ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
Wednesday, May 7, 2003 at 12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m.
City Council: Mayor DeBoer and Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn.
Staff: City Administrator Gino Grimaldi, Community Development Director John McLaughlin and City Planner Mark Knox.
1. Discussion regarding Big Box Ordinance Changes.
McLaughlin gave brief a synopsis on the history of the adopted Commercial Development Standards, which included specific limitations on the size of buildings in the Detail Site Review Zone. He commented on the approved application by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival which interpreted the 45,000 sq. ft. limit of the ordinance as applying only to the footprint of a structure, and not to the gross floor area square footage.
He explained that the Council had directed staff to clarify how to measure the 45,000 sq. ft. limit referenced by the ordinance, how to clarify the definition of a contiguous building and how the ordinance amendments would be applied and impact the downtown commercial area. Staff is looking for direction from the Council on how to address these issues.
McLaughlin stated the goal is to keep things in a size and scale that is appropriate for our community. He shared the discussion by the Planning Commission who recommended that no amendments to the ordinance be adopted and that the Council changes their interpretation regarding the 45,000-sq. ft. limit from applying to footprint. The Commission recommended that the Council re-interpret the ordinance where the 45,000-sq. ft. applies to gross floor area of the entire structure.
Council discussed the variable building sizes in the downtown area and that there was no intent to allow the 45,000-sq. ft. in the downtown area. Discussion and comments followed regarding ceiling heights, mixed use, parking facility, affordable downtown housing, fear of unintended consequences, required parking for large structures, availability of modern shopping, environmental and transit issues, and referring to adopted ordinances by other cities in order to avoid any unintended consequences.
McLaughlin explained that the number of parking space requirements, are based on maximum size, as to not limit the parking area. If the parking area were within the footprint of the building, it would not be counted as part of the total gross floor area.
Comments were made regarding the need for downtown residential housing and how it would benefit the downtown area.
Ron Demele/165 Crocker/Spoke regarding the benefit of affordable housing in the downtown area. He urged the council to create a process that would be pro-active in encouraging affordable housing in the downtown area. He commented on a project that would allow a large-scale tax credit in the downtown area.
Bryan Holley/324 Liberty St/Voiced concern regarding citizen participation when scheduling a meeting for this discussion at a noon time which he felt is inconvenient for many. He commented that he did not feel there should be requirements involving affordable housing in this proposal and was glad to see this removed from the language. He encouraged the Council to visit currently built large-scale buildings in order to get a "feeling" of just how large these buildings are. He requested that the Council consider a smaller number than 45,000-sq. ft. footprint and questioned where, in our community, additional 45,000-sq. ft. buildings would be built.
Doug Neuman/953 Emigrant Creek Road/Commented that the design, etc. of the building is more important than the size of the building and that flexibility needs to be allowed, especially in the downtown area. Suggested that current building owners who could be affected by this ordinance get together with Planning staff to discuss these changes.
Bill Street/180 Mead/Spoke regarding the historical pattern for building footprints and how to preserve these historical patterns. Requested that the Council considers the need to persuade and educated the community on the vision of our community to preserve rather than develop the downtown area. Questioned how citizen participation was going to be encouraged. Suggested looking at various building heights, considering how citizens outside the downtown area want to look, affordable housing and the proposed footprint size. Urged the council to be careful when defining residential uses and how to prevent unsightly parking garages.
Zach Brombacher/640 Tolman Creek Rd/Commented on how the community has changed since 1967. He felt that there is a slim chance that a large business such as Walmart would come into our area, but that there is a need to bring new businesses to our community. He felt that the probability of any new businesses coming into our area would be smaller in footprint than what is being proposed. He shared how this proposed amendment would affect his property ownership. Requested that the Council be considerate of needs that property owners and business owners may have in the future.
Colin Swales/461 Allison Street/Commented that economic viability for our community is based on tourism and that people will not come to our community if the downtown area becomes "ugly." Raised the need to keep buildings contiguous in the downtown area and suggested a more useful definition for "contiguous." He encouraged continued historic pattern for the downtown area.
Larry Medinger/Voiced concern that using strict square footage criteria would not allow flexibility when needed. Noted that there are Design Standards that can be relied upon and to not rely on one specific criteria. Commented that the RailRoad District area, which is in an E1 Zone, could be an area that would accommodate a 45,000-ft. sq. building. Supported residential housing in the downtown area.
Clarification on how this proposed amendment would affect E1 zones and the need to diversify our economic needs for our community. It was commented that the Design Standards are not going to be regulated, but that size and scale could be.
McLaughlin stated that staff is currently working on a recommendation regarding the FAR (Floor Area Ratio) as directed by the Planning Commission. He explained that FAR is a design standard and is different.
Comments regarding exceptions for affordable residential uses and the comfort level by the community on the 45,000-sq. ft. or above buildings. It was noted that conditional uses should be allowed in order to allow flexibility for the Planning Commission.
Council voiced support of the Planning Commission recommendation of a 45,000-sq. ft. footprint and exceptions for affordable housing in the downtown area. Commented on appropriateness of building height limits and parking in the building footprint. Further discussion was requested on the issues regarding contiguity.
Staff was directed to bring this back to the Council for a public hearing.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.
Respectfully submitted, Barbara Christensen