ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
NOVEMBER 13, 2001
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Mike Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Alex Amarotico, Colin Swales, John Fields, Marilyn Briggs, and Mike Morris. Ray Kistler arrived at the beginning of Planning Action 2001-103. Kerry KenCairn and Russ Chapman were absent. Staff present were John McLaughlin, Bill Molnar, Maria Harris, and Sue Yates.
Gardiner introduced Colin Swales, newest member of the Planning Commission.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Briggs moved to approve the Minutes of the July 24, 2001 Joint Study Session. Morris seconded the motion and the Minutes were approved.
Morris moved to approve the Minutes of the September 11, 2001 Regular Meeting. Fields seconded the motion and the Minutes were approved.
Swales abstained from voting.
Cody Bustamante, 597 Benson Way, addressed the LTM asphalt batch plant. He believes this is an unacceptable use for this property because the area has changed and there are a lot of residences in the area. He would like to see this issue addressed.
McLaughlin said Bustamonte could restate this during the public hearing. It is good for the Commissioners to hear that there is concern about changing the M-1 zone in the future.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
PLANNING ACTION 2001-089
REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT AND SITE REVIEW APPROVAL TO CONSTRUCT A MEDICAL OFFFICE AND 24 RESIDENTIAL UNITS LOCATED AT THE SOUTHWEST CORNER OF GRANT AND NORTH MAIN STREETS.
APPLICANT: CHUCK BUTLER
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts -Site visits were made by all and a joint site visit was made by five of the Commissioners. Swales read the minutes of the September meeting and listened to the tapes of that meeting and will participate in the hearing.
Harris reported this is an action continued from September based on needing more information to make the decision. The items concerned: 1) site and building design, 2) off-street parking, 3) trees and landscape plan, 4) street improvements, and 5) traffic analysis. She referred on the overhead to Buildings 1, 2, and 3. Building 1 fronts North Main Street with an entrance on Grant. Building 2 parallels Grant Street and houses ten condominiums. Building 3 is more on the interior of the site and houses ten condominiums.
The three lots are going to be consolidated into one large parcel. That becomes an issue for the setback of Building 3. Six feet will be required, but the applicant is showing ten feet, four feet more than required.
This property is not in the Historic District and is subject to just the basic Site Review criteria. There are no standards requiring the applicant to break up the roofline, however, the applicant has added two architectural elements (dormers) in an attempt to visually break up the roofline.
The scale of Building 1 was discussed at the September meeting. This building is subject to the Conditional Use Permit criteria. The criteria that speak to the design are architectural compatibility in the bulk, mass, and scale of the building relating to the target use of the zone. In looking at the potential buildings that could be developed under the basic Site Review standards, Staff believes the applicant has broken up the mass and scale of the building and it will be compatible to what would be developed if it were developed as the target use.
The applicant has added storage under the stairwells because there are no garages.
The sign is still in the vision clearance area, but a Condition has been added that would address that issue.
The applicant has submitted two revised site plans with regard to parking. One shows the parking the same. At the last meeting, the Tree Commission and the Planning Commission asked the applicant look at saving the sycamore tree. The other site plan shows parking including the retained sycamore. In the revised plan, ten parking spaces would be lost. The applicant would require a Variance for six spaces if the revised plan is adopted. A Condition has been added to address the bike parking. They have added covered parking along the back row of parking.
The arborist report indicated the sycamore tree has a fungal disease that spreads quite easily to other plant materials. There is a certain risk in putting new plant materials near an existing tree. The tree has also been topped repeatedly. The arborist has recommended removing the sycamore tree and the spruce tree. The grading that will be required in close proximity to the tree would affect the tree’s potential to live.
The applicant has submitted a revised landscape plan. They are showing 76 trees they are going to plant and they are proposing to remove all 26 existing trees on the site.
A seven foot planting strip with street trees has been added to the proposal. The sidewalk has been moved back. A bus shelter will be located on North Main. It has been reviewed by RVTD. RVTD believes it is better to move the bus stop south of the intersection.
The applicant has submitted a traffic impact analysis. The analysis concludes there will be no noticeable negative impact on the surrounding street system and intersections due to the proposed development. The analysis shows that currently a left hand turn lane is warranted on North Main Street going north. And, the sight distance both from Grant and North Main for making left hand turns does not meet current minimums. The level of service for all the intersections surrounding the site stays the same. The trip generation breaks down as follows: 40 percent of the trips generated will be from the residential use and 60 percent from the commercial use. Daily trips are calculated at 353 trips per day added because of the development.
The issues raised in the Staff Report are a difference with ODOT’s accident data and the City’s accident data. The City’s data is a little higher for the intersections over the past ten years. The City keeps track of minor accidents reported to the Police Department whereas the ODOT data is only DMV reportable (certain dollar amount of damage). A letter dated November 9, 2001 was received from the engineering firm. Harris believes it is not that simple to compare the accident data. They need a lot of detailed information about the accidents.
