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Planning Commission

Minutes
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
OCTOBER 14, 2008

CALL TO ORDER
Commission Chair John Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.

Commissioners Present: - Staff Present:
John Stromberg, Chair Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Michael Dawkins Derek Severson, Associate Planner
Mike Morris Angela Barry, Assistant Planner
Debbie Miller Richard Appicello, City Attorney
Pam Marsh April Lucas, Administrative Assistant
Melanie Mindlin
Tom Dimitre
Dave Dotterrer
Michael Church
-
Absent Members: Council Liaison:
None Cate Hartzell, absent

APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Stromberg noted the following adjustments to the agenda: 1) the Sustainability Status Report has been moved to Announcements, and 2) the Hearings Board Findings for 960 Harmony Lane has been added to the Consent Agenda.

Commissioners Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to approve the Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

CONSENT AGENDA

A. Approval of Minutes
1. August 27, 2008 Joint Study Session Minutes
2. September 9, 2008 Planning Commission Minutes
3. September 9, 2008 Hearings Board Minutes
4. September 23, 2008 Joint Study Session Minutes
5. September 30, 2008 Joint Study Session Minutes
B. Approval of Findings for 960 Harmony Lane, PA 2008-00801

Mindlin requested the Joint Study Session minutes of August 27, 2008 be amended as follows: 1) Under "Final Overview" (pages 4-5), remove the sentences which state "general support was voiced for this item as presented."

The following corrections were made to the Joint Study Session minutes of September 30, 2008: 1) Michael Church should be listed as present, and 2) Tom Dimitre should be listed as absent.

Commissioners Morris/Dawkins m/s to approve the September 9, 2008 Hearings Board minutes and Findings for 960 Harmony Lane. Voice Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Morris and Stromberg, YES. Motion passed.

Commissioners Dotterrer/Church m/s to approve the remaining items on the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

PUBLIC FORUM
Allen Baker/1042 Oak Knoll Drive/Stated he is the President of the Oak Knoll Meadows Homeowners Association and expressed his concerns with the proposed I-5 Rest Area and Welcome Center. Mr. Baker stated this rest area would be located directly adjacent to the Oak Knoll neighborhood and stated this would create safety and crime issues. He stated Ashland does not want nor need this facility, and noted ODOT does not have sufficient funds to construct the Welcome Center portion of the facility. Mr. Baker commented on the status of the project and stated it has been approved with conditions by the Jackson County Planning Commission and now goes before the Jackson County Commissioners for approval. He asked that the City deny ODOT's request for city sewer and water, which could put a halt to this project.

Commissioner Dimitre arrived at 7:10 p.m.

Ginny Porter/1033 Oak Knoll Drive/Stated she has spent considerable time researching the I-5 Rest Area project and shared the following information with the Commission:1) ASHTO national guidelines recommend 60 mile spacing between rest areas; there is currently 58 miles between rest areas on this stretch of interstate, therefore an additional rest area is not needed, 2) There is general consensus that rest areas should not be placed beside a neighborhood or within close proximity to exits because of the crime overflow and impact on local economics, 3) California and Washington do not have welcome centers on interstates, but rather support local visitor centers, 4) Rest areas are not be to placed on dangerous slopes or stretches, and 5) Crime is a major concern at rest areas, with over 1,100 crimes logged by the Oregon State Police over the last 10 years. Ms. Porter stated the proposed location creates major accident issues and noted the steep slope coming down the Siskiyou Pass. She stated the previous rest area was located near the proposed site and had so many accidents a court settlement was filed to demand its closing. She requested the City say "No" to this project.

Dan Folliard/1032 Oak Knoll Drive/Also spoke on the proposed I-5 Rest Area and Welcome Center. He commented on the City's current water and wastewater issues and stated this facility would have an affect on these resources. Mr. Folliard asked that the City deny ODOT's request to connect the rest area to Ashland's water and sewer systems and stated the City's previous City Attorney declared in 2001 that the City was "not bound to provide water or sewer to this site."

