ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
APRIL 8, 2003
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Russ Chapman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Mike Morris, Kerry KenCairn, Colin Swales, Cameron Hanson, John Fields, Dave Dotterrer and Marilyn Briggs. Ray Kistler was absent. Staff present were John McLaughlin, Brandon Goldman and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
There was a correction to the already approved minutes from the February 11, 2003 regular meeting. The wording "...and it was carried unanimously" was omitted from the "big box" motion to recommend but has now been added. Briggs moved to approve the correction, the motion was seconded and the correction was approved.
Hanson moved to approve the minutes from the March 11, 2003 regular meeting. The motion was seconded and the minutes were approved.
Chapman thanked Fields and KenCairn for their appearance on the City Talk through RVTV. He felt they did a good job of representing the Planning Commission.
ANN SELTZER and BILL STREET
Chapman asked Seltzer and Street to give an update on the various things the subcommittee has been working to improve the communication efforts the City is making in order to better inform and encourage public participation.
Seltzer said Street, Chapman, Swales, KenCairn and McLaughlin have met twice since January when Street submitted a list of suggestions on how to possibly improve the planning process and encourage public input.
Seltzer said their efforts have centered on trying to get information to the community about planning actions further in advance and ways citizens can familiarize themselves with the process. The items they are working on include: 1) posting a tentative agenda to the website two weeks in advance of the meeting, 2) making hard copies of the agenda available at the Community Development office, 3) posting the agenda and staff reports to the website the Wednesday prior to the meeting, 4) drafting a citizens participation planning process under review by McLaughlin, 6) wrote an article for the City Source about the planning process, and 7) other articles pertaining to items coming up in the near future that will be included in the City Source.
Seltzer said the Council has set a goal to update and improve the Council Chambers in respect to seating, sound, and web access. They are hoping to make some equipment purchases. Seltzer said they have talked some about a community forum. They are all in agreement that any sort of forum or open house needs to be focused. She said they also talked about the Planning Commissioners writing guest commentaries for the newspaper or City Source.
Street wanted to alert the community to a particular item that is coming up. There is a development project that is coming up regarding the demolition of a 2400 square foot home on Sid DeBoer's property and replacing it with a home over 10,000 square feet. He is aware that the Planning Commission in April of 2002 met with the Historic Commission and City Council in a joint meeting and voted 16-3 not to allow houses of that size in the Historic District. He announced a meeting scheduled for Monday, April 14, 2003 at 4:00 p.m. to discuss the demolition of the house. He is asking the Planning Commission to discuss these issues tonight.
KenCairn asked what the vote meant at the Joint Study Session last year. McLaughlin said it was a straw vote. KenCairn told Street the vote was to see how people felt and wanted to clarify to anyone watching tonight that there was no official vote that says that we do or don't want something to happen. Street asked if the Commission had time to put it on the agenda tonight. McLaughlin would recommend against it as it has not been noticed and the public has not been informed. He said the maximum house size study session is scheduled for May 27th. The April study session will be about regional problem solving. Street asked McLaughlin to explain why it takes a year to act on expressed wishes at the joint meeting of the Council and Commissions. McLaughlin said there is always clear consensus to bring forward projects such as maximum house size. There is also a very long list of other projects that are going on. The Council sets goals and they work on all of them. Street is asking for a meeting as soon as possible on the maximum house size and would request and encourage citizen input.
KenCairn asked what other things are on McLaughlin's list. McLaughlin mentioned at least 13 major items on the list.
Chapman didn't think it would be too much to ask the Commissioners and Staff to take a turn writing a commentary for the paper letting citizens know what the Planning Commission does. No decision has to be made on this issue tonight.
BRYAN HOLLEY, 324 Liberty Street, said he has looked at Goal 1 of the Statewide Planning Goals requiring citizen involvement. It talks about developing a plan that ensures the opportunity for all citizens to be involved in all phases of the planning process. The more specific language discusses citizen participation in preparation of plans, implementation measures, plan content, plan adoption, minor changes and major revisions. If citizens were involved, there might be more people at meetings. Holley would like to know about how the public could become involved at the pre-application stage. How could he get involved earlier in the process? There is no longer a Citizens Planning Advisory Committee (CPAC). There is an unmet need. If you do everything you can to involve citizens and there is still apathy, then you might want to change the way planning actions are done.