Should the Commission decide the CUP and Site Review criteria are met, Staff has added 19 Conditions. Swales asked if Staff recommended approval. Harris said in looking at the application material, Staff is recommending that if the two issues concerning the traffic analysis are resolved, then they believe the application meets the criteria for Site Review and a Conditional Use Permit.
Swales did not believe the lot consolidation was addressed. Harris explained that the setback along Grant Street is ten feet, but on all the other side property lines, six feet is required.
Swales said this is a Conditional Use Permit that that has no more impact than if it was developed as residential. By getting a Main Street fronting lot, we are getting a totally different development pattern in terms of setback and massing. Does the CUP criteria pertain to the fact these three already quite large lots are being consolidated into one even larger lot? Does that impact the surrounding and subsequent development? McLaughlin said the consolidation would have no impact. The Commission is looking at the entire project as a whole - one project.
Briggs referred to the Staff Report stating the Planning Commission can require that Building 3 not have a second story where it is butting up against the property on Greenbriar. Harris said the Site Review Chapter states the Commission has the power to amend plans, which includes buffering the existing surrounding structures from any detrimental effects of the proposed development. Harris asked, if it is necessary not to add a second story because that is the historical development pattern of the neighborhood?
Fields asked about affordable units. Harris said the applicant has said they are bringing the proposal under the City’s affordable housing program which is 130 percent of median income. For a four person family, allowable yearly income is about $40,000.
Swales asked about the R-2 zoning requirements of distance between buildings. It states the distance between principle buildings should be at least one-half the sum of the height of both buildings. Does that apply in this case? Harris did not believe it would because that is the part of the code that discusses open space.
KEN OGDEN, 2950 E. Barnett Road, Medford, OR 97504, architect for Chuck Butler, explained the Building 3 setbacks. In respect to the neighbors, Building 3 has been rotated so there would not be the full two-story height along the entire property line. Another item of note is the elevation difference between the neighboring properties and the lower footprint of the structure. The elevation is considerably lower, therefore, even a two-story will have a more single story to one and one-half story look. Buildings 2 and 3 have been calculated as one single building even though it is two buildings with a breezeway through them. It meets the building code. His preference would be to keep the buildings as two to break up the massing.
Briggs asked how many feet are between the two buildings. Ogden believes it is about ten feet. The building height of Building 1 is 26 feet, nine inches, 27 feet on Building 2, and Building 3 is about 32 feet. Ogden said there are minimal windows in this building separation area.
Briggs wondered if anyone has been willing to take the two existing houses for relocation. Ogden said they have an interested party and those buildings would be salvaged and moved.
Ogden said the porches on Grant Street will be drawn to six feet rather than five.
Briggs said she did not care for the dormers on the roof. Ogden agreed that he would rather not see them there. He would be glad to look at it further. He also noted that he intends a post and beam type of structure for the carports with a minimal sloped roof so as not to impede the view from the buildings.
Briggs asked Ogden how he felt about the second story on Building 3 and abutting it to the neighbor’s property. He has been respectful to the neighboring properties by using an additional setback and noted the topography change between the surface and the neighboring property. He believes it should be minimal.
Ogden mentioned they have instituted a higher density tree count in this area. With the mitigation of the sycamore and spruce trees, they have agreed to replace those trees with trees as large as are available. They are looking at putting in three sycamores.
Fields said if they are at ten feet between Building 3 and the property line, he would calculate about seven feet between Buildings 2 and 3. He is wondering about the intent of our ordinances that state under no circumstances will buildings be less than ten feet apart. Ogden said he would be willing to accept that as a Condition if the ten foot distance between buildings is required. They can take a few inches out of each unit. McLaughlin said the idea when it was adopted was to create light and air between buildings but since then we have created a longer list of requirements for private spaces and open spaces and density bonuses for larger open spaces. Those handle the majority of situations. There are a couple of solutions: 1) require building separation of ten to twelve feet, or 2) require structural connection.
Briggs is concerned that Building 2 has primary windows that face the end of Building 3, just a few feet away. Ogden said they could rotate Building 3 along the property line so each unit has a perfect viewshed, however, one of the things they are unwilling to compromise is a unit.
Swales said one of the goals of the Comprehensive Plan and the Site Review Chapter is that as many trees and shrubs are kept as possible. It seems to Swales this is a site with a number of trees, some significant, some not. Most of the existing trees are small in stature such as nut trees, probably historical trees for this neighborhood. Basically, all the trees are being taken out on the site including the large sycamore. He is upset about the number of trees that are going to be removed. Ogden would be willing to look at some of the fruit trees on the site. It is his understanding from the Tree Commission that because they were fruit trees, they are not considered significant trees. Swales said if approval is granted for the proposal, he would like to see some recognition that this was historically an almond and nut orchard.
JOHN HARDEY, Hardey Engineering, P. O. Box 1625, said he got information from ODOT. Harris was able to track down the information from the City. There have been ten accidents in ten years based on the ODOT information. There were 23 accidents in nine years according the City’s information. Assuming we go to the 23 accidents, that is still not a significant number of accidents for the vehicles at the intersection.
