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Planning Commission

Minutes
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

 

 

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

SEPTEMBER 11, 2007

MINUTES

 

I.             CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chair John Stromberg 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 Hartzell, Council Liaison, absent due to quasi-judicial

 agenda items.

John Fields

Pam Marsh

 

 

Dave Dotterrer

Melanie Mindlin

Mike Morris

 

Staff Present:

David Stalheim, Community Development Director

Angela Barry, Assistant Planner

Absent Members:

 

Adam Hanks, Permit Manager

No absent members

 

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

II.            ANNOUNCEMENTS

Mindlin will be out of town and will need a replacement for the October 9, 2007 Hearings Board.

 

III.          APPROVE AGENDA

Dimitre/Dotterrer m/s to approve the agenda.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

 

IV.           CONSENT AGENDA

               A.           Approval of Minutes

                              1.            August 14, 2007 Planning Commission Meeting

                               2.            August 28, 2007 Planning Commission, Continuation of August 14, 2007 Regular Meeting

Dimitre/Black m/s to approve the Consent Agenda.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

 

V.            PUBLIC FORUM – No one came forward to speak.

 

VI.           TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING

               A.            PLANNING ACTION:           PA-2007-00980

                               SUBJECT PROPERTY:       WESTWOOD/STRAWBERRY

                               OWNERS/APPLICANT:       City of Ashland

 

This item has been continued to the October 9, 2007 Planning Commission Meeting.

 

               B.            PLANNING ACTION 2007-00250

                               SUBJECT PROPERTY:       281 FOURTH STREET

                               APPLICANT:  AARON GLOVER

DESCRIPTION:  Request for a Conditional Use Permit for a theater use and a Type II Variance to parking for a property located at 281 Fourth Street.

 

Site Visits/Ex Parte Contacts/Bias/Conflict of Interest

Ø       Marsh stated she has been to the Mobius site about three times.  On one visit prior to the application, she noticed a lot of teenagers congregated on the sidewalk, but not doing anything objective.  The last visits have been since the application was filed.  The first time she walked by, there appeared to be a staff person outside the door and she noted no obvious impact to the neighborhood.  On her most recent visit on Saturday, she observed people standing outside Mobius smoking and standing quietly.  From the sidewalk she could hear noise that would accompany belly dancing.  In both cases, she saw there was a lot of parking in the commercial area and a lot of parking on A Street.  There did not appear to be any commercially related parking on B Street.  It appeared that Peerless Restaurant and Mobius were sharing all the public parking that exists on the property.

Ø       Dawkins has gone by the building frequently and he has been in the building. 

Ø       Mindlin has been to three or four events in the last couple of years and she used to live on Fourth Street, nearby and is familiar with the area. 

Ø       Dimitre had no ex parte contact or site visit. 

Ø       Stromberg has been there ten to 15 times over the last year and does not have any particular impressions to report. 

Ø       Fields is familiar with the site but had no ex parte contact. 

Ø       Morris has been by the site during the day.  He received an e-mail from a friend, read it and gave it to Barry to be entered into the record. 

Ø       Black went to a multi-media recording event around 2003.  She noticed a feeling of congestion around the entry/exit door.  It might have changed since then.  Monday she drove by Mobius around 8:00 p.m. and it appeared the parking is well-used but did not if there was event going on or not. 

Ø       Dotterrer had a site visit and no ex parte contacts. 

 

Stromberg asked if anyone wished to comment or rebut the site visits and ex parte contacts.  No one wanted to comment.

 

STAFF REPORT

Barry reviewed the project (see Staff Report dated August 14, 2007).  The deadline for approving or denying the application is December 11, 2007. 

 

The applicant is requesting a Conditional Use Permit for the theater use for audiences up to 120 people.  The theater use is currently functioning without the land use approvals.  The building does not have an approved building permit for an assembly use and the approved occupancy is currently 49 people. 

 

The primary potential impacts of the use would be noise, traffic and any other factors found to be relevant by the Planning Commission.  The applicant has not provided information addressing potential traffic impacts to the use other than to say the use is in operation with no complaints having been filed.  Staff had recommended the applicants further address this issue because they are requesting a significant increase in the audience size they wish to accommodate.  Noise is a potential issue due to the nature of the use.  There are no details in the application explaining their crowd control policies or the mitigation methods.  Since noticing the application, six letters have been submitted from the neighbors voicing concerns about neighborhood compatibility.  Two letters have been submitted in support of the theater use. 

