Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

SEPTEMBER 14, 2004

Chair Russ Chapman called the Ashland Planning Commission meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. on September 14, 2004 in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.

Commissioners Present: Russ Chapman, Chair
Mike Morris
Kerry KenCairn
Marilyn Briggs
Allen Douma
Olena Black
Michael Dawkins
Absent Members: Dave Dotterrer
John Fields
Council Liaison: Alex Amarotico (Council Liaison does not attend Planning Commission meetings in order to avoid conflict of interest.)
High School Liaison: None
SOU Liaison: None
Staff Present: Bill Molnar, Senior Planner
Maria Harris, Associate Planner
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

The regular Planning Commissioner drop-in "Chat" will be held Tuesday, September 28, 2004 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Community Development and Engineering Services building located at 51 Winburn Way.

There will be a Planning Commission Study Session on September 28, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street. The topic will be announced.


Briggs/KenCairn m/s to approve the Minutes and Findings of the August 10, 2004 Hearings Board.

KenCairn/Briggs m/s to approve the Minutes of the August 10, 2004 Regular Planning Commission meeting.

The Minutes of the August 10th and August 24th Study Sessions were reviewed without objections.

IV.  PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak.



Site visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Morris had a group site visit with the other Planning Commissioners. He noted a possible conflict of interest. He is running for City Council. Morris is particularly concerned if the applicant endorses him as a candidate, it might be perceived as a conflict of interest. Morris felt he could be unbiased in making a decision. He asked the Commissioners to decide if he should step down. Chapman said Morris has discussed this with the City Attorney and the City Attorney did not feel it would raise a conflict and therefore Chapman would invite him to remain seated during the hearing. The other Commissioners unanimously agreed.

Dawkins had a site visit. Chapman, Briggs and Douma did the group site visit. Black had a group site visit and a visit on her own.

KenCairn worked on the project and stepped down. She left the meeting.

Molnar reviewed the Staff Report describing the site, zoning and project. These details can be found in the Staff Report.

Molnar noted the positive aspects of the project including the affordable housing element, traffic circulation, and public access easements that will allow for pedestrian paths for future connections.

Staff feels there are a number of items that need to be addressed before approval is granted for this application, given the size of the project, its visibility to Ashland Street, access onto a state highway as well as an under improved access road (Clay Street). A traffic impact analysis has been provided. This section of Ashland Street is still under the Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT's) jurisdiction. They only received the impact analysis last Friday and have not had sufficient time to review the study (see e-mail from ODOT). Safe access on and off the site has been a primary issue. Both ODOT and Staff are asking the application be continued to work out these issues.

Molnar said other items lacking in the application include a site distance study where Clay Street enters Ashland Street. What are the impacts on turning movements in and out of the project and was there a consideration for allowing turning movements from the center turn lane on Ashland Street?

The project is in the Detailed Site Review (DSR) zone. The building is large enough to trigger large scale development standards. One concern involves orientation of the commercial building. Does the street facing (south facing) elevation seem subordinate to the other primary elevation (east facing) with not as strong a presence toward the street, given the larger wall and some of the window sizes on the south elevation? The applicants will talk about the changes they have made.

Circulation of the project is another concern. The transportation plan identifies a multi-use pedestrian and bicycle facility running east/west ultimately envisioned to connect Clay Street to YMCA Way as an at-grade shortcut. When Birchwood Lane Subdivision was approved, they installed a multi-use pathway at the end of the cul-de-sac that abuts the project's property as well as the property to the north. The applicant's site plan does not identify the multi-use pathway. More information is needed on how the pathway would flow through the project. They are applying for Final Plan and have preliminary engineering for the project. The pathway is a foot to one and one-half feet higher than the property. Has the engineering been coordinated to allow for that transition?

This is a larger multi-family project and eight percent of the multi-family portion of the project is required to be in recreation space and open space for outdoor use by the residents. Patios and covered decks are allowed to count toward that. Staff had problems with some of the calculations given for recreation space. Additional information is needed to make sure the eight percent has been met. Where is the eight percent located and is it designed to truly meet the intent of the recreation space? Some of the outdoor recreation space was identified in a narrow area at the side of the units. There was not enough elaboration in the application to justify how those would be viable recreation spaces. There are some wider recreation spaces along the north and west side of some of the units, however, in looking at the engineering plans, it looks like these yard areas are anticipated for providing storm water detention (bioswale). Is it a flat lawn area, is it retention, or is it both? Further clarification is needed.

The applicant is asking for a custom standard solar access to be applied to this development. They are requesting that the shadows from two of the buildings be allowed to go up the south facing wall approximately 11 feet, 2 inches. This would be an exception to the City's solar ordinance. The same building design is being used on the two most northerly units and at this time it is not complying with solar access.