Swales asked about the traffic count on North Main. Hardey said there are approximately 18,000 vehicle trips per day. The speed limit is 40 miles per hour.
Fields wondered what it means once the street reaches capacity and warrants a left hand turn lane but the street width cannot be obtained. Is that an indication that the turning movement is at capacity? Hardey said according to the engineering standards, it would be good to have a turn lane. It is approaching capacity. The level of service is a different issue. It is a level of service D which is still acceptable but approaching the upper end of levels. Generally, anything worse than D is not acceptable. McLaughlin thought to put it in perspective, every intersection along North Main would warrant a left-turn lane under these standards. It is his understanding it is not as much a capacity issue as it is a waiting time. One has to wait for a break in the traffic before turning.
Morris asked the definition of Level D. Hardey said it is an average stop delay of between 20 and 30 seconds. The next level down would be 30 to 45 seconds. The calculations do not take into account there is a signal right down the street which creates platooning movements, allowing for better gaps in traffic. Ogden said there has been some discussion of moving the speed limit sign down further and perhaps reducing the speed. Gardiner believes moving the bus stop will aid the intersection as well.
Gardiner asked for clarification. Is the distance between the two buildings acceptable the way it is drawn? McLaughlin said the Commission can find it is acceptable and meets the Site Design Standards or they can require they are connected structurally, or they could require greater separation.
Gardiner asked if the setback is well within the ordinance. McLaughlin said the Commission has discretion in the ordinance to increase setbacks up to 20 feet if they feel it is necessary and appropriate to meet the Design Standards, but if it were developed as a single family residence, it could be built six feet from the property line.
No one came forth to speak either for or against the proposal.
Ogden said one of the things they did at the end of the units was to create pop-outs so it breaks up the surfaces. He would be willing to do that along the end so it is not such a flat facade.
Fields said one thought on the gable ends is that to really reduce the impact in a meaningful way would be to Dutch the gable so it would let light in on both ends. Ogden said that would be easy to do. Harris will add a Condition.
Gardiner thought the Commissioners might still want to see retention of the sycamore tree. McLaughlin said he did not believe the applicant could get approval without re-noticing the neighbors. Ogden said he would look at using larger trees on the property.
COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Briggs believes the project is much grander in scale than the neighborhood. She is upset about losing the sycamore and spruce. She is upset about the configuration of the building. She does not believe the trees and topography are being respected.
Swales agrees with Briggs. He is looking at the development patterns on Grant Street with 60 foot frontage. He feels the Planning Commission has no control over the style of development that can happen on this large consolidated lot. If the lots had been developed as they exist, he does not believe there would be the same density because parking would be set back between the individual lots. We are ending up with a 20-plex with huge, huge parking lots. He was surprised to read in the Staff Report that the other parking lot is called "buffering" from one residential building to the next. With 18,000 vehicle trips per day on North Main perhaps there is something to be said about having some office space. However, he believes the scale and style of the buildings set a bad precedent to follow along there. He sees this application fits only a few of the criteria that a CUP would warrant, namely that it would have no more adverse impact on the neighborhood than if it were just residences. The maximum number of units (24) are being proposed besides approximately 6,000 square feet of office space. Sixty percent of the traffic will be generated by the office buildings that is over and above what would be allowed if this was a residential development. He cannot see how it can meet the conditions of a CUP.
Harris said the maximum density is 29 units. McLaughlin said the Commissioners should ask: Does the addition of the office space increase the adverse material affect on the impact area? It is Staff’s opinion, that given the relationship of the property to North Main Street, the traffic from the office location goes in and out of the intersection without really impacting the neighborhood. Across the street are E-1 uses and across Grant Street is another doctor’s office. The positive effects are opportunities for mixed use, employment and maybe something more appropriate to put on North Main Street than pure residential. The Commission needs to be cautious in talking about some the issues of scale, style and density. In their power to amend plans, they do not have the discretion over density. The underlying zone is R-2 which allows for multi-family development. That is the way housing is built in our town and becomes more affordable. If the Commission does not agree, they need to be looking at re-zoning the property. He cautioned the Commission about looking at the CUP criteria for the portion related to office. If the office was not there, you could have the exact same buildings with just larger residential units. There would be increased traffic generation from the larger units. Having views from every window would be ideal, but again that affects desirability and affordability. The less desirable units become more affordable.
Gardiner believes this application has progressed since September. The improvements to the frontage and parkrow on North Main have been positive. The moving of the bus stop has enhanced the intersection and the ability to negotiate around the intersection. Covered parking has been addressed. He believes if the proposal is approved, that using the slope in the open space might be better use of the open space than having Building 2 and 3 follow the same direction on the slope that would impact the neighbors with larger buildings across the whole property line. If the architect is willing to work on both ends of Building 3, that might mitigate some of the problems some of the Commissioners have. Gardiner said it would be nice to save the trees, but he could go either way, especially if the applicant does more planting of larger diameter trees in other sections.
