ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
DECEMBER 11, 2001
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Mike Gardiner called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Ray Kistler, Marilyn Briggs, John Fields, Colin Swales and Alex Amarotico. Kerry KenCairn was absent. She could not participate because she was listed as the landscape architect for the project being presented this evening. Russ Chapman was absent because he had missed the first hearing regarding tonight's project and did not listen to the tapes or watch the video, therefore would not be able to participate in tonight's hearing. Mike Morris was absent. Staff present were John McLaughlin, Bill Molnar, Maria Harris and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
Fields moved to approve the Findings for 2001-089, Amarotico seconded the motion and the Findings were approved.
Fields moved to approve the minutes of the November 13, 2001 Regular Meeting. The motion was seconded and carried.
Swales moved to approve the minutes for the November 27, 2001 Joint Study Session with the Housing Commission. Fields seconded the motion and the minutes were approved.
BRENT THOMPSON, 582 Allison Street, said last night he went to an open space meeting and a couple of points came up that he felt should be dealt with at the Planning Commission. He would like to see the percentage of open space increased in the subdivision ordinance from the required five percent (with the building of ten units or more) to eight, nine, or ten percent. He requested the Planning Commission schedule a hearing. He also said the trail system should be part of the whole transportation plan. If we do that, we can get money from ODOT or ICTEA. It would be a way to reduce vehicle trips.
With regard to infill he has had conversations with contractors, who say they feel restricted by the fact that at the property line, the shadow can only be six feet. There would be two ways to deal with this. At the property line, the shadow could go to eight feet or change the time of year where we do the solar access calculation from December 21st to January 21st. He feels by raising the height at the property line from six to eight feet, it will not cut off anyone's solar access. It will make it easier for people to maneuver their property to add a second floor or a dormer. This is a benign way to increase density.
Thompson showed, by use of building blocks, how sprawl results in more traffic. He believes we want clustered development to stay within the geographical boundary to accommodate growth.
Swales wondered about some of the subdivisions that were built in the past that have unusable open space. McLaughlin said when the ordinance was first adopted, it did not define what constituted open space. Since then, the ordinance has been more clearly defined. Open space has to be buildable areas that interact with the subdivision.
TYPE II PLANNING ACTIONS
Molnar announced the Planning Action 2001-117, Clay Street, has been postponed until next month.
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). COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: INDUSTRIAL; ZONING: M-1; ASSESSOR'S MAP #: 39 1E 14 A; TAX LOTS: 2000, 2200, 2303 AND ASSESSOR'S MAP #39 1E 14 D; TAX LOTS: 800, 900, 1000, 1100, 1200, 1301, 2101 AND 2302.
APPLICANT: GALPIN LLC
McLaughlin explained that at last month’s meeting the applicants presented their application, testimony was taken from the public, there was an opportunity by the applicant for rebuttal, and the public hearing was closed. The record was left open but limited to a response by ODOT to the traffic study that was presented just before last month's meeting. ODOT has prepared a response for tonight’s meeting. With regard to process, the public hearing is closed, however, since the ODOT response was received after the last meeting and accepted into the record, McLaughlin would recommend allowing the applicant or the applicant's representative three minutes of rebuttal to the ODOT letter. He would then recommend closing the hearing and moving into Commissioners' discussion.
Molnar said at the last meeting the traffic analysis prepared by the project engineer was submitted into the record. That study concludes the applicants do not anticipate any significant impacts to any transportation facilities in the area of influence around this 65 acres zone change request. The study made only one recommendation: that left turn lanes be considered in two locations - 1) from Tolman Creek Road into Mistletoe and 2) from Siskiyou Boulevard into the development at the new Mistletoe Road (noted as Station Meridian).
The City's Public Works Department and Planning Staff reviewed the final study and still need additional information and clarification. With regard to the recommendation regarding the left-turn lanes, the Public Works Department is interested in a possible schematic layout of the design of the Tolman Creek left-turn lane. Is there adequate right-of-way along Tolman Creek Road now to accommodate that design? The preliminary design for Tolman Creek Road includes two travel lanes, bike lanes, possibly parking on one side, a planting strip and six foot sidewalks that already exceed the existing 60 foot right-of-way, so further right-of-way might be needed. Public Works believes that should be clarified at this point.
The same concern exists along Siskiyou Boulevard. Is there right-of-way to accommodate the left-turn lane? The Public Works Department was looking for a specific recommendation for the existing Mistletoe Road. It appears there is going to be a new Station Meridian Street entering Siskiyou Boulevard and there is some intention to either abandon or dead end the older Mistletoe Road as it takes the awkward parallel adjacent to Siskiyou Boulevard and an awkward intersection into Siskiyou Boulevard. Will this become a private lane to serve as local access for those properties? They would like to discourage any new traffic from the development at the Croman Mill site from using that as a main access into the property.
