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Planning Commission Mtg

Minutes
Tuesday, November 13, 2012



ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
November 13, 2012
 
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Melanie Mindlin 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
Pam Marsh
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Michael Pina, Assistant Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
 
     
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Richard Kaplan   Mike Morris
 
 
ANNOUCEMENTS
Commission Chair Mindlin announced the applicants for 180 Nutley (PA-2012-01414) have requested the public hearing be postponed. The hearing will take place on December 11, 2012.
 
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced Councilor Morris is the Planning Commission’s new council liaison. He also noted the City Council passed first reading of the Housing Needs Analysis and second reading will take place on November 20, 2012.
 
CONSENT AGENDA
A.   Approval of Minutes.
       1.  September 25, 2012 Study Session.
       2.  October 9, 2012 Regular Meeting.
    
Commissioners Miller/Marsh 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-2012-00899, Ashland School District Properties.
 
Ex Parte Contact
No ex parte contact was reported.
 
Commissioners Marsh/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2012-00899. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Heesacker, Marsh, Miller and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
A.   PLANNING ACTION: #2012-01321
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 622 Drager
APPLICANT: Gil Livni
DESCRIPTION: A request for a Solar Access Variance for the property located at 622 Drager Street. The property to the north is under the same ownership and has agreed to the proposed shading. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-5; ASSESSOR’S MAP#: 39 IE 14BB; TAX LOT #: 1300.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
 
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Miller, Heesacker, Dawkins, Mindlin and Marsh reported site visits. Commissioner Dawkins stated he also reviewed the planning action files for this property.
 
Staff Report
Assistant Planner Michael Piña stated the proposal before the Commission is a solar variance request for the property located at 622 Drager. He explained in 2006-2007 the Planning Commission and City Council approved the outline plan for an 18-unit residential subdivision, and during that process a condition was added that stated all new parcels must be designed to meet solar setback standard ‘A’. Following approval of the application, the subdivision was foreclosed upon and a new owner is now constructing the homes. Mr. Piña noted that while a solar variance can be approved at staff level, staff felt that because this condition was added by the Planning Commission the variance request should be brought before this group.
 
Mr. Piña reviewed the existing site conditions and displayed the elevation cross sections of home proposed for Lot 16. He clarified the lot is too narrow to comply with solar setback standard ‘A’ with the house as proposed, and the applicant’s have requested a variance to this condition. He added in order to comply with the solar requirement as written, the applicant’s would need to construct a single story home with a maximum eave height of 8.56 ft. and a roof peak of 16.96 ft. above natural grade.  
 
Mr. Piña outlined the approval criteria for a solar variance request: 1) the variance does not preclude the reasonable use of solar energy on the site by future buildings, 2) the variance does not diminish any substantial solar access which benefits a habitable structure on an adjacent lot, and 3) there are unique or unusual circumstances which apply to this site which do not typically apply elsewhere. He explained that while staff believes a single story home could be designed to accommodate the solar conditions placed on the lot, the proposed home does mitigate the impacts of the solar variance to the adjacent lot and will primarily shade the garage of the adjacent house.  
 
Applicant’s Presentation
Mark Knox, Applicant’s Representative and Gil Livni, Property Owner/Mr. Knox handed out an illustration that depicts the shadow line on the adjacent home (Exhibit #2012-01). Mr. Knox explained Mr. Livni purchased this property in foreclosure and is trying to move forward with this subdivision, however mistakes were made when the subdivision was originally created. He went on to say that the previous applicants did not address all of the City’s criteria and this particular lot was approved at only 51 ft. wide, and is also a corner lot which comes with greater setback requirements. Mr. Knox added the previous applicant’s failure to present a shadow plan when this lot was first created has resulted in them needing to come back before the Commission for a solar variance.
 