Community Development Director Bill Molnar noted this issue went before the City Council in February 2008 and stated he would provide an update the commissioners on what was discussed.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

A. November Planning Commission Meeting
Mr. Molnar reminded the Commission that since their next meeting falls on Veteran's Day, the meeting has been moved to Wednesday, November 12, 2008.
B. November 25th and December 23rd - Study Session Dates
Mr. Molnar noted the regular Planning Commission Study Session dates fall near the holidays in November and December. He stated staff needs to know whether members will be out of town, and whether it will be necessary to cancel or adjust these meetings. Stromberg indicated that given tonight's full agenda, determining this via email would be preferred.
C. Sustainability Study - Status
Mindlin provided a brief update on the Sustainability Work Plan. She stated herself and Commissioner Marsh met with City Administrator Martha Bennett to discuss bringing the work plan before the City Council for approval; however, Ms. Bennett had concerns with moving forward with the work plan and how it would relate with the upcoming Strategic Planning project. Mindlin stated the Sustainability Work Group is now proposing to convene a study group and move ahead with the two main actions outlined in the plan, which are: 1) mapping local resources and finding out what is being done by the community, and 2) investigating what other government entities are doing. She asked that the commissioners contact her if they have any questions or wish to participate in these projects.

TYPE II PUBLIC HEARINGS
Stromberg read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.

A. PLANNING ACTION: 2008-01526
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 281 Fourth Street
APPLICANT: Noble Coffee
DESCRIPTION: Request for Site Review approval to locate a coffee shop/restaurant into the existing building at 281 Fourth Street and for a Variance to the required number of parking spaces to reduce the number of parking spaces from 12 to 5.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; ASSESSOR'S MAP #: 39 1E 09BA; TAX LOT #: 101.

Ex Parte Contact
Dawkins and Marsh reported site visits, but had no ex parte contact. Commissioners Dimitre, Miller, Stromberg, Morris, Church, Mindlin, and Dotterrer all reported no ex parte contact.

Staff Report
Assistant Planner Angela Barry presented the staff report. She explained this application involves a request to locate a coffee shop/restaurant into the existing building at 280 Fourth Street, and a variance to reduce the number of required parking spaces. She noted the property is located in the Railroad Historic District and is zoned E-1 with a Residential Overlay. Ms. Barry commented on the parking requirements and explained a Type II Variance to parking is needed to reduce the number of required spaces by more than 50%, from 12 spaces to 5. She noted this building was constructed in 1957 and has historically housed shop-type uses due to the lack of on-site parking. She added these light manufacturing uses are the only uses that could be located at this site without requiring a parking variance. Ms. Barry stated the application asserts that this coffee shop will primarily be a neighborhood use and most patrons will likely walk or bike to this location.

Ms. Barry reviewed the proposed conditions listed in the Staff Report. She explained staff has concerns with the bicycle parking being located inside the building, and are recommending that the bike parking be near the entrance on the sidewalk instead. She stated staff is recommending the Applicant improve the sidewalk and pedestrian amenities, which are currently not to standard. Additionally, staff is recommending that the Applicant replace the existing curb cut and install a standard sidewalk. Ms. Barry noted the Historic Commission issued a different recommendation and felt the original curb cut should be left in place so long as the safety issues could be mitigated. Ms. Barry explained that removing the curb cut would allow a safe place for bicycle parking near the entrance and staff felt the benefits of improving the sidewalk outweighed the Historic Commission's recommendation for the curb cut.

Comment was made questioning if the other businesses in the area have the required number of parking spaces. Ms. Barry clarified many of the buildings in this area have the same issues with parking and either have a parking variance or have obtained a parking agreement.

Applicant's Presentation
Mark Knox/Urban Development Services/485 W Nevada Street/Mr. Knox introduced Jared Rennie and Steve Sacks with Noble Coffee Roasters. Mr. Knox provided some history of the site and explained most recently this was the location of Mobius, a 120-seat nightclub that was approved by the Planning Commission, but never made it past the Building Department stage. He noted the Applicant is proposing to change the use to a coffee roasting and small coffee shop. He stated 40% of the floor space would be used for roasting and the remainder would be used for retail and seating. He stated the idea is to create a neighborhood coffee shop that fits within the streetscape and creates some activity for this relatively quiet area. Mr. Knox noted they held a neighborhood meeting and stated it was very well attended and the neighborhood was very supportive of this project. Mr. Knox commented on the bicycle parking and curb cut issues. He stated he has spoken with the City's Public Works Department and are proposing to place one of the bicycle racks inside (due to the covered parking requirement), and one outside on the sidewalk. He also spoke to the curb cut issue and explained this is a historical feature of the building and it is their desire to retain it. He stated installing the sidewalk as proposed by staff would create ADA issues, and noted the Historic Commission unanimously agreed with the curb cut retention. Mr. Knox commented briefly on the parking variance and explained the vast majority of the buildings in this area were created prior to the adoption of parking requirements and do not meet today's code. He commented on AMC 18.92.055, Variances for Commercial Buildings in Historic Districts, and stated the application meets the intent of this section of the code.

