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Planning Commission

Minutes
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

MINUTES

FEBRUARY 12, 2008

 

1.            CALL TO ORDER

Chair John Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR.

Commissioners Present:        

 

Council Liaison:

John Stromberg, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Mike Morris

Olena Black

 

Cate Hartzell, Council Liaison, absent due to quasi-judicial items

John Fields

Pam Marsh

 

 

Melanie Mindlin

Tom Dimitre, arrived at 7:10 p.m.

 

Staff Present:

Bill Molnar, Community Development Director

Derek Severson, Associate Planner

Absent Members:  Dave Dotterrer, excused

 

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.            ANNOUNCEMENTS – There were no announcements.

 

3.            APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Add to the agenda the following:

1.       Announce amendments to the Planning Commission Rules

2.       Powers and Duties – Report from Stromberg and discussion

3.       Approval of Findings from today’s Hearings Board.

 

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

 

4.            CONSENT AGENDA

Marsh/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of the January 8, 2008 Regular Planning Commission meeting and the January 22, 2008 Planning Commission Study Session.  Voice Vote:  Approved. 

 

5.            AMENDMENTS TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION RULES

Molnar announced the Planning Commission is amending the Planning Commission Rules.  The amendments have been distributed to the Commissioners this evening in order to have 14 days prior to consideration for adoption.   The amendments are scheduled for adoption at the Planning Commission Study Session on Tuesday, February 26, 2008.  The amendments are available to the public at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building at 51 Winburn Way.

 

6.            ADOPTION OF HEARINGS BOARD FINDINGS

Fields/Mindlin m/s to approve the Findings for PA2007-02104, 1725 and 1729 Siskiyou Boulevard, Behnam Mehmanpazir. Voice Vote:  Fields, Mindlin and Stromberg (Hearings Board members) approved.

 

7.            PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak

 

8.            TYPE II PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

CONTINUATION OF:

PLANNING ACTION:           2007-01941

ADDRESS:                           1070 TOLMAN CREEK ROAD

APPLICANT:                        OgdenRoemerWilkerson Architecture AIA

DESCRIPTION:                    A request for Site Review approval to construct an approximately 52,163 square foot elementary school on the Bellview School site located at 1070 Tolman Creek Road. 

 

Ex Parte Contact/Bias/Conflict of Interest/Site Visit

Morris had another site visit and talked to Superintendent of Schools, Juli DeChiro about some design features that are not under the Planning Commission’s purview.  Black got a phone call from Huelz stating the wording she should have used at the last meeting was “zero net energy” regarding the buildings. Mindlin received a call suggesting an underground walkway under Tolman Creek Road for pedestrians.  Stromberg and Dawkins had a site visit but no ex parte contacts.  Dimitre, Marsh and Fields had no site visit and no ex parte contact. 

 

There were no challenges of bias or conflict of interest.

 

STAFF REPORT

Severson showed a 1967 photo of the site and the filling of the athletic field. 

 

A recap of the issues included:

  • The Staff recommendation for limiting the automobile circulation to one-way.
  • Bike circulation and bike parking.
  • Coordinating the pedestrian and bicycle circulation to the existing crosswalks.

 

Since the last meeting, the applicants have withdrawn their request for a Variance to bicycle parking.  They have submitted a revised overall site circulation plan that shows more bike parking better distributed throughout the site.  Severson has presented a new set of Findings that removes that Variance.  Another change is Condition 6-I that refers to an access easement from the Grange.  The Grange and School District are still in negotiations to determine how access will work.  Condition 6-I will read that the applicants will provided limited legal access whether through an easement or through some kind of property purchase or other arrangement.  The site plan also shows a “right-out” option plan for the south driveway to allow a right turn only movement.  Jim Olson, City Engineer, felt taking one turning movement out of that area should be sufficient. 

 

Severson continued that since the last meeting, the Historic Commission reviewed the application at their February 6th meeting.  They recommended the central mass be downplayed to enhance its connection and transition to the historic building through embellishment, architectural detail and color.  They are not looking for structural modification of the building, but they wanted to see some embellishments that would downplay the central mass.  The Historic Commission recommendations are included in the record.

