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Planning Commission

Minutes
Tuesday, April 10, 2012



ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
 MINUTES
April 10, 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
Melanie Mindlin
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Amy Gunter, Assistant Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
 
     
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Debbie Miller, absent   Dennis Slattery, absent
 
 
ANNOUCEMENTS
Commissioner Marsh noted the annual appointment process is coming up and Commissioners Mindlin and Dawkins have requested reappointment. She added one vacancy remains and is hopeful a new member will be appointed. Marsh announced the TSP subcommittee and joint meeting schedules; and reminded the group that their Annual Retreat is Saturday, May 5.
 
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the Unified Land Use Project will come forward at the next Study Session and the Commission should also have enough time to discuss Retreat topics.
 
Commissioner Mindlin requested an update on the “chicken ordinance”. Mr. Molnar stated the Council did not hear this item at their last meeting and it will come back on April 17. He added per Council’s direction at first reading, staff is presenting revised language that would allow up to 20 chickens for larger lots.
 
Commissioner Mindlin stated she presented the Commission’s Pedestrian Places Memo to the City Council and noted the Council initially questioned whether the North Main arterial should be changed given the Commission’s concerns with this area. Mr. Molnar stated Commissioner Mindlin did a great job responding to the Council’s questions and they seemed happy with the Planning Commission’s work.
 
CONSENT AGENDA
A. 
Approval of Minutes.
  1. March 13, 2012 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Dawkins/Mindlin m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 5-0.
 
PUBLIC FORUM
Colin Swales/143 Eighth Street/Stated no one from the community testified at the Historic or Planning Commissions public hearings on the Historic District Design Standards Update, and requested the City send additional notice to affected property owners prior to the Council hearing. Mr. Swales also commented on the upcoming Unified Land Use Ordinance project and stated it is the decision process that needs to be streamlined.
 
Mr. Swales was asked to elaborate on why he believes the Historic District Design Standards Update warrants further noticing. Mr. Swales stated even minor tweaks can be substantive if you add them all up, and believes the property owners should be made aware of the changes.

Zach Brombacher/Stated he is against infill and commented on the recent subdivision development near his home. He stated this used to be a nice, rural area and voiced his displeasure with all the vehicles parked along the road. Mr. Brombacher also voiced his concern with this development directing its drainage into Hamilton Creek; and stated this creek runs across his property and he is worried about the increased flow.
 
Mr. Molnar clarified the City Council has already held the public hearing and passed first reading on the Historic District Design Standards and the second reading is scheduled for May 1, 2012.
 
UNFINISHED BUSINESS
A. 
Approval of Findings for PA-2011-01523, Revised Historic District Design Standards. 

Commissioners Mindlin/Heesacker m/s to approve the Findings for Planning Action #2011-01523. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 5-0.
 
PUBLIC HEARINGS
A. 
PLANNING ACTION: #2012-00018SUBJECT PROPERTY: 2220 Ashland Street
APPLICANT: Summit Investments
DESCRIPTION: A request for Site Review approval to construct a new 4,125 square foot, single story, retail building and associated site improvements for the property located at 2220 Ashland Street. The former Pizza Hut building is currently located on the site. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Commercial; ZONING: C-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 14BA; TAX LOT: 1700.
Commissioner Marsh read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
 
Ex Parte Contact
No ex parte contact was reported; all of the commissioners indicated they are familiar with the site.
 
Staff Report
Assistant Planner Amy Gunter stated the applicants are proposing to construct a 4,125 sq.ft. retail building at 2220 Ashland Street and the site is subject to the Site Design & Use Standards, basic and detail site review, and the recently adopted Pedestrian Places requirements. The existing building is proposed to be demolished; and there are also landscaping, parking lot, and other site improvements proposed to be modified. Six trees are proposed for removal, however only one is large enough to warrant a tree removal permit. It was noted that all immediately adjacent properties are zoned C-1 commercial and are under the same ownership of Summit Investments.
 
Ms. Gunter reviewed the site plan and stated the new building would be set back 12 feet from the sidewalk; and of the 12 required parking spaces, 9 will be located at the rear of the building and the remaining 3 would be on the adjacent property to the east. She explained the applicants are also proposing to create a streetscape entrance into the shopping center with sidewalks, street trees, and a center median; and the Ashland Street frontage will be improved with an 8 foot sidewalk and street tree wells.  
 
Ms. Gunter commented on the building design and landscape plan, and explained staff has raised issue with the following elements:  1) building orientation and sense of entry to Ashland Street, 2) the pedestrian plaza area lacks protection for rain and sun, and lacks seating areas for pedestrian refuge, 3) the required floor area ratio (FAR) is required to be .50 and .32 is proposed, and 4) site circulation could be an issue with the proposed median extension. Ms. Gunter concluded her presentation and requested the Commission discuss these issues during their deliberations.
 
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked for examples of how the applicant might achieve the .50 FAR requirement. Ms. Gunter stated a number of scenarios were discussed with the applicant, including: 1) adjusting the lot line to reduce the size of the lot, and therefore increase the building’s FAR; however this does not conform with the intent of the code, 2) the applicants could increase the size of the lot in order to become eligible for the shadow plan provision, or 3) the applicants could add a second story; however they have indicated this is a financial burden they cannot afford.
 
