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Planning Commission

Minutes
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
October 11, 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:
Michael Dawkins
Eric Heesacker
Pam Marsh
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
 
     
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Mick Church   Russ Silbiger, absent
 
 
ANNOUCEMENTS
Community Development Director Bill Molnar stated the City Council has passed first reading on an ordinance that clarifies commission quorum requirements. He stated second reading with happen on October 18 and the ordinance will go into effect on November 18. Mr. Molnar explained the Council has determined a “quorum” to mean more than half of the total authorized members. To this end, he stated the Planning Commission will need a minimum of 5 members present to hold a meeting once the ordinance goes into effect.
 
It was noted the Commission has previously discussed changing its membership from 9 to 7 members. The Commission discussed their preferences and Commissioner Dawkins was appointed to speak with the Mayor and find out what they need to do to make the change to 7 members.  
 
CONSENT AGENDA

  1. Approval of Minutes.
  2. September 13, 2011 Regular Meeting.
 
Commissioners Dawkins/Miller m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 4-0. [Marsh abstained]
 
PUBLIC FORUM
No one came forward to speak.
 
TYPE III PUBLIC HEARINGS

  1. PLANNING ACTION: #2011-01174                     
DESCRIPTION: A proposal to amend the zoning map and Ashland Land Use Ordinance (ALUO) to create a Pedestrian Places Overlay Zone and accompanying ordinance amendments designed to support and build unique neighborhood character by promoting concentrations of housing and businesses grouped in a way to support more walking, bicycling and transit use.
 
Staff Report
Planning Manager Maria Harris provided a presentation on the Pedestrian Places project. She explained the goal is to encourage the development of small, walkable nodes that provide concentrations of housing and businesses grouped in a way to encourage walking, cycling, and transit use. She stated this project looked at how we can improve the land use ordinance to support the development of these places and also what kinds of transportation projects are necessary. She stated the Transportation System Plan (TSP) Update is looking at the transportation component, and the focus of the Planning Commission has been on revisions to the zoning and land use ordinance. She stated our consultants conducted a review of the Ashland Land Use Code and found the existing design standards are largely supportive of transit oriented development and are pedestrian oriented; however they did have some recommendations including creating a pedestrian places overlay and to amend the land use ordinance in five key areas: 1) increase the allowable Floor to Area Ratio (FAR), 2) decrease the maximum building setback, 3) require a minimum building height, 4) revise the landscape requirements, and 5) reduce the parking requirements.
 
Ms. Harris stated the packet contains four ordinances that break down these pieces and stated the three locations chosen for this project are: 1) North Mountain and East Main, 2) Walker and Ashland, and 3) Tolman Creek and Ashland. She added these areas were chosen in part because they all have development or redevelopment potential and clarified if the community would like to apply this concept in other areas of town the overlay ordinance can be tailored to accommodate this.
 
Ms. Harris reviewed the overlay map and proposed land use code amendments. She commented on the concept plans and clarified the circulation opportunity maps are not proposed to be adopted in this package and are being coordinated through the TSP process. Ms. Harris provided a recap of the actions and outreach that have led up to this public hearing and stated tonight staff is asking the Planning Commission to make their final recommendation to the City Council.
 
Public Testimony
Commissioner Marsh noted the letter submitted by CSA Planning and Ms. Harris was asked to provide a brief summary of the issues raised.
 
Don Blaser/1800 Rogue River Dr, Eagle Point/Stated he represents Summit Investments, who own a collection of properties including BiMart and Shop ‘n Kart. He stated the owners are in the process of determining whether to undertake a major revitalization project and a big part of that decision will depend on whether they can sustain a working relationship with the City. He stated they have engaged CSA Planning to assure their future revitalization project will be consistent with Ashland’s plans. He noted CSA Planning has submitted comments into the record and hopes the items listed will be addressed.
 