 

Since the last meeting, Staff was recommending that the recent sidewalk installed by ODOT be extended through the bus loop. The applicants indicated that two additional trees will need to be removed.

 

PUBLIC HEARING

DAVID WILKERSON, OgdenRoemerWilkerson, 2950 E.. Barnett Road, Medford, OR  97504 and JIM CONWAY, DLR Group, 421 S.W. Sixth Avenue, Suite 1212, Portland, OR.

 

WILKERSON explained the two-way drives.  They wanted to make a clear separation between the different types of traffic.  They got feedback from Jim Olson and the Bike Commission. They now have a clear separation between vehicular, bike and bus traffic as shown on the site plan.

 

They are planning to eliminate the curb on the inside of the bus loop to avoid going down 15 inches into the tree root zone.  The driveway sheds water to the outer edge.  They are discussing the idea of narrowing the bus loop to 20 feet and still meeting the Fire Department requirements and allow buses to pass each other.  The end result would keep them six feet further away from the root zone. 

 

Wilkerson explained the building design and materials.  To meet the Historic Commission’s concerns, they are developing a two to three part color scheme.  By using color, they can minimize the appearance of the new building.  They want the connecting piece to fade into the background.  By using different materials, they will have more flexibility.

 

Wilkerson explained that one tree will be removed because it is in the bus loop and the other is tight on the curb, therefore both will need to be removed.  They will mitigate by planting more trees.

 

GREG COVEY, Covey Pardee Landscape Architects, 295 E. Main Street, Suite 8, explained the two additional trees to be removed are trees #12A to allow entry to the drive to be constructed and tree #58 that will be removed to allow for extension of the sidewalk to the corner. 

 

Dimitre is concerned about the vehicle turning movements and wondered how many vehicles now use the drive and how many they anticipate using it after construction. 

 

JULI DICHIRO, Superintendent of Schools, 885 Siskiyou Boulevard, said they do not anticipate an increase in students and by putting the buses on Siskiyou should reduce the net traffic impact.

 

Marsh asked if the automobile turnaround is wide enough for two lanes of cars.  Wilkerson affirmed. 

 

JIM TEECE, 864 Neil Creek Road, is the parent of a fifth grader at Bellview.  He has served on planning committee for the Bellview project.  Prior to that he served as co-chair for the bond project and has served on at least two other committees.  He shares his support of the process and the plan.   

 

Black recalled when the bond issue came along, there was a lot of discussion about energy efficiency and she got the idea there would be some zero net energy.  She wondered why the building doesn’t seem to have solar and other energy efficiencies. 

 

Teece said energy efficiency was one of the primary concerns they carried forward and has always been a priority.  Black asked about CPAC – what is it?  He said a citizen group will help oversee all projects going on under the bond.

 

RENEE GARDENER, 808 Summit Avenue, Medford, OR, has been teaching for 19 years at Bellview Elementary.  As one of the longer employed staff members at Bellview, she felt a need to make sure Bellview retained some of its “Bellview-ness” as they built the new school.  They had three days of input from the entire staff.  The staff unanimously agreed that a view of the space and mountains was really important to them.    

 

CHRISTINE MCCOLLUM, Principal of Bellview, 539 Clay Street, explained how their citizens committee came to be and some of the criteria for building.  The process was open to public and families.  They built a committee of 11 with a balanced group of people.  Every aspect of the design was approached with teaching as the number one criteria.  The other priorities were sustainability, green practices, balancing longevity with using more earth friendly resources, healthier choices with regard to paint, carpet, etc., were also factors.  They chose a lot of materials based on those criteria.  They added solar water heating and some other options that were added later.

 

INGRID HANSEN, 115 Reiten Drive, said she has taught at Bellview for 13 years.  She has been very impressed with all the avenues of input that all of the staff has been given from day one until the present.  With regard to the east facing windows, in her experience she would much prefer the east facing windows that give light and air to the classrooms to a room with few to no windows.  .

