Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

December 7, 2004 - 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilor Laws, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn were present.

The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of November 16th, 2004 were approved as presented.

The Distinguished Budget Presentation Award was presented to the City of Ashland Finance Department.

Mayor DeBoer noted there were vacancies on the Citizens' Budget Committee and urged anyone interested to submit an application to the City Recorder's Office.

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.

Councilor Jackson/Laws m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Public Hearing on an Appeal of an Approval of a Conditional Use Permit to Construct a Home in Excess of the Maximum Permitted Floor Area at 150 Church Street.

Mayor DeBoer read aloud the procedure for a Land Use Public Hearing.


Councilor Hearn requested that the Council allow him to be excused due to a potential conflict of interest. He stated that he was the law partner and a close personal friend of the Applicant and did not believe he could remain unbiased.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to allow Councilor Hearn to excuse himself due to a potential conflict of interest. DISCUSSION: Councilor Laws stated that because it was not a direct conflict of interest, Council Hearn should not have to abstain from voting. Councilor Hearn explained that he had met with the City Attorney and while there was no direct conflict of interest with this application, the City Attorney had agreed that it was appropriate for him to excuse himself. Voice Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson and Morrison, YES, Councilor Laws NO. Motion passed 4-1.

Councilor Hearn left the meeting at 7:14 p.m.

Councilor Amarotico disclosed that he was sitting on the Planning Commission Hearings Board at the time of the initial Planning Action for the subdivision.

Councilor Jackson disclosed she was the Council Liaison to the Tree Commission when they reviewed this
Planning Action. She also noted that she had received a phone call from Bill Emerson where he relayed his concerns.

Councilor Morrison disclosed he was the Council Liaison to the Historic Commission when this Planning Action came before the Commission. He added that he did not participate in the discussion and does not feel that hearing the discussion biased him.

Councilor Laws disclosed that he had a discussion with Mr. Emerson in regards to the next-door neighbors tree, which could be threatened by this application.

Councilor Hartzell disclosed that she had performed a site visit and looked at the tree on the neighboring property.

Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained that this application was for a Conditional Use Permit to construct a single-family home at 150 Church Street. The proposed home would be 3,557 sq. ft, which is approximately 9% or 300 sq. ft. more than the Maximum Permitted Floor Area (MPFA). Mr. McLaughlin further explained that the Maximum House Size Ordinance allows that a home can exceed the MPFA by up to 25% by obtaining a Conditional Use Permit. It was noted that both the Historic Commission and the Planning Commission Hearings Board had reviewed and approved this application.

Following approval by the Hearings Board, an appeal was filed with the City. The Appellant's cited the following as their key issues:

1) The Conditional Use Permit process is loosely written and arbitrary in allowing applications to exceed the MPFA by up to 25%,
2) Traffic issues along Hoxie Alley and the intersection of Church and Scenic, and
3) Damage to tree roots next door at 147 Church Street.

Each of these issues were addressed by Staff and their responses are contained in the Council Communication dated December 7, 2004. Mr. McLaughlin noted that an additional condition for approval was applied to the land partition, which states that prior to the issuance of a building permit, the Applicant shall provide a Tree Preservation Plan consistent with the measures in the Tree Protection Ordinance. Staff recommended that the Council accept the Historic and Planning Commission's recommendation and approve the Applicant's request for a Conditional Use Permit.

The criteria for approving a Conditional Use Permit were noted by Staff and include:

1) The conditional use will have no greater adverse material effect on the livability of the impact area when compared to the development of the subject lot with the target use of the zone.
2) Similarity in scale, bulk and coverage.
3) Generation of traffic and effects on surrounding streets.
4) Architectural compatibility with the impact area.
5) Air quality, including the generation of dust, odors, or other environmental pollutants.
6) Generation of noise, light, and glare.
7) The development of adjacent properties as envisioned in the Comprehensive Plan.
8) Other factors found to be relevant by the Hearing Authority for review of the proposed use.

The design and layout of the proposed home was explained, and Mr. McLaughlin noted that the additional mass would be located behind the main structure. It was clarified that the process for obtaining a Conditional Use Permit was much more extensive than applying for a building permit, and that this process allowed the City a greater opportunity to review the design of the house and enact greater control.

