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Planning Commission

Minutes
Tuesday, June 12, 2012


ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
June 12, 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:
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Eric Heesacker
Richard Kaplan
Pam Marsh
Debbie Miller
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
 
     
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Melanie Mindlin   Dennis Slattery, absent
 
 
ANNOUCEMENTS
Commissioner Marsh welcomed Commissioner Miller back to the Commission. Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the public meeting schedule for the Downtown Plaza Improvement project. He also noted Council has approved first reading of the Wireless Ordinance, which includes a provision for independent review if facilities are not co-located, and at their next meeting the Council will review changes to the keeping of chickens ordinance.  
 
CONSENT AGENDA
A. 
Approval of Minutes.
  1. April 24, 2012 Study Session.
  2. May 8, 2012 Regular Meeting.
  3. May 22, 2012 Study Session.

Commissioners Kaplan/Heesacker m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
PUBLIC FORUM
No one came forward to speak.
 
UNFINISHED BUSINESS
A. 
Approval of Findings for PA-2012-00018, 2220 Ashland Street.

Ex Parte Contact: No ex parte contact was reported.  
 
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2012-00018. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 5-0. [Commissioner Miller abstained]
 
NEW BUSINESS
A. 
Election of Officers.

Commissioners Dawkins/Heesacker m/s to nominate Melanie Mindlin as chair of the Planning Commission. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.

Commissioners Kaplan/Heesacker m/s to nominate Michael Dawkins as vice chair of the Planning Commission. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
It was agreed Commissioner Marsh would lead this meeting since Mindlin is not present.
 
PUBLIC HEARINGS

 

PLANNING ACTION:  #2012-00265
APPLICANT:  Ashland Food Cooperative
LOCATION(S):  C-1- & C-1-D-zoned portions of Ashland's "Historic Interest Area"
REQUEST:  A proposal to amend the Ashland Municipal Code (AMC 18.32.035.E) as it relates to drive-up uses in Commercial districts.  Drive-up uses are currently a special permitted use in the C-1 zoning district, but only in the area east of a line drawn perpendicular to Ashland Street at the intersection of Ashland Street and Siskiyou Boulevard.  Drive-up uses are currently explicitly prohibited in the Historic Interest Area as defined in the Comprehensive Plan.  The proposed legislative amendment is to provide exception language which would apply only to existing drive-up uses within the Historic Interest Area and would allow them to relocate to a new site elsewhere within the Historic Interest Area provided that they are located predominantly underground or otherwise screened from view from the public right-of-way. [Continued from May 8, 2012 meeting]
 
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson explained the proposal before the Commission would modify the regulations in the C-1 and C-1-D districts relative to drive-up uses in the Historic Interest Area. Under the current regulations, new drive-up uses are prohibited and any modification to the existing uses (Umpqua Bank, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Chase Bank) requires a conditional use permit. Mr. Severson stated this proposal would modify the requirements to allow redevelopment/relocation of drive-ups elsewhere in the Historic Interest Area subject to site review approval as a special permitted use.
 
Mr. Severson stated the initial public hearing was continued to allow review by the Transportation Commission, and the draft minutes from that meeting have been provided. He explained at the end of the Transportation Commission’s discussion the members were polled and two members were negative, one was neutral, one was slightly positive, and one abstained. There were no specific concerns or recommendations issued by the Transportation Commission. Mr. Severson noted the matrix included in the packet materials and stated the areas in blue identify the areas affected by this proposal. He clarified Umpqua Bank is addressed separately in the matrix because they are in a split-zoned property and neither zone allows drive-up uses.
 
Mr. Severson briefly reviewed the staff recommendations and asked for the Commission’s feedback on the issue of visibility and screening.
 
Commission Comments
Comment was made questioning how you would eliminate visibility and that this provision seems impractical for buildings that are surrounded by streets. Additional comment was made that there is some benefit to seeing how many cars are in the cue; and as long as it is not intrusive on the neighborhood, visibility is not a major concern.
 
Applicant’s Presentation
Mark Knox/Mr. Knox voiced their support for excluding food and beverage uses and requiring ministerial permits for tracking. He stated they do not see any negative associations with this proposal and believe it will provide the ability for economic development, historic preservation, and the redevelopment of surface parking lots into main street facades. He stated without this proposal these sites will continue to exist in their current state and will not be redeveloped to Ashland’s standards. Mr. Knox stated he understands some people believe downtown should be pedestrian only, but this is not realistic. He stated drive-ups (excluding fast food) provide a central service to the elderly population for banking and pharmacy needs. He added inclement weather and night time/security concerns are other reasons people choose to use drive-ups. He stated this proposal will provide an opportunity for this service to work, and will provide better screening and fewer lanes than exist now.
 
