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Minutes
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

These are DRAFT minutes and are pending approval by the Planning Commission.

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
MINUTES
December 11, 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
Richard Kaplan
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Amy Gunter, Assistant Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
 
     
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Mike Morris
 
 
ANNOUCEMENTS
Community Development Director Bill Molnar made the following announcements: 1) the City Council did not pass first reading of the Housing Needs Analysis and decided to revisit this document at their February 4, 2013 Study Session, 2) the City Council’s goal setting is scheduled for January 26, 2013, and 3) the Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss possible code changes for short term vacation rentals at their January 22, 2013 Study Session.
 
CONSENT AGENDA
A.   Approval of Minutes.
       1.  November 13, 2012 Regular Meeting.
       2.  November 27, 2012 Special Meeting.
    
Commissioners Miller/Dawkins m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed. [Commissioner Kaplan abstained from the 11/13/12 minutes approval due to his absence from that meeting; Commissioners Brown and Heesacker abstained from the 11//27/12 minutes approval due to their absence from that meeting.]
 
PUBLIC FORUM
No one came forward to speak.
 
UNFINISHED BUSINESS
A.      Approval of Findings for PA-2012-01321, 622 Drager.
 
Ex Parte Contact
No ex parte contact was reported.
 
Commissioners Kaplan/Miller m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2012-01321. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
A.    PLANNING ACTION: #2012-01414
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 180 Nutley Street
APPLICANT: PowerPlus Building/Christer Cederroth
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.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
 
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Miller, Heesacker, Dawkins, and Kaplan declared site visits; No ex parte contact was reported.
 
Staff Report
Assistant Planner Amy Gunter explained the application before the Commission is for a minor land partition to create two parcels, as well as a variance request to the rear yard setback requirement and an exception to the Street Standards to not install sidewalks on Scenic Drive. Ms. Gunter stated the existing single family residence would remain at 180 Nutley and the accessory guest house would be converted to a single family residence and accessed off Scenic Drive. Ms. Gunter stated parcel one, as proposed,  would comply with the dimensional standards, setbacks, lot coverage, and solar access requirements; however, parcel two will need to have its property line adjusted 2 inches to meet the lot width to depth ratio. Ms. Gunter explained the main concerns regarding this application are with the variance request to the rear yard setback requirement. She explained the property owner recently constructed a guest house on the property and at that time the structure complied with the setback requirements, however if this lot partition is approved, the front of parcel two becomes Scenic Drive and the guest house structure was built 10.5 feet from the property line, and 20 feet is required. Ms. Gunter clarified the lot is large enough to have more than one parcel created out of it, and staff believes findings could be made for the exception to the Street Standards, but staff does not believe the criteria has been met for the variance to the rear yard setback requirement, specifically that this is not a self-imposed circumstance. 
 
Commissioner Dawkins questioned what would happen if this application is denied. Ms. Gunter explained the situation would stay as it is - the structure would remain as an accessory guest house with no kitchen facilities permitted. She added the applicants do have a few options, including: 1) either adding on or dividing one of the structures so that one is twice as large as the other and then go through the conditional use permit process for an accessory residential unit, or 2) apply for a variance to the size ratio requirement for an accessory residential unit. Ms. Gunter clarified an accessory residential unit is required to be half the size of the primary structure and no more than 1,000 square feet.
 
Commissioner Heesacker questioned if it is possible to create a flag lot so that parcel two is accessed off Nutley. Ms. Gunter explained staff did discuss this option with the applicant early in the process and the applicant could speak to this further.
 
Commissioner Kaplan asked if the Planning Division was aware that the applicant intended to partition the lot when the guest house building permit was issued. Ms. Gunter explained the applicant and staff had held a pre-application conference prior to the issuance of the building permit.
 
Applicant’s Presentation
Alan Harper/130 A Street/Land Use Attorney/Handed out a copy of the variance criteria and the definition of the word “willfully” (see Exhibit #2012-05). Mr. Harper stated he has never seen a provision like criteria C, which states “That the circumstances or conditions have not been willfully or purposefully self imposed”, and stated a person does not act “willfully” if the action is a result of a good faith misunderstanding of the requirements of the law.
 
Christer Cederroth/Property Owner/Stated he had hired an architect to assist him with partitioning the lot and creating a second structure and thought the architect had everything under control. He stated he did not look at the architect’s documents and was under the impression they had permission to do this. Mr. Cederroth explained he has always intended to split the lot and did not realize there was an issue with the setbacks until after building construction had begun.
 