Mr. McLaughlin clarified for Council that he did not believe tonight was the appropriate time to discuss whether it was right to have included the "escape valve" in the Ordinance and that the Council's decision should be based on the criteria.

Susan & Robert Saladoff/1290 Munson Drive/Mrs. Saladoff gave a brief personal background and explained their intent for wanting to build a home in the Historic District. She stated that they were interested in a sustainable design that would have limited impacts on the environment and noted that their request to exceed the MPFA was for a guest room for their elderly parents. Mrs. Saladoff stated that the Council should follow the law as written and determine if the facts of their situation meets the criteria for the Conditional Use Permit. Mr. Saladoff spoke regarding the house design and explained how it met the design standards. He also went over each of the criteria for the Conditional Use Permit and explained how this application met each of those requirements.

Mr. Saladoff clarified for Council that they do not anticipate adding a garage at a later date. He also clarified that will have a Tree Protection Plan and noted that the location of the basement door had been moved so it would be farther away from the tree.

Robby Harfst/2340 Morada Lane
/Spoke regarding his familiarity with the Saladoff family and that the application had conformed to all the criteria. Mr. Harfst requested that the Council approve the application.

Dang Widney/1619 King Street, Santa Cruz CA/Expressed his support for the proposed house and stated that he was the Applicant's closest neighbor. He stated that he was happy with the design of the home and was not concerned with the traffic issues, however he did have concern regarding the tree. Mr. Widney stated the tree provides critical shade in the summer for the upper floor of his home and requested that the application be reviewed by the Tree Commission prior to its approval.

Bill Emerson/90 Fifth Street/Requested that the application be reviewed by the Tree Commission and stated that there were different possibilities for handling the tree depending on where the main root system is located. Mr. Emerson asked that the Council include in their motion to approve a condition that states that the location of the steps from the landing will be moved.

Bob Kuenzel/98 Pine Street/Noted the proximity of his home to the Applicant's property. Mr. Kuenzel stated that the Maximum House Size Ordinance defines what an applicant can build without meeting with Staff and then allows an applicant to build up to 25% more than that if they meet the Conditional Use criteria. Mr. Kuenzel noted that the language in the Ordinance states that "a conditional use permit shall be granted" if the certain conditions have been met, and stated that this application met all of the criteria. He stated that the design of the house fit nicely into the neighborhood and asked the Council to de-personalize their decision and apply the standards that they have already created.

Sam Whitford/355 Scenic Drive/Noted that he was a member of the Historic Commission, but was speaking tonight only as a resident of the neighborhood. Mr. Whitford stated that he favored the application and the design of the proposed home. He noted that the house would be stepped down in the back and felt that the design of the home would enhance the neighborhood.

Rob Cain/279 Granite Street/Noted his familiarity with the Saladoff family and stated how hard they had worked to preserve the historic nature of the neighborhood. Mr. Cain stated he was in favor of the Conditional Use Permit and asked the Council to approve the application.

Kerry Kencairn/147 Central Avenue/Stated she was the Landscape Architect for this project and noted that she and the Applicants were exploring their options in order to save the tree. Ms. Kencairn noted that they had moved the entryway to the basement, which increased the distance from the tree and stated that before any excavation work for the basement began, they would perform a major exploration to determine where the major structural roots were located.

Keith Chambers/715 Pennsylvania Avenue/Stated that he had served on the Historic Commission for 13 years and noted that he was in favor of the Maximum House Size Ordinance. Mr. Chambers stated that the inclusion of the "escape valve" in the Ordinance was deliberate and provided the opportunity for exceptional circumstances. He stated that the proposed house was well designed and met all of the criteria for the Conditional Use Permit.

Jerome White/253 Third Street/Spoke regarding the care that the Applicant had placed in designing the house. Mr. White stated the proposed house was compatible with the neighborhood and that the Applicant had met the intent of the Ordinance. He stated that the design met the criteria for a Conditional Use Permit and urged the Council to approve the Applicant's request.

Kate Thill and Jim Williams withdrew as Appellants.