Commissioner Marsh stated this shopping center makes up a large portion of the pedestrian places overlay, and stated she is interested to know how Summit Investments will incorporate the larger area and look in a comprehensive way about reaching the desired density for this area.
 
Staff clarified the Tree Commission reviewed this application and recommended it be approved as submitted; however they had a long discussion about the placement of the street tree wells and suggested a more columnar tree be used. Commissioner Dawkins commented on the Tree Commission’s recommendation and noted the importance of maintaining adequate site lines along Ashland Street.
 
Applicant’s Presentation
Mark Knox, Laurie Sager, Dave Thurston/Mr. Knox addressed the Commission and commented on the area and the dilapidated project site. He explained the proposed building will be built to accommodate a number of uses over many years, and this application will have a positive impact on the streetscape. He stated the current building has a .12 FAR, and the proposed building will have a .28 FAR; however if a second story is added in the future this will bring the FAR up to .40, and with the unaccounted for semi-plaza spaces this development could reach a .499 FAR. Mr. Knox stated there is no way to reach the .50 FAR without moving lot lines, and stated doing so would not achieve the intent of the code. He explained a second story would add $500,000 to the project cost, and the applicant cannot afford to do this; however they can design the building to withstand a second story addition and this could be added in the future when the economy and environment is right. Mr. Knox spoke to the plaza amenities and noted they have submitted a revised plan that responds to staff’s concerns. He stated Summit Investments is comprised of 37 different owners, many of whom do not live in Ashland, and it has been difficult to reach a consensus; however they are slowly making improvements to this site and they believe this development will have a positive effect on the area.
 
Mr. Knox clarified where additional outdoor lighting would be located, and comment was made that this would go a long way to protect the existing fire hydrant. Commissioner Mindlin questioned the transportation elements including the parking situation and site circulation. She raised issue with how the parking for a future second story addition would be addressed and asked if a formal count has been provided to show that Shop N Kart has excess parking available to this development. She also indicated that the circulation plan is somewhat confusing. Commissioner Dawkins commented on the site circulation as well, and requested an easement be obtained to provide a connection from this shopping center over to tax lot 300. Commissioner Marsh commented that it is clear this area warrants a master plan and would like to know how they will move towards the higher FAR and achieve the desired urban design.
 
Public Testimony
Colin Swales/143 Eighth Street/Stated the major stakeholders of the Pedestrian Places project met with staff prior to these standards being adopted, and would like to see the first development under these standards better comply. He stated the Findings provided by the applicant are written to be “LUBA proof” and recommended staff go through these with a fine tooth comb. He questioned the footnote on page 6, and also questioned if the applicants are interpreting pedestrian places to mean that because the proposed building is only slightly bigger than the existing building, they only need to comply proportionally. Mr. Swales stated this development will set precedence for the actions that follow and recommended the Commission follow staff’s recommendation and leave the record open to obtain additional written evidence.
 
When asked for clarification by Commissioner Marsh, Mr. Swales stated he is formally requesting the record be kept open.  
 
Steve Reed/Stated he is the owner of Shop N Kart and has leased his property from Summit Investments for the last 24 years. He mentioned the David Grubbs incident and stated it is important to him to  have the entrance lighted and the shopping center’s ambiance improved, and welcomed the development and enhancements proposed by the applicant.
 
Commissioner Marsh noted the letter submitted into the record from Talent Irrigation District and read aloud the email submitted by Chris Much.
 
Rebuttal
Mark Knox/In response to Mr. Swales’ concern, he clarified they are not suggesting a proportional expansion, and rather are taking a .12 FAR building and putting a .28 FAR building with all kinds of expansion opportunities in its place. He added the application has changed quite a bit since the original CSA Findings were created and clarified the footnote on page 6 was referring to the old FAR standard that moved to the Site Design & Use Standards.
 
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Marsh stated they will honor the request to leave the record open and asked the commissioners to submit any final questions.
 
Ms. Gunter commented briefly on the Findings prepared by CSA and clarified in other communities it is common for the applicant to provide the Findings that are later adopted by the commission. She clarified in Ashland, however, staff writes their own findings and the applicant’s document is treated as their burden of proof. 
 
The following questions and concerns were raised by the Commission:

  • Regarding the FAR, comment was made that the commission is being asked to make an exception that is pushing the envelope.
  • Suggestion was made for the FAR of the functional area to be provided.
  • Suggestion was made for staff to craft language that would link this application to an overall master plan for the site, and with any applications that come forward in the future.
  • Comment was made expressing concern with the transportation components of this application.
Mr. Molnar clarified the commission can continue this action to a date certain and take public input at the next meeting; or they can close the public hearing, but keep the record open to written comments for 7 days and allow the applicants an additional 7 days for written argument. Commissioner Marsh surveyed the group and they agreed to close the hearing, allow additional time for written submittals as indicated, and come back for deliberations on May 8, 2012.
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 9:20 p.m.
 
Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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