Agendas and Minutes

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Planning Commission

Minutes
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

MINUTES

MAY 12, 2009

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

Chair Michael Dawkins called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.

 

Commissioners Present:

 

Staff Present:

Michael Dawkins, Chair
Larry Blake

Tom Dimitre

Dave Dotterrer

Pam Marsh

Debbie Miller

Melanie Mindlin

 

Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant

 

 

 

Absent Members:

 

Council Liaison:

Mike Morris

 

Eric Navickas, absent

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Community Development Director Bill Molnar noted Kimberly A. Gray would be speaking on sustainability and the “Modern American City” on Thursday, May 14 at the SOU Stevenson Union at 7:30 p.m. He also commented on the Sign Code Guide that was distributed to the commissioners at the beginning of the meeting and explained Planning Division staff is working to inform local merchants of recent changes to the City’s sign code and are helping them to come into compliance. He added the right of way portion of the Downtown Task Force recommendations is still working its way through the City Council and is scheduled to be reviewed at the June 16, 2009 Council meeting.


CONSENT AGENDA

A.      Approval of Minutes
1.   April 14, 2009 Planning Commission Meeting

B.      Approval of Findings for PA #2009-00314, 500 Strawberry Lane

 

Commissioners Marsh/Dotterrer m/s to approve the Findings for Planning Action #2009-00314. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

 

Commissioners Dotterrer/Dimitre m/s to approve the April 14, 2009 Planning Commission minutes. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

 

PUBLIC FORUM

No one came forward to speak.

 

OTHER BUSINESS

A.         Croman Mill Redevelopment Plan

Planning Manager Maria Harris noted the site visit to the Croman Mills site that was conducted by the Planning Commission on April 28, 2009 and explained staff has taken the Draft Plan and have started working on the actual plan maps. She explained they have begun to identify areas, specifically in the proposed street and land use networks, which will likely need to be refined in order to conform to the topography of the site.

 

Staff presented a digital elevation model and commented on some of the grade issues in relation to the street framework. Senior Planner Brandon Goldman stated the map illustrates well some of the difficulties that would exist with locating the streets as proposed in the Draft Plan. He explained significant issues exist at the riparian area located at the south end of the property. He stated as proposed, a number of crossings would be required, and he also commented on the additional grade issues on this section of the property. Mr. Goldman commented on the area at the north east of the property and stated there are some steep grade changes here as well that will affect the streets as proposed.  

 

Community Development Director Bill Molnar commented on the possibility of a residential overlay and explained a mixed use building design may be more compatible with the topography in these areas and with the adjacent uses that currently exist. Mr. Molnar also noted the railroad spur identified in the Draft Plan and suggested the Commission consider moving the light industrial area closer to the existing railroad. He clarified in order to create the connection with the railroad, staff is suggesting more of a north-south configuration of the industrial and office employment lands, rather than the east-west layout that was proposed in the Draft Plan.  

 

Comment was made noting the amount of fill on the portion of land to be used by Plexis and it was questioned if this material would need to be removed prior to construction. Mr. Molnar explained the property owner and Plexis have reviewed this issue and have looked into engineering a building at the southern portion of the lot on the fill. He stated they could engineer a building to structurally deal with the fill issues; however Plexis has also indicated the desire for an outdoor campus for their employees. Mr. Molnar stated the Plexis development would likely need to be completed in phases, and the first phase would be to construct a building at the southerly end, which might require removing some fill, and then deal with the northern portion of the lot which houses the more significant fill issues.

 

The Commission continued their discussion on the land use framework and shared their preferences as to where the office space and light industrial areas should be located.

 

Mr. Molnar commented briefly on the 5-acre portion of land at the south end of the property. He explained this area has a Comprehensive Plan designation of E-1, but the land is currently occupied by a trailer park. He stated the Plan does include addressing the long term goals for this area since it is located within the City’s urban growth area; however there have been no discussions with the property owner to annex this land at this point. Mr. Molnar clarified this portion of property is controlled by the same property owners as the Croman Mill site.

 

Mr. Molnar noted that even after the final plan is approved, there may be instances where the plan needs to be adjusted slightly. He commented that once work begins you often find out things about a property that are unexpected and amendments to the concept plan may be needed. He explained any major amendments, such as removing a planned road or changing the land use designation, would need to come back to the Planning Commission for approval. While minor amendments, such as the adjustment of a street or circulation pattern of no more than 50 ft could be approved through internal department review.

 

Gerry Powell/Addressed the Commission and voiced his support for a residential overlay on the west side of the Croman property near Hamilton Creek.

 

Aaron Benjamin/Asked the Commission to consider including workforce housing units to service the new jobs that will be created on the Croman site. He stated this area is going to become an important micro-neighborhood of the City and asked that the Commission take into consideration the housing, transportation, retail, shopping facilities, and educational facilities that will be needed to service this area.   

 

Mr. Molnar announced the next step in this process is for staff to take the items discussed tonight and bring back options for the Commission to consider at their May 26, 2009 Study Session. He noted there is continuing interested in the community regarding this project and staff and Mayor Stromberg have discussed putting an advisory committee together to bring a different perspective to the planning process. He stated the advisory commission would be comprised of representatives from the various City commissions, and well as representatives from the neighborhood, Southern Oregon University, the Chamber of Commerce, and the City Council.

 

Commissioner Marsh asked if there would be a neighborhood meeting included in this process and commented on the importance of making sure the adjacent neighborhood is aware and involved in this process. Commissioner Miller added the residents of the trailer park will also be impacted by the development of the Croman property and should be included in any outreach efforts.

 

The Commissioners issued their final comments on the overall Plan. Mindlin asked if the 5-acre piece at the south end of the property could be preserved as a farm, or possibly zoned as a park or community garden. She also expressed concern that the Croman Plan did not fit into an economic development plan. Dawkins questioned if the Croman site is the best location for high density employment and felt in general, office oriented development should be centered toward downtown. Miller suggested they focus on economic health, not economic growth. Comment was made that the general concept of this Plan has already been determined and approved by the City Council. Mr. Molnar agreed and stated the Commission has some flexibility and can make minor adjustments to the Plan, but any major revisions will likely need to be approved by the City Council. Suggestion was made for staff to let the Commission know the major areas of discretion that are on the table.

 

B.         Planning Commission Annual Retreat

Mr. Molnar noted the Commission’s annual retreat is typically held in late May, early June and asked the Commission to select a date. Marsh questioned what would be on the retreat agenda and Mr. Molnar clarified this is their retreat and they can set the agenda. The Commission briefly discussed their schedules and preferences and it was decided the Commission would delay the annual retreat for a few months. The Commission determined it would be beneficial to wait until the Council has adopted their annual goals, the results of the City’s transportation grant application have been provided, and the ninth member of the Planning Commission has been appointed. Suggested topics for discussion at the retreat included commissioner communication with the City Council and a discussion on what a sustainable city looks like.


ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 8:55 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant

 

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