Lew Nash /88 Baum Street/Stated he was opposed to the application due to the size of the house. He explained that the "neighborhood norm" for a house was approximately 2,000 sq. ft. and that the Maximum House Size Ordinance allowed that a house could substantially exceed that. He also voiced concern over the process for obtaining a Conditional Use Permit. Mr. Nash stated that the process lacked guidelines and felt that there was a loophole in the Ordinance. Mr. Nash voiced his objections to Mr. Saladoff's actions at the Historic Commission meeting and claimed that he had participated in the discussion. He stated that the lot size should not be an issue in this case and that the application should be denied based on the fact that the house was too big for the neighborhood. Mr. Nash voiced his concern regarding Staff advocacy, and stated that this was not an appropriate action for Staff to take. He also claimed that the Applicant had planned for the house size to be over the limit even before they had purchased the property. Mr. Nash stated that the Ordinance was difficult to administer and because the Applicant was a member of the Historic Commission, he had an unfair advantage regarding his application.

Mr. Nash asked the Council to do the following four things:

1) Use the same criteria for a Conditional Use Permit as for variances or some other program in order to tighten the criteria,
2) Make the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit an open, transparent system where all parties are treated equally,
3) Direct the Planning Staff to support existing ordinances, or at least not take advocate positions, and
4) Deny the Applicant's request for a Conditional Use Permit so that no precedent is set and the above issues can be further addressed.

Mr. Nash asked the Council to consider what the cumulative effect of larger houses would do to the livability of the Historic District.

Jim Williams/160 Church Street/Stated that his position was unique and that his reason for appealing the application had more to do with his personal situation and his view that the City has a flawed process. Mr. Williams stated that this was the appropriate time for Council to discuss the process for obtaining a Conditional Use Permit and does not think that the City should approve this application because the process is flawed. He explained that his own request for a Conditional Use Permit had been denied by Staff and voiced concern regarding the role the City takes in supporting and advocating the exceptions to the Ordinance. Mr. Williams stated that exceptions to the Ordinance were being decided by the opinions and political pressures felt by City Staff and that given the vague approval criteria, it was difficult to image that any but the most extreme cases would be turned down for a Conditional Use Permit. Mr. Williams stated that filing an appeal was the only recourse offered to the community and if the Council did not fix the process, they would be guaranteed to see a long stream of heated and unproductive neighborhood battles.

Guy Nutter/1037 Pinecrest Terrace
/Spoke regarding the Conditional Use Permit process and how it was applied in this instance. Mr. Nutter stated that the Council needed to fine-tune the system so that everyone would be treated fairly. He spoke regarding the advocacy role taken on by Staff and stated that the process was neither open nor transparent. He explained that the current process gives the appearance of a "two-tiered system". One tier for architects, builders and developers, and the other for the rest of the citizens. He stated that the Planning Commission was made up primarily of individuals who worked in and had a financial interest in the same trade, and that this could give the appearance of special treatment to members of that group.

Mr. Nutter requested that the Council:

1) Suggest to the Planning Department that their role should be one of implementing and defending the Ashland Municipal Code; not advocating for the Conditional Use Permits that they have granted,
2) Alter the Conditional Use Permit process to make it open and apparent; and to allow public input at the beginning of the process rather than at the end, and
3) Broaden the appointments to the Planning Commission as vacancies become available to include a more balanced cross-section of the City's population.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith Avenue/Stated the proposed home did not conform to the neighborhood. He noted the difference in roof pitches and stated that the location of the house would be in a predominately Victorian Style neighborhood. Mr. Navickas stated that the design of the house was inefficient and noted the flat roof between the two main areas. Mr. Navickas stated that the house was unnecessary and would set a bad precedent for the Historic Districts.

Susan Saladoff clarified that the option for a Conditional Use Permit was not a loophole as claimed by the Appellants, but was specifically written into the Ordinance. She stated that it was untrue that that they had designed their home prior to obtaining the property and stated that they had abided by the process and did not receive preferential treatment from Staff. Mrs. Saladoff stated that if the Council abides by the law as it exists today, than they should be award the Conditional Use Permit. If the Council determines at some point to change the Ordinance, than that should be a separate issue.


