ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
JUNE 12, 2001CALL TO ORDER
At 7:10 p.m., Chair Mike Gardiner called the meeting to order. Other Commissioners present were Mike Morris, Russ Chapman, Alex Amarotico, Marilyn Briggs, and Ray Kistler. Absent were Chris Hearn, John Fields, and Kerry KenCairn. Staff present were Bill Molnar, Maria Harris and SueYates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
Briggs moved to approve the Minutes of the May 8, 2001 meeting. The motion was seconded and carried. Chapman moved to approve the Finding for PA2001-029 – Fire Station, Amarotico seconded the motion and it was approved. Amarotico moved to approve the Findings for PA2001-042—Scenic Drive. The motion was seconded and carried.
COLIN SWALES, 461 Allison Street, requested two items be discussed by the Planning Commission. He would like the Planning Commission to interpret 18.72.050 C (Site Design and Use Standards)—the "big box" ordinance. The City Attorney has ruled that the building size of 45,000 square feet is not floor area, but rather size of the footprint. This means one could possibly build a building 180,000 square feet or more or even 225,000. Swales believes when this ordinance was drafted it was not the intent to be able to build buildings of this size. He believes the ordinance was intended to address floor area, not building footprint. Doug Neuman has shown a desire to develop the back area of the Lithia Springs Hotel and it is only fair that he has an interpretation of the ordinance.
The other issue Swales brought forward was concern about the library. He said the Planning Commission approval made over a year ago has expired. He believes the plan needs to reviewed again by the Planning Commission. The Planning Director and City Administrator agreed that the one year date did not start from the date of the Planning Commission decision but at a later date when the Mayor signed off. Swales and others are concerned the trees are going to be removed before these last obstacles are cleared out of the way. He asked if the Commission would add to their agenda in the future, when their decisions expire. He requested the City hold off cutting of the trees until this issue has been cleared up. Swales said the Findings adopted by the Planning Commission expired on May 15, 2000. As far as he knows there has been no building permit issued.
Gardiner noted that oftentimes the Planning Commission defers to the City Attorney for his interpretation of ordinances.
PLANNING ACTION 2001-053
REQUEST FOR FINAL PLAN APPROVAL AND SITE REVIEW FOR PHASE I OF CLEAR CREEK VILLAGELOCATED OFF HERSEY STREET AND THE NEWLY CONSTRUCTED CLEAR CREEK DRIVE. VARIANCE REQUEST TO THE CITY CONTROLLED ACCESS STANDARDS TO PERMIT A DISTANCE OF LESS THAN 75 FEET BETWEEN DRIVEWAYS ALONG HERSEY STREET.
APPLICANT: JOHN FIELDS
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all. Kistler did the plan for one of the building projects. He does not have a monetary interest and feels he can be unbiased in his review.
Molnar said this application involves Final Plan approval and Site Review approval for four buildings. The application also involves a Variance for the City’s Controlled Access. The applicable criteria have been mailed to affected property owners. This is Phase I of a multi-phase project.
Final Plan approval includes primarily engineering to extend private utility systems into these three development areas as well as grading plans to establish the floor levels of the buildings. The initial engineering of the earlier partition included engineering on the construction of a ten foot wide multi-use public bicycle and pedestrian pathway. The construction of that pathway has been deferred until the development of this phase.
There was a storm water study done by Dew Engineering because a specific condition of Outline Plan approval was to ensure that the ponding system in the wetland could accommodate a 25 year storm. The recommendations have been incorporated in the plan. The storm water runoff from the parking and driveways will generally be directed to a 12 inch storm drain line in Hersey Street and clean runoff will be directed into the wetland ponding system. Public Works has reviewed the plan and found it acceptable. The Storm Water Master Plan noted the inadequate capacity of the storm drain line on Hersey Street and the City, in time, mitigate that problem by enhancing the small drainage and create a ponding system.
The Site Review for the project involves one two-story mixed use building on Hersey Street. The driveway to the side is directed to a parking area that accommodates 20 parking spaces. The second floor of the building will have two residential apartments. A landscaping plan is provided in conjunction with the Site Review that shows the landscaping of the parking area and shade trees too.
