Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

DECEMBER 14, 2004

Vice Chair John Fields called the Ashland Planning Commission meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. on December 14, 2004 in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.
Mike Morris
Marilyn Briggs
Allen Douma
Olena Black
Michael Dawkins
Dave Dotterrer
Kerry KenCairn (stepped down)
COUNCIL LIAISON: Alex Amarotico (Council Liaison does not attend
Planning Commission meetings in order to avoid
conflict of interest.)
STAFF PRESENT: John McLaughlin, Planning Director
Maria Harris, Senior Planner
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary
II. ANNOUNCEMENTS - There were no announcements.
Morris/Dotterrer m/s to approve the Findings for PA2004-135, 308 Laurel Street, Kurtz-Walsh Property/Rick Landt. Voice Vote: Unanimous.

Black/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings for PA2004-129, 116 Lincoln Street, Archerd & Dresner, LLC. Voice Vote: Unanimous.

Dotterrer/Briggs m/s to approve the Findings for PA2004-105, 759 and 769 South Mountain Avenue, R&C Investments as amended. Delete Conditions 4, 5, and 6 and re-number the Conditions accordingly. Voice Vote: Unanimous.

Dotterrer/Black m/s to approve the Minutes of the November 9, 2004 Regular Meeting and the November 23, 2004 Regular Meeting (continued). Voice Vote: Unanimous.

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

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all. KenCairn stepped down and was not present in the room during the hearing because she had worked on the plans.

McLaughlin said zone change requests are rare, especially in residential areas. The request is specifically for a co-housing project. The Staff Report outlines the merits of the application and the key points are the affordable housing component, some design features, energy conservation with the new construction, a public pedestrian pathway through the project and drainageway restoration. The difficulty is the density change from the underlying zone (six units to 13 units). McLaughlin showed slides of the property.

There is an affordable component required in this application as part of the zone change. The applicant is proposing that two to three units in the project will meet the City's affordability standards. They are also proposing the homes will meet the State's affordability standard to insure the long-term affordability.

The Commissioners will have the difficult task of determining the appropriateness of the location of this project. This is an area that was annexed into the City in 1985 as an R-1-5 zone. This is one of the last remaining parcels in this immediate neighborhood scheduled for development. Are 13 units of common wall housing in a R-2 zone an appropriate style of development for the neighborhood? The Comprehensive Plan has several policies, giving the Commission discretion insuring that the nature of the neighborhood is protected and that re-zones don't deteriorate the values associated with the neighborhoods. However, with appropriate design, common wall housing can be a housing style that does fit with neighborhoods and can be approved.

With regard to the design, the common wall design is a housing type not seen in this neighborhood. The scale of the structures in relationship to the homes around it is not dissimilar. The average unit size is about 1250 square feet. Even two units together make a relatively small building and overall lot coverage is not dissimilar from that of the neighborhood. The Performance Standards ordinance allows for clustering and common wall. It is the density that makes the difference.

MELANIE MINDLIN, 1338 Seena Lane, is the property owner and represents the Fordyce Cohousing Community. There are currently five members. The principles of cohousing are outlined in the application. Mindlin said there is a change on page 2 of her application. The size of units should be 1488 square feet, not 1400 square feet. The pedestrian path has been removed from the site plan.

The main concern revolved around parking that came from a neighborhood meeting in 2003. They placed the home in front facing Fordyce Street and left about the half the parking in front and moved the other half deeper into the site.

Mindlin covered the various aspects of their application. She believes it meets many of the criteria of the R-1-5 zone. They decided to ask for R-2 zoning because it best describes what is being done in cohousing. It requires parking areas in order to create a pedestrian community and not well described by any of the standards in the R-1-5 zone. The R-2 would give them the additional density needed to make the project affordable.

All of the homes are in single family ownership and will fit into the single family neighborhood. This is not rental housing. The buildings are townhomes, built mostly in pairs with one common wall. Overall lot coverage is less dense with more view corridors than the surrounding neighborhood.