Fields said with regard to the trees, if we have something we are interested in, we should probably forward the request to the Tree Commission. It seems like the dividers are not wide enough to plant trees that will shade the parking lot. Is the width between our buildings the Planning Commissions’ concern? He believes the feeling of being enclosed would be better than feeling like you are in a canyon. He thinks what we are talking about is making Ashland a city. Part of losing some of the small town character is creating walkable densities with a mixed use element. He feels it is meeting the intent of Site Review as much as we can pin it down. Fields asked if we have the discretion over architectural design review according to our Site Review. It is good to criticize and say what we would like, but it is a difficult situation. He would like to see ten feet between the buildings. He would also prefer moving the buildings close to six feet from the back property line. Harris said the Tree Commission did recommend the planters in the parking lots be expanded to six feet. Condition 5 covers that.
Morris is a little nervous about the traffic section. The visibility is not adequate as it is. He does not feel it is in our purview to change the architecture. He likes the spacing of the building better as it is now.
Gardiner said there is really no way to restrict the development based on the level of activity at the intersection. McLaughlin affirmed. The next step becomes incumbent on the City to look at speeds on North Main Street. That is an ODOT decision but done in conjunction with the City. It is still a state highway. The Commission can recommend to Traffic Safety Commission to look at that area based on the type of approvals and what you are hearing about the intersections.
Briggs said Upper Limb It said the spruce tree was a sound structure but it was too close to the proposed grade change for the parking lot. That is self-imposed where the parking lot is going to be. She is allowed to cast her vote based on scale, bulk and coverage. When she looks at the map of the existing neighborhood, the proposal before the Commission is not in keeping with it.
Swales believes this particular development is the gateway to Ashland and what goes on here will be seen by 18,000 people everyday.
Harris added a Condition that would read: That the gable ends of building 3 shall be hipped. Revised elevations shall be submitted for review and approval of the Staff Advisor prior to issuance of the building permit.
Harris said Condition 12 should be removed which deals with removing on-street parking on Grant. It was addressed in the traffic impact analysis.
Swales felt inadequate noticing was done for this action. The sign posted on the property was laying on its side on the property. McLaughlin believes sufficient noticing was done. There have been no written comments from the neighboring property owners.
Gardiner asked for a list of added Conditions.
Fields believes dropping the second floor unit would ameliorate both the back property line setback problem and the space between the buildings. In other words, it would be a six foot side yard setback for the first story and 20 foot setback for the second story gaining four feet between the buildings making it about 11 feet between buildings. Swales would like it to comply with the Land Use Ordinance. That would be 12 feet between Buildings 2 and 3. Everyone agreed with this and it will be added as Condition 21.
With the removal of Condition 12, there will be 20 Conditions. Fields moved to approve with the amended Conditions. Amarotico seconded the motion and it carried with Swales and Briggs voting "no".
Kistler joined the meeting.
PLANNING ACTION 2001-103
REQUEST FOR A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN MAP AMENDMENT AND ZONE CHANGE FROM M-1 (INDUSTRIAL) TO E-1 (EMPLOYMENT); HC (HEALTH CARE); R-1-3.5P (SUBURBAN RESIDENTIAL); R-1-7.5 (SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENTIAL) AND R-2 (LOW DENSITY MULTI-FAMILY RESIDENTIAL) FOR APPROXIMATELY 65 ACRES LOCATED NORTH OF SISKIYOU BOULEVARD BETWEEN THE RAILROAD TRACKS AND MISTLETOE ROAD (OLD CROMAN MILL SITE).
APPLICANT: GALPIN, LLC
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all.
McLaughlin noted the applicant gave a presentation in July at a Joint Study Session with the Planning Commission and the City Council.
Molnar said this application involves an amendment of the Comprehensive Plan Map and Zone Change of 65 acres. The request is to re-zone the 65 acres into a mix of zoning types that would include Employment, Employment with a Residential Overlay, Multi-Family Residential, Suburban Residential, a small amount of Single Family Residential, as well as Health Care Services for the property.
The Staff Report concentrates on the request for a Zone Change and Comprehensive Plan Map amendment. The applicant, for ease of reviewing the application, has presented a schematic neighborhood plan so they can get an idea of where the different zoning designations are.
Is there a compelling public need to re-zone the property and reduce the City’s inventory of what has been earmarked for future job generation and economic development? Under Statewide Planning Goal 9, cities are required to have a sufficient supply of land within the Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate employment opportunities and economic development for a minimum of a 20 year period. When the City adopted their zoning code in the early 80’s, in order to comply with that Statewide Planning Goal, communities used different zoning designations. The City of Ashland has three commercial zoning designations: M-1, C-1, and E-1. M-1 does not allow for residential use, whereas in the C-1 and E-1 zones, when there is a Residential Overlay, a certain amount of residential development is allowed. The M-1 zone allows for some heavy manufacturing where C-1 and E-1 allow for lighter manufacturing and assembly. Is there a need to reduce that supply significantly?
The six acres of the southerly portion of the development is outside the city limits. The applicant does not propose annexing that six acres at this time. It would be proposed at a later date. They are requesting amending the Comprehensive Plan Designation for that property. It is currently E-1 and would come in as a mix of E-1, R-2 and a park designation.