Richard Katz/Stated this is a strange situation for the Food Co-op and they are here to improve their facility for the good of their patrons and owners. He stated this is the only option they have available. Mr. Katz stated a lot of Ashland’s population visits the Co-op on a regular basis, with over 3,000 transactions per day, and they are following the lead of their owners who say time after time that parking is a major issue for them. He added this proposal is not just for the Co-op to have more parking, but addresses their desire to make their site safer, easier to get around, and less congested.
 
Comment was made that the Commission’s decision is not predicated on the needs of the Co-op, and rather on the policy change they have brought forward.
 
Mr. Katz stated aside from the needs of the Co-op, they believe this amendment has merit.
 
Public Testimony
Catherine Shaw/886 Oak Street/Stated the drive-up ordinance was a component of the overall redevelopment of downtown and at that time they did a number of things to encourage people to walk. She stated the idea of making downtown completely car free was abandoned, but what they had hoped back then was that drive-up windows would eventually be eliminated. She stated these were hard fought battles that should remain. Ms. Shaw stated it’s the bustle of the downtown that creates a vibrant community and voiced her opposition to drive-up windows. She stated significant effort has been made to create a more walkable downtown, which is better for Ashland’s businesses and economy, and Ashland needs to walk the talk. 
 
Colin Swales/143 Eighth Street/Stated he is a member of the Transportation Commission and is also their liaison to the Planning Commission. Mr. Swales recommended the three service stations in this area be looked at as part of this amendment. He stated just as some would like to see the drive-ups disappear from downtown, he would also like to see the gas stations disappear. Mr. Swales cited two minor corrections in the draft minutes from the Transportation Commission. He also commented on a sex shop drive thru in Alabama and cautioned the Commission about this possibility. He added he is one of the Transportation Commissioners who voted against this proposal.
 
Cate Hartzell/892 Garden Way/Stated she is an owner of the Co-op and opposes this change. She thanked Ms. Shaw for speaking on the intent of the original ordinance and stated there should be a compelling reason for considering this change. Ms. Hartzell questioned if this proposal would protect the integrity of the original ordinance or move the City further along in achieving its Comprehensive Plan goals. She noted the City goals to reduce vehicle trips and reduce pollution and encouraged the Commission to consider the risks of vehicles intersecting with pedestrians in areas where they are trying to intensify pedestrians. She noted the City of Corvallis has two Co-ops and it has worked well. She added there is a lot of commercial space available in Ashland right now and perhaps the Co-op could find other alternatives.
 
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mark Knox/Noted his respect for Ms. Shaw and stated during her tenure as mayor a lot of efforts were made that have shaped Ashland in a positive way. However he believes their proposal is misunderstood. He clarified they are not proposing to increase the number of drive-up uses permitted, but rather to allow them to redevelop to meet the current standards. He stated this proposal addresses eighteen different policies that are to the benefit of the Comprehensive Plan. He stated this is a minor tweak that will have a very positive impact. He added if the Commission is concerned about the potential for drive up sex stores, they should limit this change to financial institutions, which is what the applicant originally proposed.
 
Commissioner Marsh closed the record and the public hearing at 7:50 p.m.
 
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioner Dawkins motioned to deny Planning Action #2012-00265. Motion failed due to lack of a second.
 
Mr. Molnar reminded the Commission this is a recommendation to the City Council and requested they provide guidance in addition to direction.
 
Commissioners Brown/Kaplan m/s to recommend Council’s approval of Planning Action #2012-00265. DISCUSSION: Brown stated the existing drive-ups are a hazard and there is no way for these to change under the current ordinance. He stated this is an opportunity to change drive-thrus to alleys and side streets and get that traffic off the main street. He stated he would like to provide banks the opportunity to change their configuration or relocate in the downtown, and believes this modification should be limited to financial institutions. He added he believes this will result in a better downtown. Marsh asked if the motion includes staff’s recommendations. Brown clarified his motion is to exclude food and beverage related uses and limit it to financial institutions; and also for uses which are discontinued without a properly permitted transfer to be deemed expired after unused for 6 months, instead of 12. Kaplan stated he is divorcing this proposal from the Co-op’s needs and sees this as an opportunity to give financial institutions the opportunity to do something that would be better for the City. Staff clarified this proposal would provide more flexibility for the four bank locations to redevelopment and add the ability for them to relocate. Dawkins spoke against the motion and voiced support for Ms. Shaw’s comments. He stated things worked just fine before there were drive-ups in town and it is a convenience of our auto-centric society that we support things like this. He stated the City should be trying to eliminate all drive-thrus and have people get out of their cars. Marsh stated she resonates with Ms. Shaw’s description for how the downtown was developed, however downtown should have been made retail only and there is no likelihood of these banks leaving anytime soon. She voiced her support for the motion and stated it could motivate these businesses to redevelop and would also reduce crossings, reduce the number of drive-up lanes, and improve the environment.
 