 

The applicant is also requesting a Variance that exceeds the 50 percent threshold for an Administrative Variance in a Historic area to the parking requirements and is therefore being processed as a Type II public hearing.  The applicant has provided four informal parking agreements which total 22 parking spaces.  The applicant submitted a parking map.  The ordinance allows for joint use of parking facilities provided the uses do not overlap in the time of day the parking will be needed, that the facilities are within 200 feet of each other and the right to use the off-street parking is legally established by deed, easement, or some kind of similar written instrument.  No information has been provided by the applicants on how the properties that are donating the parking spaces will be meeting their own parking requirements.  Planning records show that at least seven of the proposed shared spaces already serve residential or restaurant uses that would overlap during the peak demand time and would not be available to Mobius.  The parking lot the applicant proposes to use behind the building at 287 Fourth Street is already constrained by an agreement with the Peerless Restaurant that allows restaurant customers to park there after 5 p.m.  It is not clear from the forms provided by the property owners whether they are willing to sign any kind of formal legal agreement allowing for shared use of the parking.  The applicant has declined to submit verification of this.  Staff cannot determine, at this time, whether any of the off-street parking spaces that were proposed would actually be available to serve the theater use.  It may meet the criteria for unique and unusual circumstances and the limited parking situation could be said to not be self-imposed. 

 

Due to the large number of outstanding issues the applicant chose not to address, Staff is unable to recommend approval of the project.  It’s not clear the burden of proof has been met for either the CUP or Variance criteria, therefore, Staff is recommending denial of the application.

 

MARGUERITTE HICKMAN, Fire Marshall, City of Ashland, stated the occupancy is based on the use permitted in the building.  Mobius’ occupancy is currently 49 people.  If it becomes an assembly occupancy, less square footage is required in the building and a 120 person occupancy would be a reasonable expectation. 

 

The Commissioners raised a number of questions and had lengthy discussion surrounding the parking requirements.  There was confusion over the number of parking spaces being requested and how many are available.  Are there clearly and legally defined rights to parking spaces?  How can the Commission work with a situation where overlap and defined hours seem legitimate?  Is there a way to make it work?

 

PUBLIC HEARING

BERYL JACOBSON, 2255 Ranch Road, explained that they chose to hand in their packet with some creative ideas.  They felt the parking agreement that was given to them by the City was very overwhelming and would be daunting for most businesses to sign before an agreement was even made so they chose to use a document that was clear with a signed agreement.  Jacobson read his prepared comments.  He explained their organization and their vision.  He believes they meet the criteria for the parking Variance because the Railroad District is an area comprised primarily of art galleries, restaurants and commercial business.  Fourth Street is one of the widest streets in Ashland and potentially a gateway to the railroad property.  Allowing for a nightscape in this area will help create more light, activity and ultimately more safety.  The combination of these factors makes it a unique circumstance not typical elsewhere and benefits outweigh any potential negative impacts.  They suggest a CUP be granted and they specifically define the circumstances proposed as follows:

1)            Intermittent uses during off hours.

2)            Maximum 15 events per month – they will control the booking of events

3)            Hours of operation for events from 8:00 p.m. to 1 a.m.

4)            Limit occupancy to 175.

5)            Submit events well in advance to the neighbors and be open to moving the events around.

6)            Conflicts mentioned would be handled by:

                               a)            Hired staff to clean neighborhood within 200 feet following an event

                               b)            Closed door policy to limit noise

                               c)            Alleyway used only for loading and unloading equipment

d)            No vehicles will be left idling in the alley for longer than necessary for loading and unloading of equipment.

                               e)            Staff will monitor and secure the neighborhood before, during and after events

                               f)             Clear communication to patrons

 

TOM GIORDANO, 2635 Takelma Way, believes Staff has taken the strictest approach in determining the parking requirement.  He suggested calculating the parking based on square footage (one parking space for every 100 square feet of floor area).  Also, commercial buildings in the Historic District allow for a 50 percent reduction to the parking.  This use will benefit the community because it is open to a variety of ages and different points of view. 

 

AARON GLOVER, 725 Adams Road, Talent, OR, asked when the code was adopted that required a legal agreement be provided for shared parking.  Staff responded it was 1984. 

