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Planning Commission Mtg

Minutes
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
REGULAR MEETING
 MINUTES
February 11, 2014
 
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
Richard Kaplan
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Tracy Peddicord
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
Amy Gunter, Assistant Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
 
     
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Mike Morris, absent
 
 
 
ANNOUCEMENTS
Commissioner Kaplan provided an update on the Downtown Parking and Multi-Modal Circulation meeting; Commissioner Mindlin welcomed Lynn Thompson to the Planning Commission; and Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced upcoming meeting agenda items will include the Unified Land Use Ordinance, Normal Neighborhood Final Plan, and Short-Term Home Rentals in R-1 Districts.
 
CONSENT AGENDA
A.   Approval of Minutes.
       1.  January 14, 2014 Regular Meeting.
       2.  January 28, 2014 Joint Study Session.
       3.  January 28, 2014 Regular Study Session.
 
The following corrections were made to the minutes:
  1. January 14, 2014 Regular Meeting minutes, page 3: First sentence under Short Term Rentals item should read, “Commissioner Mindlin left the meeting due to a potential public perception of conflict of interest.”
  2. January 28, 2014 Joint Study Session minutes: Replace all instances of “Railroad District Master Plan” with “Railroad Property Master Plan”.
 
Commissioners Dawkins/Peddicord m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0. [Commissioner Thompson abstained]
 
PUBLIC FORUM
No one came forward to speak.
 
 
TYPE I APPEAL PUBLIC HEARING
  1. PLANNING ACTION #:  2013-01421                     
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  270 N First Street 
APPLICANT:  RNN Properties LLC
DESCRIPTION:  A request for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) approval to exceed maximum permitted floor area (MPFA) in the Railroad Historic District and variances to the required side-yard setbacks for the construction of a new residence on the property at 270 N First Street. The request includes the removal of the existing residence. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09BA TAX LOT: 1300.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
 
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Dawkins, Miller, Kaplan, Brown and Peddicord declared site visits. Commissioner Dawkins shared an observation from his site visit and stated the green colored house on the south alley does not conform to the diagrams in the Historic District Design Standards and it seems very out of place.
 
Staff Report
Assistant Planner Amy Gunter reviewed the approval criteria for a single family home in the R-2 District. She explained this is an outright permitted use; however this application requires a conditional use permit because it exceeds the maximum permitted floor area by 252 square foot and also requires a variance to the side yard setbacks. Ms. Gunter explained the site is located in the Railroad Historic District and the lot is legal/non-conforming, it is smaller than the minimum required lot size. She stated there is an existing residence on the site, however it is in very poor condition and the applicants have already received a demolition permit approval. She stated the applicant’s propose to construct a new two-story home in nearly the same footprint as the existing residence, and noted the proposal would widen the side yard setback on the north side from 0 feet to 3 feet.
 
Ms. Gunter brought attention to the Historic Commission’s review of this proposal and stated they recommended approval of this application with the addition of the following minor conditions: 1) that there be more space between the double hung windows, 2) removal of the transom window over the second story doors, and 3) for the second story doors to be French doors instead of sliders. Ms. Gunter explained this application was administratively approved November 20, 2013 and following staff’s approval a reconsideration request was filed. The reconsideration request was denied by the Community Development Director on November 27, 2013 and the appellant then filed their formal appeal, which is why this action is now before the Planning Commission. In her appeal, the appellant has raised issue with the size of the home, the choice of materials, not being cohesive with the other homes in the Historic District, the front yard setback, trees, parking, and open space requirements.
 
Ms. Gunter provided an overview of the applicant’s proposal and site plan and outlined the related criteria. She commented on the trees on the site and the arborists report, and clarified the parking as proposed is outright permitted and is consistent with City standards. Ms. Gunter commented on the maximum permitted floor area and clarified the ordinance allows applicants to exceed this limitation by up to 25% if they obtain a conditional use permit. She added this is a discretionary approval intended to provide a higher level of review for proposed structures in the context of the conditional use permit criteria as well as the Historic District Development Standards. In regards to the variance request for the side yard setback, Ms. Gunter explained the applicant’s proposal identifies the unusual circumstance as a narrow lot width and stated this proposal would keep the south setback the same and increase the north setback to 3 feet. Ms. Gunter also commented on the building’s design elements and clarified the Historic District Development Standards advocate for design features for new construction that are more contemporary in design in historic neighborhoods.
 