Commissioner Marsh noted her desire to address the screening and visibility issue, and motioned to amend the recommendation at the top of page 4 of the staff report to read: “That with relocation or redevelopment, drive-up uses only be placed in a basement or on a non-street facing (other than an alley) secondary building elevation, only accessed from an alley or driveway and no components of the relocated/redeveloped drive-up (i.e. structure, kiosk, window or queuing lane but not the driveway component) may be visible from adjacent streets other than an alley.” Brown seconded this and accepted it as a friendly amendment.
 
Commissioner Kaplan recommended they remove the word “basement” from the above recommendation. Brown seconded this as a friendly amendment.
 
Roll Call Vote on Motion as Amended: Commissioners Kaplan, Brown, Heesacker, Miller and Marsh, YES. Commissioner Dawkins, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
 
Commissioner Miller asked if they could submit concerns to Council along with the recommendation. Staff noted the Findings and Minutes will be provided. Commissioner Marsh stated it is inappropriate for commissioners to submit personal comments and instead the Council should be encouraged to watch the taped recordings.
 

PLANNING ACTION: #2012-00575
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 1155 East Main Street
APPLICANT: City of Ashland/Ashland Police Department
DESCRIPTION: A request for Site Review approval to construct a 3,016 square foot addition and associated site improvements for the Ashland Police Department located at 1155 East Main Street.  This addition is the first phase of a multi-phase project over the next five years; subsequent phases will include a 1,975 square foot addition, additional parking, and site improvements to bring the site more in line with current standards. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP #: 39 1E 10; TAX LOT #: 900.
The Commission took a short recess and performed a site visit. The meeting reconvened at 8:30 p.m.
 
Marsh read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
 
Ex Parte Contact
All commissioners attended the site visit; no ex parte contact was reported.
 
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report and noted the subject property is located behind the Police Department and Council Chambers. He explained this application is for site review approval to construct a 3,016 sq. ft. addition to the police station, and this would be the first phase of a multi-phased construction project. Mr. Severson provided an overview of the site plan, building elevations, project phasing, tree protection plan, and landscape plan; and noted staff's recommendation for the sense of entry to be improved to make it a more people friendly space through the use of landscaping and hardscaping. Mr. Severson listed the recommendations from the Tree Commission to supplement the existing hedge buffer with two additional trees and for tree #50 to be retained and protected. He noted the nearby neighbors spoke at the Tree Commission meeting and requested measures be taken to soften the exposure to the existing ratio antenna, parking, and building roof to the extent possible. He stated the other concerns that have been raised by the neighbors include: 1) the placement of the addition, the placement of five new compact parking spaces along the driveway, and the removal of the existing berm pose a noise concern which neighbors feel could be mitigated through relocating the parking and mechanical equipment to the interior of the site and landscaping the adjacent driveway to soften the building wall, 2) concern regarding the construction hours and construction staging; the neighbors suggest that if the new parking on the northeast of the building were added and new gate installed in Phase I, construction could be staged farther from their residences, and 3) that all site lighting should come into conformance with current standards, have downward directed fixtures, and reduced pole heights. Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and requested the Commission address the following issues during their discussion: 1) the use of landscape and hardscape to enhance the sense of entry and creating a space for people to congregate, 2) the two recommendations raised by the Tree Commission, and 3) the impacts raised by the neighbors.
 
Applicant’s Presentation
Dave Strauss, Kerry Kencairn, and Police Chief Terry Holderness/Mr. Strauss commented on the staff recommendations. He stated they are open to the City’s and Commission’s direction regarding how the public area out front should be developed, and addressed the concerns raised by the neighbors. He stated the berm needs to be removed, however the new mechanical equipment will produce significantly less noise and the compact parking spaces will be used by the office staff (one trip in, one trip out per day) and the impact on neighbors in terms of car noise will be considerably reduced. Mr. Strauss commented on the standards of the National Police Association, including the need for two ways out of secured parking areas and for staff vehicles, police vehicles, and impounded vehicles to be kept secured.
 
