Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Study Session

Minutes
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

 

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

STUDY SESSION

MINUTES

March 29, 2011

 

CALL TO ORDER

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

 

Commissioners Present:

 

Staff Present:

Larry Blake

Michael Dawkins

Pam Marsh

Melanie Mindlin

John Rinaldi, Jr.

 

Bill Molnar, Community Development Director

Maria Harris, Planning Manager

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

 

 

Brent Thompson, Transportation Commissioner

Julia Sommer, Transportation Commissioner

 

Absent Members:

 

Council Liaison:

Debbie Miller

 

Russ Silbiger

 

PRESENTATION OF DRAFT CONCEPT PLANS

Tom Litster with OTAK provided a short presentation that covered: 1) Pedestrian Place characteristics, 2) Pedestrian Places integration with the Transportation System Plan (TSP) update, and 3) Zoning updates and concept plans. He explained Pedestrian Places typically have a concentration of pedestrian activity, nearby work and living opportunities, and a good public realm of streets and buildings. Mr. Litster clarified they are not trying to create car-free zones, but rather provide the opportunity for people to be without a car if they choose to. He noted the on-going TSP update and stated this project shares similar objectives with the TSP, including changing travel patterns away from autos, higher levels of transit service, innovative street enhancement projects, and coordinating public and private actions. Additionally, the two projects share complementary growth objectives, including affordable and mixed income housing, larger-scale planning, green building and site development practices, efficient use of land and infrastructure, and sustainable growth within the City’s urban growth boundary.

 

Mr. Litster reviewed the concept plans for the North Mountain Avenue/East Main Street, Walker Avenue/Ashland Street, and Tolman Creek Road/Ashland Street intersections. He noted there is already a fair amount of pedestrian activity in these areas and these concept plans will enhance that. He stressed that these are only concept plans, not actual development proposals, and several components (including a more robust market, a willing seller, and a willing buyer who wants to develop the parcel consistent with the plan) will need to come together before development occurs.

 

Mr. Litster recommended the Commission consider a Pedestrian Places Overlay Zone, which could include reduced parking standards, increased FARs (floor are ratios), maximum building setbacks, minimum building heights, and revised landscape requirements. He also commented on implementation strategies, and stressed the importance of understanding the different public, private, and joint roles.

 

Comment was made questioning how long Mr. Litster anticipates it will be before redevelopment starts to occur. Mr. Litster noted the TSP will identify Capital Improvement Projects that are consistent with the objectives of the Pedestrian Places plan, and those City projects could happen within the next several years. In terms of redevelopment projects, he stated it depends on what happens in the real estate and financing markets, but it will probably be 5-10 years before projects start coming forward.

 

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Chris Hearn/515 East Main St/Stated he is speaking on behalf of IPCO Development, which is a family owned business that owns several tax lots near one of the study areas. Mr. Hearn stated they have concerns with the plan, including worries that this plan will make some of the infrastructure they have put in obsolete, or need to be redone; and that the plan may make it more difficult for these properties to develop. He questioned what the net impact would be on IPCO when they try to develop under the new standards, and what hurdles will they need to overcome as they try to develop their industrial and employment land. Mr. Hearn noted the importance of having industrial areas in the City, and stated the concept plan for the Tolman Creek Rd/Ashland St intersection could make it difficult for truck deliveries.

 

Baback Khosroabadi/Stated he is representing the Texaco station at Exit 14 and the Shell station at Walker and Siskiyou Blvd. Mr. Khosroabadi stated although this is a great concept, he does not see this as something that will benefit his business and expressed concern with eminent domain. He questioned the need for this project and stated their Texaco station is on the outskirts of town near the I-5 entrance, and there is not much pedestrian traffic or housing opportunities in this area. Mr. Khosroabadi noted they provide local jobs to members of the community and stated they will support this as long as it does not encroach on their businesses.

 

Ken Khosroabadi/Expressed concern that this project will affect his small business and stated they have already lost part of their property to the bridge expansion. He stated when it comes to the public right-of-way, he has no say in what happens, and stated if anymore property is taken he will be unable to run his business.

 

Marsh clarified at this point there is no development proposal on the table. She stated they are discussing conceptual drawings and very broad design ideas for what might happen at these locations in the future, and certainly there has been no talk of eminent domain.