The Staff Report notes that within the project, 20 trees are inventoried that are greater than six inches in diameter. Nineteen of the trees are scheduled for removal. Many of the trees are in poor health. The information in the application is lacking in justification for removal of nineteen trees. If a design standard has to be met and is in conflict with a tree, the approval authority can make a finding to remove a tree(s) because it is in conflict with another standard. The Tree Commission reviewed the project. Harris reported their recommendations were specific in suggestions for different trees to plant. They want to see more conifers in the project. On the residential portion of the landscape plan, they referenced Coral Bark Maple but it was not shown on the plan. The Tree Commission would like to see that plant used. The Tree Commission felt the health of the trees is not very good and it was acceptable to remove the trees.

Briggs noticed on Map S-2 there is a proposed property line that extends into what is now R-2 land. Is it going to be used for parking for the residential above the commercial building? Doesn't that require a zone change? Will the back area remain 1.75 acres? If the acreage is changing, then the units allowed could change. She would like to be clear on that point. When she did the math for the bonus points, she came up with only 32.04 units, not 33. Molnar said the parking is generally allowed by ordinance as long as lot coverage requirements and other items are met in the R-2 zone.

Evan Archerd, P. O Box 699, said this project started because of a desire to create affordable housing. The housing is close to all City services. This is one of the largest R-2 lots left in the City. This is an opportunity to define the south corridor. The commercial parcel allows for a mixed-use development.

Jerome White, 253 3rd Street, handed out revised elevations. He said they oriented the commercial building in a north/south direction so the fewest number of units would face Ashland Street. They wanted the units to have an equivalent light from the east and the west. They did not want the decks to face Ashland Street. There is a stairwell at each end of the building. It provides convenient access for the tenants to the plaza and open space below. White felt they have created a building that is attractive on all sides. Part of the reason the east/west faces are more attractive are because of the indentations for the decks and the windows.

The stairway off the sidewalk is in direct line with the front door below the awning. Thirty-two percent of the front wall of the building is now in windows, openings and doors. The blank wall has been revised so it is now 20 feet wide and one-third of it is below sidewalk level. The ivy was not put on the building to soften it, but he believes red brick walls with ivy are attractive. Two small windows are in the brick façade. The stairwell breaks up the façade.

Archerd said they had always intended to provide east/west pedestrian/bicycle connectivity. They have revised the site plan showing a definitive multi-use path leading directly into Birchwood and through the pathway that has always been used for McDonald's.

The new site plan addresses the solar access issue. They have moved units 7 and 8 away from the north property line and changed the covered porches so they are open porches. That should solve the solar access on the north property line. The only thing now that is being shaded is the garage door. Isn't it better to have sunlight on all sides of the building?

John Galbraith, Galbraith & Associates, 145 Holly Street, Medford, OR 97501, acknowledged and agreed with the Tree Commission recommendations. They will plant twice as many trees on the site as are currently there.

Archerd said there is a supplemental traffic impact analysis that addresses the issue of site distance, showing there is adequate site distance and stacking. They have worked with ODOT and the City of Ashland Public Works Department to design a center median that will be built as part of this project, preventing left turns from coming out of the site. It will only allow right in/right out to the project.

Archerd handed out the preliminary plat.

Chapman gave the applicants his list of concerns.
     ODOT's comments
     Building orientation
     Recreational space calculations
     Grade change

Morris asked the purpose of the parking at the entrance. Archerd said Staff had asked them to look at providing ten percent more parking than required by statute because in the past, they have found that multi-family residential similar to this have a lot of visitors.

Morris wondered how much below grade the building is situated. White responded that it is 9.2 feet and 13.2 feet below the sidewalk. It is 52 feet back from the curb.

Dawkins is concerned that the one and two bedroom units are evenly distributed as the affordable housing units. Archerd said eight of the 32 units will be affordable. Dawkins said the recreational area was not adequately addressed. They have seen several projects where area dedicated to recreation was not usable. Some of the seem very, very small. Is the west side of the project a swale or does it count as a recreational or is it both? Archerd said they have a total recreational space of 15.7 percent, not including the decks (2700 sq. ft.). They have a number of very usable open spaces. There is 29 feet behind one group of buildings that can be used as play area.

Douma wondered, given the percentage, if it would be helpful to have a separate diagram showing the open space and how it would meet the ordinance. He felt with regard to solar access, there is a trade-off and it is more acceptable to block the sun to a garage door. With regard to design, Douma believes this building is the best looking building at this end of town. Most people are going to see the east side as much as the south side of the building driving into town. He does not have a problem with the building's appearance and orientation. He will wait for the ODOT report concerning traffic issues. He is concerned about making the recreational space more important. Is there a way to have a pedestrian pathway by foregoing the right-of-way that is now through Birchwood and bringing a walkway through the ODOT right-of-way along the side of Clay Street? The path would continue between the multi-family housing and commercial and keep it out of the multi-family housing allowing for a better sense of community.