 

Jacobson said it is obvious in this neighborhood at night that there is within 200 feet of their business, plenty of parking to accommodate the occupancy they are requesting. There are five parking spaces in front of their business. 

 

Glover said they are asking for 120 seats, not 175.  Staff clarified that parking is calculated one parking space for every four seats, so 30 spaces are required. 

 

JOHN SELIGMAN, 248 Third Street, lives within 200 feet of Mobius.  He has never once been bothered by the noise from Mobius.  Once in awhile, he hears music, but very little.  He does not hear anything from the foot traffic in the alley.  Mobius is for everyone – it is a community venue and it is important to have it in his neighborhood.  With regard to parking, the Peerless Hotel closes down in the wintertime for a month and a half.  He urged the Commission to grant approval. 

 

JOHN GAFFEY, 637 Oak Street, said he’s hearing that a business could renegotiate their parking, particularly the hours of operation.  He wondered how many police calls or complaints are on record for Mobius.  The Old Ashland Armory has probably used the maximum number of Variances.  They only have street parking.  The art walk on A Street is like a Mardi Gras.  Is this a unique situation and does granting a Variance have benefits?  He uses Mobius on Fridays for Tango.  It is a “just right” space.  It provides an ambience and he wants the Commission to consider this space cannot be replicated.

 

MARVIN RATNER, 1125 Village Green Drive, said that Ashland is a unique, cultural venue.  He goes to Mobius often and can bike there; it’s convenient.  A lot of people that go there enjoy the downtown and either walk or bike because of its central location.  He has never heard any noise outside Mobius.   Most of the events draw only 25 to 75 people and he does not see a parking problem. 

 

CHRIS BYRNE,  2345 Ranch Road, said before moving to Ashland, they visited Mobius and it heavily influenced their decision to move to Ashland.  Culturally, it has enriched his life.  He lives in town, works at Mobius, and rides his bike to and from work –Mobius helps one more family live and work in town. 

 

RICHARD BROWNE, 822 S. Mountain, said he frequents Mobius two to three times a month and he has never had a parking problem when he drives, parking out in front about 90 percent of the time.  This type of venue does not exist anyplace else in town. 

 

Fields read the comments from ORIANA SPRATT, 212 Patterson Street, into the record.  She supports the project. 

 

JEFF FEINBERG,  211 Normal Avenue, said he has never had a parking problem at the Mobius.  They are the only venue in town that brings national musicians to town. If anything, he is bothered Mobius has been here four years and they have received little community support. 

 

STEVE SCHEIN, 167 Church Street, reported Fourth Street is a ghost town at night.  By doing a related study, he has been astonished at the far-reaching vision and implications this business has for such small town.  He has asked entertainers that travel through just why they are willing to perform for only 20 people.  The answer has been:  “it’s the room.”  He does not see a parking problem. The social impact enormously outweighs anything negative.

 

MARLA WELP, 78 North Mountain Avenue, agreed with all the previous comments in favor.

 

The following persons submitted comments for the record in support of the application.

CHRIS VANSCHAACK, 429 Morton Street

GENE BURNETT,549 B Street, #3

SAMARRA BURNETT, 549 B Street, #3

STEVE LANUSSE, 320 Oak Street

RUSS RODRIGUEZ, 530-B Maple Way

SHANTI LOBAUGH, 205 Piedmont Drive

STEVEN M. SIRIANNI, 558 Holly Street

LEAH SCHRODT, 1040 East Main Street, Apt. B

MITZI MILES-KUBOTA, 850 Beswick Way

ERIC NOVISEDLAK, 309 Harrison Street

ED MCGUIGAN, 6306 Adams Road, Talent, OR  97540

BETSY MCGUIGAN, 6306 Adams Road, Talent, OR  97540

CLAIRE KRULIKOWSKI, 228 Talent Avenue, #2, Talent, OR  97540

DEBRA THORNTON, 107 Second Street

JEFF ALTEMUS, 204 Alicia Avenue

ANNIE MCINTYRE, 204 Alicia Avenue

MURIEL MORRISON, 849 Pavilion

RON ROTH, 6950 Old Highway 99 South

BIRGITTE FETTE, 896 Blackberry Lane

 

Rebuttal - Glover emphasized that while the whole business structure isn’t completely dependent on the events they hold, the decision, if granted, will very strongly affect their ability to continue what they are doing.

