Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting (Part 1 of 2)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

PART 1 OF 2 - 9/13/05 (for web posting purposes)



SEPTEMBER 13, 2005




Chair John Fields called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR  97520.


Commissioners Present:   John Fields, Chair

Olena Black

John Stromberg

Michael Dawkins

Allen Douma

Dave Dotterrer

Kerry KenCairn

Mike Morris

Russ Chapman

Council Liaison:                 Jack Hardesty, present

Staff Present:                      Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director

                                             Maria Harris, Senior Planner

                                             Mike Reeder, Assistant City Attorney

                                             Sue Yates, Executive Secretary



Fields said there will be a study session in two weeks. 


Molnar said the search firm that will be looking for potential candidates for the Planning Director’s position will also be in town toward the end of September, trying to create a community profile for the individual.  They will want to talk to Planning Commissioners too.  The week prior, Mr. Zucker will be in town working on the organizational audit for the Planning Division.  He will be doing a number of interviews with the Council, Planning Commission Chair, and two focus groups consisting of citizens at large and those involved in the development process.  The visit by the consultants doing the land use update will be the third week in October.  The Commissioners might be thinking who would like to participate along with one or two Councilors at an advisory stakeholder meeting.


Fields reminded the Commissioners to keep their packets for Planning Action #2005-01476 that has been postponed until next month (290 Skycrest).



Approval of Findings - July 12, 2005

Dotterrer/Douma m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-00873, 905 North Mountain Avenue, Medinger Construction.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous.


Douma/Dotterrer m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-00696, Meadowbrook Park Subdivision, Camelot Family Homes.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous.


Approval of Findings - August 9, 2005

There is a typographic error under Paragraph 2.9.  It should read “Planning Commission,” not “Hearings Board.”  KenCairn/Dotterrer m/s to approve the Findings for PA 2005-01050, 720 and 730 Liberty Street, Dale Shostrom.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous. 


Dotterrer/KenCairn m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-01313, 917 E. Main Street, Jerry Quast.  Stromberg stated he was voting against it because there was no deliberation.  Under Paragraph 2.7, Stromberg wondered if a precedent is set by finding that changing from a grocery store to a coffee shop is not a change in use.   Reeder said every application will be fact specific.  Voice Vote:  Douma, Fields, Dotterrer, KenCairn, Morris, Dawkins, Morris voted “yes” and Black and Stromberg voted “no.”


Approval of Minutes

July 26, 2005 Study Session, August 9, 2005 Regular Meeting, August 9, 2005 Hearings Board (Dotterrer, KenCairn, Dawkins), and August 23, 2005 Study Session.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous


PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak.



PLANNING ACTION:   2005-00964





Molnar explained that this is an ordinance amendment that has been before the Planning Commission a couple times. It is to amend the current Conservation Density Bonus Point provision.  The substitute language would ultimately guide development so builders would be required to construct 85 percent of their homes in a development to Earth Advantage standards. The staff report provides a brief history of incentives, dating back to 1981.  There is a letter from the Conservation Commission supporting the proposed amendment.


The ordinance change would modify the ordinance, maintain the density bonus at 15 percent, and require 85 percent of the homes after the bonus is added on to comply with the Earth Advantage standards. 


DICK WANDERSCHEID, Manager of the City’s Electric Utility and Conservation Dept., said the Density Bonus system we have currently is not working very well.  It is difficult to implement and rewards builders for what is now common practice.  He likes Earth Advantage because it guarantees the house is going to be 15 percent more efficient than the energy code and also rolls in other resource conservation issues.  Because it is fuel blind, it allows them to impact all new houses in Ashland.  Wanderscheid noted there is a memo in the packet summarizing why Earth Advantage is a good thing.  He emphasized that with $3 a gallon gasoline and natural gas going up somewhere from 18 to 22 percent, this is becoming more and more of an issue.  The houses we build today are going to be standing for at least100 to 150 years.  Any help we can have in a land development ordinance makes the voluntary program work a lot better.  Wanderscheid urged the Planning Commission to make a unanimous recommendation to the Council to make this change and move on with trying to improve the resource conservation activities in the building community in town.  He added they also have a program where an individual builder can come to them and build a home and receive a $1000 incentive


Wanderscheid said Earth Advantage has to be 15 percent more efficient than the building code.  It insures the homes exceed the State energy code by 15 percent.  Many homes are more than 15 percent, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the occupants will use 15 percent less energy. 