Chapman does not believe citizens are apathetic; there are citizens who choose to serve their community in other ways. There are numerous ways to become involved. Holley said that doesn't stop development. He never hears a "no" vote from the Planning Commission. KenCairn said there are times she wishes there were more ways, by definition of what they do, that legally they could say "no', but there is not. There are laws and criteria that are in place. Dotterrer said he agrees with citizen participation and often there is an activist group that is against a proposal and that group is the only participant the Commission will see, however, we have to look at the broader good of the community and work towards a balance. That is the tough decision.
MAT MARR, 955 North Mountain, asked to speak about the solar ordinance, in general. He referred to a letter from the Electric Dept. to the Planning Commission describing the solar ordinance as a relic of the 1970's and not important today. He believes it is important to remember the solar ordinance and the State Land Use Ordinances. They are positive things. They provide a framework for discussion. The City's solar ordinance is incredibly important. If one built with no solar ordinance, there would be no limit as to how high one could build. It provides livable houses.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARINGS
PLANNING ACTION 2002-151
OUTLINE PLAN FOR AN 83-LOT SUBDIVISION
APPLICANT: NORTH MOUNTAIN LAND COMPANY, LLC
This action has been postponed until the May 13, 2003 Planning Commission meeting at 7:00 p.m.
PLANNING ACTION 2003-032
REQUEST FOR SITE REVIEW AND A TREE REMOVAL PERMIT TO CONSTRUCT A NEW BUILDING TO HOUSE THE SOUTHERN OREGON UNIVERSITY MULTIMEDIA CENTER AND RVTV FACILITY AT 1525 WEBSTER STREET (SOU CAMPUS). A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT IS REQUESTED FOR A CHANGE IN THE PROPOSED LOCATION OF THE RVTV BUILDING AND SUBSEQUENTLY DISPLACED PARKING FROM THAT SHOWN ON THE SOUTHERN OREGON UNIVERSITY CAMPUS MASTER PLAN.
APPLICANT: SOUTHERN OREGON UNIVERSITY
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all.
Goldman said this is a request to build an 11,800 square foot building to house the Southern Oregon University multi-media center and RVTV facility. An instructional facility/convocation center was located at the corner of Ashland and Webster Streets as part of the SOU 200 Master Plan. The RVTV center was to be located in that center. This application proposes a change from that location to Stadium and Webster Streets. A parking lot was previously identified for that location. There are currently three single family homes on the property. The applicants have a demolition permit to remove the structures. The proposed building is a one-story structure with its main entrance oriented towards the intersection of Webster and Stadium Streets. The entrance will be recessed underneath the patio overhang. The overhang will also function to provide covered bike parking. Head-in parking is located south of the building and also along the west side of the building for a total of 20 spaces. Large trucks will access the back of the building off an existing campus alley. Webster and Stadium are not public streets but internal campus streets.
Goldman said the applicants have provided a landscape plan. Two significant trees are to be removed along with nine trees that are less than 18 inches in diameter. The Tree Commission has reviewed the landscape plan and request for a tree removal permit and has recommended approval. There will be nine street trees planted and four replacement trees for the two trees that are to be removed.
The proposal is for Site Review and a Conditional Use Permit to allow RVTV to deviate from their location as originally identified in the Master Plan. No plan has been proposed for a parking lot at Walker and Webster, therefore, Staff's evaluation is for the current application regarding relocation of the building. The proposed building is in context with the surrounding buildings (McNeal and Physical Plant). The design incorporates a pedestrian orientation toward the intersection of Webster and Stadium. Parking is reviewed as a campus-wide requirement. With the addition of a 62-space parking lot, the SOU campus would exceed the campus-wide parking requirement. The total available parking on campus vastly exceeds the maximum requirement.