Mark Knox/485 W Nevada/Applicant’s Representative/Clarified they did consider making parcel two a flag lot but it is too short to do this. He commented that the variance criteria are not specific to physical constraints on the property and believes there are unique circumstances about this situation. Mr. Knox commented that the property owner does not want to increase the size of either structure in order to pursue the accessory residential unit designation, and stated if the loft had been placed on the other side of the guest house structure this would not be an issue. He stated this structure is going to remain regardless of what is decided tonight and believes there would be less impact to the neighbors if their proposal is approved. Mr. Knox concluded by stating he feels strongly that this situation was not willfully imposed by the proposed owner.
 
Questions of the Applicant
Mr. Knox was asked to address the criteria and explain what their unique circumstance is. Mr. Knox replied this is a half-acre parcel with a 2.9 density factor, it is in the R-1-7.5 zone, and is already out of compliance for depth. Additionally, this is unique in that these are legal pre-existing buildings and because this is a corner lot, partitioning the lot switches the setback requirements.
 
Public Testimony
Rodney Farmer/196 Nutley/Stated he is the neighbor to the west of this parcel and noted the letter he had submitted in advance of tonight’s hearing. Mr. Farmer stated he is opposed to the variance request due to possible future encumbrances on his property and stated if approved, this action will impede the value of his lot. He acknowledged that this is a challenging situation for Mr. Cederroth but thinks this was willfully imposed. He stated in 2010 the applicant proposed a partition and received all the relevant information explaining setbacks would be imposed; the applicant chose to not move forward with the partition and instead built a structure 10 feet off their property line. Mr. Farmer stated they were told this was going to be a guest house and have now learned the applicant wants a partition and a separate single family home. He stated they are not opposed to the partition, but feels the applicant should have built in compliance with the current zoning laws.
 
Mr. Farmer was asked for his opinion on a solution. Mr. Farmer responded that his preference would be for the structure to remain as a guest house. He stated it has been built as a guest house, this is what they were told it would be, and thinks this is how it should remain.
 
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked if this structure was originally approved as a guest house. Ms. Gunter responded staff conducted a pre-application conference with this applicant for a minor land partition and following that meeting the applicant applied for a building permit for a guest house (which by code is not permitted to have kitchen facilities). She clarified during the pre-application conference the applicant did receive information on the current codes and setback requirements, and noted Mr. Farmer included the relevant pages of the applicant’s pre-application report as an attachment to his submitted letter.
 
Staff clarified if the structure were moved 10 feet it would meet the 20 foot setback requirement. 
 
Comment was made that the staff report appears to focus on criteria C, and staff was asked whether they believe criteria A and B have been satisfied. Ms. Gunter responded that she does not conclusively feel the applicant has met these standards, however the Commission could potentially make a finding to state these have been met.
 
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mark Knox/Clarified the applicants did look into the flag pole idea, but this was not a viable option, and the idea to move the building 10 feet is possible, but the likeliness of this happening is rare. Mr. Knox stated this building mass is going to remain regardless of what is determined tonight. He stated the applicant was not aware of the setback requirements and stated the pre-applicant report can be difficult for the lay-person to comprehend. 
 
Alan Harper/Stated nobody would purposefully put themselves in this position and the variance is the appropriate avenue to fix these types of practical difficulties and hardships. Mr. Harper stated this application will have a very minor impact compared to the hardship the property owner will face to either move the building or tear it down.  
 
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and public hearing at 8:10 pm.
 