Staff looked at two methods the City has used in the past in determining the 20 year supply of Commercial, Industrial and Employment lands,. The methodology is outlined in the Economic Element. It assumes that for every 100 person increase in the city’s population, 39 of those people will be employed. Based on the population projections for the next 20 years, the city should have between 126 to 165 acres within the UGB that will allow for Commercial, Industrial and Employment uses.
The Buildable Lands Inventory adopted in 1998 is another methodolgy used in determining the 20 year supply. In anticipation of this project, the BLI has been updated. It looks at the consumption and absorption rate of the Commercial, Industrial and Employment lands over the past eleven years. For a 20 year period, we would need approximately 110 acres of land for employment generation or economic development. Currently, the city has 135 acres of zoned land in those three categories.
Staff is very cautious in their approach. They do not believe there is a significant surplus of land. If the property was re-zoned and ultimately resulted in a shortfall in land, what areas would be appropriate to re-zone to meet the statewide goal to maintain a 20 year supply? The only areas are within the UGB earmarked for Residential land that are between Tolman Creek and Walker or looking around the perimeter of the city limits. Neither scenario is appropriate. The proximity of the Croman property, close to services, good access to the freeway, rail, collector and arterial streets, and public transit, appropriate and well-suited for the type of employment uses envisioned.
Staff felt the applicant’s prepared application in evaluating the argument for public need is flawed; that there is a need for additional residential land and there is a surplus of land zoned for employment. They evaluated just the absorption of E-1 land over the last three years. Staff felt this was too narrow a time frame to get a trend on what the community's land needs for employment will be for the next 20 years. It concluded that only five acres of E-1 land would be needed in the city’s inventory to accommodate our use over the next 20 years. Staff had a hard time accepting this information considering in the last decade we have consumed 44 acres of E-1 land. We felt it would be irresponsible for the City to accept the finding that we needed only five acres of E-1 land for the next 20 years. The application notes we have an inadequate supply of R-1-3.5 property. Out of the 65 acres on the Croman mill site, approximately 15 acres are proposed to be re-zoned R-1-3.5 (Suburban Residential). Staff had trouble with the conclusion that was only five acres in the UGB at this point. The City’s BLI identifies approximately 68 acres within the UGB and we only need approximately 36 acres for the next 20 years. There is an adequate supply within the UGB to accommodate any shortfall in the R-1-3.5 category.
Staff did not find any evidence to support removal of M-1 and C-1 land. In our analysis, it would appear that we are at the minimum necessary to accommodate the next 20 years of Employment and possibly beyond. There is ample quantity to accommodate future residential needs.
What other additional public needs might this application fulfill? An obvious one is the need for affordable housing in the community. Early on, Staff told the applicant that if there was a zone change to Residential, there should be strong consideration for affordable housing. The Ashland Housing Commission is currently re-evaluating the City’s strategic plan for providing affordable housing and hopefully in the next six months, adopting a new action plan. The last action plan was adopted in the 1990’s that was successful but there is still a problem with affordable housing. The applicant discussed his proposal before the Housing Commission. The Ashland Housing Commission has submitted a draft or recommendation to the Planning Commission should they consider a re-zone of the property to Residential. There was a feeling among the Housing Commissioners that given how active the housing market is in Ashland and how high priced housing is, that re-zoning property from Industrial to Residential use and the substantial amount that is being asked for, imparts a tremendous value on the property. Therefore, the community should receive a comparable benefit from such a re-zone. The Housing Commission identified some specific items in their recommendations:
Staff agreed with the Housing Commission that the proposal did not go far enough to providing a public need. The city does not restrict the number of affordable units. The application obligates the city to conduct residency inspections on the units that are affordable. It suggested the city contribute upwards of $125,000 in first time home buyer loans plus waive all building permit fees and hook-up fees. The city does not do this under the voluntary program.
The other issue is the evaluation of the transportation impact from the zone change. At the Study Session, some Council or Commissioners inquired that if a substantial portion of the 65 acres is re-zoned for Residential use, will there be an increase in traffic, more than would be expected under the current Industrial zoning designation. What would be some of the key impacts on surrounding intersections or other public facilities? There was a preliminary traffic study provided with the application. Staff felt, after reviewing the study, it indicated that there be a net increase of approximately 2400 trips from re-zoning the property. It represents a 110 percent increase over what would be expected under the current zoning designation.
Staff’s concern was not so much the ability of new streets within this neighborhood to accommodate this level of traffic, but what would be the impacts on surrounding streets and intersections outside this project area? The study lacks specific findings and recommendations regarding those impacts, specifically, the intersection of Mistletoe and Tolman Creek Road. Phase IV involves the land to be annexed and would involve the extension of a new road into Siskiyou Boulevard. Staff’s concern is that since this is a latter land use action, if for some reason this is denied or this road cannot be built, what are the ramifications on that intersection at Mistletoe and Tolman Creek Road as well as the intersection of Tolman Creek Road and Siskiyou Boulevard? Staff did not feel the transportation study addresses some of the underlying concerns raised at the Study Session.