Staff is also interested in the timing of the connection of Station Meridian Street to Siskiyou Boulevard. It is not presently in the city. The applicants are suggesting annexing the six acres at a later date. It is Phase IV of the development plan and Public Works Department has said that without the connection, the only other sole access is the one near the railroad tracks on Tolman Creek Road. There is a real concern if the city denies a future annexation, what happens to the timing of building of that road? Can it still be built in the county? If it is built in the county, but is it in the city, would the county maintain it? What is the time of construction--at one-third build-out, or two-thirds build-out?
While there is some discussion of the level of service of certain key intersections, ultimately it would be helpful to have a summary table similar to what was provided in the Butler application (North Main & Grant Street) that indicates the level of service at all turning movements for key intersections. There is a lot of raw data that indicates information on level of services but it is not very clear. It is inconclusive whether or not a traffic signal is warranted now or will be warranted at full build out of the project. If there is not, has the study considered pedestrian traffic associated with Bellview School? As you increase the number of trips into that intersection, are there any recommendations to improve safe pedestrian flow through that intersection?
The study seems to indicate that the directional split in the traffic generated from the project is going to be split equally with fifty percent going towards Siskiyou Boulevard and the other fifty percent going towards the other Mistletoe at Tolman Creek and probably proceed toward Highway 66 and the freeway. Staff assumed a greater split (60/40 or 70/30) would go towards the Tolman Creek intersection down towards Highway 66 because that's where most of the services are located as well as the easiest route to the I-5 interchange. Staff questioned why it was an equal split.
ODOT still felt there was insufficient data for them to make a complete review of the traffic analysis and they recommended the Planning Commission not approve the application at this time until they get additional information. They raise questions regarding the distribution of the traffic. Specifically, their concerns are the impacts on the key intersection of Tolman Creek and Highway 66 as well as the ability for the I-5 ramps to accommodate the additional traffic in the future.
Molnar said there is nothing in the traffic related issues that can't be overcome with additional information. Staff's main concern is that if there are additional improvements needed in the future, that items such as deferred improvement agreements should be discussed at this point. These types of improvements can be borne by the entire development and the city is not put in a position that at certain phases of the development, that a significant transportation improvement would be required, if approved.
Staff does not believe there is any compelling evidence in the record showing there is a public need to re-zone forty plus acres of Commercial/Industrial property earmarked for job creation and employment to sole residential use. Staff's calculations show approximately 140 acres within the city and Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate job creation over the next twenty years. The methodology in the Economy Element as well as looking at past trends of our Buildable Lands Inventory seems to indicate we should have 125 to 165 acres. If we do not consume land at that rate, it is better to be cautious and have an opportunity for the property to accommodate job creation for greater than a 20 year period rather than needing to explore opportunities within the UGB to re-zone residential land to Commercial zoning designation or look at a UGB expansion.
Whatever happens to the site, Staff supports master planning of the property. However, the priority of that property should be for job creation and if any master planning is considered, it should be similar to the Railroad District Master Plan. The key component is Commercial/Employment development and the use of an R overlay can be instituted where prudent to allow for residential use to compliment the overriding commercial use of the property. Staff does not believe it is in the public interest to re-zone a substantial amount of the property to residential use and maintains their recommendation that the Commission deny the application, as proposed.
APPLICANT'S REBUTTAL- Gardiner explained the rebuttal will be restricted to the traffic study and rebuttal time will be held to approximately five minutes.
WILLIAM BARCHET, 961 B Street, Galpin, LLC, Project Coordinator, feels the technical details of the traffic analysis are more appropriate to be filled in a little later on in the process. At this point, he doesn't even know what type of approval they will get. Based on Staff's recommendation for denial, he believes these can be worked out later on.
ALEX GEORGEVITCH, 642 Faith Avenue, Traffic Engineer, has had discussions with ODOT and the Public Works Department with regard to some of the issues in the traffic study. The recommendations in the previous study were a little short. He has addressed some of those. He has met with ODOT to discuss the 50/50 split of traffic. ODOT has agreed with his 50/50 split based on existing traffic counts out in that area.