 

HOWARD BARASH, President of the Bellview Grange, 1050 Tolman Creek Road (resides at 845 Valley View Road and SUSIE AUFDERHEIDE, 321 N. Mountain Avenue, Apt. A.

 

BARASH said the Grange is here to support local economy, agriculture, environmental sustainability, and community.  He read the letter from the Grange that he entered into the record dated February 11, 2008.  They determined that a perpetual easement through their property is not in the best interest of the Grange and the community they serve. 

 

AUFDERHEIDE said they received two proposals today from the School District. 

 

Barash said they will continue to work toward a solution to the driveway easement that will be in the best interest of all parties.

 

Severson said the existing drive and the proposed relocated drive are located on the Grange property.  He said Condition 6-I has been included in the Findings that states before a building permit is issued, Staff would have to have evidence they have a right to legal access. 

 

MAT MARR, 31 Union Street, is Chair of the Ashland School Board, Representative from the School Board to the Bellview Site Design Committee, and School Board Representative to the Executive Oversight Committee. The proposal is a culmination of a significant community process that began many years ago with the Bond Committee. From the very beginning, the Bond Committee made a top priority to make their projects as efficient and sustainable as possible.  Specifically, when they were giving recommendations of how much to spend at each sight, the Bond Committee agreed to add ten percent to the overall budget at Bellview Elementary to make it as efficient a building as possible.  Not just for altruistic reasons but also for educational purposes.  In addition to the many efficiencies built into the Bellview design, the School Board added $1 million to their sustainability budgets throughout the district.

 

Rebuttal – DiChiro said they began negotiations with the Grange some time ago. They have a legal opinion that they have both an implied easement and a prescriptive easement that they could go to, but their interest is to find a mutual agreeable solution with the current Grange board.  They are more than willing to look for a garden plot that would meet the Grange’s needs.  They have not submitted any offers to the Grange.  Today they gave them the appraisals of the property for both the section of land they would need for the driveway and for the whole portion of the land.  They have so many common interests with the Grange that they feel they can come to a resolution. 

 

To clarify a budget item DiChiro said not only did they put an extra ten percent into this budget, but the Board also set aside $1 million in interest earnings from their bond investments also for sustainable solutions. 

 

Stromberg closed the public hearing and closed the record.

 

Questions of Staff – Severson said there is a Condition addressing the requirements for legal access. 

 

Marsh asked if the access substantially changes, would that change require approval at the Staff level or would that need to come back to the Commission.  Molnar said if a change to the circulation occurs it could require an amendment.  It would come back to the Commission unless the Commission provides for some flexibility in the Condition, allowing Staff to make changes.  It would still require public notice, but it could be done at the Staff level.

 

Severson noted that the Tree Commission reviewed the uphill side of the driveway where the curb has been eliminated.  They and Engineering were supportive. The Tree Commission said they would like the applicants to look at other innovative treatments as included in the Tree Commission recommendations that have been included in the record.

 

With regard to the Historic Commission comments, the applicants have indicated they are willing to work on modifying the central mass with some color embellishments and texture.  There is a Condition that states that all recommendations of the Historic Commission from their two meetings will ultimately go back to the Historic Commission Review Board to make sure the changes the applicants have made will meet the intent of the original condition.

 

COMMISSIONERS’ DELIBERATIONS AND DECISION

Marsh said she is comfortable placing any modifications to the driveway circulation in the hands of Staff.  If the applicants do need to make some minor changes in circulation, those changes would normally be under Staff’s advisement anyway.  If there are any significant changes, she trusts Staff will forward them to the Commission.  Fields agreed.

 

Severson explained with regard to the Historic Commission’s recommendations, they would like to be sure that the original window design or proportion is maintained.  He said the February recommendations supersede the January comments from the Historic Commission.  Molnar said if the applicants make any changes beyond what has been discussed in the record, that is where the Staff Advisor makes the final call. They are asking that the applicants look at subtle non-structural changes.  