A letter was submitted by ODOT requesting a traffic impact study to assess the impact of the zone change on their facilities, specifically, the intersection of Tolman Creek Road and Highway 66. Overall, they concluded the study did not go far enough in addressing some of the impacts and they recommended the Planning Commission postpone a zone change until they could work with the traffic engineer and outline specific concerns for their facilities.
It is obvious from the Staff Report and conclusions that Staff has taken a pretty hard stand with the application and has recommended denial of the zone change at this point. There is a lack of information to show there is any significant surplus of lands that we are looking to supply employment generation in the future. There are flaws with the inventory and conclusions that the applicant has presented with regard to need for additional land. Overall, Staff feels the site is well suited to meet long-term employment generation to the city. Staff always supports the idea of neighborhood planning. We believe there is an opportunity to work with the applicant to look at a neighborhood plan for this area, but at this point, don’t think there is a compelling need to re-zone any of the property to a Residential designation.
Swales wondered how the percentage of acreage translates into number of residential units being proposed. Molnar said he has not done those calculations, however, in the Transportation Impact Analysis, there is a summary of the total number of units that adds up to 725 units.
Swales wondered, too, about public facilities. Has anyone calculated the difference in water usage that would result in Residential uses or Employment or Industrial? Molnar said Staff has not. There is a letter from the project engineer saying the facilities are adequate. He said it would depend on the type of employment. Staff’s specific issue is how to accommodate storm runoff from the site. The applicant was going to look at different ways to retain storm water.
BILL BARCHET, 961 B Street, Project Coordinator and agent for Galpin, LLC, introduced his associate, MAURICE TORANO.
Torano said they are interested in working with Croman Corporation in re-developing and rehabilitating this particular site. The major thrust of their presentation is that they don’t have to sacrifice housing to accommodate jobs. They believe the city has some needs, primarily to generate jobs, preserve the wonderful livability and to create affordable housing. They believe that can all be done in the same location. The city’s greatest problem is to increase the density of jobs within the city and to increase the density of housing, particularly affordable housing.
Barchet gave an overview of the project. He believes it is a true mixed use project as outlined in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. They are trying to create a traditional neighborhood by incorporating significant "work to live"
opportunities. The plan is a traditional grid. They employed Urbsworks and together they have come up with the plan. Barchet described his project in detail.
Barchet believes there are errors and omissions in the Staff Report.
Barchet explained that with regard to the southern end of the project, they would like to first do a boundary line adjustment before seeking annexation. Development of the project will be starting at the north end of the site. They do not plan on putting the connection through or annexing it until later this year. The annexation will precede the installation of the new road connecting the project to Siskiyou Boulevard.
He believes Staff’s methodology is flawed. With regard to the population based methodology, in the Comprehensive Plan, there has been a fairly steady number of people over a period of that plan that have worked outside of the city. Only 64 percent of those employable work inside Ashland. If you take that into account in the calculation, you are looking at 26 employees rather than 39 or perhaps 25. Another factor he does not believe has been taken into account is the rapidly increasing number of people who work out of their homes. In 1980 it was 3.7 percent. By 1990, it was 17.1 percent. It would be 15 percent or more at this time. He suspects it is closer to 20 or 25 percent. He obtained these figures from the City of Ashland business licenses compared to applications for working at home. The applications for working at home are greater than 50 percent. There is an applied correlation and it is significant.
The other methodology that the Staff talks about is based on the consumption of land over the past ten years. He believes that is flawed because it does not incorporate the net absorption. Consumption alone is meaningless unless you take into account the land where businesses had been which are no longer there. There is continually a certain level of replenishment of Buildable Lands Inventory and that has not been used in Staff’s calculations. Barchet acknowledges there were errors in their original calculations of BLI and he has corrected copies of that he passed out to the Commissioners.
Fields moved to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m. Briggs seconded the motion and it carried.
Barchet said Staff has omitted some vacant land and, therefore, their numbers are not accurate. He is referring to a parcel of land on Mistletoe that was currently occupied by the LTM concrete batch plant. That plant is no longer there (four acres). He contends there are other options for Employment land. There is E-1 land at the airport that is not included in the inventory. It is restricted, but businesses will occupy that land. There are opportunities on Crowson Road. It does not lend itself that well to Residential. There is E-1 zone on one side and R-1 on the other. They could put E-1 on both sides.
Barchet believes the evaluation of the last three years is more accurate than taking in a longer time period because of the tendency of a more dense urban form in Ashland. The demand for R-1-3.5 and R-2 is going to increase and that is stated in the Comprehensive Plan and is reflected in the increase in numbers over the last four or five years. Prior to that, there was not much demand but now it has increased significantly.
