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Planning Commission Special Mtg

Minutes
Tuesday, January 24, 2012




ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
SPECIAL MEETING
MINUTES
January 24, 2012

 
 
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
Richard Kaplan
Pam Marsh
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
 
     
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
    Russ Silbiger, absent
 
 
ANNOUCEMENTS
Commissioner Marsh announced Mick Churchís resignation from the Commission and encouraged interested citizens to submit applications to the Mayorís office.
 
PUBLIC FORUM
Winston Freedman/Voiced his appreciation for the new bicycle repair station located downtown.
 
Zach Brombacher/Voiced concern with the lighting on Siskiyou Blvd. Mr. Brombacher stated the lighting makes it difficult to see, especially in foggy or rainy conditions, and stated this type of passive lighting is dangerous.
 
Commissioner Heesacker noted the Transportation Commission is aware of this problem and have discussed this issue in the past. Several commissioners voiced agreement with Mr. Brombacherís concerns and stated they have noticed this as well.
 
UNFINISHED BUSINESS
A.  
Approval of Findings for PA-2011-01576, 1554 Webster (SOU North Campus Village). 

Ex Parte Contact
No ex parte contact was reported.
 
Commissioner Marsh noted staffís suggested adjustments to Condition #7i and the Pedestrian Overcrossing/Undercrossing language on page 17.
 
Commissioner Dawkins commented on the crosswalks by the university and re-lighting that area. Commissioner Marsh clarified at the public hearing the Commission directed the Transportation Commission to address the issues of lighting and signage.  Mr. Molnar added the Public Works Department will also be evaluating the lighting when the associated improvements for the SOU student housing go in.
 
Commissioners Dawkins/Kaplan m/s to approve the Findings for #PA-2011-01576 with the revisions presented by staff.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
 
PUBLIC HEARINGS
A.  
PLANNING ACTION: #2011-01174
DESCRIPTION: A public hearing to review the ordinance amendments that were recently adopted as part of the Pedestrian Places project. The zoning the land use ordinance associated with the Pedestrian Places project were approved by the City Council on November 15, 2011 and went into effect on December 16, 2011. Subsequent to the approval, the City Council directed the Planning Commission to re-review those ordinance amendments that apply to the Detail Site Review Zone and citywide, and make recommendations to the Council for changes as appropriate.

Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the City Council adopted the Pedestrian Places ordinance package back in November; however, subsequent to their decision the Council indicated they did not understand the complete breadth of where the changes apply, and directed staff to bring this back before the Planning Commission for discussion and review. Mr. Molnar provided some background on this project and stated the recommendations that came out of the public meetings included: 1) increasing the FAR (Floor Area Ratio), 2) establishing a maximum building setback, 3) providing greater flexibility to the parking standards, and 4) allowing a percentage of the required landscaping to be used for plaza spaces. He stated as this project proceeded there was realization that these code adjustments were not just beneficial in creating pedestrian places, but had merit for the rest of the City as well. Mr. Molnar stated this is the Commissionís opportunity to take another look at the changes that were made and either validate or recommend changes to the ordinances adopted by the City Council. 
 
Staff Report
Planning Manager Maria Harris stated the purpose of the Pedestrian Places project is to support the development of small, walkable nodes that provide concentrations of housing and businesses grouped in a way to encourage more walking, cycling, and transit trips; and provided a summary of the ordinance amendments by location.
 
Amendments that apply city wide:

18.68.050 Arterial Street Setback Requirements.
The previous standard required an approximately 20-foot front yard setback along arterial roads. The new standard requires a 20-foot yard or a setback equal to the width required to install sidewalk improvements, whichever is less.

18.72.090 Exception to the Site Design and Use Standards.
The previous standard included four approval criteria. The new standard describes the same four criteria but also allows an exception for proposals that will result in a design that equally or better achieves the stated purpose of the Site Design and Use Standards.

18.92.050 Parking Management Strategies.
The previous standard allowed, through the implementation of specific strategies, up to a 35% reduction in required parking, and up to 50% in a Historic District. Through the implementation of specific strategies, the new standard allows up to a 50% reduction in the required parking and permits the City to require a study by a qualified professional to provide justification for offsets in parking demand, access, circulation and other transportation impacts.

18.92.050 On-Street Parking Credit.
The previous standard allowed one off-street parking space credit for every two on-street spaces; 24 feet of uninterrupted curb for parallel parking; and 13 feet of uninterrupted curb for 45 degree diagonal parking. The new standard allows one off-street parking space credit for every one on-street parking space; 22 feet of uninterrupted curb for parallel parking; and 12 feet of uninterrupted curb for 45 degree diagonal parking.

18.92.050 Alternative Vehicle Parking.
This is a new standard and allows alternative vehicle parking facilities to be substituted for up to 25% of the required parking spaces on site.

18.92.050 Shared Parking.
This is a new standard and allows one off-street parking credit for every space constructed in a designated, off-site shared parking area, or payment in-lieu-of-parking fees for a common parking area.

18.92.050 TDM Plan Credit.
This is a new standard and allows implementation of a TDM Plan that demonstrates a reduction of long term parking demand by a percentage equal to the credit requested.

18.92.050 Transit Facilities Credit.
This is a new standard and allows projects that require at least 20 spaces and abut a street with transit service to be eligible for a 10% reduction in parking through the implementation of specific requirements.

18.92.080 Addressing Environmental and Microclimatic Impacts of Surface Parking.
This standard previously applied just to the Croman Mill zone but now applies City wide and requires that parking areas of more than seven spaces to meet the specified standards.

18.92.080 Site Circulation.
This is a new standard and requires new development to provide a circulation system that accommodates expected traffic on the site, with street-like features such as sidewalks, accessible curb ramps, trees and pedestrian scale lighting.