The primary justification for the rezoning request is affordable housing. They are doing 15 percent affordable housing for households below 60 percent of median income. They have a preliminary agreement with Habitat for Humanity to build two units (smaller units toward Fordyce Street). It is their expectation that every home should be affordable. They are committed to having all the homes in the project cost less than the price limit that has been set by the State bond loan program (currently $266,000). They are asking the Planning Commission to accept this as a definition for their medium priced housing and not refer it to the Ashland Housing Program Specialist for review. There is no criteria for that review. (Staff Condition 7). They are not planning to screen people for affordable housing. They are setting a price that will make purchase possible. They are drafting an equity limits agreement allowing the homeowner's investment to grow commensurate with market values. As real estate values go up in comparison with median income, the homes will gradually become less affordable, but stay at the same percentage below market value.

The homes are designed for sustainable building, taking into consideration environmental responsibility.
They are using passive solar. They hope to build within the Earth Advantage program but they are not sure they can meet all the categories.
The project will create an open space for children that is safe and will allow minimum supervision. It would be difficult to open up their central play area to a multi-use path and still reconcile it with their goals. They would ask if the path is required that it be for use only by pedestrians, not bicycles.

LAURIE SAGER, KenCairn Sager Landscape Architects, said there are three cottonwood trees lying within the drainage that will need to be removed. A tree protection plan will be provided for the trees adjacent to the driveway to the north to preserve and protect those trees during construction.

They propose providing a riparian planting along either side within ten feet of the drainage to provide habitat protection. The roadway crossing will require a culvert that will accommodate a 100 year flood event. Some fill will be required along with segmental retaining walls. They are proposing to send storm water into a drainageway and provide a metered outlet.

Some of the public space has been concentrated near the drainageway to provide more community garden space and the riparian shading along the waterway as a benefit to the community and the waterway. They have proposed to mitigate the trees at least one for one with an appropriate species for all the trees that will be removed.

They would like to reduce the size of the multi-use path to four feet, in particular the back portion of the site and provide an alternative to asphalt or concrete (something more permeable and natural).

NANCY RICHARDSON, 93 California, said the Housing Commission has told this community what it needs for affordable housing. Fordyce Cohousing embraces the elements that are required to create a sustainable community (including economic, environmental and social community) and how they connect. They will provide affordable housing, green building and a community structure. She talked about the many benefits to the community as a whole by providing affordable living situations. This project has a strong element of affordability that meets criteria for re-zoning.

KIM BLACKWOLF, 1388 Mill Pond Road, stated she has served on the Housing Commission for two years. She left the Housing Commission to help get affordable housing built. She has been a founder of the co-housing project here. Ashland recently made a commitment not to increase the Urban Growth Boundary. That implies a clear direction to use infill to create housing. The homes in this project allow for a range of affordable homes. She is asking the Commission to move forward.

DANIEL O'CONNELL, 726 Royal Avenue #65, Medford, OR 97504, said this is a project that fits. Cohousing can enrich neighbors. There is a community center that can be used by everyone in the neighborhood.

LEAH SCHINDLER, 808 Palm Street, Medford, OR 97501, said she hopes to be a member of the Fordyce Cohousing Community. She read a letter of support from Tonya Graham, Director of Headwaters.

DOUG HUSTON, 729 N. Modoc Avenue, Medford, OR, explained the equity limits. If they can build a house for $200,000 and the market value at move-in is $250,000, they have built it at 80 percent of market value. Their intention is to legally bind themselves to maintain the 20 percent discrepancy to pass on the affordability. They want to allow a larger breadth of people to move into their community.

SUE CRADER, 500 Broken Bow, Jacksonville, OR, Executive Director of Ashland Supportive Housing and Outreach, formerly known as Advocates for Severely Handicapped stated she lived and worked in Ashland, but has since moved out of Ashland. The cost of housing has risen faster then incomes. She has maintained her commitment to this community. She is currently at 80 percent of median income and looking for property to purchase in Ashland. There are currently only two three-bedroom houses on the market under $300,000. The other option is a townhouse, but that would not be child-friendly. The co-housing project would provide small units clustered in pairs with safe open space for her children. A sense of community will be built into the complex.

MONTY WALTERS, 520 Fordyce Street, said this is a passive solar project with high density; low income housing that supports neighbor-to-neighbor cooperation and preserves open space as best it can.

CHRISTY FRENZEN, 1257 Orchid Street, completely favors this type of development from the standpoint of affordable housing and addressing sprawl but she read the Housing Needs Assessment under "Impediment - Land zoned for multi-family housing is being used for single family units." This is her concern in this situation.

Fields read the statement from JENNIE LATT, 635 Fordyce Street opposing the proposal.