Ms. Gunter concluded her presentation and stated staff believes this application meets the criteria for approval of a conditional use permit as well as the criteria for the setback variance.
 
 
Questions of Staff
Comment was made questioning the use of stucco. Ms. Gunter stated the applicant could address the material selections during their testimony.
 
Staff was asked to clarify the lot coverage. Ms. Gunter clarified the R-2 zone allows up to 65% lot coverage and the applicant’s are proposing 55%, which includes the parking.
 
Comment was made questioning if there are other residential structures in the vicinity with metal roofs. Ms. Gunter stated there is an outbuilding at 270 Second Street that has a metal roof and there are two or three more structures with metal roofs off the alley to the east across Second Street. She added most of the commercial buildings in the neighborhood have metal roofs as well.
 
Applicant’s Presentation
Mark Knox, Nisha Jackson, and John Turman addressed the Commission. Ms. Jackson explained they purchased this home 9 months ago and while they knew it was in bad condition they had hoped they would be able to remodel it. However after the inspection was completed it was deemed unsafe. She stated some of the challenges they have faced with designing a new home are the 25 ft. wide parcel and the existing trees. Ms. Jacksons stated they have worked hard to put together a compact footprint that would allow for a second floor and a second bedroom. She clarified a metal roof was selected because they would like this home to be LEED certified and a metal roof would allow for rain collection. She noted the design has gone through several revisions to accommodate the suggestions of the Historic Commission, and highlighted their decision to increase the setback to 3 ft. off the alley. Ms. Jackson stated they have followed all of the recommendations and have met the codes, and hopes the Planning Commission will approve this application, just as the Historic Commission and staff did.
 
Mr. Knox commented that the lot’s depth is much less than that of a standard historic district lot, and stated the current house has no sense of entry and is in very poor condition. He noted the appellant’s house is adjacent to the applicant’s, and they themselves recently went through a major remodel and addition. He stated the appellant’s parking is located in the right-of-way and is a commercial use with ramps out front, and has changed the character of the streetscape. Mr. Knox stated the applicant’s proposal is for a residence and the design is very compatible, just as the Historic Commission and staff has found. He added if the Commission has concerns with the metal roof, it may still be possible to do a LEED structure with another option, but hopes the Commission will not ask for this.
 
Ms. Jackson clarified for the Commission that they intend to save the boxwood tree on the site. She stated the arborist recommended its removal, but that was before he knew they would be doing a slab foundation. She also clarified the collector for the rain water would be placed in the backyard. When asked about the stucco material selection, John Thurman (building designer) explained varying materials were selected to break up the massing. He added in order to obtain LEED certification the slab needs to be wrapped with foam, and stucco siding works well for this. Mr. Thurman commented on the overall design of the structure and stated the proposed home is located in a transitional area and is much more appealing than the existing structure. He added the design combines elements of the more modern commercial structures while keeping some of the elements of the traditional historic homes.
 
Comment was made expressing concern with the two-story design and whether this is compatible with the streetscape and the Historic District Design Standards. Mr. Knox noted the adjacent home has two-stories, but the volume is setback, and commented on the importance of having a varying streetscape with undulation. He added there are other houses along this stretch that have two stories as well.
 
Appellant’s Presentation
Patricia Way/260 N First Street /Stated she owns the property next door and shared her concerns regarding bulk, scale, coverage, and architectural compatibility. Ms. Way stated the proposed home would not contribute to the character of the Railroad Historic District and would chip away at the integrity of the neighborhood. She commented on tourism and the draw historic homes and neighborhoods have, and recommended the Commission preserve the Railroad District character because it promotes tourism. Ms. Way stated the second story of the proposed home should be stepped back in order to not dwarf the other homes in the neighborhood, and expressed her concern regarding the contemporary design of the home. She stated it is not architecturally compatible with the impact area and cited the Historic District Design Standards. She commented that the stucco siding, metal roof, sliding glass doors, and steal cable balcony do not match the historic neighborhood, and claimed the applicant’s misinformed and misrepresented the basis for their conditional use permit. She elaborated that the applicant’s materials included pictures of homes they stated were within 200 ft. of their property and this is outright false information that the Historic Commission used to base their opinion and recommendations on. She added the properties to the north, east and south of this lot are all residential homes, and not commercial businesses as indicated in the applicant’s materials. Ms. Way submitted a petition signed 77 people who are against this proposal and asked the Commission to deny the applicant’s conditional use permit.
 
