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Planning Commission

Minutes
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

 

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

AUGUST 14, 2007

MINUTES

 

I.             CALL TO ORDER – Chair John Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR.

 

Commissioners Present:        

 

Council Liaison:

John Stromberg, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Olena Black

Tom Dimitre

 

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

John Fields

Pam Marsh

 

 

Dave Dotterrer

Melanie Mindlin

Mike Morris

 

Staff Present:

Bill Molnar, Planning Manager

Maria Harris, Senior Planner

Absent Members:

 

Richard Appicello, Acting City Attorney

No absent members

 

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

II.            ANNOUNCEMENTS – There were no announcements.

 

III.          AGENDA APPROVAL – There agenda stands approved.

 

IV.           CONSENT AGENDA

A.                 Minutes

1.                   July 10, 2007 Hearings Board (Dotterrer, Marsh, Dawkins)

2.                   July 10, 2007 Planning Commission Meeting

3.                   July 24, 2007 Planning Commission Study Session

B.                  Recommendation to Council re:  Interchange 19

C.                  Attending Regional Problem Solving Meetings

D.                 Public Hearing Procedures

 

Dimitre/Dotterrer m/s to approve the consent agenda.  The consent agenda stands approved.

 

V.            PUBLIC FORUM

               A.            SUZANNE FREY, Oak Knoll Drive, Coordinator for Rogue Valley Green and Solar Tours, wanted to inspire the Planning Commissioners and promote the use of energy efficient conservation measures and said they can help lead by example.  There will be solar tours on October 20th and 21st.  Her e-mail address is sfrey@mind.net.

 

VI.                TYPE III PLANNING ACTIONS

        A.            PLANNING ACTION:           PA-2006-01663

                       SUBJECT PROPERTY:       87 W NEVADA ST 7 811 HELMAN ST.                                                                                                                 OWNER/APPLICANT:         ASHLAND FLOWERSHOP & GREENHOUSES INC/GREG & VALRI WILLIAMS

                               DESCRIPTION:  A 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-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 Ashland Comprehensive Plan Map identifies the site for Single-Family Residential development (R-1 zoning).  As a result, the proposal includes a Comprehensive Plan Map Change for approximately 42% of the site to modify the Single-Family Residential designation to the Suburban Residential (R-1-3.5 zoning) designation.  The proposal requires Outline Plan approval to develop the property as a 68-unit residential development under the Performance Standards Options Chapter 18.88.  A Physical Constraints Review Permit is requested to locate a multi-use path in the Ashland Creek Riparian Preservation Area.  A Tree Removal Permit is requested to remove a 36-inch diameter at breast height Oak tree.  Exceptions to the Street Standards are requested to install curbside sidewalks on both sides of one of the proposed streets (Sander Way), for not locating a street adjacent to natural features being Ashland Creek and to use a private drive to access the 24 cottages rather than the required public street.  The application includes a land exchange with the City of Ashland.  The proposal is to dedicate 2.42 acres adjacent of the Ashland Creek Riparian Area to the City for parks purposes in exchange for 1.37 acres of the Dog Park in the area of the access and to the south of the existing parking area. 

 

Site Visits/Ex Parte Contacts/Bias/Conflict of Interest – Staff conducted a site visit yesterday with the Commissioners.  Commissioners  Dotterrer, Morris, Marsh, Black, Dawkins and Fields were in attendance.  Stromberg said the riparian borders looked tight along the creek, putting the path into the riparian area looked like it would cause disturbance to the area, the tree to be removed looks in bad shape, and he wondered if there was a landscape plan.  Dotterrer saw the site visit as a general orientation.  Marsh said the site visit was primarily about geographical bearings.  Mindlin had a site visit today and noticed a large dead oak tree.  Dimitre did not have a site visit.  None of the Commissioners had any ex parte contacts.

 

Challenges/bias or conflict of interest

There was a bias challenge directed at Pam Marsh by Art Bullock.  ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, came forward to speak.  He entered his written statement into the record.  He asked Marsh to recuse herself because it would be impossible for her to be impartial according to the evidence he submitted.

 

Marsh’s Response:  She said Bullock correctly quoted her.  She had sent a private e-mail to a select group of people, one of whom accidentally placed it on the City’s website and she found, to her dismay that once it is public record, it is there in perpetuity.  She doesn’t believe what she said has anything to do with personal bias or her ability to judge this application or any other application of which Bullock is a participant.   She believes she can make a judgment based on the facts of the situation on this or any other application.