The other aspect of the Site Review involves the middle lot area (Bldgs. B1 & B2). One building is a multi-story live/work residential townhome. The other floor has a ground floor commercial and two residential units above. The Final Site Review approval involves a mixed use building up along Clear Creek Drive with multiple entrances toward Clear Creek Drive. The ground floor will be a commercial use and three residential units.
The application also asks for a driveway spacing variance. They are requesting to place the driveway approximately 32 feet away from an existing driveway approach that serves the Darex Corporation. The applicant states several arguments stating why they feel the variance is justified. They noted high exposure to EMF fields resulting from the undergrounding of an overhead power line in the 20 foot public utility easement. The narrow configuration of a lot restricts where the building can be placed, giving only two options for placement of the driveway. They felt it was a design advantage to have the building relate directly to the wetland and have west facing windows that look out on the wetland. It allows the upper story residential units to be placed further away from Darex and closer to the wetland. By moving the driveway closer to the wetland, it allows for a slight jog in the ten foot wide multi-use path that jogs around some power poles and allows it intersect Hersey Street between the two driveways.
Molnar said there is a good mix of material on the outside buildings. Buildings in the center take on more of a residential character with hipped or gabled roof and the use of siding and stucco material.
Staff is pleased with the design of the project. They feel the use and change in materials of the structure really show the long-lasting duration of the buildings proposed.
With regard to the Variance, the driveway has always been a challenge due to the narrow configuration. The spacing standards do try to keep spacing to around 75 feet. Their overall goal is to try to reduce the number of driveway approaches on Hersey Street. It works out to about one driveway approach for every 230 feet. Staff still feels comfortable with the number of driveways that ultimately will be determined and the traffic volume coming from the driveways. Staff feels the package present mitigates the Variance request.
Staff has recommended approval of the project with the attached 15 conditions.
ALEX FORESTER, 545 A Street, Alex Forester Associates
JEROME WHITE, architect
DOYLE BRIGHTENBURG, designer
Gardiner has concerns about the slope of the new driveway in comparison to the entrance to Darex. White said the grading has been adjusted so the driveway has a steady slope to the sidewalk. Forester said by eliminating any parking between the two driveways, it tends to slow the traffic down where the bikes are coming and will serve to create a clear vision distance between those driveways. The bumpout comes right out to the bike lane. White said the driveway grade is 1.6 percent.
Gardiner asked about emergency access from Clear Creek Drive. Forester said there is a double emergency access. There is an emergency access easement with gates provided through Lot A. Emergency vehicles can access the building from either direction or both directions. There are fire hydrants on either side that can be utilized.
Briggs asked about the applicant’s commitment to affordable housing. White said he thought Fields was going to be working on affordable housing in another phase of the project. Molnar explained a pre-application conference has been held on Parcel 6 involving John Fields, Ashland Community Land Trust, and Kids Space. They are proposing six affordable apartment units. They are looking at a number of different partners and funding sources to make the project work.
Briggs suggested adding a Condition 16 mentioning the trash and recycling areas be provided and screened from the public street.
COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION & MOTION
Amarotico and Kistler liked the project, however, were not certain that the criteria for a Variance (unique and unusual circumstances) has been met, particularly the EMF exposure. Gardiner has concerns about allowing a Variance, however, his reason for granting the Variance will be the orientation of the building to the wetlands and also spacing of the residential portion and industrial portion that he finds appealing. Chapman does not want to grant a Variance based on EMF’s, but he can agree with Gardiner.
Molnar said in the Conclusions, Findings and Orders, Staff primarily pointed toward the configuration of the lot and the constraints with its proximity to the wetlands as justification for the Variance.
Amarotico moved to approve PA2001-053 with the attached 16 Conditions. Chapman seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Study Session – Harris is trying to schedule a public meeting for the Downtown Plan Phase II on June 21st or 26th.
ADJOURNMENT– The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 p.m.