Comment was made questioning how the petition signatures were obtained and whether any of the individuals reside on First Street. Ms. Way clarified the petition was placed at Ashland Street Printing for signatures and did not know if any of the signees live on First Street.
 
Public Testimony
Colin Swales/143 Eight Street/Stated this is a unique street and noted the curbside sidewalk that was recently installed. Mr. Swales thanked the applicant for complying with the parking standards and stated all of the other structures on First Street have placed their parking in the front yards. He stated contemporary houses can look very complimentary to other designs and thinks the applicant’s have done a magnificent job and encouraged the Planning Commission’s approval. 
 
Bryan Mikota/147 N Laurel/Stated he loves to walk around Ashland and check out the historical buildings as well as the new construction. He stated a lot of thought is being put into these new structures and they are improving the liveliness of the area. Mr. Mikota stated a few of the building near the Co-Op need some work, and this is one of them. He stated this will be a beautiful addition to the neighborhood and stated he would have the same opinion if he were a visitor.
 
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked to comment on the appellant’s statement that misleading information was given to the Historic Commission. Ms. Gunter stated that the applicant had said there was an addition with a metal roof; it is not metal but since the structure will be demolished, that information didn’t influence the Historic Commission’s decision. Ms. Gunter also clarified the applicant’s materials included photographs and it was indicated they were on the same block. She stated there are different ways to define a block and does not believe this influenced the Historic Commission’s decision.
 
Staff was asked why two Historic commissioners voted to deny approval. Ms. Gunter stated one of the commissioners felt the proposal did not meet the compatibility standards, and the other commissioner did not vocalize her objections during the public hearing.
 
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mark Knox/Referenced the Historic District Standards and stated that design can be very subjective, but this is why there is a seven member Historic Commission made up of architects and designers. Mr. Knox stated they have followed the design standards and have followed the input from the Historic Commission.
 
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the hearing at 8:30 pm.
 
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioner Miller gave her opinion that the home should conform more to the historic residential character. Commissioner Kaplan commented on the transitional character of this neighborhood and voiced his support for this proposal. He added it is not his desire to redesign this structure and will leave that to the Historic Commission. Commissioner Peddicord agreed with Kaplan. She stated a metal roof is needed for rainwater catchment and ignoring the applicant’s desire for LEED certification would be negligent on their part. She added a stepped back second story would be detrimental, and stated the applicant has addressed criteria and issues. Commissioner Thompson stated the criteria for the conditional use permit and the variance request have been met, and believes this is a reasonable request. Commissioner Brown commented on standards for new construction versus reconstruction and gave his opinion that this design misses the boat in terms of scale and massing. He agreed that this is a transitional block but feels a stepped back second story would better fit the streetscape. Commissioner Dawkins disagreed and stated the home does fit the streetscape, as well as all of the criteria. Commissioner Mindlin stated she is comfortable with many of the elements, but voiced her agreement with Commissioner Brown in term of mass and scaling. She added ultimately though, the Historic Commission is the appropriate body to address the design and does not believe this is the time or place to take this up.
 
Commissioner Dawkins/Peddicord m/s to approve PA-2013-01421 with the conditions proposed by staff. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Kaplan, Thompson, Peddicord and Mindlin, YES. Commissioners Brown and Miller, NO. Motion passed 5-2.
 
TYPE III PUBLIC HEARING
  1. PLANNING ACTION #:  2014-00052
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  87 W. Nevada St. and 811 Helman Street
APPLICANT:  Wilma LLC
DESCRIPTION: A request to modify the Development Agreement for the Verde Village Subdivision for the properties located at 87 W. Nevada Street and 811 Helman Street. The proposed modifications include: clarifications of the project phasing to make clear which improvements are required with each phase and to allow either phase to occur first; changes to the energy efficiency requirements of the development so that all units will be constructed to at least Earth Advantage Gold standards and will be “Photovoltaic Ready”; and changes to the landscaping and maintenance requirements associated with construction of the multi-use path.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Suburban Residential and Single-Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-3.5, R-1-5, R-1-7.5; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 04B TAX LOTS: 1100, 1400-1418.
 