 

Dimitre asked for Appicello’s opinion.  Appicello explained the standard for bias.  Commissioners are not expected to be entirely free of any bias.  Appicello read a statement asking Marsh if it is true that she has not pre-judged the application and is not prejudiced or biased by her prior context or involvement and will make the decision based solely on the application of the relevant criteria, standards, facts and evidence in the record of this proceeding.  Marsh agreed.  No one moved to recuse Marsh.  The Commissioners were satisfied with Marsh’s statement and moved forward. 

 

STAFF REPORT

Harris reminded the Commissioners that at the July 10th meeting they covered the description of the application and tonight Staff will be covering the project evaluation.  The Planning Commissioners will be asked tonight to make a recommendation on the land use application with six land use approvals (Annexation, Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map Change, Outline Plan, Exception to Street Standards, Physical Constraints Review Permit and Tree Removal Permit).  Secondly, a recommendation on the land exchange is needed.

 

Harris covered the new plans that were submitted and explained the four concerns of Staff that the Planning Commission should discuss and decide if the approval criteria have been met.

  1. Nevada Street Sidewalk - See August 14, 2007 Staff Report, Page 5 – comments in box

        2.     Open Spaces - See August 14, 2007 Staff Report, Page 9 - comments in box.

        3.     Sander Way Sidewalks– See August 14 2007 Staff Report, Page 15 – comments in box.

        4.     Ashland Creek Riparian Corridor – See August 14, 2007 Staff Report, Page 12 – comments in box.

    1. Buffer of the riparian corridor
    2. Impact of the multi-use path in the riparian corridor
    3. Protecting the wetland from the path construction

 

If the Commission agrees with Staff’s concerns regarding the riparian corridor, the multi-use path and/or the open space, Harris would suggest the Commission continue the application to allow the applicant to adjust their site plan.  Harris believes conditions to address the Sander Way sidewalks or the Nevada Street sidewalk can be drafted if they choose to move forward and look at recommending approval. 

 

Harris talked to the City’s conservation staff and they felt if the applicants did all the measures on the performance standard they submitted, they would easily exceed the Earth Advantage program.  They did, however, suggest that they come back at Final Plan with a measurable system.  The second sentence of Condition 26 could read:  The final plan application shall include systems for measuring and monitoring compliance of the development with the performance standard that is administered by the applicants and verified with the City.  They might be required to post a bond with the City and once they meet all the requirements, the bond would be returned to the applicant.

 

Dotterrer said if the applicants are imposing the performance standard on themselves and it is not part of our ordinance, is there a reason we are discussing it?  Marsh said we have decisions to make on a very complex set of land use decisions and an audience full of a lot of people who are excited about this application and want to be a part of the energy efficiency that’s promised in this kind of development.  At what point in the land use decision-making process should we, if at any point, consider the kind of development that is being proposed?  Harris responded that the applicants are using the argument that with the proposed Comprehensive Plan change there is a need to adjust to new conditions; namely, energy saving homes. 

 

Harris suggested an added Condition 28:  That the Final Plan submittal meets all fire apparatus access requirements. 

 

Dawkins wondered if there was a way to assure that the affordable housing component of the project will ever get built.  Harris said Staff had suggested a timing mechanism and the applicants said that wouldn’t work.  He should ask the applicant.  The standards are on Page 19 of the Staff Report. 

 

Dimitre asked about the circular drive.  Harris said the applicants are asking for an exception to make it a private drive rather than a public street.  The difference is the street width curb-to-curb would be 20 feet rather than 22 feet for a public street.  The private drive allows them to do head-in parking so they can get much more parking and use curb side sidewalks.  Staff feels it can work because it is hard to deal with access at that corner. 

 

PUBLIC HEARING –

KERRY KENCAIRN, KenCairn Sager Landscape Architects, 545 A Street

ALEX FORRESTER, Forrester & Forrester, 545 A Street

CHRIS HEARN, 515 E. Main Street

 

Forrester asked the Commission to consider a change to Condition 21 from “the” to “a” homeowner’s association for the small lots.  Add to Condition 25:  Each home footprint shall receive an equivalent certification by the project architects and mechanical engineers as the footprint is capable of meeting the requirements of net zero energy performance.  In the applicant’s submittal (green book #2) there is an extensive energy study done for the homes shown in the plan.  This analysis would have to be done for each unit.  There are no lot lines so they can’t use the City’s solar fence relative to the lot line so they have proposed that change as outlined in their submittal).