DICK WANDERSCHEID, 1280 Kirk Lane (ERWIN NOTRICA, 1285 Kirk Lane and LESLIE MEHAFFEY, 1270 Kirk Lane donated their time to Wanderscheid).
Wanderscheid said the neighbors in opposition to this project are neither anti co-housing or anti-affordable housing. The proposed development is attempting to change the rules and develop at densities significantly higher than surrounding properties. The first four criteria for a zone change cannot be met. The project hinges on providing affordable housing. The Staff Report points out that the burden of proof lies with the applicant to demonstrate the proposal is in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan. It is a rather imprecise standard that gives the Commission a considerable amount of discretion and latitude when evaluating the merits of the proposal. The Staff Report further states that the Commission must decide if the application has taken into account and mitigated all potential impacts that might lead to deterioration of existing residential areas. This proposal does not meet the standard. It places a tri-plex of 3354 square feet among an established area of homes with sizes varying from 1200 to 2000 square feet. It places three large parking areas in a residential area where no large parking areas exist. The additional water runoff could possibly result in the flooding of his home, located adjacent to the drainageway.

Kirk Lane has 13 single family residences, each of which have a two-car garage and two additional off-street parking spaces, for a total of 52 off-street parking spaces. At times he has observed at least eight cars parked on his street. This development of comparable size to Kirk Lane had only 25 spaces. He is suggesting the overflow parking will go onto Kirk, Orchid and Mill Pond. Traffic will be an issue. Staff has said there will be an additional 60 to 80 vehicle trips per day (vtpd). The rest of the developments in the area have put in full city streets, expecting to someday connect to the future north street By requesting a zoning of R-2 this development does not have to adhere to the street standards and thus will not have traffic coming through the development but will use other existing streets.

The developers have agreed to sign an agreement to limit the development to 13 units, but a future City Council could remove this requirement and if this proposal never got built would still have the potential for even higher densities with a R-2 zoning designation. The property to the west could ask for R-2 zoning because it is contiguous to R-2 zoned land. There is now an ordinance requiring minimum densities in R-2 zones.

The developers state their number one criteria is fostering neighborhood and community. The developers had a meeting in July 2003 with the neighbors, assuring them the proposal was better for them than the standard development of six to eight units. They requested a chance to compare the standard proposal with their proposal so they could decide. The applicants never gave them the opportunity. Wanderscheid presented a petition with neighbors' signatures in opposition to this development. He would favor the development if it came back single family residential.

He is concerned the applicants have stated just tonight there is no guarantee of affordability or Earth Advantage and the proposed pedestrian and bike path is only a pedestrian path. He is concerned about fire truck access.

John Fields read the statement in opposition from PAT SMITH, 635 Fordyce.

DR. LAUREL TRUAN, 632 Fordyce Street, stated she is at tonight's meeting on her and her aunt's behalf. She discussed the congestion and long wait times at the intersection of Fordyce and East Main Streets. She noted if cars are parked on Fordyce in front of mailboxes, neighbors cannot access their mailboxes.

DAVE FRYE, 1260 Kirk Lane, said he opposes project the because of density, water run-off, flooding, traffic congestion, and safety for children.

LARRY MEHAFFEY, 1270 Kirk Lane, expressed his concerns about the water and drainage issues. He has a pump on his property continuously. He is also concerned about possible gatherings at the community center.

WILLIAM P. SAUERS, 55 Granite Street, said he co-owns the house at 1275 Kirk Lane. He is concerned about the devaluation of his property if the zoning is changed. He does not believe the development's open space is large enough for children to play. They will go across the street to the park. As they grow up, they will have cars with horns and radios.

MICHAEL ELICH, 1275 Kirk Lane (also speaking for ROBIN GOODWIN-NORDLY), said this proposal is asking the existing community to change the very rules that brought them to this neighborhood in the first place.

LESLIE SADUR, 1245 Orchid Street, (time given to SADUR BY KAREN VON BERGEN, 1245 Orchid Street), believes the applicant's request should be denied. R-2 zoning in the middle of R-1 is out of character. She has concerns about traffic, parking, and design aesthetics.

BETH LIPPERT, 1233 Orchid Street, said she is opposed to the zone change. She is concerned with the increased traffic and no on-street parking in the area. How will the cohousing project manage the overflow parking? She is also concerned about project connectivity. Currently all the neighborhoods are connected and there is a terrific sense of community. Will she be allowed to ride her bike through the development? Is it going to be an exclusive community? Does it really fit in?

