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Planning Commission

Minutes
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

These minutes are preliminary and are pending approval by the Ashland Planning Commission.

 

ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR MEETING

MINUTES

December 14, 2010

 

CALL TO ORDER

Chair Pam Marsh called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.

 

Commissioners Present:

 

Staff Present:

Larry Blake

Michael Dawkins

Dave Dotterrer

Pam Marsh

Debbie Miller

Melanie Mindlin

Mike Morris

 

Bill Molnar, Community Development Director

Derek Severson, Associate Planner

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

 

 

 

 

Absent Members:

 

Council Liaison:

John Rinaldi, Jr.

 

Eric Navickas, absent

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Commissioner Marsh announced this is the last meeting for commissioners Dave Dotterrer and Michael Morris and thanked them for their service on the Planning Commission. She also reminded the Commission that their annual retreat is January 8 and asked that they forward agenda item requests to her.

 

CONSENT AGENDA

A.      Approval of Minutes

  1. November 9, 2010 Planning Commission Minutes.

Commissioners Morris/Dotterrer m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 7-0.

 

PUBLIC FORUM

No one came forward to speak.

 

TYPE III PUBLIC HEARINGS

A.      PLANNING ACTION: #2010-01239
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 59-85 Winburn Way
APPLICANT:
Urban Development Services, LLC agents for Jonathan & Esther Phelps
DESCRIPTION:
A request for a Comprehensive Plan Map Amendment and Zone Change from Single Family Residential (R-1-7.5) to Commercial Downtown (C-1-D), Physical & Environmental Constraints Review Permit, Tree Removal Permit to remove five trees, Site Review approval to construct a new 10,632 square foot café/restaurant, and a Development Agreement for the four properties located at 59-85 Winburn Way.
EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single Family Residential; PROPOSED COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Commercial Downtown; EXISTING ZONING: R-1-7.5; PROPOSED ZONING: C-1-D; ASSESSOR’S MAP #: 39 1E 09 BC; TAX LOTS: 2500, 2501, 3000 & part of #39 1E 09 TL 100.

Commissioner Marsh clarified they are re-opening the public hearing and read aloud the hearing procedures for land use actions.

 

Ex Parte Contact

Commissioner Miller stated she has walked the site. Commissioners Marsh and Dawkins stated they have gone by the area. Commissioner Morris requested to be recused so that he can participate when this item comes before the City Council.

No ex parte contact was reported by Commissioners Blake, Dotterrer or Mindlin.

 

Commissioner Morris left the Council Chambers at 7:10 p.m.

 

Staff Report

Associate Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report and provided an overview of some of the questions that were raised at the last hearing.

  • How will the building relate to the homes above on Granite Street?
    Mr. Severson noted the Commission raised this question at the hearing and the applicant’s have presented additional information to address their concerns. He noted the applicant’s cross section drawings which illustrate the proposed building and the yards above on Granite St, and clarified which elements would be visible to the homes on Granite. Mr. Severson stated the applicant’s submittal shows the lower roof deck at about the same level as the Granite home’s backyard, and the peak of the glass roof lines up with the finished floor level of the home above. Mr. Severson clarified where the proposed building will intrude on the views of the property above, and stated the tops of the chimneys and elevator shafts will be visible; however, the roof deck is level with the back yard.
  • Is there adequate space for the proposed skating equipment structure?
    Mr. Severson stated the applicant’s have provided a slightly revised sight plan to address this question. He stated the plan includes a 740 sq. ft. building footprint and shows there is ample space to accommodate this structure.
  • Are there other measures that might offset the parking demand of the proposal?
    Mr. Severson clarified staff has spoken with the applicant about offering additional bicycle parking, bicycle facilities (such as showers and lockers), and other ways to encourage alternate modes of transportation (employee bike passes, etc). He stated the Commission could recommend these measures be incorporated into the Development Agreement.
  • Can staff provide recommendations with regard to the applicant’s list of uses for inclusion in the Development Agreement?
    Mr. Severson clarified an abbreviate list of suggested uses is included in their meeting packet. In summary, he stated staff is recommending the removal of medical offices, department stores, night clubs and bars from the list of permitted uses. In terms of conditional uses, staff is recommending the removal of hotel and motel from that list, but are suggesting outdoor storage, bowling alleys, auditoriums, skating rinks and miniature golf courses be retained.

 Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and clarified staff is recommending the Commission: 1) limit the zone change to 85 Winburn Way and the ice rink lot, and 2) determine if parking mitigation is merited. In terms of the Development Agreement, staff is recommending the Commission: 1) limit the site development to the proposed building and improvements, 2) limit the uses to those that are compatible, and 3) address the construction timing and staging.