Steve Sacks/Stated a lot of the patrons will visit this business in the morning before the other businesses open, and they feel this use will fit well into the neighborhood. He added this is a reduced use compared to what was there before, and commented on the approval of Mobius. He noted the sidewalk as proposed by staff would raise the level of the building 4 inches and stated they do not believe the existing curb cut will be a problem. He added they will work with the City to make sure it is safe.

Mr. Knox clarified that not all of the uses in this area function at the same time. He also clarified they would like to place 3 tables outside; however, this is a separate approval process they will need to go through. Mr. Knox also clarified their request for a parking variance and commented on the unusual circumstance criteria. He noted no matter what use goes in there, a variance to parking would be needed.

Public Testimony
Peter Brunner/590 Taylor Street/Stated he owns the building at 525 A Street and expressed his concerns with the current parking situation. Mr. Brunner noted the Applicant is asking for a significant reduction to the parking requirement and noted he was not allowed to include a fourth apartment in his building because there was not adequate parking. He stated most of his parking issues are caused by the yoga studio and even though he feels this is a nice proposal, he does not feel that it meets the parking demands for this area.

John Wieczorek/165 Orange Avenue/Encouraged the Planning Commission to vote in favor of this proposal and to approve the parking variance. Mr. Wieczorek stated this application meets the criteria for variances for commercial buildings in historic districts and stated the benefits of this project outweigh any of the perceived negative impacts. He stated this project is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and voiced his support for this business.

Molly Schiessl/552 A Street/Stated she is an active member of the Ashland Gallery Association and the Ashland Railroad District Association and voiced their support this application. She stated she is before the Commission to affirm their support for this business in this district and feels this will be a great use for this neighborhood. She added she does not have concerns regarding parking, since most of their patrons are on foot, and noted there is only a brief time in the morning when the yoga studio creates a parking demand.

Rebuttal by the Applicant
Mark Knox/Stated the yoga studio does create some parking issues in the morning, however it does not impact Fourth Street. He clarified there are parking problems along A Street; however the parking spaces on Fourth Street between A and B Street are typically only 30-40% full. Mr. Knox clarified they did try to obtain a parking agreement, but noted most businesses are hesitant to enter into these agreements and stated they have created significant problems in this area.

Jarred Rennie/Stated they will be providing responsible employment and will provide a sustainable business in Ashland. He noted they will be encouraging patrons to bike or walk to this business and stated this business will help to create a dynamic neighborhood.

Steve Sacks/Noted people do not come to this type of business in masses. He hopes the Planning Commission will support this project and noted it is just an empty building right now.

Stromberg closed the public hearing and the record.

Advice from Legal Counsel and Staff
Ms. Barry commented on the Applicant's proposal for vehicle and bicycle parking. She stated with the request for a parking variance and the Applicant's assertion that most patrons will walk to bike to this business, staff feels their pedestrian and bike parking facilities should be better.

Ms. Barry commented on the parking variance criteria and stated this application meets the unusual circumstance criteria in that the building was built before there were parking regulations.

Deliberations and Decision

Commissioners Dawkins/Dotterrer m/s to approve Planning Action #2008-01526 with the stipulation that Condition 6A be deleted. DISCUSSION: It was clarified Condition 6A is the condition that requires the Applicant to remove the curb cut and replace it with a standard curb and sidewalk. Marsh stated it is pretty clear that the Applicant meets the criteria for a parking variance. She added it is important that the City consider taking a comprehensive look at this area. Dotterrer agreed and felt this was something that needs to be looked at; he also voiced his support for this application. Morris voiced his support for the application and for the retention of the existing curb cut. He also agreed that a study of this area is needed. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Marsh, Dawkins, Morris, Dotterrer, Mindlin, Church, Dimitre, Miller and Stromberg, YES. Motion passed.

TYPE III PUBLIC HEARINGS
A.   Water Resource Protection Zones Ordinance

Stromberg announced the Public Hearing for the Water Resource Protection Zones Ordinance would be continued to the October 28, 2008 Planning Commission meeting.

TYPE II PUBLIC HEARINGS (Cont.)

B. PLANNING ACTION: 2008-01318
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 2200 Ashland Street
APPLICANT: Coming Attractions Theatres
DESCRIPTION: Request for Site Review approval to redevelop the existing 5,418 square foot, single-story office building located at 2200 Ashland Street into an 18,791 square foot, three-story office and retail building. The property is located within the Detail Site Review Zone and the development is subject to the Additional Standards for Large Scale Projects and Ashland Boulevard Corridor Design Standards. Also included are requests for: Administrative Variance to the Site Design and Use Standards and Exception to Street Standards relating to the reconfiguration of off-street parking between the building and Ashland Street and to Ashland Street improvements, and Tree Removal Permit to remove six trees greater than six-inches in diameter-at-breast-height.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Commercial; ZONING: C-1; ASSESSOR'S MAP #: 39 1E 14 BB; TAX LOT #: 300.