 

There is not a sidewalk on the north side of Nevada because there is no development on that side.  There are no homes in the city limits and Forrester doubts that any will be brought into the city so they don’t see a need to extend that sidewalk.   

 

KenCairn said the two smaller open spaces in the townhome area were designed intentionally to relate to the private backyards of the townhomes.  They envision them as small pocket park/playground areas, accessible without going through parking lots or without having any vehicle interaction between the kids and the playground.  The other large open space area is at the other end of the townhome area; part of it is used for buffering from the street with plenty of room for lawn and a play area.  The landscape plan is part of Outline Plan.   They are about 3,580 square feet over their open space requirement. 

 

KenCairn explained that they meet or exceed the federal, state and currently local standards for riparian setbacks.  Their top of bank is a minimum of 35 feet from the path and up to 85 feet away.  There is a huge buffer in the riparian zone, not really adjacent to the floodplain or creek.  The floodplain is way down deep.  They want to put the path in the riparian area to get people into that space to experience it, but not impact the riparian area, most of which is at the bottom of the creekway. 

 

The applicants believe enough buffer has been provided between the path and the riparian zone and the private use.  It will look like this:  Private use, ten foot landscaped area, fence, path, riparian zone that fluctuates between 35 and 80 feet from the centerline of the creek.  The fence will follow the property line, but the path may move away from the fence in places.

 

KenCairn said Sander Way is a skinny street.  They are trying to maintain the solar aspect as much as possible, trying to meet all the city’s setback standards, and trying to provide an ecological alternative for a neighborhood street so that people can see what it might be like to have a street that has bioswales and landscapes with enough space for them to move through the space.  They can walk along it or in the street because Sander is not a main thoroughfare. 

 

Forrester explained with regard to assuring the affordable housing that they are proposing to donate the land and the infrastructure to the non-profit.  Hearn said there is a contract agreement that is part of their submittal between RVCDC and the applicants as allowed by the criteria.

 

Forrester explained that any proposals of the applicant become conditions of approval.  They’ve added a condition that they will meet their own performance standard and they have to do it through a third party certification, such as Earth Advantage.  The State of Oregon, Dept. of Energy (ODOE) has made the applicants one of three residential models that they want to put devices in the homes to measure their efficiencies, track the processes and materials, take videos, make this available to other contractors and developers.  They have a memorandum of agreement with the ODOE. (Exhibit K-3). 

 

Mindlin asked how to translate K-3 into a specific standard.  What specific proposals does Forrester see as conditions of approval?  Forrester they will go as far as they can with all the other non-energy related sustainable issues. They have shown in their check sheet all those items they would like to meet.  The industry is changing so fast they are finding the Earth Advantage and LEED standards are fairly targeted to older methodologies so they don’t want to restrict themselves so they can take advantage of the latest materials/information.  Mindlin is concerned with the difference between “striving to” and “being required to.”  Forrester said they will meet net zero energy. 

 

Stromberg asked what the merits are to changing the R-1 zoning to R-1-3.5 zoning and how it will benefit the community.  Forrester said the R-1 zone is the only way that they can get the affordable housing building type with the townhome and the workforce housing type with the smaller cottages.    

 

Forrester said if the multi-use path is moved over, it could kill the project because they would lose units. 

 

The Commission took a five minutes break. 

 

Stromberg opened the public hearing for PA2007-00980, Westwood-Strawberry, City of Ashland.  Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to continue this action to the September 11, 2007 regular meeting.  Voice Vote:  Motion carried unanimously. 

 

Stromberg opened the public hearing for PA2007-00250, 281 Fourth Street, Glover (Mobius).  Black/Fields m/s to continue this action to the September 11, 2007 regular meeting.  Voice Vote:  Motion carried unanimously.

 

(Returned to PA2006-01663)

                                            

Stromberg announced to the audience that this application does not change the parking lot or the dog park. 

 

STEVE SHEIN, 167 Church Street, filled out a Speaker Request form and checked that he is in favor of the application but did not speak because he left the meeting. 

 

STEVEN JENSEN, 355 Otis Street, believes this is a good project and it meets all the criteria.