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Dawkins, Miller, Brown and Peddicord declared site visits; No ex parte contact was reported.
 
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson reviewed the site and provided an overview of the original land use application. He explained the approved application was memorialized in a development agreement that was adopted by ordinance by the City Council in December 2007, and encompassed the following elements:
  • Annexation, Land Exchange with the City, and Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map changes.
  • Outline Plan approval to develop the property as a 68-unit residential development.
  • Site Review approval for multi-family development.
  • Physical and Environmental Constraints Review Permit to locate a multi-use path in the Ashland Creek Riparian Preservation Area.
  • Exceptions to the Street Standards to install a curbside sidewalk on one side of a proposed street, to not locate a street adjacent to natural features, and to not connect two of the proposed streets.
  • Variances to reduce the on-street parking requirement to 38 spaces, to reduce the rear yard setback, and to reduce the required distance between buildings for cottages.
  • Administrative Variance to have the primary orientation of the buildings to the south in order to maximize use of solar energy.
 
Mr. Severson explained the affordable housing development Rice Park was part of the first phase and has already been completed, and the remainder of the first phase includes the development of a cottage community with a private drive. The second phase of this development includes single family homes, completion of the Bear Creek Greenway connection to Nevada Street, and sidewalk installation along Nevada to Oak Street. Mr. Severson explained the applicant’s are here tonight requesting three modifications to their original development agreement:
 
  • Project Phasing: The applicants propose to make the project a true two phase project that would split the infrastructure of the development in phases rather than front loading the majority of the infrastructure into the first phase. Mr. Severson stated either phase could be built first, or they could be built simultaneously. He noted the applicants have agreed to provide permanent facilities to serve Rice Park and the connection to the dog park in Phase I; and the greenway connection and sidewalk on Nevada would be tied to the Sanders Way improvements in Phase II.
  • Energy Efficiency: The applicants are requesting to change the energy efficiency requirements to be more compatible with technological changes and easier to administer by going with an established program with third party verification. Mr. Severson stated the units would have to obtain a minimum of Earth Advantage Gold/Photovoltaic Ready certification, and these would be 15% more energy efficient than the current code requirements and 20%-30% better than the codes that were in place when the subdivision was approved.
  • Multi-Use Path: The riparian corridor mitigation plantings would be reduced to install 10-foot buffer plantings on the subdivision side plus the 10-foot path, 4 ft. of landscaping on either side of the path, and re-vegetation of any additional areas of disturbance associated with the path installation. Mr. Severson reviewed the cross-section illustrations for the riparian landscaping plan and clarified the applicants will be responsible for maintaining the improvements they install for a three year period.
 
Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and stated staff supports a favorable recommendation to the City Council with the recommendations outlined in the staff report.
 
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked about strengthening the language in the development agreement regarding the multi-use path landscaping and riparian corridor restoration to make the expectation about working with the Parks Department clearer.
 
Staff was asked if Sander Way would be installed if Phase II never happens. Mr. Severson clarified Sander Way would only serve the units built along that road, so if Phase II never occurs and those homes are not built, the installation of Sander Way would not be vital.
 
Staff was asked to clarify the distinction between “Phase 1” and “Phase 2” (uppercase) and “phase one” and “phase two” (lowercase). Mr. Severson recommended the applicants speak to this during their presentation.
 
Comment was made that the timetable does not reflect all of the elements identified in the development agreement and it was questioned if this should be a concern.
 
Staff was asked whether there is any financial surety for this development and Mr. Severson clarified the City has trust deeds on several of the single family lots.
 
Commissioners Kaplan/Miller m/s to extend meeting. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed 7-0.
 