JIM BECKELL, 1287 Orchid Street, believes cohousing is admirable, but he has serious concerns about the zone change. He can anticipate noise from cars, car doors and headlights. The development is inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhood.

ELLEN HEINE, 1230 Kirk Lane, said she is opposed to the development. Behind her home will be a 3200 square foot duplex, nothing like on Orchid. Her children ride their bikes to and from school. It feels like they will have a community that is not part of the neighborhood.

DEA NASON COLLINS,1269 Orchid Street, stated that by doubling the density it will double the impact with parking, noise and environmental impacts. The larger structures are not in keeping with the neighborhood. The zone change does not meet the criteria

JACQUE NOTRICA, 1280 Kirk Lane, said the larger neighborhood was annexed into the city in the 1980's. The entire area was zoned R-1-5 and each developer has had to comply with the restrictions for R-1. One restriction on the west side of Fordyce has been to cap off the end of the streets but to open later as development occurs. The proposed development does not have a street that would go through. There is inadequate parking. Two parking lots are not very close to the housing. This discriminates against the handicapped. Any visitors would have to park on the side streets. When their streets open up, cars from the development will use Kirk and Orchid to get to their destinations. This development is of no benefit to the surrounding neighbors.

John Fields read the statement from Erwin Nortrica in opposition.

DEREK VOLKART, 613 Fordyce Street, thinks he is the only renter speaking in opposition of the zone change. He supports the cohousing concept and would be thrilled if the proposal could be built in a R-1-5 zone. He would like to have had more dialogue with the developer before tonight's meeting. Why can't we provide affordable housing on this site as R-1 zoning? Visually, he does not want to look at 11 storage units and cut trees and paved parking lot.

He submitted a petition signed by 30 people in opposition.

ROGER NOYES, 1257 Orchid, appreciates the goals of the co-housing community. However, he has concerns about the increased noise, size of buildings and parking lots in residential neighborhoods.

KEN ENGELUND, 560 Weller Lane, President of Habitat for Humanity, said Jackson County has an affordable housing crisis. Habitat would be able to alleviate some of that need on a unit-by-unit basis. They provide a 20 to 30 year no-interest mortgage to buyers.

MARGUERITTE HICKMAN, 455 Siskiyou Boulevard, said the access does meet fire code. Though it meets code, one of the concerns is how parking may affect fire access down the road. With other developments with private drives she has experienced cars blocking the way even though "No Parking" signs are posted and even though there is off-street parking or a parking lot. Some choose to park in a more convenient place that could hinder fire apparatus from getting to a fire. Therefore, enforcement is her concern.

ROBERT COLLINS, 1269 Orchid, supports co-housing and would support it in his backyard if it didn't change the zoning in his backyard. There are successful co-housing projects under ten units. He is concerned about exclusion from the co-housing community. That could destroy their community.

Staff Response
McLaughlin said the Staff Report states the merits of the project. There seems to be some reluctance on the part of the applicant in complying with the Condition regarding affordable housing. It should be further clarified that their application stated that all homes will be within the pricing limits set by the State.

The applicant's findings stated that each home would be designed to fulfill or exceed the requirements of the Earth Advantage program, but there seems to be reluctance to agree to that Condition.

Finally, there is a Comprehensive Plan policy strongly stated in the plan to provide connectivity in a development. That seems contrary to the applicant's findings.

Mindlin said there is no reluctance to meet the $266,000 price limitation. Their reluctance is in sending it to the Ashland Housing Specialist because there is no criteria for the standard of review. They can work with the Planning Commission on any other ways of defining it.

Their proposal is to work with doing Earth Advantage. They will try to achieve it. If they want to make it a requirement, that would be fine.

When they work with the site and the project engineer, it should improve the current drainage situation.

This is an odd piece of land that was left behind and was not accommodated with the street grid. It is not wide enough to accommodate a street. R-1-5 zoning allows for common wall housing.

They do not foresee a problem with their parking in addressing Fire Department concerns.

Mindlin strongly disagrees with those stating they were not meeting the affordable housing and sustainability goals.

The community center is not for community use.