 

Morris/Fields m/s to approve PA2007-01941 including all the Conditions provided by Staff. 

 

Black is disappointed that there is nothing in the Findings that gives any indication of what the applicants have done with regard to providing for future solar panels.  Stromberg reminded Black that Condition 1 states that all proposals of the applicants shall be conditions of approval unless otherwise modified herein.  Black did not see anything in the packet with regard to this. 

 

Roll Call:  The motion carried unanimously. 

 

Adoption of Findings – The Findings need a slight modification relative to removal of the two additional trees. Black/Morris m/s to approve the Findings for PA2007-01941 with the language change to 6D 3) “Identification of the ‘seven’ trees…”

 

PUBLIC FORUM – Stromberg called Fred Caruso to speak.  No one came forward. 

 

PLANNING ACTION:           PA2008-00053

SUBJECT PROPERTY:       201 S. Mountain Avenue

OWNER/APPLICANT:         OgdenRoemerWilkersonaarchitecture AIA/School District #5

DESCRIPTION:  Request for site review approval to construct an approximately 19,375 square foot auxiliary gym and music suite addition on the Ashland High School Campus located at 201 S. MOUNTAIN AVENUE.  The application proposes demolition of the existing 10,800 square foot auxiliary gym building and of the 5,600 square foot music suite; renovation of the 22,024 square foot main gym building; and a reconfiguration of the parking area located to the east of the existing gym building.  The application also requires a variance to the required sideyard setback along S. Mountain Avenue; the applicants propose to construct a ramp, stairs and landings to the property line where a minimum ten-foot sideyard setback is required.

 

Severson said after reviewing this application, Staff did not feel it was complete enough to recommend approval, and felt the most expeditious way to process this application is to have an evidentiary hearing tonight, allow the public to speak and allow time for the Commissioners to ask questions of the applicants and then continue the hearing to the March 11, 2008 Regular Planning Commission meeting.

 

Ex Parte Contact/Bias/Conflict of Interest/Site Visit

Marsh passes by the high school frequently.  Her daughter was a member of the design committee last spring, so she heard about it over dinner.  Her daughter has since gone away to college.  Stromberg had no ex parte contacts but has had site visits.  Dawkins has had a few site visits but no ex parte contacts.  He graduated from Ashland High School.  Morris also graduated from AHS; he’s worked on the stadium and has attended a lot of sporting events.  He had no ex parte contacts.  Black’s daughter was a student at AHS and Black was on campus daily.  Her daughter was an active participant in activities from 2002 to 2007 within the buildings that are under consideration.  Black was also in these buildings at least once a month for choir activities.  She had firsthand experience with the ADA facility or lack thereof in the current buildings. She also noticed a significant amount of mold in the music rooms.  She said at two of the performance she attended, the school staff suggested that they would have a scenic design area for the theater. Mindlin has driven by the site frequently.  She had no ex parte contacts.  Fields had no ex parte contacts and is familiar with the building.  Dimitre had no site visit and no ex parte contacts.

 

There were no challenges for bias or conflict of interest. 

 

STAFF REPORT

Severson outlined the elements of the application that need to be better addressed by the applicant. 

1.                   No Variance has been requested and no written findings in support of the Variance have been provided.  The application requires a sideyard Variance along S. Mountain Avenue and this was not addressed in the application.

2.                   The plans provided were limited to the portion of the campus that they were proposing to disturb.  A site plan including buildings, landscaping, parking and circulation has not been provided.

3.                   Lot coverage is addressed only in terms of the gross building area footprint for all buildings.  Nothing was addressed concerning all other impervious surfaces.

4.                   The findings do not identify the existing number of auto and bike parking spaces provided on site and do not include the stadium, the most significant public assembly space on campus.  

Staff is recommending the application be continued after the hearing tonight until the March 11, 2008 Planning Commission meeting.