Jay Harland/4497 Brownridge Terrace, Medford/CSA Planning/Spoke regarding the issues raised in his letter, including:
Street Cross Sections– Mr. Harland recommended eliminating the street cross-sections in the concept illustrations and inserting a reference to the applicable TSP section instead.
Maximum Setback– Mr. Harland stated they do not object to the policy objective but believe a 5-foot setback is overly aggressive and could create conflicts with public utility easements. He suggested a 10-foot setback was more appropriate and would still accomplish the policy objective.
Floor Area Ratio– Mr. Harland stated their main question is “what is a shadow plan?” and recommended they better describe what this is and the intent.
Parking Management Strategy– Recommended the transit facility parking credit connect to the TSP and not be tied to RVTD’s service frequency.
Contiguous Parking Areas– Stated properly measuring a third of an acre for a site plan could be challenging and recommended they use the language from Section II (C-2c) of the Detail Design Standards which has a clearer way of addressing the same design objective.
Overall, Mr. Harland stated they are supportive of the proposed changes and stated the reorganization makes it much more readable and usable.
 
Chris Hearn/515 E Main Street/Stated he is speaking on behalf of IPCO and the Brombacher family. Mr. Hearn noted he has expressed their concerns at previous meetings and agreed with the issues raised by the previous speaker. Mr. Hearn noted most of the Brombacher’s property has been removed from the proposed overlay, and understands the road connections will be addressed during the TSP process. He stated their remaining concerns are: 1) how will the new standards impact the DMV building and it’s tenants should they want to expand in the future, and 2) asked whether a strip of the Brombacher’s land is included in the overlay zone or whether the overlay map line matches up with the property line.
 
Commissioner Marsh closed the public hearing at 8:00 p.m.
 
Ms. Harris commented on the questions raised by Mr. Hearn. In terms of the DMV property, she explained this land is already inside the Detail Site Review Zone and therefore is already subject to those standards. She stated the DMV office is considered a nonconforming building and if an expansion takes places, whatever percentage the building is increased an equal percentage of the site must be brought into conformance with the current standards. Regarding the IPCO property, staff clarified the final plan shows tax lot 500 outside of the pedestrian overlay.
 
Commissioner Marsh noted the email submitted into the record from Janet Rueger and summarized her comments.
 
Deliberations & Decisions
Commissioner Marsh recommended they make a list of the items they wish to discuss. Parking Lot Size, Transit Service issue, Defining a Shadow Plan, and Setbacks were identified for discussion.
 
Divide Parking Areas
Ms. Harris clarified this language comes from the State’s model code and requires parking lots that are larger than 50 spaces to be broken up and listed ways this could be accomplished. No objections were voiced to the language as proposed.
 
Transit Facilities Credit
Ms. Harris explained a more frequent level of transit service could warrant a reduction in required parking spaces, and inversely if you have infrequent transit service customers will likely drive to the location and therefore sufficient parking should be provided. She stated if the Commission does not agree with this concept they have the ability to modify or remove this language. Commissioner Marsh questioned whether they want to allow transit services to be built in lieu of parking in locations where there isn’t some minimal transit service to begin with. Commissioner Heesacker commented that he does not support eliminating parking based on some aspiration of future potential service. Staff clarified this is a maximum 10% reduction, so a 20-space requirement could be reduced to 18 spaces. The Commission discussed what would happen if transit services are decreased after an application is submitted. It was agreed that the intent is that if an application is submitted at a time when the transit is provided, then the applicant should not be penalized if this changes during the processing of their application.
 
Shadow Plans and FARs
Suggestion was made to add clarifying language that better explains the intent of a shadow plan is to show that the proposed development will not prevent the full build out of the lot. Commissioner Marsh questioned if they should outright require .5 FAR, instead of allowing development that does not meet a .5 FAR initially, which is how the language is currently written. Recommendation was made to require vacant lots to be built to the .5 FAR standard, but allow existing properties to develop over time as long as they are moving more towards conforming. General support was voiced to this concept.
 
Setbacks
The Commission discussed whether a 5-foot setback is too narrow. Staff clarified this is the distance between the sidewalk and the front of the building, not the distance between the building and the street. Commissioner Dawkins voiced his preference to either increase the setback or have no setback at all. He added 5 feet is not enough room to accommodate plantings. Commissioner Marsh stated their goal is to encourage pedestrians and to do this you need to be able to see inside windows and feel the protection of the building.
 
Final Comments
Commissioner Dawkins explained why he believes the Tolman Creek/Ashland intersection should be removed from the Pedestrian Places project. He stated this is not an appropriate location for a pedestrian place because it is so close to the freeway and stated this area will continue to be auto-centric simply because of its location. Comment was made that if the Croman property develops as planned this will further impact the truck traffic into that area. Commissioner Heesacker questioned removing this area from the plan this late in the process and asked if there would be backlash from the neighbors. Commissioner Marsh disagreed with removing this area from the plan and stated there is tremendous potential for this area and noted the huge residential areas surrounding this intersection; however in order to move this forward, she suggested they compromise and include the properties on the west side of the intersection only.
 