 

Questions of Staff

Commissioner Marsh noted the letter submitted by Davis Hearn & Bridges and asked staff to comment on it. Mr. Severson stated the letter questions the removal of medical uses, department stores, and nightclubs and bars from the list of permitted uses. Mr. Severson noted the concerns raised by the public and surrounding business owners about a nightclub or bar in such close proximity to the park. He also explained that staff does not feel that medical offices and department stores are compatible with the existing institutional uses of the Community Center, Pioneer Hall, Lithia Park and ice rink. Commissioner Marsh expressed concern that the term “department store” is not clearly defined and questioned if Paddington Station would fall into this category.

 

Comment was made questioning how active of a role the Commission should take with the Development Agreement. Mr. Molnar stated the City Council is looking for the Commission’s guidance and encouraged them to conduct a thorough review of the Development Agreement and submit recommendations to the City Council.

 

Staff was asked to elaborate on why they believe medical offices are incompatible. Mr. Molnar stated as you approach Lithia Park there is a transitional nature occurring along this stretch of Winburn Way. He stated staff’s position is that a medical office does not have this mutually beneficial relationship to Lithia Park and the other surrounding uses. Mr. Severson added medical uses are typically a destination in themselves and do not constitute a “secondary destination” which was the basis for the original CUP parking variance.

 

Staff commented briefly on the difference between restaurants and bars.  Mr. Severson stated restaurants can serve alcohol, but the alcohol service is accessory to the restaurant; while with a bar the primary focus is on the alcohol. Mr. Molnar stated staff’s primary concern is regarding bars, more so than nightclubs, because the sole definition of a bar is to serve alcohol. He added in the past, downtown bars have been fairly isolated and in this situation it would back up to a single family neighborhood.

 

Commissioner Marsh questioned the reasoning behind excluding medical offices, but allowing professional, financial and business offices. She stated these uses seem to fit into the same category since they draw people specifically for those purposes and do not relate to the surrounding environment. Mr. Severson acknowledged that this is valid question the Commission may want to further discuss, however he noted the city offices on Winburn Way and the real estate offices on the plaza seem to work well in the downtown area. It was also noted that medical offices tend to have a lot of staff and a tremendous amount of patient turnover, and these uses tend to be a high generator of traffic and parking.

 

Applicant’s Presentation

Mark Knox/Applicant’s Representative/Introduced Architect Carlos Delgado, Landscape Architect Greg Covey, and Attorney Chris Hearn and responded to the issues outlined in the staff report.

 

  • Can staff review and provide comment on the applicant’s proposed sidewalk closure and construction staging plan? Mr. Knox stated from what he has read in the staff report staff has no issue with this. He added they have spoken with a number of downtown merchants and are confident that there will not be a problem with traffic circulation, parking, etc.
  • Without a site plan or design drawings being provided, can the ice rink lot accommodate the proposed ice rink support building? Mr. Knox clarified where on the lot this structure would be placed and confirmed there is adequate space.
  • Can the applicant’s provide additional information necessary to address the requirements of AMC 18.62.100 which regulate the development of severe constraint lands? Mr. Knox stated they have provided information from the project’s civil engineer and there does not appear to be any issues with this. He added the civil engineer is present tonight if they have specific questions about this.
  • Can the applicant’s provide a clearer illustration of the visual impacts of the proposal from the perspective of the backyards of the Granite St neighbors? Mr. Delgado noted the cross-section illustrations that were provided and also displayed several photos taken from the rear yard of the home directly behind this site. Mr. Knox clarified these property owners have not expressed any concerns and there is a letter of support from them in the record.
  • Should the zone change be limited to 85 Winburn and the ice rink lot? Mr. Knox noted the efforts they have made to enhance the opportunities at the ice rink and stated if the ice rink lot is not included in the zone change it will impact their building design and the desired relationship between the building and the ice rink. He added the owners of parking lot (adjacent to the Community Development building) are still very supportive of their lot being included in the zone change.
  • Staff has recommended an in-lieu-of parking fee. Are there other measures that might offset the parking demand of the proposal? Mr. Knox stated in many ways the design of this project mitigates the parking demand and commented on “Pedestrian Places” concepts and elements that were incorporated into the design. He noted the issue of increased bicycle parking was raised at the last hearing and noted the areas where this could be incorporated. He also shared their interest in having the bicycle parking be architecturally interesting. Mr. Knox stated they are willing to consider the inclusion of innovative mitigation measures suggested and stated these items could be described in the Development Agreement.
  • Can staff provide recommendations with regard to the applicant’s list of uses of the proposed building for inclusion in the Development Agreement? Mr. Knox stated they do not know what will happen in the future and in order to maintain an active space they do not want to be locked into a very narrow set of uses. He acknowledged the concern about having incompatible uses and stated they do not want this either, but questioned some of the exclusions suggested by staff. Instead of completely prohibiting some of these uses (such as medical offices and department stores), he recommended these be moved into the Conditional Use category.