Landscape Architect Kerry Kencairn noted the location of the new bike parking and also commented on tree #50. She clarified the location of this tree and stated it is not possible to save it and still meet the parking requirement. She added the additional trees they have proposed will outweigh the impacts of the trees being removed. Regarding the trees to supplement the hedge buffer, Ms. Kencairn stated they can install these without damaging the hedge, however they are willing to do whatever the neighbors want. 
 
Chief Holderness added the radio antenna will be removed, so there is no need for mitigation measures.
 
Ms. Kencairn responded to the commissioners comments and clarified there is currently no landscaping proposed along the west side of the building. When asked if the five compact spaces could be removed, Mr. Strauss clarified there is no set parking requirement and instead it is established by need. He stated 40 spaces appears to be the right number for the police station and this is the number they provided for on their plans. He added the police station currently has 34 spaces. Comment was made questioning if the department foresees adding staff in the future. Mr. Holderness stated the extra spaces serve an economic and convenience need. He explained some days they have more staffing than others, and at times employees have to park in the public lot. He added the department seizes cars and they would prefer to keep these in the secure lot rather than paying to have them stored elsewhere. 
 
Concern was expressed regarding the removal of the green lawn. It was noted this is a public space, and occasionally there are protests, and it would be beneficial to retain space for this use. Comment was made suggesting a landscape maintenance budget be established to maintain whatever landscape design they agree on. Regarding the trees in the hedge buffer, comment was made suggesting these be removed from the plan.  
 
The applicants were asked to comment on whether there are alternatives to removing the berm. Mr. Strauss answered it needs to be removed and they believe the impact to maintain it is not appropriate. When asked if the mechanical equipment could be relocated, Mr. Strauss stated they could look at this, but it would then need to be placed in the public area. Comment was made that disturbance to the neighbors is more of an issue than disturbing the people who come to meetings in the council chambers.
 
Comment was made suggesting the applicant break up the materials along the west side of the building to break up the sound. Additional comment was made questioning why the applicants are proposing stairs on the new entry and that a ramp would be better suited for ADA standards.
 
Commissioners Miller/Dawkins m/s to extend the meeting to 9:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
Public Testimony
Arthur Schreiber/64 North Mountain/Stated he lives directly behind the hedge bush that separates the police station driveway from the townhome complex, and they can hear everything. He stated he supports the expansion, but would like for the impacts to the neighbors be mitigated. Mr. Schreiber stated he will be able to see the new building from his second floor window and would appreciate anything the Commission can do to improve the aesthetics of the building on this side. Regarding the noise concerns, he explained sound is currently buffered by the berm, and the applicant’s proposal is to remove it and install four new machines. He stated the noise will be significant and requested the Commission do anything possible to have these moved to the other side of the building. He also commented on the noise that will be caused by the constructive vehicles and stated this will be very disruptive to the nearby residences. Mr. Schreiber asked if the construction could have a start time of no earlier than 8 a.m., and also requested the two trees proposed for the hedge not be installed.
 
Steve Wolf/74 North Mountain/Thanked staff for addressing his concerns and clarified his home office looks out on this building and the proposed addition. Mr. Wolf stated the placement of the mechanical equipment is his biggest concern, but the staging of the parking lot and having the construction teams access the site from the east side instead would be very beneficial to their livability. He commented on the number of parking spaces and believes the police station can meet their needs without placing the compact parking near the residences. He stated the berm and trees currently buffer the sound from the police cars and mechanical equipment, but if you remove this the noise will be an issue, even with the installation of quieter equipment.
 
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Dave Strauss/Agreed that there are alternate options regarding the placement of the mechanical equipment, and he agreed to remove the two trees in the hedge buffer from the plan. Regarding the construction noise, he stated they could specify start and stop times with their contractors, and suggested 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. He clarified this project would have a 5-6 month construction period, but the biggest percentage of noise would be generated in the first 3 months, and in the later months most of the work will be done inside. He also stated they could direct the construction traffic through the back lot if the City is comfortable with keeping this a gravel access, and stated they cannot guarantee they will have the funding necessary to complete the lot in phase one.
 
Commissioner Marsh closed the record and public hearing at 9:50 p.m.
 