Ex Parte Contact
Miller noted she frequently drives by this site. Commissioners Marsh, Dotterrer, Church, Morris, Mindlin and Stromberg all reported site visits, but no one had any ex parte contact.

Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report. He stated this application is for the redevelopment of the existing office building located at 2200 Ashland Street into an 18,791 sq. ft., three-story office and retail building. Mr. Severson explained this application involves requests for: 1) an Administrative Variance to the Site Design and Use Standards and exception to the Street Standard relating to the reconfiguration of off-street parking, and 2) a Tree Removal Permit to remove six trees greater than six inches in diameter. Mr. Severson commented on the ODOT right-of-way along Ashland Street and noted the slope constraints on the site. He provided an explanation of the proposed conditions included in the staff report and reviewed the proposed site plan. Mr. Severson noted the Applicant met extensively with ODOT and City staff regarding the mitigation of transportation impacts. He clarified that ODOT had previously indicated with the Barclay Square development and Willow Brook on Clay Street that with further development of this area something would need to be done about left-hand turning movements out of Clay Street. Mr. Severson noted the reduced site distances caused by the overpass on Ashland Street, and stated the application proposes the installation of an extended median on Ashland Street which would be channelized to restrict left hand turning movements from this development and restrict left hand turns from Clay Street onto Ashland Street. Mr. Severson stated staff is recommending approval with the conditions outlined in the staff report.

Mr. Severson clarified the draft findings submitted to the Commission incorporate ODOT's recommendations. (Condition #6)

Comment was made questioning if there is a plan for getting pedestrians and bicycles through this area and asking what happens to the informal paths being used today. Mr. Severson noted pedestrians would have to come further down and cross where there is an available spot. He noted staff did discuss the possibility of asking for an easement; however issues arose regarding the lack of a comprehensive plan identifying a connection there. He added an easement from ODOT would also be necessary to provide a pedestrian path.

Comment was made that this application seems to place a huge burden on the residents of Clay Street. Mr. Molnar commented on the City's Transportation Plan and the IAMP study and clarified staff would continue to look at possibilities for another east-west connection to relieve pressure on Ashland Street. He noted restricting these types of movements are not uncommon in Ashland. He added given the volume of traffic on Ashland Street, left hand turns at this location creates a public safety issue.

Comment was made suggesting an alternate access to this site. Mr. Severson stated it is his understanding that the Applicant did try to pursue this option and stated the Applicant can speak to this further.

Applicant's Presentation
Mark Knox/Urban Development Services/485 W Nevada Street/Introduced Landscape Architect Laurie Sager, Architect James Blissett, Traffic Engineer Robert Court, Civil Engineer Mark Kamarath, and owner representatives Larry McClennan and Ryan Langemeyer. Mr. Knox stated this lot has been an eyesore to the community for a long time and stated this project has funneled down to this traffic and median issue. Mr. Knox commented briefly on the variance and site review. He stated the variance to relocate parking to the front of the building should not be an issue due to the overpass and this lots elevation. Mr. Knox commented on the Tree Removal Permit and stated they are proposing to remove six trees, but will re-plant at least 30.

Laurie Sager/Landscape Architect/Commented on the Maple trees along the north side of the building and explained one is in really poor shape and the other two are in moderate shape. She said that given the impacts of the construction and the neglect of these trees, they felt the best solution to creating a healthy tree environment would be to remove those trees and install new trees after construction. She noted they would be preserving two of the Oak trees. Ms. Sager stated the entire entryway is ODOT right-of-way and they are planning on landscaping the area along the driveway. She commented on the bio-swale area and stated this area will function to clean up the water on site and will provide an educational situation. She noted the plaza areas and felt these would be great additions to the space. Ms. Sager stated she hopes the Commission sees this as an amenity for the site, considering its current use.

James Blissett/Architect/Commented on the atrium entry and their desire to create an inviting office building with lots of light and glass. Mr. Blissett stated the concept was to create a comfortable and warm building and commented on the materials that would be used on the buildings fašade. He also commented on the entry band and the materials of the shaded areas.