Briggs agreed with Douma's idea for a pedestrian pathway going between lots 1 and 2 in the parking. They could drop the solar three feet if they would use the hip instead of the straight gable. Archerd said they would eliminate the covered porches. Briggs has trouble giving any leeway for solar access. For energy efficiency, it is best to have living spaces facing south. Briggs has always known ivy to eat into the brick. Is this true? Does there need to be a zone change for the parking? Archerd said he reviewed this with Staff and they said it was legal to park the residential component of the commercial building on the R-2 zone strip of land. The parking will be designated as residential parking.

Black noted the applicant's findings state two percent of the traffic to the site would be truck traffic. She envisions 18-wheelers driving in and out of the site regularly. White said the hardware store will get only about two 18-wheelers a week. She will wait for the ODOT report. She has concerns about the entrance from the project onto Clay. With regard to the pedestrian path, she would like to see it go all the way to Clay Street. She suggested a sidewalk installed below the bank on Clay. She would like to see both sides of Clay (up above) developed.

Russ Dale said the Ashland Street intersection will be cleaned up and widened to 28 feet as well as installing curbs, gutters and sidewalks to the project entrance.

Alex Georgevitch, Traffic Engineer, said during peak hours, the Clay Street driveway is estimated to have 38 left turns out.

Black asked the applicants if they contacted McDonald's to see if they would continue with the street stub and if they'd consider granting an easement. The applicants did not, but they will ask.

Eric Navickas, 711 Faith Avenue, is disappointed Ace Hardware is moving away from A Street. He would like to see the City encourage them to stay downtown. The elevations don't show how this project relates to McDonald's. The mixed use seems contrived.

Briggs said this would be a second location for Ashland Hardware.

Douma said we are trying to have multi-family housing and affordable housing. Is there another design for affordable housing to get away from the boxiness into a more community feel? Navickas said the buildings are equally spaced and boxes. There is an opportunity to do something different.

The issues brought up by Navickas are similar to Dawkins' concerns. When he sees this development, it looks like everywhere America. The requirements may be met, but it is lacking in quality. Are there ways to do development that is not the same cookie cutter design? The current Ashland Hardware has such a wonderful feel. By moving Ashland Hardware to the south end of town, it is more auto-oriented.

Zena Goldberg, 2173 Birchwood Lane, said she is concerned about the traffic, specifically the lack of visibility making a left turn at Ashland Street and cutting down the 'S' curve. She would like to see a picture of the commercial building in relationship to the residences.

Lee Fanchard, Birchwood Lane, said he would be interested in ODOT's report. He is interested in keeping the easement as a buffer (east side). He is concerned with fire truck access to the project.

Douma asked how they would feel about a pedestrian right-of-way through their property. Goldberg said she doesn't know if the right-of-way is public or private. The Birchwood residents might not be too happy to see people walking through there. Skateboarders go through the flowerbeds. They would love to have their privacy.

Stephen Force, 2165 Birchwood Lane, said his concerns are similar to Goldberg's. He would like some sound attenuation and privacy. He would like to see the walkway outside Birchwood, along the Clay Street entrance and between the apartments and commercial area.

Archerd asked that Jerome White's comments be made part of the record.

Molnar said there has been a lot of discussion about how Clay intersects with the access drive. They are still discussing it. It is not shown on the current plan. Pedestrian safety in the area of "no-man's land" is of concern.

The applicant granted a 30-day extension to the 120-day time limit. The application was deemed complete on September 7, 2004.

Douma/Black moved to continue the hearing to October 12, 2004 at 7:00 at the Ashland Civic Center. This application will not be re-noticed. Roll Call: Unanimous.

KenCairn returned to the meeting.

A.   Ordinance Initiatives

1.    Private Garages in Commercial/Employment Zones - 19.92.060.E

Briggs/Morris m/s to move this ordinance forward and recommend Staff bring forward to them an ordinance reflecting the discussion they've had regarding this issue. Roll Call: Unanimous.

This will tentatively be heard at the Regular Planning Commission meeting on November 9, 2004.

2.   Changing the existing Conservation Density Bonus to the Earth Advantage Density Bonus - 18.88.040.B.3.a.

Chapman/Briggs m/s to move this ordinance forward and recommend Staff bring forward to them an ordinance reflecting the discussion they've had previously regarding this issue. Roll Call: Unanimous.

This will tentatively be heard at the Regular Planning Commission meeting on November 9, 2004.

VII.  ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

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