Deliberations and Decision
 
Commissioners Dawkins/Miller m/s to deny Planning Action #2012-01414. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Dawkins stated he empathizes with the owner but a huge mistake has been made and the impacts to the neighbor to the west cannot be denied. He voiced his support for this structure to become a single family residence at some point in the future, but stated it needs to comply with the setback requirements. Commissioner Miller also sympathized with the owner but stated the criteria has not been met and the owner should have read the materials that were provided at the pre-application conference. Commissioner Brown stated at some point the applicant changed course and decided to do something different than a guest house and this is where the problem occurred. He voiced support for the motion and stated he does not want to encroach on the properties that surround this parcel. Commissioner Kaplan stated he does not see how they could draft findings that would support this application and he agrees with motion on the table. Commissioner Heesacker urged the applicant to pursue other options, such as a variance request for the flag drive or possibly an easement, but stated he cannot approve this application as presented. Commissioner Mindlin commented that in the past the Planning Commission has found properties to meet the criteria for unusual circumstances that are far less unusual than this one, and stated there are benefits to dividing lots, but agreed it is difficult to get around Criteria C. Roll Call Vote: Commissioner Brown, Dawkins, Heesacker, Kaplan, Miller and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENT PUBLIC HEARING
A.   PLANNING ACTION: #2012-01511
APPLICANT: City of Ashland               
DESCRIPTION: To adopt an updated Transportation System Plan (TSP) as a supporting document to the Ashland Comprehensive Plan, and to amend the Street Dedication Map.
 
Staff Report
Planning Manager Maria Harris provided a short overview of the Transportation System Plan (TSP) Update. She stated the TSP is an important resource that outlines the physical improvements, programs, and studies that need to be made over the next 20 years, and explained this application also includes an amendment to the Street Dedication Map. Ms. Harris clarified the lines on the Street Dedication Map are conceptual and do not show the exact locations, and stated the identified roads will typically not be built until an owner initiates development of their property. She stated staff is recommending approval of the TSP and Street Dedication Map amendment with the following seven conditions:
  1. The references to the TSP serving as the Transportation Element of the Comprehensive Plan shall be deleted from the document.
  2. The Historical and Projected Ashland Population in Exhibit 2-3 (pg.7) be replaced with the graph depicting the recently updated and adopted Jackson County coordinated population projection.
  3. That the Population Density in Figure 2-4 (pg.8) be updated to include the 2010 census information.
  4. That the descriptions of pedestrian facility types (pg.94) and bicycle facility types (pgs.102-103) be revised to reference the adopted Ashland Street Standards.
  5. That the updated City of Ashland Street Functional Classification Map (pg.87) be corrected to include a Neighborhood Street classification consistent with the Ashland Comprehensive Plan and Street Standards.
  6. That the Street Dedication Map in Figure 10-1 (pg.122) include a notation that the location of the connection from Clay Street to Tolman Creek Road shall be determined at time of development.
  7. That Project #R44 Tolman Creek-Mistletoe Streetscape Enhancements in Table 10-3 (pg.138) be revised to reflect the improvements to Mistletoe Rd. described in the Croman Mill District Standards.
Lastly, Ms. Harris commented on the Fourth Street railroad crossing. She stated the TSP removes the vehicular crossing and shows a pedestrian/bicycle crossing instead. She explained the original 1982 map included the vehicular crossing and this was reaffirmed in the draft Railroad Master Plan, and stated staff believes this element is worthy of reconsideration. Mr. Molnar clarified the TSP could be amended should the City desire to add a vehicle connection back on at some point in the future, but staff wanted to raise this concern at this stage.
 
Public Works Director Mike Faught addressed the Commission and clarified at the April 23, 2012 Joint Planning Commission/Transportation Commission meeting the Planning Commission felt strongly the Fourth Street crossing should only be a bicycle/pedestrian crossing and the Transportation Commission felt it should be vehicular. He stated this came back for further discussion at the May 16, 2012 meeting and the general consensus was for this to stay as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing.
 
Mr. Faught provided a short presentation on the TSP Update and highlighted some of the key elements of the Plan, including:
  1. Policy #27 develops a fee in lieu of policy for shared street sidewalk projects.
  2. Study #10 will evaluate pedestrian flows, crossing demand, and safety along Siskiyou Blvd. from Highway 66 to Beach Street and will include an evaluation of a pedestrian bridge.
  3. Study #2 will explore a package of improvements including a reduction to two lanes on East Main Street with wider sidewalks, a protected bike lane, truck loading zones, and parking management.
  4. Updates to a number of maps, including the street functional classification map, the street dedication map, the planned shared streets map, the sidewalk priority projects map, the existing and planned bikeway network map, the existing and planned transit service map, the rubber tire trolley route and stops map, and the planning intersection and roadway projects map.
  5. Project #R31 – Wimer Street Extension. Mr. Faught clarified the location of the street extension is conceptual until a development proposal comes forward and recommended the line be taken off the map and include a notation that states the exact location of R31 shall be refined at the time of annexation.
  6. Project funding and timelines.
Mr. Faught commented briefly on Project #R25 – Washington Street Extension and clarified the City Council has approved a letter of intent to work with the property owner Zach Brombacher on this connection. Additionally, he clarified the Clay Street roadway connection will not be required unless there is a redevelopment of the manufactured home park.
 