Mr. Knox commented on the previous statements made regarding the informal pedestrian and bicycle paths on the site. He noted the location of the proposed fence and stated these informal paths would likely be recreated after this project is completed. He also commented on the possibility of an alternate access point and stated the owners of the adjacent property which houses Bi-Mart, Shop N Cart, Taco Bell, and the Oil Stop would not entertain any type of formal arrangement with the Applicant. He stated they have not planned for this project to connect over to that site, but they also have not precluded it. He added there may be an opportunity for a reciprocal access when the Oil Stop property develops.

Public Testimony
Evan Arched/550 E Main Street/Stated he has not studied this proposal, but has a project on the other side of Ashland Street. Mr. Archerd asked that the public hearing remain open for an additional 7 days so that he can become familiar with this project and make comments.

Rebuttal by the Applicant
Mark Knox/Stated he was not aware that the public hearing could be left open.

City Attorney Richard Appicello clarified anyone can request during the public hearing that the record be left open, or request a continuance be granted for no less than 7 days. He noted they must do one or the other, but the Commission can decide which action to take.

Mr. Knox stated there is a safety issue at this intersection and they understand that people's driving habits are going to change on lower Clay Street. He noted the previous projects that have been approved for this area (Barclay Square, Willow Brook), and stated they knew this restriction for left hand turns was coming.

Robert Court/Traffic Engineer/Stated Clay Street traffic making a left turn onto Ashland St. is likely residential traffic and does not believe east bound Main Street traffic would choose to come up Clay Street and make the very difficult left turn onto Ashland St. when they could use the traffic signal at Tolman Creek Road. Mr. Court stated currently Clay Street at Ashland Street is operating at a level of service "E", and Ashland City standards call for level of service no lower than "D". He added there has been discussion for several years that the next accident that occurs at this intersection would result in the median barrier. Mr. Court commented briefly on the estimated traffic counts once this area is built out and stated it is not feasible to consider installing a traffic signal at this location.

Commissioners Dawkins/Church m/s to extend the public hearing to 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Deliberations and Decision
Stromberg stated the Commission needs to decide whether to continue the public hearing, or close the hearing and leave the record open. Dotterrer stated the request was to keep the hearing open and feels this is what they should do. Mr. Molnar noted that continuing the hearing to the Commission's November 12 meeting would give staff time to explore some of the issues that came up at tonight's hearing. Mr. Appicello noted the Commission should ask the Applicant whether they agree to the continuance. Mr. Knox indicated that he does not give his consent to this. The Commission continued their discussion on how they would like to proceed with this.

Commissioners Dimitre/Miller m/s to continue the Public Hearing to the November 12, 2008 Planning Commission meeting. DISCUSSION: Mr. Molnar clarified there will not be an extension of the 120-day time limit because the Applicant did not agree to the continuance; he clarified the 120-days expires in February. Dawkins shared his preference to leave the record open and close the public hearing. Morris also voiced support for leaving the record open and closing the hearing. Dotterrer noted that continuing the public hearing open allows Mr. Archerd the opportunity to come before the Commission and speak, rather than submitting written comments. Mr. Appicello restated the options for the Commission. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dimitre, Church, Miller, Mindlin, Marsh and Stromberg, YES. Commissioners Morris, Dotterrer and Dawkins, NO. Motion passed 6-3.

Commissioners Dawkins/Marsh m/s to continue the meeting to 10:30 p.m. DISCUSSION: Mr. Knox indicated he is also representing the next Planning Action and does not wish to begin tonight since it is not possible for the Commission to come to a decision in the amount of time remaining. Voice Vote: all NAYS. Motion failed.

-
C. PLANNING ACTION: 2008-00911
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 2300 Siskiyou Blvd.
APPLICANT: Steve Asher
DESCRIPTION: A request for Site Review approval to construct thirteen condominium units for the property located at 2300 Siskiyou Boulevard. Also included are requests for a Physical & Environmental Constraints Review Permit to allow tree removal and parking space installation on Flood Plain Corridor/Riparian Preservation Lands adjacent to a culverted section of Clay Creek; Tree Removal Permits to remove 36 of the site's 78 trees; and an Exception to Street Standards to not install sidewalks and curbs along Siskiyou Boulevard frontage. (The approval of this application would replace the previous Performance Standards Options subdivision approval from PA #96-131).
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density Multi Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR'S MAP #: 39 1E 14 CA; TAX LOTS: 7700, 7800, 7801, 7802, 7803, 7804, 7805, 7806, 7807 and 7808.

Stromberg announced this Planning Action would be heard on November 12, 2008.

ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant

 

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