Mr. Knox explained the street grade determines the foundation level of a house and since this particular lot slopes 2%, it has forced them to raise the foundation level and therefore impacts the height of the roof. He went on to explain that they have mitigated the solar variance impacts as much as possible by pushing the house as far to the south as possible, have adjusted the design and height of the roof, and have designed the adjacent house so that only the garage and a small amount of windowless living space is shadowed. Mr. Knox noted the code allows for solar waivers as long as the three criteria are met and stated: 1) their proposal does not preclude the reasonable use of solar energy on the site by future buildings because the design of the south facing wall is such that a large portion is non-habitable and the other portion does not have any windows, 2) the variance does not diminish any substantial solar access which benefits a habitable structure on an adjacent lot because the shadow does not go above the roofline and therefore solar panels can still be located on the roof, and 3) this is a unique or unusual circumstance because this is the narrowest piece of property in the area, it has an east-west orientation, and it is also a corner lot.
Mr. Knox brought attention to the self imposed Earth Advantage condition, which the new applicant is going above and beyond, and stressed that they have gone to great lengths to mitigate the solar access issue for this particular lot.
 
Questions of the Applicant
The applicant was asked whether they will experience this same problem with other lots in the subdivision. Mr. Knox clarified they do not foresee having a problem with the other lots, and Mr. Livni explained they have redesigned the homes to better fit the approved lots. He added the houses they are building are smaller than what was approved, and none of the previous designs would have worked with the exception of just a few lots.
 
The applicant was asked to comment further on how this narrow lot came to be. Mr. Knox clarified the design was done by the previous developer, who is no longer doing business in Ashland, and the City ultimately approved it.
 
Public Testimony
No one came forward to speak.
 
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the email that was submitted by Jay Leighton, 260 Cambridge Street.
 
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mr. Knox briefly commented on Ms. Leighton’s email and stated he is not sure she understands the depth of this application. In response to her density concern, he clarified the houses that are being built are much smaller than the houses that were approved. In regards to her comments on the solar variance, he stated they clearly meet the standards and this would not have been an issue if it would have been addressed up front when this lot was originally created.
 
Commissioner Mindlin closed the hearing and the record at 8:00 p.m.
 
Questions of Staff
Mr. Molnar commented on the solar requirement that was placed on this subdivision and stated it is too harsh to say the Planning Commission erred in approving this lot. He explained the solar ordinance asks applicants to make sure that when you are designing lots that the south to north dimension is long enough that based on the slope you can have a 21 ft. high shadow producing point in the middle of the lot. He added the ordinance does not require this, but it is strongly recommended. If an applicant chooses to not design a lot in this manner, the City can flag the lot to alert future property owners that they might have some difficulty designing a home on the lot, which is what was done in this case. Mr. Molnar stated it is not impossible to design a single story home that would meet the solar access requirements for this lot, but it could result in a home design that is not consistent with the others in the subdivision, or could require them to sink the finished floor level which could be undesirable. Mr. Molnar stated staff alerted the original applicants that this would be a difficult lot, and in the end they chose to keep it at 51 ft, and so in accordance with the ordinance this condition was added.
 
Staff clarified this variance request only applies to 622 Drager; it does not change the conditions of the entire subdivision. It was also clarified that approval of this solar variance would be listed on the deed of the home to alert future home buyers.
 
Commissioner Mindlin reopened the record and hearing to allow the applicant to rebut new information.
 
Mark Knox/Clarified the applicants are not requesting a blanket variance for the entire subdivision, just this particular lot, and stated a solar envelope could have been adopted with the original application that would have allowed the shadow to extend much further than what they are proposing. In terms of the future property owners, Mr. Knox clarified Mr. Livni already has buyers for these two lots; they are friends and are aware of this issue.
 
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the public hearing at 8:17 p.m.
 
Deliberations and Decision
 
Commissioners Brown/Miller m/s to deny the application. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Brown stated he is comfortable with the constraints as originally proposed and is uncomfortable taking away the solar rights for future property owners. He added it is possible to build a house that meets the solar requirements as originally imposed. Commissioner Marsh stated she will oppose the motion and believes the applicants meet the variance criteria. She added with small lot development, which the Commission endorses, these types of requests are inevitable. Commissioner Dawkins noted his concern that this issue will resurface with other lots in this development. Commissioner Mindlin voiced support for the denial and stated the applicant’s proposal clearly shadows the adjacent home. She added just because the current buyer does not care does not mean future buyers would give their consent. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Brown, Miller, and Mindlin, YES. Commissioners Marsh, Heesacker, and Dawkins, NO. Motion failed due to tie.
 