 

Severson explained the setback requirements require the yard from the ground up to be unobstructed.  Adjacent to a public street, a ten foot sideyard has to be provided from the property line to the first obstruction.  Things that don’t count as structures are anything under 18 inches high or a fence. 

 

PUBLIC HEARING

DAVID WILKERSON, OgdenRoemerWilkerson, 2950 E. Barnett Road, Medford, OR  97504 and JIM CONWAY, DLR Group, 421 SW Sixth Avenue, Suite 1212, Portland, OR 

 

WILKERSON explained the two components of the project:  the renovation of the existing main gym and the replacement of the auxiliary gym with a new auxiliary gym.  The standards don’t specifically address the Variance required for the sideyard setback along Mountain Avenue.  In terms of overall site development, they are decreasing the amount of impervious area on the site and increasing the amount of landscaping.  They will create a new public entrance on Mountain Avenue.  Due to the height of the floor, it requires a ramp (or stairs) into a new lobby.  The lobby will serve as an entrance to games in the gym.  The lobby can be entered by stairs or ramp.  One elevation addresses the Site Review standard that buildings have their primary orientation to the street.  The proximity of the existing building to the street is the driving need for a Variance.  The raised plaza and the elements above it are the elements that will require a Variance.  The applicants believe the difference between the existing floor elevation and the existing sidewalk grade is not self-imposed.  There is nothing about this that will have a negative impact on adjacent developments. 

 

The flat roof over the boiler will be covered over to create new spaces for the music department. 

 

CONWAY said the critical thing they were challenged with on Mountain Avenue was to retain the entrance on Mountain and provide accessibility to the front with the height elevation of seven feet from the street to the floor.  In order to get accessibility to the front door, they took advantage of the slope of Mountain Avenue and joined the sidewalk creating the plinth along the front.

 

Wilkerson said they have a revised site plan showing street trees clustered in the front (nine street trees).  The Tree commission requested the elm tree be removed. 

 

One of the things not currently included in the project is a black box theater.  Conway said they are looking at other spaces on campus that could serve that function. 

 

KEN OGDEN, ORW Architecture, 2950 E. Barnett Road, Medford, OR  97504, said there is a black box theater but it is going to be converted to the scene shop.

 

Dawkins asked about the main entrance on Mountain Avenue. Since a lot of parking happens to be on the west side of the building, will the alley between the theater and the gym be fixed up?  Wilkerson said they will be moving some of the existing landscaping that isn’t appropriate.

 

Black wondered if it was going to be a problem to use the existing foundation for the walls of the main theater or will that wall be rebuilt?  If they run into water/mold issues on the foundation, what will it take to revise or renovate it?  Ogden said the method of removing water will be with foundation drains.

 

Black had concerns about access and a sense of entrance to the music rooms.  Wilkerson said the entrance to the music rooms will be through the lobby.

 

KATE KENNEDY, Poplar Place, 495 Poplar Place, said she has taught for 18 years.  She has been involved in the charrette process, the bond committee, and CPAC committee.  In this process there has been a lot of give and take and sharing ideas.  The school staff felt that they came together and found solutions.  Kennedy noted that the heating and air conditioning of the high school has been a huge problem in the past.  Part of the project is to solve this issue. 

 

JEFF SCHLECT, 489 Friendship Street, talked about the process.  This has been an extremely inclusive process.  Schlect believes the students will still use the north gym entrance.  But for community spectators, they can still park on Morse, use Titus Alley, and the Iowa Street parking lot.  The current entrance will remain open as well as the Mountain entrance.  He said the foyer doors on Mountain might be closed during the day.

 

TONY SHELTON, 121 Meade Street, stated his two kids attend AHS.  He was happy to have been included in the process.  It started with the charrette in the fall of 2006.  It was an orderly, cooperative process and he believes everyone was pretty comfortable with it.

 

DAHNA BLACK, 2976 Grizzly Drive, said she is an AHS student.  She has been part of CPAC and the design team.  The architects were open and flexible from the beginning.  Through the cooperation of the committee, it was really interesting to see everything come together after almost falling apart several times.  As a student, she was really excited to be part of the collaborative effort.  The final product will be beneficial for years to come. 