 Mr. Hearn commented briefly on the letter he had submitted and clarified the purpose was to get their concerns on the table so that they could be discussed. Mr. Knox stated they do not know what the future will hold and they want to make sure the Development Agreement includes tangible wording so they know what business plan this building can operate under.

 

Questions of the Applicant

Comment was made questioning if moving uses to the Conditional Use category provides the applicant with the level of certainty they desire. Mr. Knox stated ‘Yes’, and noted this allows both parties an opportunity to re-discuss uses based on actual business plans.

 

The applicant was asked to clarify which services the proposed ice skating building would accommodate and also where ice skating drop-off and pick-ups might occur. Mr. Knox stated the ice rink structure would accommodate administrative space, public restrooms, zamboni garage space, and storage space for the ice rink. Mr. Covey noted their proposal includes an extended curb along the ice rink frontage and stated there would be ample space for people congregate. He added this area could also function as a short term drop-off area.

 

Comment was made questioning to what extent the public will be able to access and use this building. Mr. Knox noted this application far exceeds the public plaza space requirement and noted the outdoor public amenities included in this proposal. He stated once inside there is a typical private property boundary. He stated the public is welcome to come inside and visit the upstairs viewing area; however if someone is camping out the owner has the right to ask them to leave.

 

Mr. Covey commented briefly on why they believe this proposal improves the situation at the ice rink and stated the Parks & Recreation Department are supportive of the accessory skating facility and its location at the opposite end of the rink.

 

Mr. Knox was asked whether they would be willing to participate in a retroactive future assessment on parking. Mr. Knox stated if the City adopted a master plan that outlined a program such as this by all means they want to be included. He added they just don’t want to be singled out and believe the downtown parking issue is too large of a burden to place on any single business. Mr. Hearn noted the research he conducted into the concept of in-lieu-of parking fees and stated in all of the instances he could find this type of mechanism was adopted by ordinance and applied to a widespread area, not a sole application.

 

Comment was made questioning if employee bicycle parking could be placed closer to the building and in a more secure location. Mr. Knox clarified there is opportunity to accommodate employee bike parking at the rear of the building.

 

Public Testimony

No one came forward to speak.

 

Letters from Planning Commissioner John Rinaldi, Bruce Roberts, Stephen Sacks, and Lloyd Haines were read aloud.

 

Rebuttal by the Applicant

Mark Knox/Commented on whether it would be better for this site to develop as a single family residence, or a commercial facility which is how it has always operated. He explained if they were to provide parking on the site, all of the public benefit opportunities go away and he questioned what we desire as a community. Mr. Knox noted the claims that this building will create 150-180 seats. He stated this is not accurate and clarified while the building is 10,000 sq. ft, only 30% of that is dedicated to seating. He also noted that some of the individuals who have spoken out against this proposal have contributed to the parking problem downtown by not providing parking when they opened their downtown businesses. Mr. Knox concluded his rebuttal and stated parking in Ashland is a community issue and is not something a single business can solve.

 

Commissioner Marsh closed the public hearing at 9:00 p.m.

 

Advice from Legal Counsel & Staff

Staff commented on the City’s parking requirement and clarified it is one parking space per four seats. Mr. Severson clarified staff does not equate a number of seats to the square footage and stated staff used the seat number provided by the applicants. He also clarified the existing building at 85 Winburn has a conditional use permit for 90 seats (40 inside and 50 outside) and under that approval they were required to provide 7 parking spaces.

 

Staff was asked to comment on their recommendation to restrict the zone change to the ice rink lot and 85 Winburn Way. Mr. Severson clarified staff still feels the same about not including the other parcels and explained it is difficult to know what the impacts of a specific development might be. In regard to rezoning the privately owned lot adjacent to the City’s facility at 51 Winburn Way, staff does not feel the burden of proof has been met and stated staff could be supportive down the road if a more detailed proposal comes forward.

 

Staff was asked whether they are satisfied with the orientation of the proposed skating rink building and the way it relates to the street. Mr. Molnar clarified they are not approving this structure’s footprint or hardscape at this time, and this will come back as a separate application.

 

Staff was asked whether a motion to approve would need to address parking. Mr. Severson stated it would not, and clarified this could be determined in the Development Agreement.

 

Staff was asked to comment on the history of the C-1-D zone and whether it has been expanded in the past. Mr. Molnar stated the C-1-D zone was adopted in the early 1980s and was later expanded for the Ashland Public Library and the City’s Community Development & Engineering Services building. He stated the applicant’s main argument to rezone 85 Winburn is that the residential zoning is unfair and is not working. He added staff has continued to feel that rezoning the entire street is more of a community discussion.