Applicant’s Presentation
Valri Williams and Greg Williams/Explained when the original development agreement was prepared they were very new to development and the concept of a development agreement was new to the City of Ashland. Ms. Williams stated six years have passed since the development agreement was prepared and they have realized there are some issues that need to be addressed. Ms. Williams explained the detailed plan for the multi-use path and riparian area is already in place, and they intend on using this plan but whiting out the areas beyond the four foot buffer. She stated the Parks Department does not want trees installed in the middle of the blackberry bushes and are concerned about the maintenance cost, and noted there are trees growing there now that weren’t there at the time of the development agreement. Ms. Williams stated their request is to evaluate the vegetation when they get ready to do the multi-use path. Regarding the project phasing, Ms. Williams explained the use of “Phase” was used to identify the physical location on the development, and “phase” was added to identify the first phase that is actually constructed. She commented on the energy efficiency requirements and explained they realized during the construction of Rice Park that the elements outlined in K-3 were very onerous. As an alternative, they would like to move to the Earth Advantage program and require all homes to be a minimum of Earth Advantage Gold. It was noted that this is still going to be one of the most energy efficient neighborhoods in the state.
 
Comment was made questioning if the applicants would be placing solar panels on some of the units. Mr. Williams explained the units will be solar ready but they personally will not be building the homes, but rather will be selling the lots and it will be the new owner’s decision as to whether to install the PV panel. He added all of the homes will be passively solar heated, which is a huge benefit in itself.
 
Ms. Williams spoke to the timeline and explained this document was intended to be a guideline as to when key things should be done, but does not list every action. She added the timeline is not all inclusive and the development agreement sets the precedent.
 
Comment was made recommending the City’s legal department take a close look at the development agreement and make sure the document fully reflects the applicant’s commitments.
 
Comment was made questioning if the applicants have placed money in escrow for the riparian corridor improvements. Ms. Williams clarified there is a bond with the City for the riparian area and they are not allowed any vertical construction until the path is installed, which provides a strong incentive to make sure this gets done. 
 
Public Testimony
Colin Swales/143 Eighth Street/Stated this was a hugely ambitious project when it was approved and what they saw is not ultimately what they will get. Mr. Swales stated the value of the land was greatly increased by the prior approval, and yet there is no indication that this project will ever happen. He questioned what might happen if this was not completed and asked if the area would be de-annexed and the land swap reversed. Mr. Swales stated the City is in a bind but voiced his disagreement with extending the completion timeframe for this proposal. He recommended the Commission look out for the City’s best interest and asked that the development agreement be looked at in detail. He added it is the developer’s job to comply with the terms they originally agreed to.
 
Commissioners Dawkins/Kaplan m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 pm. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed 7-0.
 
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked to clarify what will be provided to the City Council. Mr. Severson answered the package of materials will include a council communication, a revised ordinance, and the exhibits associated with the changes (which will include the Planning Commission’s recommendation.)
 
Staff was asked if they are comfortable with the proposed modification to the riparian area. Mr. Severson suggested the Commission could consider strengthening this language by changing it to read, “planting of additional trees both inside and outside the pathway corridor to be selected and placed after consultation based on recommendations from the Parks Department staff.”
 
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mr. Williams stated this property has been in his family for 100 years and it is beautiful land. He added the University of Oregon deemed it as was one of the best places in Ashland’s to have solar homes.
 
Deliberations and Decision
Comment was made that serious floods can occur every 10 years and it could be a waste to install a lot of plantings along the creek. Statement was made expressing support for the applicants to work with the Parks Department and enhancing the area to maintain a more natural look. Comment was made that their recommendation should be clear that the applicants must conform to what the Parks Department says. 
 
Mr. Severson recommended the following wording: “That the revised plan (replacing Sheet R-1 from December 1, 2008) to be provided prior to pathway installation shall illustrate the proposed pathway installation and the redefined limits of the slope stabilization and associated revegetation and shall include the planting of additional trees both inside and outside the pathway corridor to be selected and placed based on the recommendations of Parks Department staff as to the number, type, and placement.” The Planning Commission voiced support for this revision. 
 
Commissioner Mindlin asked if the group had any concerns with the modification to the phasing and no issues were raised.
 
Commissioner Mindlin asked if the group had any concerns with the modification to the energy efficiency standards and no issues were raised.
 
Commissioners Miller/Thompson m/s to recommend Council’s approval of the project with the conditions recommended by staff including the modified language to Condition #31, and recommend the documents be reviewed by the Legal Department to ensure the applicants commitments are properly reflected. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Kaplan, Brown, Dawkins, Thompson, Miller, Peddicord, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 7-0.
 
ADJOURNMENT

Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.
 

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