 

Staff Response – Severson said they are in a residential zone trying to apply criteria that are either residential or commercial to a public building.   

 

Black asked for more legible drawings in their next packet.    

 

GREG COVEY, Covey Pardee Landscape Architecture, 295 E. Main Street, #8, said they are taking the main entrance to the gym and splitting it into a ramped entry from the south edge (five percent ramp).  The width goes from about seven-and-a-half feet to12 feet, far exceeding the code requirement.  The reason is to soften the front plinth with some planting material below and at the same time allow pedestrians in the gym entrance to come in through either side.  There is a second entry to the choir room.  There is an additional accessible entry to main floor of the gym.  The next time, they would like present a diagram and look at primary and secondary entrances as well as accessible entrances.

 

Dawkins/Fields m/s to continue the public hearing to March 11, 2008 at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street.  Roll Call:  The motion carried unanimously.

 

Black/Dimitre m/s to extend the meeting to10:15 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved. 

 

9.            PLANNING COMMISSION POWERS AND DUTIES

Stromberg stated that after most of the Planning Commissioners had left the Council Study Session on February 4th, he was startled to learn that Martha Bennett, City Administrator was taking the re-write of the Powers and Duties (2.12 of the Ashland Municipal Code) to the next Council meeting on February 19th.  That document is in front of the Commissioners tonight.  Stromberg intervened and asked if the Planning Commission could have a chance to digest the re-write and make a recommendation to the Council. 

 

Stromberg and Dotterrer felt the Council re-write had not lost the essence of what the Planning Commission was asking for initially.  They felt the concern of the Council regarding the somewhat provocative language submitted originally to them by the Planning Commission was legitimate.   Stromberg and Dotterrer reviewed the document with Bennett today via conference call.   The three of them are all on the same page with the exception of Section 4.B.5. The Council will review the ordinance changes on March 4th. 

 

Marsh said if the items concerning sustainability in Section 4.B.5. are detailed in the Comprehensive Plan, then we don’t need them in the Powers and Duties.  The Powers and Duties should be about what we do, not what values we hold.

 

Mindlin said we originally had a list of various types of activities.  When sustainability was part of the whole list, it made sense.  We got rid of the rest of the list and now sustainability stands out like a sore thumb.

 

There was some question about the state planning goals (ORS 227.090).  Stromberg said the Planning Commission is authorized to work on any of the issues that are in the Comprehensive Plan.  There are chapters in the Comp Plan that pertain to sustainability, environmental quality, housing and economy. 

 

Black believes we are revising our current Comprehensive Plan methodology.  Therefore, Stromberg asked if Molnar would call John Renz from the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to see if this ordinance has to go to the state for acknowledgement.

 

Stromberg noted a change was made to 2.12.010 that would read as follows:  “There is created a City Planning Commission of nine (9) members, to be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council, to serve without compensation, not more than two (2) of who may reside outside the City limits and within the area six (6) miles adjacent thereto.”  This would match the original state language.

 

Marsh/Fields m/s to approve the document with the changes as suggested by Stromberg and Dotterrer.  And eliminate the language to Section 4.B.5.  Black amended the motion to get confirmation from John Renz that we won’t have to have an acknowledgement to make this change.  Marsh and Fields accepted the amendment.

 

Mindlin and Dimitre preferred the unchanged wording under Section 4.B.5. because the language was more explicit.  Stromberg reiterated that the Commission will still have the power to act on that list under the newer language. 

 

Black/Dimitre ms to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved. 

 

Dawkins said he too feels strongly about sustainability.  However, he is comfortable eliminating the language knowing implicitly that we can still do those items that are listed.   He is ready to simplify this and get it off our plate. 

 

Roll Call:  The motion carried with Fields, Black, Mindlin, Stromberg, Dawkins, Marsh, and Morris voting “yes” and Dimitre voting “no.” 

 

10.          ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 10:20 P.M.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

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