 

Commissioner Marsh closed the record at 9:22 p.m.

 

Deliberations & Decision

Commissioners Dawkins/Dotterrer m/s to approve PA-2010-01239 with no parking mitigation, and limiting the rezone to 85 Winburn Way and the skating rink parcel. DISCUSSION: Dawkins commented on the arguments raised regarding parking and stated they finally need to bite the bullet and say people need to find other ways to get around. Dotterrer commented that he does not see the proposed development as a primary destination and believes it will have a seasonal impact. He stated during the summer there is a parking lot next to this site, and during the winter (when the lot is turned into a skating rink) parking is not as big of a problem.

 

Commissioner Marsh noted the discussion outline provided by staff and recommended they work their way through the items.  

 

1) Which criterion merits approval of the zone change?

The commissioners shared their opinions and commented on which of the criteria they felt applied. Individual comments were made and all three criteria were identified as being addressed by this application.

 

2) Do the parking impacts of the proposal need to be mitigated?

Mindlin questioned whether they are going to continue to accommodate the car, or go in another direction; and voiced her support for moving in a different direction. She recommended this project include all possible bicycle and public transit promoting measures, and recommended additional employee bicycle parking, showers, lockers, and bus passes be included in the Development Agreement. Miller commented that she does not want to see more parking lots in Ashland, but stated promoting tourism and not providing parking are at odds with each other. Blake noted that one thing in the applicant’s favor is this site is right next to a large parking lot. He also noted that the parking spaces along Lithia Park are not just used by park patrons, but also patrons of all of the downtown businesses. Marsh commented on parking and recommended the City Council deal with the City’s parking issue in a more comprehensive manner.

 

Commissioner Dawkins/Marsh m/s to extend the meeting to 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.

 

3) Should the zone change be limited to the café and the ice rink lots?

Marsh noted the motion limits the change to the café and ice rink lots and no objection was voiced to this.

 

4)   Does the proposed site and building design satisfy the applicable criteria, and are visual impacts and design compatibility addressed to the Commission’s satisfaction?

Miller commented on bulk, mass and scale and voiced concern that this building may be too imposing. Dawkins stated he is not concerned. He voiced appreciation for the lodge feel of the design and stated it will fit in well with Lithia Park. Blake noted there are big structures on Granite and they are residential. Dotterrer, Mindlin and Marsh all voiced support for the design of the building.

 

5) Have the applicant’s provided sufficient information to meet the burden of proof for the proposed development of severe constraint lands?

The Commission raised no concerns with this part of the application.

 

Commissioner Marsh noted the conditions recommended by staff and it was clarified that these are included in the motion on the table.

 

Roll Call Vote on original motion: Commissioners Dotterrer, Mindlin, Blake, Dawkins and Marsh, YES. Commissioner Miller, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

 

Commissioner Marsh stated lastly, they need to determine if they have specific recommendations for the City Council for inclusion in the Development Agreement. The commissioners went around the table and shared their opinions. Dotterrer voiced support for keeping the uses as wide open as possible in order to keep the building viable, but recommended moving medical offices to a conditional use. He stated he is fine with department stores being an outright permitted use; and regarding nightclubs and bars he recommended staff and the applicant come to an agreement on the interpretation of primary versus secondary use and to specify this in the Development Agreement. Mindlin suggested they put the uses they are uncertain about in the CUP category. She also recommended the CUP criteria recognize the primary and secondary destination issue. Dawkins voiced his support for limiting the uses to those that specifically relate to the park and the skating rink.

 

The Commission continued discussing their preferences in regards to the uses and agreed to the following: Remove “regional shopping center” as a permitted use, move “medical offices” to a conditional use, and allow “non-chain department store” as an outright permitted use. “Nightclubs and bars” were removed (from both permitted and conditional use categories), but staff was asked to work with the applicants and the City Council to clarify in the Development Agreement that while nightclubs and bars have been intentionally removed due to their incompatibility with this transitional location, it is anticipated that alcohol will be served in any restaurant located there and they are comfortable with this as long as the alcohol service remains secondary to the restaurant.

 

The Commission discussed incorporating alternative transportation programs into the Development Agreement and measures such as staff coordinator, bicycle parking, showers, ride sharing, and bus passes were all listed. It was clarified that these elements will need to be negotiated between the applicant and the Council and the Commission could recommend an alternative automobile transportation program be outlined in the Development Agreement.

 

Commissioner Dawkins/Dotterrer m/s to approve the recommendations for the Development Agreement that incorporate the uses as discussed and the development of an alternative automobile transportation program. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Blake, Miller, Mindlin, Dotterrer, Dawkins and Marsh, YES. Motion passed 6-0.

 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

A.      Update on Community Development Projects/Council Goals Input.

Item postponed to a future meeting.  

 

ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 10:25 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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