The affordable housing component is the only responsible way we can provide employment-based development in Ashland. The future employers would all need employee housing. A lot of the employees are going to fall within the affordable housing guidelines and he believes it would be irresponsible of them to put 65 acres of Employment in without an answer to this critical housing problem in Ashland now. The average house price is approaching $300,000 and there are hardly any lots available for building affordable housing. They are interested in assisting the low-income housing. They have restricted that to five units. They are working with Habitat for Humanity. They are willing to work within the affordable housing guidelines of the City, whatever they are. At this time, the Planning Department does not feel the current guidelines are appropriate, but those are the only ones they have to work with. They should not be in a position to establish raising the bar on affordable housing. They have a recommendation from the Housing Commission but it has not been adopted and there are some significant problems with those recommendations. Some would be difficult to implement and that means public scrutiny.
PAMELA BELLAVITA, 1055 Benson Way, believes the project provides an incredible opportunity especially for the "live where you work" concept. She is an artist and needs a suitable space. There is no place in Ashland right now where you can legally live and work that is suited to the artists needs.
JAMES ROOS, 891 Columbine Way, Central Point, OR 97502, spoke in favor of the applicant. He has been involved in commercial/industrial development focusing on high technology or transitioning of functioning obsolete industrial properties to higher uses. His concern with the Staff Report centers on his previous involvement with the project on behalf of Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Cross. In September, 1999, he submitted a market analysis to Kaufman and Cross, suggesting this site represented a fine opportunity for the region and more particularly for the City of Ashland. The criteria for Comprehensive Plan amendment and Zone Change, in addition to demonstrating a public need supported by an economic basis, also requires specifically for the need to adjust to new conditions are demonstrable. He believes conditions have changed in the Ashland market. He suggested Staff’s methodology is limited by basing the public need requirement for job creation solely on a jobs per acre yardstick. This ignores the Ashland community specific economic patterns and retreats from the specific requirement of Statewide Planning Goal 9, requiring Comprehensive Plans to be based on inventories of areas, not acres, suitable for increased economic growth and activity after taking into consideration the health of the current economic base. Further, Goal 9 requires that such plan in urban areas shall include an analysis of the community’s economic patterns, potential strengths and deficiencies. Goal 9, in section three, further requires that such plans and policies and implementation provide for at least an adequate supply of sites of suitable, type, location and service levels. A principle determiner in planning for major industrial/commercial development should be the comparative advantage of the region in which the developments reside. The applicant's product mix, as proposed, is not addressed in the Staff Report.
There is only a limited market for the M-1 zoning. The product mix established previously had four basic types of construction: 1) business development space with second story residential on smaller parcels, 2) the second order of construction would be commercial offices, which would be high-end two story offices or technology or executive suite type buildings, 3) technology development, R&D, or high end free standing single story buildings that would be more of an industrial cast, perhaps with two-story mezzanines. 4) light industrial, free-standing, multi-tenant divisible building.
The total aggregate area of 40 percent coverage of the E-1 and R-1 overlay areas is 1, 097,000 square feet of land, providing approximately 440,000 square feet of developable property, not taking into consideration advancement of the floor area ratios of the higher more dense R-1 and R-1 overlay properties.
The final component is Employment. The total potential of just the E-1 and E-1 with R overlays as proposed by the applicants, could generate a considerable amount of jobs with the current inventory. What drives this project is the project content and amenities that will attract the types of employers that are casting their eyes toward Ashland.
Gardiner read a letter fromDEBBIE MILLER, 160 Normal Street. She does not support the application. He read a letter in support from BARBARA ALLEN.
NANCY RICHARDSON, 93 California Street and DIANA GOODWIN-SHAVEY, 694 Oak Knoll Drive, both Housing Commission members spoke.
Shavey said the Housing Commission has had a great deal of concern about this issue because it is a large piece of land, the decisions about which represent a pivotal point for the development of this community as a whole and its future. She would urge the Commission not be lulled into complacency by the protestations or promises that affordable housing will be built on the site, without being extremely careful to define what affordable housing is and who it is for.
The City of Ashland currently has a median income for a family of four of around $45,000. Ashland has the highest median housing cost in the state, approaching a median price of $300,000. It has the lowest median income of any metropolitan statistical area in the state. The discrepancy is huge and it is getting bigger. Shavey noted that Jim Watson, Director of Ashland Community Hospital said his corporate culture has completely changed because two-thirds of the hospital employees no longer live in Ashland. Julie DiChiro, Superintendent of Schools, said within the next five to eight years, half of the district's teachers will be eligible for retirement. She is very concerned about the ability of the school district to recruit teachers at the entry-level salary of $28,000. There are many, many people who work here that do not live here. The City Council has passed as part of its Consolidated Plan for the years 2000-2004, a housing component which identifies a need for 258 affordable housing units, affordable to people at 80 percent of median income, not 130 percent. This community needs to look at all the resources that it can bring to bear to address the needs of citizens that already live here and to think about the needs of families with children in this town.
Shavey said the application states they will provide a maximum 25 percent affordable housing. The maximum of 25 percent includes the number one percent.
NANCY RICHARDSONbelieves this town needs to look at things from a sustainable perspective. Sustainability is to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs. This will take a lot of political will and fortitude to make a lot of very tough decisions. No one could tell 50 years ago what the job base would be today. We can’t even begin to tell what the job base will be 50 years from now. To only base a zone change on what we see for right now is not in the best interest of the future of this town. As far as affordability goes, if the zoning is changed, it needs to meet a really pressing need. Affordable housing is a pressing need. The applicant’s plan does not go far enough for affordable housing. Personally speaking, this plan is a slap in the face for people like herself that need affordable housing. There are people leaving this town daily because they cannot afford to live here.