Comment was made defending Staff's actions. It was noted that Staff presents a Staff Report that contains the arguments for or against a project, and that the Planning Commission wants and needs Staff's opinions, as does the Council.

City Attorney Mike Franell spoke regarding the actions of Mr. Saladoff at the Historic Commission meeting, and stated that the Applicant's actions were appropriate. He added that when a commissioner has a direct conflict of interest because they are presenting their own project, they have the right to present their project and to stay and listen to the discussion.

Mr. McLaughlin clarified that the tree mentioned in the testimony was not on the Applicant's property, but they are required to obtain an arborist report to ensure that the tree is considered and that appropriate measures are taken to protect it.

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s to extend meeting until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Council discussed the intent of the Maximum House Size Ordinance. Mr. McLaughlin stated that the Ordinance was designed to establish the size and scale of homes in the Historic District. He added that the key point with the "escape valve" is determining that the design is appropriate for the neighborhood. Mr. McLaughlin clarified that notice was mailed to all of the surrounding property owners and a sign was posted on the property. He also noted that before an Applicant has met with Staff, a list of the Pre-Application Conferences is posted on the City's website to alert citizens of upcoming projects.

Regarding Staff advocacy as suggested by the Appellants, Mr. McLaughlin clarified that both the Planning Commission and the City Council have asked that the Planning Staff provide a recommendation regarding the applications. They have also been given the authority to either approve or deny certain applications without a public hearing. When Staff makes a decision that they feel is appropriate, they will support that decision when explaining it to the Commission. But if the Commission comes to a different decision than Staff, it is Staff's responsibility to support the Commission's recommendations. Mr. McLaughlin added that Staff's initial role is to review the applications to see if they comply with the City ordinances.

Councilor Jackson/Laws m/s to sustain the Planning Commissions decision with an additional condition of approval as submitted by the Appellants, Exhibit #CC5, regarding tree protection. DISCUSSION: Council asked if approving this application would set precedence. Mr. McLaughlin stated by approving the request, Council would be concurring with the recommendations of the Historic Commission and a similar application could be approved in the future. Voice Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Morrison, Jackson and Laws, YES. Councilor Hartzell, NO. Motion passed 4-1.

2. Public Hearing and First reading of "An Ordinance Withdrawing an Annexed Area from Jackson County Fire District No. 5 (Ely Schless and Krista Johnson, 3151 East Main Street Annexation)."
The Public Hearing will be re-noticed for the January 4, 2005 Council Meeting.

PUBLIC FORUM  None due to time constraints.



1. Second reading by title only of "An Ordinance Amending the Ashland Municipal Code, Land Use Ordinance, Regarding Minimum Densities in Multi Family Zoning Districts."
It was noted that several editorial changes needed to be made to the proposed Ordinance:

18.28.040.A.1 should be amended to read "Base density for the R-3 zone shall be 20.0 dwelling units per acre, however, units of less than 500 square feet of gross habitable area shall count as 0.75 units for the purposes of density calculations, with the following restrictions."

18.28.040.A.1.b. should be amended to read "Minimum lot area for 2 units shall be 6,500 sq. ft. with a minimum width of 50' and a minimum depth of 80'."

18.28.040.A.1.d. should be amended to read "Developments of 3 units or greater shall have minimum lot area in excess of 8,000 sq. ft. and as determined by the base density…"

Councilor Jackson/Morrison m/s to approve Ordinance #2914 as amended. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Laws, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, and Morrison, YES. Motion passed.

2. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Declaring the Canvass of the Vote of the Election Held in and for the City of Ashland, Oregon, on November 2, 2004, and Mayoral Proclamation."

Councilor Laws/Amarotico m/s to approve Resolution #2004-39 and Mayoral Proclamation. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Morrison, Jackson, Amarotico and Laws, YES. Motion passed.

City Administrator Gino Grimaldi gave a brief explanation of a memo released by Jackson County in regards to the implementation of Measure 37. Suggestion was made for the Council to submit a letter to Jackson County regarding this issue.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
Alan DeBoer, Mayor

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