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioner Dawkins stated if they eliminate the five parking spaces and relocate the mechanical equipment, that would leave an area than could be landscaped along the building. He added if this building were located anywhere else, the Commission would make the applicant soften the side of the building. Dawkins voiced his concern with the entry of the building and stated the City Council should find the necessary funding to bring this up to city standards. At a minimum, he would like to see the west wall broken up. Commissioner Miller agreed with Dawkins and voiced support for including a modification of the west side wall in their motion.
 
Commissioners Brown/Dawkins m/s to approve Planning Action #2012-00575 with amendments.
 
DISCUSSION:

 

  1. Location of Mechanical Equipment: Recommendation was made for the equipment to be moved to a location other than the side near the residences. Brown accepted this as a friendly amendment.
  2. Construction Times: Recommendation was made for construction work to be limited to 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Brown accepted this as a friendly amendment.
  3. Materials along West Wall: Recommendation was made for the use of different materials along the west wall or articulation to address the noise issue. Brown accepted this as a friendly amendment.
  4. Front Walkway Entrance: Recommendation was made for no stairs on the walkway out front and for ramps to be used instead. Brown accepted this as a friendly amendment.
Commissioners Miller/Dawkins m/s to continue meeting past 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
 

  1. Compact Parking Spaces/Landscaping: Commissioner Miller voiced her preference for the five compact parking spaces to be removed and to install landscaping along the west side. Commission Dawkins agreed and stated he would rather remove those spaces and install landscaping. He stated he is comfortable with maintaining the same level of parking and noted the public parking lot could still be used when needed. Commissioner Brown noted they will not need to require articulation of the building if trees are planted along that wall. Commissioner Marsh stated she is not as concerned with the five spaces and believes there will be minimal coming and going. She stated the major impact will be moving the equipment to the other side of the building and believes they should do the best they can to cushion the impact of this noise. Commissioner Brown stated he supports leaving in the parking the police department needs.
Commissioners Dawkins/Miller m/s to amend motion to remove the five compact parking spaces and substitute landscaping. Voice Vote: Commissioners Miller and Dawkins, YES. Commissioners Heesacker, Brown, Kaplan and Marsh, NO. Motion failed 4-2.
  1. Construction Traffic: Commissioner Marsh stated she feels strongly that they should use the east access. Miller agreed and stated she does not want the construction vehicles using the narrow driveway near the residences. Brown recommended that construction phasing be on the east side of the Phase I addition and for all construction traffic to use a temporary access out to the existing public parking lot rather than the gated driveway on the west side of the police station. The Commission agreed to incorporate this into the motion.
  2. Trees in Hedge: The Commission agreed to strike the recommendations from the Tree Commission regarding the planting of trees in the hedge buffer and the retaining of tree #50.
  3. Front Landscaping: Commissioner Dawkins voiced his support for leaving the lawn area as it is and stated fescues and ground cover are not an inviting treatment. He added they should encourage the City Council to help enhance the entry to this building and this should not be placed on the shoulders of the police department. Commissioner Miller voiced her support for maintaining the green lawn and stated it softens the impacts of this building. Commissioner Brown added the lawn mirrors the park across the street quite nicely. Commission Marsh stated she feels strongly that public spaces should be used actively and anything they can do to draw people into this space and make it welcoming should be encouraged.
 
Roll Call Vote on Motion as Amended: Commissioners Brown, Miller, Kaplan, Dawkins, Heesacker and Marsh, YES. Motion passed 6-0.
 

PLANNING ACTION: #2012-00573APPLICANT: City of Ashland
LOCATION: Not property-specific
ORDINANCE REFERENCE: 18.108.170 Legislative Amendments
REQUEST: A Legislative Amendment is proposed to adopt a new "Chapter XV - Regional Plan" element to the City of Ashland Comprehensive Plan to incorporate applicable portions of the Greater Bear Creek Valley Regional Problem Solving Plan (“the RPS Plan”)  and to acknowledge revised population allocations for the City of Ashland.  Jackson County recently adopted the RPS Plan which identifies urban reserve areas to accommodate a doubling of the region’s population, but before the RPS Plan can take effect, each of the six participating cities in the region (Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford, Central Point and Eagle Point) must adopt the applicable portions of the plan into their comprehensive plans and implementing ordinances. (Ashland is the only participating city which has not identified urban reserves as the city’s existing urban growth boundary was determined to be sufficient to accommodate anticipated growth.  Adoption of the new element incorporates those portions of the Regional Plan applicable to Ashland as a signatory participant with no identified urban reserves.) 
Due to lack to time, action was continued to June 26, 2012 meeting.
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 10:20 p.m.
 
Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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