 

Joanne Kliejunas/Commended the Commission for taking this on and is excited to hear this will be moving forward in interim ways. Ms. Kliejunas stated she lives above the university and suggested an informal ride sharing program aimed at residents who live above the boulevard. She noted the difficultly in getting people out of their cars because it is not feasible to get back up the hill on foot, and recommended during this interim period they consider doing things that are aimed at providing transportation for people who are interested in walking down.

 

Lisa Ware/Commented on pedestrians at the Tolman Creek/Ashland St intersection. Ms. Ware stated she is a pedestrian by choice and noted the increased pedestrian traffic at this intersection. She stated there is a strong need to improve this area for pedestrians and voiced surprise that there have not been more accidents at this location, especially given the number of seniors living nearby and crossing the road. 

 

Steve Meister/Market of Choice/Voiced concern with how trucks will access his business if this plan is implemented and noted that he has deliveries every day. He voiced his objections to the festival street concept and stated he does not believe this will work and questioned how they could close a street down and not let delivery trucks in or out. Instead, he suggested redeveloping the trailer park into a festival area with a pedestrian connection that joins his shopping center to the Ashland Shopping Center.

 

Mark Knox/485 W Nevada/Stated a lot of the basic principles proposed in the concept plans are in place now in other areas of town. He voiced support for reduced parking standards and increasing minimum density standards to address population increases within our current urban growth boundary. Mr. Knox recognized the concerns from businesses and recommended the Commission include exception language. He also recommended they utilize this strategy on at least five other intersections in town, including Siskiyou/Mountain, Bellview/Siskiyou, Siskiyou/Sherman, E Main/Walker and Helman/Nevada. Mr. Knox stated he is very supportive of these concepts and stated these types of plans are an asset to property owners and gives them a blueprint of what the City would like to see.

 

Chris Hearn/Added a final concern that often conceptual things on a plan tend to turn into something much more permanent. He stated the concept plan shows opportunities for future connections through his client’s property and he voiced their objections to taking away property for this road.

 

ADDITIONAL COMMISSIONER COMMENTS

Commissioner Dawkins questioned the addition of safety islands, specifically at Ashland/Tolman Creek, and stated he has not seen this in the TSP materials. Ms. Harris noted there is a pedestrian crossing enhancement indentified for that location, and Mr. Litster stated he would ensure the members of his team are aware of Dawkins’ concern.

 

Commissioner Mindlin commented that the work they are doing is important for the longer term, and they are trying to be very forward thinking and lay the groundwork for a world where people drive less. She stated they need to consider a future where families might not have cars at all, or only one, and how they will address their needs. Mindlin commented on the importance of green space for higher density residential developments, and asked if this plan would impact those standards. Ms. Harris clarified there is currently an 8% open space requirement for multi-family developments, and these plans are not proposing to change that. She added, however, there is a suggestion in the plan to allow required landscaped areas to include hardscape areas.

 

Comment was made questioning where they go next with the zoning suggestions. Mr. Molnar stated if the Commission agrees, staff will take this information and put it into a format that is compatible with our land use ordinance and other implementing documents, and bring this back to the Planning Commission in a format that could be adopted. He added the existing zoning districts would stay in place, and clarified what they will be looking at is fine tuning some of the language to allow for greater flexibility. Ms. Harris added one of the first steps will be making revisions to the land use ordinance to make it more possible for the types of things outlined in the concept plans to occur.

 

Commissioner Marsh asked if there is general agreement in pursuing the changes recommended in this report. Rinaldi voiced his support. Mindlin agreed and stated the basic requirements for the overlay zone seem fairly minor and easy to adopt.

 

Transportation Commissioner Thompson commented on modifying the code language so these types of development are easier to occur, and voiced his support to implementing the suggested code changes. Thompson suggested the Commission consider reducing the on-street parking credit to 21 feet, and also suggested a 36 ft height limit for structures in the Historic District. Thompson stated the overlay zone is a great idea and they may want to consider extending it, and also encouraged the Planning Commission to implement smaller fixes that will result in a bigger change in the City over time.

 

Mr. Litster agreed that these are modest steps, and noted this is the beginning of the conversation, not the end. He added there is also a difference between allowing and requiring.

 

Commissioner Marsh indicated there seems to be general agreement that they would like staff to pursue this and work towards implementation. She recommended they consider having a separate discussion on just the parking issue, and noted there may be elements in this plan that they want to apply citywide.

 

ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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