Mr. Faught responded to the recommended conditions of approval proposed by the Planning staff. He stated for the most part they are in agreement, however for Condition #2 instead of replacing the map he proposed including an additional map that depicts the recently updated and adopted Jackson County coordinated population projection. He also commented on Condition #6 which requires a notation on the Street Dedication Map that states the location of the Clay Street connection shall be determined at time of development and stated the more appropriate location for this notation is on Table 10-3 (pg.136).
 
Public Testimony
Zach Brombacher/1370 Tolman Creek Road/Thanked the City for respecting him as a land owner and stated he and staff have worked hard to come up with a solution that will work for his family, his property, and the City. Mr. Brombacher noted the letter of intent from the City Council for the road connection through his property to Washington Street, but noted he still has the right the back out of this.
 
Alec Hoffman/101 Prather Street/Commented on the Wimer Street extension and stated he is pleased to hear staff’s recommendation for any specific lines to be removed from the map. Mr. Hoffman expressed concern with the process and noticing that was done and stated many of his neighbors were not aware of this plan. He stated the City should have solicited input from the neighbors since they are the ones that will be directly impacted by this and recommended there be more public input on this issue before this moves onto the City Council.
 
Deliberations and Decision
The Commission held general discussion on the Transportation System Plan Update and the following comments, concerns and suggestions were made:
  • Concern was expressed that changing the Normal Street crossing from private to public is going to be a problem. Mr. Faught responded that he would check with the railroad and confirm this is feasible.
  • Comment was made that the policy regarding the fee in lieu of sidewalks appears to be a change from what was originally discussed; Specifically, that this could be done regardless of whether it is a shared road. Mr. Faught stated the Planning Commission could amend the language on pg. 93 to read: “The City of Ashland should develop a fee in lieu of policy for sidewalk construction projects that apply to streets designated as Shared Streets as well as any other streets the Planning Commission requests or approves in order to help complete higher priority sidewalks first.”  Mr. Molnar clarified this fee will come back as a separate ordinance and the Commission will have the opportunity to refine the language at that time.
Commissioners Kaplan/Miller m/s to continue the meeting to 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
  • Clarification was requested on whether the Clear Creek road extension will be development driven. Mr. Faught answered it is a combination of system development charges (SDCs) and development. He added this is one of the high priority projects and they will need to start collecting SDCs to get funding for the project.
  • Concern was raised that they are making a change to a central component in railroad master plan and they have failed to follow through with its implications. Additional comment was made that there are issues that are unresolved and the land use integration is missing.
  • Comment was made that sidewalks on both sides of the street are not always necessary but some of the diagrams in the TSP appear to indicate this. Mr. Faught clarified the diagrams are meant to depict typical cross-sections for the different types of the streets and the actual sidewalk requirements are listed in the adopted Street Standards.
  • Concern was expressed that the landscape is too steep for a new roadway from East Main to Ashland Street (Project #R26) and that the Normal Avenue Extension (Project #R19) would access East Main Street on a curve. Mr. Faught commented that these are important connections and will be evaluated much closer once development proposals come forward. Mr. Molnar added if during the Normal Avenue planning process a change is deemed necessary, an amendment to the Street Dedication Map will be part of the adoption process.
  • Concern was expressed that transportation planning for the downtown core was not more of a focus and that because they were unable to reach consensus on significant decisions these issues have been differed to future studies. Mr. Faught explained the TSP is meant to be a big picture plan and is not meant to drill down these types of work. He stated what they do in the downtown in a big deal and there were not enough of the impacted business owners at the table during the TSP process to make these determinations. He added the concepts that were discussed during this process will not go away and will move forward into the next evaluation stage.
Commissioners Kaplan/Dawkins m/s to continue the meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
Mr. Molnar clarified staff is comfortable with the two changes to the conditions of approval recommended by Mr. Faught.
 
Commissioners Brown/Heesacker m/s for the Planning Commission to recommend Council’s approval of the Transportation System Plan Update with the conditions of approval as modified.  Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Heesacker, Kaplan, Miller and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 6-0.
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 10:05 p.m.

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