 

DWIGHT BARBER, 540 Helman Street, asked if this project complies with the ordinance that was passed in 1997 moving the floodplain back to the 150 year floodplain.  He does not believe a path in the riparian can act as a fence.  No fence is going to stop someone from going over.  He is concerned the applicants want to reduce the riparian to less than 50 feet.  What will the construction impact be to restoration of salmon flow?  He agreed with Staff ‘s questioning some of the aspects of the project.

 

DAVE BERNARD, 378 Terrace Street, believes the planning process has gotten caught up in the minutiae and we’ll overlook the big picture only to get lost in the gray areas.  This is a great project for Ashland.  Leaders find a way to look at the big picture.

 

TOM WINMILL, 200 Normal, concurred with Bernard.  This project is trying to move into the 21st Century and yet still trying to meet all standards and requirements.  It would be a credit to the City of Ashland to see a project this environmentally sensitive fit into those standard and can become a model for other projects in town. 

 

DON DOLAN, 160 Orange Avenue, came because of propaganda that was passed out concerning the property exchange.  He is concerned about the riparian area that it doesn’t seem to allow for the creek to move.    

 

WANDA NELSEN, 1325 Prospect Street, filled out a Speaker Request form and checked that she is in favor of the application, however, she left the meeting before speaking.

 

JOHN WHEELER, 2430 Greenbrook Drive, representing, Director of Acquisitions and Construction, Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation (RVCDC) said if this project is approved, RVCDC will be the recipients of a land donation to build 15 green sustainable affordable homes in the next two years. The homes will be held in a land trust for 99 years.  They will use a Mutual Self-Help model.  To ensure the homes will be built in a timely manner, he is sure they would be amenable to doing whatever it takes to make this work.    

 

CLAIRE KRULIKOWSKI, 228 Talent Avenue, Talent, OR  97540, said she is concerned about the impact of the dog park and surrounding community in terms of increased traffic. It if has to be moved and if moving the path along the riparian would kill the project that is of  concern to her. Could it be a great project but the wrong location?  Her third concern

is that no real estate is selling and people are not buying lots in advance.

 

MIKE DADAOS, 2120 E. Main Street, filled out a Speaker Request Form and checked that he is in favor of the application, however, before he could speak, he left the meeting.

 

PAUL SAFADY, 580 Helman Street, spoke to the safety issues. The speed bumps on Oak Street have brought more heavy truck traffic to Helman. The bike path and dog park have brought a lot of bike and auto traffic. These things, in combination with a grade school make it seem unsafe to add more people to the area.

 

M ICHAEL GIBBS, 536 Ashland Street, said this is a forward looking project.  The proposed path along the riparian area seems a lot like Lithia Park with the path close to the creek.  He urged the Commission to move this forward. 

 

Dottorrer/Black m/s to extend the meeting to 10:00 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved. 

 

LAURIE GIBBS, 536 Ashland Street, believes the Williams’ have shown amazing stewardship in this project and going the extra mile.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us to see affordable housing going into this project. 

 

PENELOPE MARTENS, 917 Bellview Avenue, #1, agreed with Tom Winmill, Dave Bernard, John Wheeler and Laurie Gibbs.  Her biological clock is ticking and she would hope to see this built in the near future.  .

 

JOHN ENGELHARDT, 656 Helman Street, stated that it is better to have a standard size street leading to the dog park.  The project is a bonus that incorporates a substantially reduced energy footprint.  The land exchange is a credit to the developer’s generosity and a good deal for the City.  He fully supports the project. 

 

SAMANTHA BRADLEY, 700 Helman Street, read a statement from her mother SUSAN.  The statement was entered into the record.  Susan opposes the project.  She is concerned about additional traffic on Helman.  With regard to energy conservation, there is a big difference between zero net energy “ready” and zero net energy.   The development is either really green or it isn’t.  There is no middle ground. 

 

MIKE GARDINER, 349 Orange Avenue, favors this action and would encourage the Commission to recommend the application to the Council.  He is also in favor of the annexation. The land exchange makes sense and is good for the Parks and Open Space program.    

 

BILL DAVIES, 1264 Orchid, asked if the existing dog park would be encroached upon by this development.  Harris said “no,” the fenced area, the parking and the restrooms will remain.    