 

Stromberg noted they have been operating without a CUP and asked how the Commission should factor that into the credibility of the other things the applicants have said tonight.  Glover said they have spent a lot of time bringing in their media and internet component.  They realized the events were valuable and it grew from that.  Submitting the application and to get to this point has taken some time.  Jacobson didn’t realize what constituted a “theater.”  It has become clear through this process that they need a CUP for a theater and it has taken well over a year to get this point.

 

Stromberg closed the public hearing and closed the record.

 

VIII.            TYPE III PLANNING ACTIONS

        A.            PLANNING ACTION:           PA2007-00250

                       APPLICANT:                        City of Ashland

                       DESCRIPTION:                   Proposed amendments to the Ashland Land Use Ordinance implementing portions of the recommendations in the Land Use Ordinance Review prepared by Siegel Planning Services.  In addition, other recommendations of the City Planning Director concerning land use decision-making procedures will be considered. 

 

Stalheim stated the first draft of the amendments was presented at the July 24, 2007 Planning Commission Study Session and at the July 31st, Special Planning Commission meeting, the Commission moved to start the public hearing process on the proposed amendments and set the date for September 11, 2007.  A second draft based on some public comments, Planning Commission review and Staff review was prepared and has been included in this month’s packet. 

 

Stalheim acknowledged Colin Swales and Mark Knox who each submitted detailed comments on the first draft.  Their input was greatly appreciated.  He also thanked those Planning Commission members who submitted comments that have been included in the record.  He noted that comments have been received by e-mail in the last few days from:  Dennis Goldstein (dated September 7th),  Stalheim’s response to Goldstein’s, John Schwendener (dated September 9th), Michael Young and Jacquelyn Young, and drawings from the City’s engineering staff for vision clearance.  The Commissioners should have received an e-mail from Brandon Goldman with the Housing Commissioner’s review, from Mark Knox (dated August 30th), Dennis Goldstein (dated September 10, 2007), and Bonnie Brodersen (dated September 10th).

 

PUBLIC HEARING

DENNIS GOLDSTEIN, 766 Roca Street, said he is an attorney and has been involved in real estate and in that capacity has both drafted, revised and commented on legislation and ordinances relating to housing. After looking at the proposed revisions and the ordinance, he has found the ordinance is extremely difficult to navigate.  Also, the language is not as clearly written as it could be.  With regard to the policies behind the code, from what he has seen, he would agree with the purposes, but the difficulty in reading the code undermines the purpose of the code and wastes staff time and the public’s time in locating information in the code.  He has not had time to comment on everything but some of his comments are contained in his letter.

 

He believes there is an improvement to the Type I planning actions by lengthening the comment period from ten to 14 days, making it a little earlier in the process, however, he thinks it should be even earlier. The sooner affected property owners can talk to applicant(s) at a time when fewer expenses will have been involved and they are less fixed in their position, the better.   

 

The ordinance should require that the notice state the timeframe and the requirements for appeal.

 

He does not want the ordinance interpretation politicized.  It is a matter for the City Attorney.  Interpretations should be included on the website and their location cited in the ordinance.

 

Dawkins/Black m/s to stay until 10 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

 

EVAN ARCHERD, 550 E. Main Street, has found most of the amendments to be positive changes.  He has two issues:

1.  Residential in C-1 and E-1 zones.  He liked the original revision much better than the second revision.  By prohibiting residential in the E-1 and C-1 is a good idea.  If we want to allow them in any way, he would suggest they make them a Conditional Use.  Allowing only 500 square foot units is like a band-aid.  It should either be allowed or not allowed at all.  He suggested eliminating the residential except with a Conditional Use Permit.

2.  Changing the motel/hotel criteria.  He thought Option 2 was simple and direct.  If you want to outlaw timeshares and fractional uses, we should write a code that outlaws them.  To put it in a definition is misplaced and misguided.  Hotels and motels are already a Conditional Use in the C1 and E-1 zones.  The other language unnecessarily complicates the process.

 

BRENT THOMPSON, 582 Allison, suggested passing the simple items and come back and struggle with the more difficult issues.  He will pick up a revised draft, review it and submit written comments. 