SUSAN SPRAGUE, 321 Clay Street, said she has worked in health care since 1986. She believes this is a major smoke screen. If 25 percent of the housing will be affordable, then 75 percent will be unaffordable. The job base for the health care facilities is very low. Health care facilities pay minimum wages. Recently, she went to a coalition of all the assisted living and residential care facilities in this valley. The job market is so low that they have set their priorities and competition aside to try and create a good job base for all of them. The market is glutted. There are ten assisted living facilities and at least two residential facilities she is aware of in the valley. Trying to keep them full is a large task. Very few of the people they see are from Ashland. This development looks like mixed use. The elderly population does not want to live next door to children. She does not believe there is a public need. She would implore the Planning Commission to investigate what they mean by affordable housing.
KEVIN CHRISTMAN, 1120 Timberlake Drive, said he has a small business on Benson Way. M-1 is not working there. The smell coming from the asphalt batch plant is detrimental to those living and working there. He likes the idea of studio lofts. He knows a lot of people who want to live in Ashland but cannot afford it.
BRUCE DAVIS, co-manager of Siskiyou Village Trailer Park on Crowson Road, feels the applicant has done a good job of site planning. He has 50 units at Siskiyou Village. They have only developed about 40 percent of their property. They cannot add any more affordable housing because they are zoned E-1. They are outside the city limits but provided with some city services.
SHIRLEY ROBERTS, Oregon Department of Transportation, 200 Antelope Road, Central Point, OR, said there is a letter from her that is already in the record. She has looked at the preliminary traffic data. She was given an expanded traffic impact study tonight. She would asked the Commission to delay making a final decision so their office can review the study and comment.
CODY BUSTAMANTE597 Crowson Road and TODD WOOLLARD, 900 Skylark Place, wrote comments but asked not to speak.
Staff believes both jobs and housing can be accommodated. They have suggested to the applicant a different zoning designation such as an E-1 with an R overlay that would allow for jobs and housing to be built in the same structure or completely detached. Staff is very concerned about removing two-thirds of the property for residential use.
The methodology cited comes from adopted documents by the City Council--both the Economic Element and the Buildable Lands Inventory.
With regard to the significant amount of E-1 land by the airport, the Comprehensive Plan designation for that area is Airport. When the Council reviewed the Buildable Lands Inventory, it was excluded from being considered for future employment generation because as per the Airport Master Plan and the Comp Plan, it is identified to augment the operations of the airport. Very specialized uses are anticipated. There is limited land on one side of Crowson Road. Most of it is committed to residential uses. The rear parts are often within the Neil Creek floodplain.
Molnar said, concerning the comments of raising the bar on affordability, with the applicant saying they can only operate under the current guidelines, Staff does not believe this to be true. This is a complex proposal, a significant land use action, where the burden of proof is on the applicant to show they are providing a substantial community benefit. They can propose anything they want to make their compelling case. They can provide housing for income far less than 130 percent.
Mr. Roos’ comments regarding Goal 9 were articulate. Molnar does not believe any of that testimony was part of the application so Staff has not had an opportunity to evaluate them. If the City of Ashland were proposing this zone change, surely they would need to really evaluate that administrative rule and make sure they would be addressing everything regarding Goal 9. The burden of addressing Goal 9 falls on the applicant.
ALEX GEORGEVITCH, 642 Faith Avenue, traffic engineer, said he has done a preliminary study. The newest traffic study will look quite different. He would like to address those comments at a later time.
Barchet said the rezoning request does not have an affordable requirement. They are proposing 50 affordable housing units on this property. That is significant. Five of those will be low income. He would like some guidance. This is one of the last opportunities to create a real neighborhood in Ashland. They are proposing under 200 residences. With regard to energy issues, Croman is a high energy user. He is offering some more usable purposes for this land.
Gardiner said there is not enough time to make a decision on this proposal. He would suggest continuing this until next month, affording the applicant an opportunity to digest some of the things that came up today. It is up to the applicant to develop the parameters of their project and show the Commission why it should move forward. McLaughlin said Gardiner could close the hearing and come back for Commissioners' discussion and vote at the next meeting. It would be an option to leave the record open but not accept further testimony. They could restrict other written testimony except the comments from ODOT.
McLaughlin said it is the Commissions' option to close the public hearing. If they want to allow for modifications or changes, they have to start looking at extensions to the 120-day time limit.
The Commissioners favored closing the public hearing to any further testimony or written submittals other than what they have been told by ODOT will be coming in a response, and continuing the meeting until next month. Next month, they will start with Commissioners' discussion. They can open the public hearing for comments from the applicant.
Vote for Second Vice Chair - Mike Morris was nominated, Kistler seconded the nomination, and everyone favored Morris.
ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned at 11:15 p.m.