It is not possible to do cohousing under the current zoning. It does not meet the parking standards of R-1-5 zoning. At least 12 units are needed in the cohousing model to meet the social issue. The land to purchase is not out there. This is a unique opportunity.

It was agreed that Planning Action 2004-150 will be heard at the January 13, 2004 Regular Planning Commission meeting.

Briggs/Douma m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m. Everyone approved.

Briggs is agreeing with many people that cohousing is a good idea and getting two or three affordable units is good but she would be very concerned about putting this R-2 island in the middle of R-1.

Dawkins said that while growing up in Ashland there was a mix of multi-family housing in neighborhoods and low income housing was not segregated to one neighborhood or another. He has less of a problem with having a piece of land develop under R-2 than developing a R-1-5 piece less aesthetically pleasing with single family homes. If the land develops under R-1-5, there will be a driveway going down one side or the other and a continuation of the homes already in the neighborhood. At some point in time, we need to address some of the issues that we live with. He does have some reservations on how affordable these units will be in the future.

Briggs said if they keep R-1-5 and put in eight houses, they would probably be eligible for accessory units over garages. How would the neighbors feel about that? There are ramifications with that too.

Black believes cohousing is very constructive to the mood of Ashland. It is dangerous to re-think the Comprehensive Plan. Cohousing should be addressed as part of the Comprehensive Plan. Making this one change does not seem advisable. She also has concerns about wetland preservation.

Dotterrer said he has concluded this is not the place for this development even though he might agree with the affordable component.

Morris is not a fan of spot zoning. If this project didn't happen, would it go back to R-1-5? We study affordable housing a lot and nothing happens on the ground. He might be in favor of this development if the zone change is tied to only this development. He has questions about long-term affordability. Can the deed restriction be changed in the future? He could support it but it needs more definition in how to retain the affordable component. The engineering isn't there yet and drainage issues are big.

Douma believes that with re-zoning we need to move with care because it is such a huge issue. He has concerns and questions with regard to the project itself. With some clarification, he might feel more inclined to go over the barriers.

Fields see this as a single family project. Typically with cohousing projects vehicle trips are reduced through sharing of vehicles. In this case, networking with the existing neighborhood did not happen. There was a resounding voice that this density is too much, making rezoning impossible. Four or five houses could be larger with accessory residential units on the parcel. It is unfortunate the neighbors were not sold on it.

Briggs/Dotterrer m/s to deny PA2004-128. Roll Call: Briggs, Douma, Black, Fields, Dotterrer voted "yes". Morris and Dawkins voted "no."

A. Recommendation to council regarding proposed vacation right-of-way at end of Greenbriar Place.

McLaughlin explained the City has a process that is handled through the Public Works Department that allows an application to be filed for vacation of a right-of-way. It was modified a few years ago requiring the Planning Commission to give a recommendation to the City Council before a right-of-way is vacated to insure there may not be some other interest in maintaining the right-of-way for a public purpose.

The subdivision was created in 1962 and there was a wedge-shaped right-of-way at the end of the cul-de-sac that connected to a large piece of vacant property. The City has acquired the large piece of property that could conceivably become a neighborhood park. There is access from Scenic, North Main, the upper neighborhood and access from Greenbriar. There is a sale of one of the houses and the driveway goes across the City property. The owners obtained the required signatures to submit for consideration. The Parks Commission did not sign the form, as it did not seem in their best interest to agree to removal of the right-of-way. Planning Staff concurs that the right-of-way not be vacated and maintained in City ownership to allow creation of public access across it. The only way Staff would consider vacation is if the home owner asking for vacation would develop a trail to park standards and provide an easement across it to the City to be left open to the public. The homeowners will still have their access.

Fields/Douma m/s to recommend to the Council denial of the request for a vacation of right-of-way. Roll Call: Unanimous.

Black/Douma m/s to extend the meeting to 11:00 p.m.

McLaughlin said the Council has asked for one or two key issues that the Council could stand behind as goals for 2005-2006.

Douma offered to collect e-mails, collate, e-mail them back, collate again, edit and narrow down to two goals. He also suggested he look at the Charter to be reminded of their purpose to see what goals they might want to bring forward.

January through April Russ Chapman
Olena Black
John Fields
May through August Dave Dotterrer
Kerry KenCairn
Michael Dawkins
September through December Allen Douma
Mike Morris
New Member (replacing Briggs)
VIII. ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 10:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by,
Susan Yates

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