City services are available to the site. Streets are adequate in width to provide fire apparatus access and are paved to meet the city's street standards. One concern is the fire hydrants and capacity of the hydrant. The existing fire hydrant does not have adequate flow to fight a fire in this location. The installation of additional fire hydrants or an interior sprinkler system is required. The water main does not provide enough water.
Staff has no concern regarding the change in location as proposed and does not view the relocation of the RVTV building as necessitating the eventual relocation of the parking lot. In keeping with the original planning for Ashland Street and the Walker Avenue intersection, Staff believes there still remains an opportunity to locate buildings along those frontages and contain future parking lots to the interior of the site.
Staff is recommending approval with the attached 13 Conditions and a Condition that all conditions of the application become conditions of approval.
Briggs wondered how trucks will make the turn onto Webster Street. McLaughlin said the traffic volumes are really low so large swings will not be a problem.
Swales asked what is being done to mitigate the parking lot from Walker Avenue. Goldman said the applicants are still going through a SOU campus-wide Master Plan update. They have indicated the Jefferson Public Radio (JPR) facility will be located at the intersection of Walker and Ashland Street.
DAVE STRAUS, architect, Skelton, Straus, Seibert, Medford, OR, said they are the applicant's agent and have been involved with the Master Plan studies and this particular project. SOU is electing to locate the RVTV building at the proposed location because it functions significantly better for the facility and with the adjoining buildings already in place. In particular, the alleyway behind the north side connects with the Physical Plant and there is a large vehicle parking, turnaround and access there. Staff 's findings are accurate as presented. His only question is regarding how the street tree program is applied to private property. Straus wondered if they would be held to the street tree standard since this is used as an internal university street. It seems to be a gray area. How will this work now and in the future?
Straus said the remaining portion of the Master Plan study has not been thoroughly resolved.
BRUCE MOATS, SOU Physical Plant Director, said he did not have a plan to recycle the trees. An arborist recommended the two trees be removed. Since the existing houses are state property, there is a hierarchy in the disposal process. He has attempted to work with RVCDC (non-profit) but so far has not been successful. If nothing is worked out, the next phase is to advertise and solicit private interests for relocation of the houses.
KenCairn asked since we have already approved the last update of the Master Plan, what is the Planning Commission's role? McLaughlin said to look at the Conditional Use in relation to the Campus Master Plan and the impacts beyond the campus. KenCairn believes they need to be held to the street tree standard because the campus is part of the greater community. McLaughlin said they are required to go through the Site Review process on new buildings for review but trying to apply our commercial standards or residential standards to new campus development can sometimes be difficult so we try to modify and work with it the best way possible. In this case, it was Staff's opinion that it looks like a street, it functions like a street and the street tree standards are probably best applied in this situation. A different situation may be looked at differently. Briggs said the University is public property.
Swales is somewhat concerned with the impact of this building on the residents living next to it. What can Straus do to reassure the Commission the building isn't going to be as dull looking as it looks in the elevation? Straus said there is a significant budget restriction on this project. The buildings are more industrial and serve more industrial functions. The materials have to do with the studio itself and the necessity of sound-proofing. The building has to get built because they have to relocate the facility.
COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
KenCairn moved to approve PA2003-032 with the attached 13 Conditions and the added Condition 14 as stated by Goldman. Swales seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Planning Commission Retreat - Scheduled for May 10, 2003 at the Community Development and Engineering Services building, beginning at 8:00 a.m., convening at 8:30 a.m. The retreat is a training day and a time to work with each other even though it is noticed as a public meeting.
McLaughlin said if anyone has any ideas for topics or training items, let him know. KenCairn would like to discuss Variances. McLaughlin listed citizen involvement and monthly articles and ways to reach out to the community. He would like to discuss policies among commissioners. Dotterrer would like to discuss homeowner's associations. The Commissioners would like to do site visits to built projects. Briggs suggested having awards for various projects.
The ending time for the retreat will be 3:00 p.m.
Study Session - There will be a joint study session on April 22, 2003 with the City Council on Regional Problem Solving (Now X2). There will be a presentation by Rogue Valley Council of Governments.
Hearings Board Assignments
Swales will be on May through August Hearings Board.
KenCairn will be on the Hearings Board September through December.
ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.