordable housing together will create an affordable unit ghetto.
Dotterrer/Black m/s to extend the meeting to 11 p.m. Voice Vote: Approved.
ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, stated there are a lot of positive aspects to this project. However, he doesn’t see how they will satisfy the criteria. Global warming is not a criteria. He agrees there is not adequate information to approve the project. He thinks there is geothermal water on the site but did not hear it mentioned. He agrees with the Staff Report concerning bike and pedestrian access. How would bike access connect to the Greenway?
Bullock requested the record be left open for seven days. Forrester stated he would like rebuttal time next month. The applicant agrees to continue the action. Fields said the entire public hearing process will be left open. Submittals to the Planning Department will need to be made at least ten days prior to the December meeting.
Harris noted Staff will do their best to review any new information before the next meeting. She clarified a misconception that it was clear from the beginning of this application (pre-app) that the applicant wanted to be on the earliest available date before the Planning Commission.
Dotterrer/Morris m/s to continue this hearing to the December 12, 2006 meeting at 7:00 p.m. at this location. Voice Vote: Unanimous.
There will be a joint study session with the Planning Commission and Housing Commission on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. to evaluate the annexation criteria with respect to housing issues. Ultimately, there will be a similar discussion with Conservation to make conservation requirements clearer in our annexation ordinance. We can use the annexation approval process for issues of broader interest
Study Session - There will not be a study session in December.
Roles & Duties – Dotterrer hopes to bring this back to the January study session.
ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 10:50 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by,
Susan Yates, Executive Secretary