 

The following individuals filled out Speaker Request Forms but left the meeting before speaking. Stromberg read their comments in support of the project into the record:

RISA BUCK, Oak Street

PAM LOTT, Oak Street

JESSE HENWIT, 458 Beach Street

JOAN THORNDIKE,369 Granite Street

BECKI BERNARD, 293 Meadow Drive

TANYA DADAOS, 2120 E. Main Street

MARY GARDINER, 348 Orange Avenue

 

COLIN SWALES, 461 Allison Street, was in attendance at the last meeting but no testimony was taken.  His Speaker Request Form indicates he is “on the fence.”

 

RON ROTH, 6950 Old Hwy. 99 South, supports the project.  With regard to the riparian area, The Williams’ property did not flood in 1997 because it is on the high side of the creek.  He does not see a problem with having a path in a riparian corridor.  He sees this project as an opportunity to build some affordable and workforce housing.

 

ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, said the record says the developer will be striving to meet the standards under economic feasibility limits.  Is there a requirement to meet self-imposed performance standards?  It is under contract and the contract requires consideration for all the changes that are occurring to the project.  In order to accommodate the change in the Comprehensive Plan and satisfy the requirements for the energy effectiveness, it is important to have the performance standards in the development agreement in a measurable way.  The annexation criteria do not appear to have been met.  The private driveway is a way to have a city street without having to meet the requirements of a city street. There is not enough information in the record to support an Exception.  Similarly for Sander Way, there is no unusual condition specified other than that’s the way it has been designed.  The Nevada Street sidewalk requirement has not been met either.  18.106.030.E.3 needs to be met. 

 

REBUTTAL

Hearn explained again that the development agreement was meant to be a draft and it will be revised to reflect what has been said.  The project criteria are difficult to fully address and need some flexibility on the part of the Commission.

 

Forrester said the traffic study shows that Oak, Nevada and Helman will still function at acceptable levels even after the proposed development is built.The UGB is defined as “urbanizable” and can be developed with residential housing.  He believes there is enough information in the record to address Bullock’s concerns.  The performance standards will be included in the development agreement.

 

Black/ Dawkins m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

 

Marsh asked there was a condition that could ensure the affordable housing is built.  Appicello said they can add language to the development agreement. 

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Fields/ Morris m/s to close the public hearing and move to deliberation.  Roll Call:  Unanimously approved.

 

Dotterrer asked for a better understanding of the development agreement.  Appicello explained it is like a suitcase that holds all the other pieces – the land exchange, the findings for Outline Plan, the findings on the Comp Plan amendment, the annexation, and conditions of approval.  It is a mechanism that has to be approved by ordinance by the City Council.  Appicello said the primary finding the Commission makes on a development agreement is:  Is this proposed development consistent with the land development regulation of the City? 

 

Marsh asked if the multi-use path has to be ten feet wide.  Harris said the Street Standards say that multi-use paths have to be six to ten feet wide.  She would recommend ten feet to allow for a comfortable two-way traffic. 

 

Marsh asked what kind of information would be needed from the applicant to address the impact of building the path on the riparian area.  Harris said there is no assessment in the application explaining what the impacts are.  Condition 15 has been added to come up with a mitigation and implementation plan.  Molnar added as part of the Condition, require showing treatment of the ten foot buffer area.  If it is part of the private yard area, maybe it would best in natives rather than lawn or decking. 

 

Stromberg asked Harris about her four concerns mentioned during her Staff Report presentation.  Harris said she believes there are items that were brought up that are still relevant.  As Molnar said, it is a balance between the two competing areas.  Harris continued that the Performance Standards Ordinance require the applicants identify and preserve natural resources adequately.  The path requires a Physical Constraints Review Permit. One of the criteria specifically says:  That the application has to demonstrate that all reasonable steps to reduce the adverse impact on the environment have been taken.  The application does not walk through that.  Or, maybe the Commission has heard enough testimony to make that decision. 

 

Dimitre/Morris m/s to continue the meeting to September 11, 2007 at the regular meeting.  Fields said he would rather have a discussion about the riparian in this application before the wetland ordinance discussion comes up and we see exactly how we want it to be.  Roll Call:  Mindlin, Fields, Dawkins, Stromberg, Dotterrer and Black voted “no” and Marsh, Dimitre, Morris voted “yes”.  The motion failed

 

Fields/Dawkins m/s to continue the action until the first item on the August 28, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. Roll Call:  The motion carried unanimously.

 

VII.         ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at 10:35 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

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