 

Stromberg closed this public hearing, but the record will stay open to be discussed at a Special Planning Commission meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on October 4, 2007. At that meeting, the integrated changes will be discussed. 

 

Stalheim said some of the changes in the new draft will include:

               Stromberg’s edits to the Definitions

               Marsh’s suggestion to redefine the gross floor area

               Half-story daylight basement

               Vision clearance

               Maps

Stalheim will get the revisions out in the next week.

 

Fields/Dawkins m/s to continue keeping the record open for further discussion on October 4, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center.  Voice Vote:  Unanimously approved.

 

VIII.            UNFINISHED BUSINESS

A.                  ADOPTION OF FINDINGS – PA2006-01663, 87 W. Nevada & 811 Helman, Ashland Flowershop & Greenhouse Inc/Greg & Valri Williams

Ex parte contacts – There were none.  Morris had a discussion with his ex-neighbor, but nothing of substance. 

 

Dotterrer/Morris m/s to approve the above-noted Findings.  Roll Call:  Unanimously approved.

 

VI.           B.            (Continuation of PA2007-00250, 281 Fourth Street, Aaron Glover)

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION

Stalheim read “Joint Use of Facilities” to the Commissioners. 

 

The Commissioners discussed several ways they could work up conditions so this application could be approved.  Some argued the applicants did not provide enough information and there is confusion over specifically what the applicants are requesting. The number of parking spaces the applicants have available is still unclear.   

 

Dawkins/Black m/s to continue the meeting until 10:30 p.m.

 

Marsh said she cannot vote for this project tonight.  The driving question is the CUP.  Can the application satisfy the criteria for a CUP?  The applicants have come up with a list of things for crowd control measures but she has not seen any of this in writing until tonight.  The specifics are very relevant for the Commissioners to know the applicants can control the impact of 120 people leaving the venue at midnight.  She would like to see their plan to know they meet the criteria of minimizing the impact of the target area.  She would agree to a continuation with the details ironed out along with a parking plan and a crowd control plan.

 

Dawkins said he walks through this neighborhood all the time and with or without the venue, parking is not a problem.  We are making everything too complicated.  There are other things happening in the neighborhood that are not restricted.  He would like to make a motion and work out the conditions.

 

Dawkins/Mindlin m/s to approve PA2007-00250. 

 

Mindlin said part of what makes this project special is it is a low-cost venue.  We have to look at how our planning process interacts with the public.  She agrees with Dawkins that the parking is there and to focus on a rejection of this proposed business activity on the basis there is a parking problem, feels legalistic and spurious.

 

Dimitre, Morris and Dotterrer don’t believe we have a complete application and it has not met the burden of proof.  They are willing to continue it so they can come back with something they can support.

 

Black would like to see the comments they made tonight in writing with the following and then the Commission can move forward.

Commit events to a specific time and specify the number of people allowed. 

               Request a Variance based on exceeding the 200 feet.

               Address bike parking.

               Come back to the Commission in a year and review.

               No idling of vehicles in the alley.

               If the venue is a certain size, they will take care of clean-up.

               Make sure the building isn’t going to be a problem with occupancy and fire.

               State their plan. 

 

Fields remembered 25 years ago when people in town were asking how we could create a traffic problem in the Railroad District.  The parking reductions implemented then was to encourage that level of density.  It’s rare that Mobius can get a big draw of people.  Maybe we can give them another month to work these things out, but he is looking at the level of complexity of what we are creating.  It is making it difficult to do anything.  In this case, he does not see the neighborhood rising up.

 

Stromberg thought a continuation would be advisable and he doesn’t want to compromise our process.

 

Marsh called for the question.  Dimitre seconded.  The motion failed with Fields, Black, Mindlin, Dawkins and Morris voting ‘no” and Dimitre, Stromberg, Dotterrer and Marsh voting “yes.” 

 

Roll Call on Dawkins’ motion – Dawkins, Black and Mindlin voted “yes” and Dotterrer, Marsh, Morris, Fields, Stromberg and Dimitre voted “no.”  The motion failed. 

 

Morris/Dimitre m/s to continue the meeting to the October 9, 2007 Planning Commission meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street.  Morris/Black m/s amended the motion to leave the record open for two weeks.  Roll Call:  The motion was unanimously approved.

 

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

 

 

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