He believes the major issues are Tolman Creek Road and the I-5 south interchange. Both projects are listed in the 1998 Ashland Transportation System Plan. Both are listed as being constructed in the near term of within six to ten years out. He thought that when Tolman Creek Road is improved, considering that Mistletoe is the only road that serves a very large section of land and it would be through the design process, there would be a recommendation for a left-turn lane at that location. The study has addressed that location based on a 50/50 split of traffic. If this property continued to develop as it is today, the left-hand turn would still be required eventually. Georgevitch recommended the developer work with the city in the eventual needs for this location.
The I-5 interchange is another project listed in the TSP. The interchange fails with or without the project. It is currently unacceptable for a pedestrian and bicycle.
Barchet believes the 50/50 split is appropriate for their plan with the residential component. However, if their plan is denied and the site does get an E-1 designation, it is likely to have a different type of traffic pattern which would even more impact on the Tolman/Hwy. 66 intersection as well as I-5 interchange. As much as 80 percent of the employees for the E-1 area could be coming in from out of town and that would exacerbate any future traffic problems for that area, if they went E-1 altogether, as Staff is recommending.
Fields would like to see a summary of the intersections and their critical peak times. Where are the intersections now at peak times and what are we estimating in the future? Georgevitch gave traffic level statistics. Fields assumed it is a capacity problem. Georgevitch's figures include the left-turn lane in the future.
Swales noted the report states 1332 new trips will be generated. How would this compare to the development of this property at M-1 zoning? Georgevitch said that would be difficult to predict because it would be market driven from what could be very low generators to very high traffic generators. If the site were developed as light industrial, it would generate 3248 trips.
Briggs wondered why the new Station Meridian Street would be developed at the last of the project. Georgevitch said the road can be developed with or without an annexation. He has recommended Station Meridian be developed with a full connection to Siskiyou to be completed at the time of development. McLaughlin said it can be done but he does not recommend it. If we are going to build a city street, it should be within the city. Georgevitch believes it should be done at the beginning.
MAURICE TORANO, represents the applicant, said he spoke with Eric Neimeyer, Jackson County Roads, and it was clarified that they have no problem with that as long as it is built to city standards. With regard to the realignment, they met with Ron Hughes, Shirley Roberts, and Dan Durrell,, ODOT, asked if they could realign that to de-emphasize the traffic on Mistletoe because of its odd alignment. They propose de-emphasizing by re-naming it and by constructing a driveway apron to indicate to drivers this is more a local access street rather than a through street.
Barchet said the timing of installation would be at the end of Phase I or the beginning of Phase II to accommodate the health care facility. Their intent to annex the six acre parcel fronting on Siskiyou prior to the installation the road. They are holding off because they have a boundary line adjustment on one edge they want to take care of before the annexation.
COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Gardiner stated that he believes Staff was pretty clear in the questions they asked the applicant to answer. They have spent hours with an opportunity to address these questions. In looking at the Conclusions and Recommendation from last month we still have unanswered questions that were asked a month ago. He has some problems with trying to assimilate the project and how it impacts the city and where we should go with it. He does not believe the clarification by the applicant that had been requested by Staff ever happened. Even with the traffic discussion, Molnar pointed out three or four major topics pertaining strictly to traffic that could have been answered tonight. Gardiner was hoping many things would be clarified so they could move toward a decision.
McLaughlin said the hearing was closed and rebuttal was closed. They couldn't bring anything new except the traffic questions. Gardiner left the last meeting feeling like many questions were not answered even after having over an hour of testimony.
Swales said the applicant has had two opportunities to address these questions. He noticed Shirley Roberts, ODOT, is recommending the Planning Commission postpone the decision until she is in agreement with the methodology used. He believes the applicants have had every opportunity to work out with ODOT what is required. He sees no reason to postpone making a decision regardless of the traffic information that is still lacking.
Fields felt that though there are a lot of traffic issues that need to be resolved, ultimately the applicant's impacts will need to be defined. The traffic problems seem that they could be resolved. He does not feel this application is ready to approve tonight because the depth of things that are not resolved. Heavy Industrial zoning (M-1) is less necessary to our economy. Industrial (E-1) is more what our industrial use has evolved to. E-1 is permitted in M-1. E-1 gives us an opportunity to integrate housing into E-1, but rather than a neighborhood that is primarily residential, it is primarily job related with the residential ancillary. Because of the geographic location of this property with the buffer against the tracks, Fields would hope not to lose it as predominantly E-1. He doesn't see how they replace it with new E-1. Most of the UGB land is identified as residential. He believes some of the applicant's concepts work in developing this area but he would see the band along the freeway as heavier industrial use and maybe no residential. The evidence he has read about residential care and testimony he has heard, he has to wonder if the change to HC zone would really be filling a need. How are we going to accommodate the need for affordable housing? He was not clear what this application would give us. Fields believes we could put 600 units in this development, not a 170. He does not think the pattern of development is clearly pinned down. Fields believes a lot of the concepts could be re-worked without such a radical zone change and without such an open-ended design.
