Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Joint Study Session

Minutes
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

JOINT STUDY SESSION
PLANNING COMMISSION, HISTORIC COMMISSION, & CITY COUNCIL
MINUTES
SEPTEMBER 23, 2008


CALL TO ORDER

Historic Commission Chair Dale Shostrom called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street.

Planning Commissioners Present: ---- Historic Commissioners Present:
John Stromberg, Chair
Michael Dawkins
Pam Marsh
Melanie Mindlin
Mike Morris
Dale Shostrom, Chair
Henry Baker
Tom Giordano
Allison Renwick
Terry Skibby
Samuel Whitford
-
City Council Present: Staff Present:
Cate Hartzell
David Chapman
Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant
-
Absent Members:
John Morrison, Mayor
Alice Hardesty, Councilor
Eric Navickas, Councilor
Kate Jackson, Councilor
Russ Silbiger, Councilor
Keith Swink, Historic Commissioner
Alexander Krach, Historic Commissioner
James Watkins, Historic Commissioner
Debbie Miller, Planning Commissioner
Michael Church, Planning Commissioner
David Dotterrer, Planning Commissioner
Tom Dimitre, Planning Commissioner

HISTORIC PRESERVATION PLAN
Planning Manager Maria Harris explained the purpose of this project is to identify areas for improvement within Ashland's existing program and develop a blueprint for Ashland's Historic Preservation program for the next 10 years. She noted this project has been funded by a Certified Local Government grant and the grant work concludes with the consultant's presentation of the draft plan. Ms. Harris stated the Preservation Plan falls within the scope of the Historic Commission's duties and responsibilities; however, the City Council and Planning Commission were included in this presentation because there is some overlap with the Planning Commission and the Council will ultimately approve the plan.

Historic Preservation Consultant Kimberli Fitzgerald provided a presentation that addressed the following:

• The methodology used to create the Plan.
• Elements of the City's existing program.
• Needs expressed by the Historic Commission and City staff.
• Results of the public survey.

She also provided the following outline of the projects identified in the Plan:

Priority #1 (Projects targeted for completion in the first 5 years)

• Establish more detailed standards for Residential Districts.
• Pursue National Register listing for eligible areas identified in the Ashland North RLS Survey.
• Establish a local grant/loan program.
• Develop a new homeowner handbook.
• Establish a Mentoring Program for new Historic Commissioners.

Priority #2 (Projects targeted for completion by 2016)

• Develop criteria for landmark listings and establish a local landmark list.
• Establish Ashland as a Preserve America community.
• Develop a Walking Tour/Brochure program.
• Establish an improved recruitment process for Historic Commissioners.

Priority #3 (Projects targeted for completion by 2017)

• Appoint a Historic Commission liaison to the Planning Commission.
• Identify areas to expand existing National Register Districts.
• Offer permit fee reduction for certain historic land use applications.
• Offer workshops/brown bag lunches.
• Provide Historic Commissioner training.

Priority #4 (Projects targeted for completion by 2018)

• Draft enabling language for the Historic Review Board.
• Nominate Lithia Springs to the National Register.
• Establish a Main Street program.
• Write and distribute a newsletter from the Historic Commission.
• Take advantage of local and national networking opportunities.

Ms. Fitzgerald concluded her presentation and asked if the group had any questions. She noted there are a lot of different forms a Historic Advisory Committee could take. She stated they could provide recommendations to the Planning Commission (like it is done in Ashland), or some Historic Committee's act as a quasi-judicial body and make final decisions on certain elements of a project. She added there is no right or wrong way, and Ashland should do whatever is best for this community.

Comment was made questioning how a homeowner wanting to change exterior conditions would know what is and isn't recommended. Ms. Fitzgerald explained the City's Historic Commission could do an annual mailing to all historic homeowners, or they could consider attaching conditions to the property deed.

Giordano voiced his support for the Historic Commission taking a more quasi-judicial role and stated this could shorten the review process for the applicant and lighten the load for the Planning Commission. Dawkins stated he does not see the need for another quasi-judicial body, and suggested a member of the Planning Commission sit on the Historic Commission, and not the other way around as proposed. Giordano suggested one member sit on each: a Historic liaison to the Planning Commission, and a Planning liaison to the Historic Commission. Mindlin noted the Planning Commission has restrictions on the number of design professionals that are allowed. Skibby noted that he has been involved with the Historic Commission since 1989 and overall, the current advisory approach has worked well; however a combination might work well for certain things. Planning Manager Maria Harris clarified the Preservation Plan identifies the Historic Commission as having a role in reviewing activities that currently do not require a permit. She stated the Historic Commission could be the final authority in this area; however, the Plan does not speak to this overall increase in authority as mentioned by the commissioners.

Ms. Fitzgerald clarified one of the first priorities is to take a look at the City's code and identify where inconsistencies and conflicts are. Community Development Director Bill Molnar commented that a specific area of inconsistency is with the City's Downtown Standards and the Historic Standards in regards to projects with residential elements. He stated the intent is for the Downtown Standards to override, but the code does not say this. He added this has recently become an issue with some mixed use projects.

Hartzell commented on how the Plan interfaces with the Conservation Commission and Forest Lands Commission and suggested staff send this plan out for review by these groups.

Comment was made questioning which group should initiate the code language changes. Ms. Harris clarified that while the Planning Commission or the City Council could bring this forward, it is also within the Historic Commission's role and they have the ability to apply for grant funding through the CLG program. She added if this plan gets approved, this is one of the first projects the Historic Commission will pursue.

Dawkins voiced his support for preparing a pamphlet that provides a historic perspective of Ashland and simplifying the way people pull historic information on a particular property. He also noted the Helman Baths property and stated it is important that this as well as other historic farm homes be identified. Marsh voiced her support for a homeowner handbook that provides basic information and guidelines for how to go about a renovation. She also voiced her support for a simple walking tour brochure that identifies the properties on the federal register.

Ms. Fitzgerald spoke to the inventorying of additional resources. She commented on when it is better to identify districts rather than sporadic properties and provided examples of how other Oregon jurisdictions have gone about this. Shostrom noted that you could cut up Ashland into a lot of historic districts, but this is expensive and difficult to do. He added that sometimes homeowners do not want to become part of a Historic District because they feel this would incur too many regulations.

Chapman asked about conflicts between historic restorations and building codes. Ms. Fitzgerald clarified this is a common problem and would be examined in the proposed code evaluation process. She added, however, there are some ADA requirements that you cannot get around. Giordano noted Ashland has a Building Appeals Board, which provides an applicant the opportunity to appeal the decision of the City's Building Official. Renwick noted a situation where the Building Dept. wanted a change that could have severely impacted the faηade of a historic home. She noted the Historic Commission Chair met with the Building Official, and they were able to work out the issues. Giordano commented that they need to get the word out that the City's Building Official has the ability to flex.

Stromberg commented on new buildings with historic elements. Skibby noted a new structure does not have to be a Craftsman or Victorian to fit in. He stated newer styles can fit in as long as there are compatible elements (such as roof pitches) and recommended they encourage this rather than imitation. Dawkins agreed and stated some variation is fine and makes Ashland's neighborhoods unique.

Comment was made questioning if the Plan proposes adding additional historic districts. Ms. Fitzgerald clarified one of the goals is to identify areas abutting the historic districts to see if they can be incorporated into the existing districts, or if the creation of separate districts is more appropriate. Shostrom noted that it is a bigger job to create a new district rather than adding onto an existing one.

The meeting concluded with thanks offered to Ms. Fitzgerald for her hard work with this project.

ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant

 

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