18.92.090 Pedestrian Access and Circulation.
This is a new standard requires projects to design a walkway system through the project that address specific criteria, and sets standards for walkway design and construction.
 
Amendments that apply to the Pedestrian Overlay and Detail Site Review Zone:


Minimum Floor Area Ratio.
The previous standard listed a minimum .35 FAR and maximum .5 FAR. The new standard sets a .5 minimum FAR and no maximum. In addition, an allowance is added for a shadow plan to phase in the FAR requirement for projects including existing buildings or greater than Ĺ acre.

Building Setback from Sidewalk.
The previous standard required a building setback or no more than 20 feet from a public sidewalk unless the area is used for pedestrian activities. The new standard requires a building setback of no more than 5 feet from a public sidewalk, unless the area is used for pedestrian activities or for a required public utility easement.

Landscape Buffer.
The previous standard required a 10-foot wide buffer between buildings and the street, except in the Historic Districts. The new standard requires a 10-foot wide buffer except in the Historic District and Detail Site Review Zone.
 
Amendments that only apply to the Pedestrian Overlay:


Section 18.56.040 Special Permitted Uses.
This is a new standard that allows commercial uses up to 2,500 sq. ft. in residential zones in the Pedestrian Overlay if minimum housing density requirements are met.

Section 18.56.040 Solar Setback.
The previous standard requires new buildings and additions to meet the solar access setback which limits the height of the shadow cast by the building and therefore limits the height of the building. The new standard states solar access setbacks only apply to new buildings and additions which have residential zones to the north.
 

Section 18.56.040 Plazas and Landscaping Ratio.
This is a new standard that states outdoor seating areas, plazas and other useable paved surfaces may count for up to 50% of the required landscape area.
 
Questions for Staff
Ms. Harris briefly reviewed the questions submitted by Commissioner Miller and provided clarification to her inquiries regarding parking lot requirements, solar access setbacks, and arterial setbacks. Commissioner Dawkins requested they have a separate discussions for each arterial street. He also raised concern with the circulation requirements and questioned whether they should require sidewalks and wider streets in all new developments. Commissioner Mindlin agreed with Dawkins and recommended they look at what sections of the arterials have a 20 ft setback and which ones have another definition that applies. Commissioner Miller expressed concern with no maximum FAR. Mr. Molnar clarified landscaping, height and parking requirements still apply, and these standards will ultimately prohibit buildings and developments from getting too large. Comment was made expressing concern with changing the minimum FAR to .5 in the Detail Site Review Zone.
 
Public Testimony
Zach Brombacher/Requested clarification on whether his property is within the Pedestrian Places zone.
 
Mr. Molnar informed Mr. Brombacher that his property is not within the Pedestrian Places Overlay; however the frontage of the property is still within the Detail Site Review Zone.
 
Deliberations/Decision
Commissioner Marsh requested the commissioners list which items they want to discuss further. Alternative Vehicle Parking, Addressing Surface Parking Impacts, Circulation Requirements, Solar Access Setbacks, and Arterial Setbacks were listed for further discussion.
 
Alternative Vehicle Parking
It was questioned whether smart cars or golf carts were considered for the alternative parking standards. Ms. Harris stated the standard applies to motorcycle, scooter and bicycle parking, and further research would need to be done to figure out a standard for alternative vehicles. She added the ordinance is a living document and as technology and use of these types of vehicles improves, they can revisit this provision.
 
Addressing Impacts of Surface Parking
Ms. Harris clarified this standard applies to parking areas of more than seven spaces. Comment was made expressing concern with the standard that states at least 50% shade from the tree canopy over the parking area shall be provided within five years of project occupancy. Ms. Harris stated this particular standard is one of four options applicants can choose. She added this standard was taken from LEED and could be something staff tracks to ensure 50% coverage in five years is feasible.
 
Circulation Requirements
Commissioner Dawkins recommended at some point the Commission hold a discussion about whether to impose sidewalk requirements on all new developments. Recommendation was made for this to be discussed during the Commissionís annual retreat.
 
Commissioner Mindlin voiced her concerns to this standard. She stated these circulation requirements previously only applied to large scale developments and questioned whether they should be imposing this level of construction for modest developments. Staff clarified this language was taken from the Stateís model code for small communities and believes the language does provide flexibility for smaller parking areas. Commissioner Mindlin stated she is reading this language differently and restated her concerns. Ms. Harris stated this language was intended to address the issue of not being able to get to and through the site if you are not in a vehicle. Comment was made that we are moving towards a more multi-modal environment and expressing support for requirements that provide pedestrian access through developments. Suggestion was made for staff to provide examples of how this standard would impact smaller developments.
 
Solar Access Setbacks
Comment was made expressing concern that buildings will be placed too close together and solar access will not be possible. Staff clarified this standard only applies in the Pedestrian Place Overlay and will not be an issue for properties who have a street to the north.
 
Arterial Setbacks
Commissioner Dawkins stated this topic has been on the Commissionís to-do list for some time now and recommended this standard be addressed specifically for each arterial. Commissioner Mindlin stated her main concern with applying this standard across the board is a lack of understanding about what they are actually doing. Mr. Molnar clarified the Commission does not have to rush this back to the Council and the Commission could hold additional discussions about the arterials.
 
Commissioner Marsh stated the arterial setbacks and the circulation requirement standards would come back before the Commission for further discussion. She asked with the exception of these two items, is the group supportive of the remaining changes implemented through the Pedestrian Places ordinance packet? By show of hands, the group agreed to endorse the remaining items.
 
Commissioner Marsh announced the public hearing on the Pedestrian Places ordinance amendments will be continued to the February 14, 2012 Planning Commission meeting.
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m.
Respectfully submitted, April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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