Commissioner Marsh commented that it is difficult to guess what the future home owners will want, and stated if this is an issue for them they can choose to purchase a different house. She recommended the commissioners focus their decision on the approval criteria for the application before them. Commissioner Heesacker agreed. He stated the current buyers understand and are comfortable with this, and if someone else has a problem they can move on and view another house. Commissioner Miller commented that if the property owner were to build a smaller house they would not be facing this problem. Commissioner Brown remarked that the applicant has not provided adequate information on the impacts to the adjacent lot. He added he would be willing to reconsider his vote if the applicant could provide an illustration showing the actual shadow produced on the south wall of the adjacent property to the north.
 
Commissioners Marsh/Dawkins m/s to continue this action to the November 27, 2012 Planning Commission meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
B.   PLANNING ACTION: #2012-01414
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 180 Nutley Street
APPLICANT: PowerPlus Building/Christer Chedderoth
DESCRIPTION: A request for a Minor Land Partition to create two parcels, the existing single family residence would remain at 180 Nutley Street and the new accessory guest house would be converted to a single family residence on Scenic. The request includes a Variance to the rear yard setback to reduce the required setback from 20-feet to 10 ½ feet. The applicant is also requesting an Exception to the Street Standards to not install sidewalks along Scenic Drive. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-7.5; ASSESSOR’S MAP#: 39 IE 108AD; TAX LOT #: 5600.
Per applicant’s request, the public hearing was postponed to the December 11, 2012 Planning Commission meeting.
 
DISCUSSION ITEMS
A.   Unified Land Use Ordinance Project – Part II: Zoning Regulations.
 Planning Manager Maria Harris provided a presentation on Part II of the Unified Land Use Ordinance Project and reviewed the proposed amendments for this section.
 
1)  Accessory Residential Units. Ms. Harris clarified the proposed language would make accessory residential units a permitted use in all zones. Site Review approval would still be required, but this amendment would remove the conditional use permit requirement.
 
2)  Manufactured Homes. Ms. Harris stated staff has suggested a few changes to ensure our ordinance conforms with the Oregon Revised Statutes. Suggested changes include deleting the requirement that a home be 28 ft. in width, a change in wording for exterior building materials, and the maximum height above grade. The requirement to have a garage or storage building has also been removed and staff is recommended the setback requirements for manufactured housing developments be amended.
 
3)  Corner Lots in R-1 Zone. Per the 2006 Land Use Ordinance Review recommendation, Ms. Harris stated the minimum width and lot size requirements for corner lots has been changed to the same standards for interior lots – a minimum width of 50 ft. and minimum lot size of 5,000 sq.ft.

4)  Minimum Lot Depth in R-1 Zone. Ms. Harris stated the recommendation from the 2006 Land Use Ordinance Review is to reduce the minimum lot depth to match the minimum lot width.
 
5)  Front Porch Setback in R-1 Zone. Ms. Harris stated per the 2006 Land Use Ordinance Review, the setback has been made 10 ft. across all zones. 
 
6)  C-1 and E-1 Zone Setbacks from Adjacent Residential Zones. Per the 2006 Land Use Ordinance Review, the setback has been changed to 5 ft. per story.
 
7)  Building Height in C-1 Zone. Ms. Harris stated per the 2006 Land Use Ordinance Review, the height has been changed to allow structures greater than 40 ft. and less than 55 ft. where the building would be located more than 100 ft. from a residential zone.
 
8) Solar Setback Exemption for C-1 Zone. Ms. Harris stated the proposed amendment would exempt the C-1 Zone from solar setbacks, unless the property abuts a residential zone (per 2006 Land Use Ordinance Review recommendation).
 