Commissioners Miller/Mindlin m/s amend the Tolman Creek/Ashland concept drawings to include only the properties on the west side of Tolman Creek. DISCUSSION: Ms. Harris asked them to consider how people will move from north to south, and east to west. She explained this project is not just about land use but about the circulation of that intersection as a whole. Commissioner Marsh suggested including the intersection in the plan so that the public improvements can still take place. Commissioners Miller/Mindlin m/s to amend motion to include the four corners of the intersection. Roll Call Vote on motion as amended: Commissioners Dawkins, Heesacker, Miller, Mindlin, and Marsh, YES. Motion passed
5-0.
 
Commissioners Mindlin/Miller m/s to recommend adoption of the Pedestrian Places Overlay Zone and four ordinances with the change to the Tolman Creek/Ashland intersection plan and the amendment to the FAR requirement to state on vacant lots with new development there is a .5 FAR standard, and on redevelopment projects that are nonconforming there is a shadow plan requirement showing that the .5 FAR can be met over time. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Miller, Heesacker, Dawkins, Mindlin, and Marsh, YES. Motion passed 5-0.
 

  1. PLANNING ACTION: #2011-01175     
DESCRIPTION: A proposal to amend the Ashland Land Use Ordinance including Development Standards for Wireless Communication Facilities in Chapter 18.72. The proposed code amendments are intended to reflect the Council’s interpretation and application of collocation provisions reflected in their decision of a wireless communication facility in November 2010 (PA #2009-01244).
Planning Manager Maria Harris stated the ordinance before the Commission amends AMC Chapter 18.72 to solidify the Council’s decision that: 1) the Preferred Designs section is intended to outline a stepped hierarchy in which an application must demonstrate the collocation standard is not feasible before moving on to the next design option, 2) feasibility is defined to mean a substantial showing that a design option is not capable of being done, rather than an applicant stating it would be difficult to make use of an alternative, and 3) the collocation study submitted with the application must demonstrate the applicant made a reasonable effort to locate other potential collocation sites that meet the applicant’s service objectives and clearly identifies why alternate sites are not feasible. In addition, Ms. Harris stated in response to the proposals put forward by Rod Newton and James Fong, the ordinance includes a submittal requirement for a third party analysis if the applicant is asking to not collocate, and the person or agency conducting this analysis must be approved by the Community Development Director.
 
Public Testimony
James Fong/759 Leonardand Rod Newton/1651 Siskiyou Blvd/Mr. Fong and Mr. Newton voiced support for the proposed ordinance, but recommended amending Section 18.72.180.D(3.i) to read “a significant service gap in coverage sufficient enough to prevent the City from meeting its requirements under the 1996 Telecommunications Act.”Mr. Fong stated inserting this language adds clarity and believes it would add protection to the City. In addition, Mr. Fong stated he supports the language regarding the third party analysis but voiced concern with whether this creates sufficient separation since the applicant would be paying the consultant. Other than these two items, support was voiced for the proposed ordinance and Mr. Fong and Mr. Newton thanked staff and the Commission for their work on this.
 
Deliberations & Decisions
Staff was asked to comment on why they did not tie the ordinance to the Federal Communications act. Ms. Harris explained staff consulted with the City Attorney and the primary reasons for not doing this are: 1) it would necessitate everyone involved with the action (applicant, staff, Planning Commission, neighbors) to be familiar with the act, 2) the City’s standards should be clear and objective; putting them back on a Federal Act could be confusing for the applicants and those involved in the process, and 3) the Telecommunications Act is vague and is a moving bar tied to recent case law. Mr. Molnar stated the Council will likely grapple with this issue, and for this hearing staff wanted to stay within the charge they were given by the Council.
 
The Commission asked staff to “red flag” the concern about impartiality and how the third party is chosen, and agreed to let the City Council and City Attorney work through this item.  
 
Commissioners Miller/Dawkins m/s to recommend approval of the ordinance and to red flag the professional third party verification requirement for the Council’s discussion. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Heesacker, Miller, Mindlin, and Marsh, YES. Motion passed 5-0.
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
 
Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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