Briggs noted that at the study session held with the applicant, she had asked to see where we would be in 20 years with all the different zones. There are about six pages of graphs in the packet, but she does not know how to read it and no one came forward to say how we are affected by the zone changes in the next 20 years. She is concerned about the placement of the different parts. Why would a hospital be close to a playground? Why aren't the houses close to the playground? Several things were never made clear.
Swales thought one of the main problems is with how the affordable housing has been presented. There is nothing in this project that makes it affordable except the density. He would like to hear how the current affordable program is working. With a large part of the site being zoned R-2, that would allow a 25 percent density over and above the normal allowable density. There is an ability to have a lot of affordable housing in this development. It cuts both ways. The developer, in addition to having 25 percent more units he can build, also saves on Systems Development Charges.
Molnar said the current affordable housing program was adopted in the early '90's. The main component was rolling back densities in residential zones and allowing a density bonus option. Additional density could be gained by building purchase price housing and selling it to households that do not exceed 130 percent of the area median. For doing that, each one of those units, at the time the building permit was requested would get a waiver of the SDC's. In 1992, that was approximately $2100. Today, SDC's for a comparable unit is around $7000. The program is structured so that at the time of the building permit, the SDC's would be deferred. The SDC's would be secured through a second deed of trust put on the property. As long as the house was sold to subsequent owners for qualifying income for at least 20 years, after 20 years the deferment would sunset and there would be no payback provision. If the homeowner chose to sell his property, say three years down the road and did not want to meet the maximum purchase price, there was a penalty. They would have to pay back the SDC's at six percent interest. Since 1992, there have been approximately 95 to 100 units built under that program. Our recent estimate show that approximately 35 percent have been reconveyed (paid the city back for SDC's and did not sell to a qualifying buyer). That is a key issue with the Housing Commission. The value of land has gone up astronomically. The Housing Commission is questioning whether to allow individuals to opt out by paying back the SDC's with the interest penalty, rather than looking for a longer term commitment with a public subsidy. There will undoubtedly be a recommendation to the City Council to revisit this issue.
McLaughlin added that under this program, the first time home buyer is the one reaping the benefits. The failure of the program is that we haven't done anything for our affordable housing stock for the long term. Staff's concern with the application, is that the applicant is proposing the affordable housing program already in place now for standard subdivisions. In terms of the zone change, these houses disappear out of the pool the way the program is set up now. A zone change of the magnitude being asked for, should show the long-term benefits to the community as far as setting up an affordable housing process that guarantees affordability for the long-term. That has not been established for this project or come forward from the applicant. The Housing Commission is working on it but is not in a position to do that.
McLaughlin said we are 75 days into the 120 day time period. He anticipates this action will be appealed to the City Council. In order to maintain adequate time for the Council to hear this, the Commission needs to adopt Findings so an appeal can be filed. Staff has prepared Findings on denial, based primarily on the evidence regarding the Industrial/Commercial lands inventory. He reiterated the estimated needs for the next 20 years based on our current inventory, that to remove this would take us below those levels. There is no evidence to show we have an excess of land in the Industrial/Commercial that is solid ground for denial. Evidence is in the record and has been discussed by the Commission.
Swales believes affordable housing has two components to it: 1) the actual housing should not be exorbitantly priced, and 2) there are family living wage paying jobs and providing people are earning enough money, they can afford any housing. The Planning Commissions' purview is to provide economic, sound development within the city. He feels the present zoning, since it can be used for such a wide range of employment uses is what the city needs. Based on the Staff's recommendations, we have a shortage of E-1 zoning.
Briggs said the applicant talked about E-1 not being a great necessity as we move into the future because so many people are working from their homes. It seems to Briggs that everything we do goes in a cycle. If people are working from their homes now, pretty soon we will miss things being made and built and we will go back to a time when there are people making mouse traps and other things. She thinks M-1 will be needed.
The Planning Commission took a break to read the Findings.
Swales moved to deny PA2001-103 and accept Staff's Findings, Conclusions and Orders. Amarotico seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
2002 HEARINGS BOARD ASSIGNMENTS
January through April
May through August
September through December
STUDY SESSION- There will be a joint study session with the Planning Commission and Tree Commission on January 22, 2002 to discuss the tree ordinance.
ADJOURNMENT– The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 P.M.