LARRY GIARDINA, Energy Specialist, said they have developed a prescriptive path they can follow in addition to modeling individual plans to help people meet the 15 percent.


Douma asked about the 50 points required.  Giardina said those are base requirements. Three of the categories are related specifically to energy efficiency but to resource efficiency and environmental protection.  Pollution would be reduced or degradation of a timber resource would be reduced, in other words, something external to the house.


Dotterrer wondered if the ordinance change is made, can the worksheet be changed at any time?  Wanderscheid suspected the worksheet could be changed administratively to make it either more or less stringent.


Stromberg felt an approval should be delayed in order to see a cost benefit analysis.  How much is it costing the developer versus how much does the developer profit from this change?  How much does it cost the City versus how much does the City gain?


Wanderscheid asked the Commission to keep in mind that every subdivision approved between now and the time the ordinance could be implemented can still give density bonuses that are a lot less stringent than the Earth Advantage program.


KenCairn said they have been looking at this for a couple of years.  The Commission has been approving subdivisions and the City is not getting much from that.  Six months to wait is a big difference especially since we are in an energy crisis. 


Wanderscheid said Earth Advantage is a utility program.  There are not many cities that use their land use ordinance to foster energy efficient or resource efficient development.  Portland General Electric has the program and there are builders in Portland that are building Earth Advantage homes.  Stromberg sees this as entering the City (and citizens) into a business transaction.


Dotterrer is concerned about the complexity of the program.  He asked a builder about the program and the builder said he looked into it at the City and thought it was too complicated and difficult.  It seems like we are trying to influence the behavior of a certain group.


Wanderscheid said the Earth Advantage program gives builders much more flexibility.


Dotterrer asked about oversight and supervision and who does it.  Wanderscheid said his department looks at every house.  Builders have to sign an agreement that they will stay within the Earth Advantage program.  They won’t get paid $1000 if they don’t comply.


Chapman said Wanderscheid and Giardina are City hired experts.  They have researched this and have done a considerable amount of work on this program.  If there were significant problems, he trusts they would bring it to the Commission.  They deal with developers on a day-to-day basis and he trusts that if they say this program will further benefit the interests of our Comprehensive Plan, then we need to support this program. 


Fields said he built the first house under the Earth Advantage program.  He learned a lot.  The current standards don’t work. There is an embodied value in the house because it is using less energy and it fits into the current program.  Super Good Cents is gone.  Now we have this new one that is based on sustainability values and broader social conservation values.  This is a social commitment.  It is hard for builders but they will get better at it because they will have multiple houses to build.  The Conservation staff is very tuned into the resources it demands. 


Douma said this is a significant step different from the ordinance we currently have.  Is it a good idea for the Commission to endorse a concept like indoor air quality as an add-on to our energy efficiency goals and objectives?  He’ concerned because of his involvement with the sick building syndrome. 


Giardina said one of the ways we’ve made houses more energy efficient is to make them tighter.  There is a responsibility to make sure there is enough fresh air and that the materials you introduce into the home are not going to create health hazards to the occupants of the home.  They use a measure whereby they have to test how tight the house is. 


Wanderscheid sad Bonneville did an entire Environmental Impact Statement on the indoor air quality of SGC and concluded ventilation to the houses was needed.  He can get documentation.  Giardina said Washington adopted ventilation standards into their building code.


Fields told those who were not favorable to the ordinance change to contact the Council members or do further study.


Chapman/KenCairn m/s to recommend to the Council the Planning Commission’s support of this ordinance change under PA2005-00964.  KenCairn, Chapman, Dawkins, Black, Fields and Morris voted “yes.”  Douma, Stromberg and Dotterrer voted “no.”



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