9)  Vision Clearance Requirements for C-1-D Zone. Ms. Harris stated currently the C-1, E-1, and CM Zones are exempted from the vision clearance area requirements. The proposed amendment would add the downtown zone (C-1-D) to that list.
 
10) Temporary Uses. Ms. Harris stated this recommended change comes from staff. Currently, temporary uses are allowed in all of the zoning districts with a conditional user permit, but this has been problematic. Staff’s suggestion is to exempt temporary uses from the land use process when it is in the street right of way, and to make short term events on private property a ministerial permit.
 
11)  Affordable Housing Density Bonus. Ms. Harris stated per the 2006 Land Use Ordinance Review, the affordable housing density bonus has been increased to 2%.
 
Ms. Harris commented on the work in progress items that are coming up, including: pervious pavement exemption, clarification of percentages for mixed-uses in multiple buildings, distance between buildings in multi-family zones, and the use table. She concluded her presentation by listing the next steps, and clarified this will come before the Commission again at their November 27, 2012 meeting.
 
Questions of Staff/Commission Discussion
Several questions were posted to staff, including:
 
·         Why are duplexes only allowed in the R-1 Zone?
Ms. Harris clarified you can build a duplex in R-2 and R-3 Zones, and stated the uses table could better clarify this by indicating a “P” in those zones. Additional comment was made suggesting if a particular use is not allowed, there should be an “N” on the table instead of leaving it blank.  

·         Why are residential care facilities not allowed in the R-2 Zone?
Ms. Harris replied that this is how it is in our code now.

·         Why are club lodges/fraternal organizations and daycares not allowed in employment districts?
Mr. Molnar stated his recollection was that uses in the commercial and employment zones should focus on businesses that have 10 employees or more per acre, and believes this is where this language stemmed from. He added now that these zones have been built out it could be appropriate to reconsider some of these uses.

·         Why are private recreational uses and facilities not allowed in R-2 and R-3 Zones?
Ms. Harris clarified this is for the same reasons mentioned by Mr. Molnar; recreational facilities are typically large and do not have very many employees.  
 
Ms. Harris commented that they could consider simplifying the uses table, however staff would like specific direction from the Commission if this is what they would like to do. She added if you have fewer uses and make them broader, this could raise concern among the general public that they are changing the uses to be too flexible. Several commissioners voiced their support for retaining the longer list of uses. Staff directed the Commission to email their specific comments and suggested changes to staff so that they can be researched and considered.
 
Comment was made suggesting the following language be added to Drive-Up uses on page 2-24, “The number of drive up uses shall not exceed the 12 in existence” so that it is clear the City has a limitation on this.
 
Commissioners Heesacker/Marsh m/s to continue meeting to 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
 
Ms. Harris was asked to bring the following three items back for further review and discussion at their next meeting: ARUs, C-1 and E-1 Zone Setbacks from Adjacent Residential Zones, and Building Height in C-1 Zone.
 
B.    Proposed Changes to Unified Policies and Procedures for City Commissions and Committees.
Mr. Molnar briefly described the three options provided by the City Recorder and City Attorney and the Commission held general discussion. Several commissioners commented that the options presented do not appear to reflect the input they have provided.
 
Section 2.10.025: Meeting and Attendance
Several commissions voiced their support for Option 3. Per previous discussions on this topic, the Commission noted their support for an annual attendance rate (as opposed to a 6-month period); removing the excused versus unexcused language; and adopting a flat attendance percentage of 75% or 80%. The general consensus of the group was that since Options 1 and 2 does not reflect the Commission’s desire, Option 3 would be the preferred choice and would allow them to adopt their own attendance standards each year. 
 
Section 2.10.040: Quorum and Effect of Lack Thereof
The Commission voiced their support for Option 3, which defines a quorum as more than one-half of the current members of the body, not including any vacant positions.
 
Section 2.10.050: Election of Officers, Secretary and Subcommittees
It was clarified that this section contains the same language in all three options.
 
Commissioners Marsh/Heesacker m/s to recommend Council’s adoption of Option 3. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.
 

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