PART 2 OF 2 (for web purposes)
OWNER/APPLICANT: ARCHERD & DRESNER, LLC, AND REDCO, LLC
DESCRIPTION: REQUEST FOR A SITE REVIEW APPROVAL OF A MIXED-USE COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT TO BE LOCATED AT
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts
Mike Reeder, Assistant City Attorney, said the Commissioners have to re-state any previous ex parte contacts.
Morris saw David Chapman and David asked him a question he couldn’t answer. At the last meeting, he spoke with Colin Swales about the Downtown Plan.
KenCairn spoke with various people about whether or not she should sit on the Commission during this meeting. She decided not to step down because she does not want to be used as a reason for someone to appeal it. She has not had discussions with anyone and she does not have any financial involvement. She believes there is enough energy around people believing she cannot be neutral because of various relationships she has with various people, and those people choose to attack her integrity. She does not want to have her integrity publicly doubted.
Chapman respects KenCairn’s decision but as far as he is concerned, KenCairn’s integrity is unassailable and he does not want to lose her expertise.
Fields has had various relationships with Evan Archerd. He built the building across the street. He will be doing the addition across the street. They have had no discussions about this and he does not believe it will affect his decision-making.
Dotterrer, Douma, and Chapman have had no ex parte contacts.
Dawkins reported no ex parte contacts and noted again he had not attended any of the charrettes.
Stromberg said his contacts were as noted at previous meetings. He has had to tell people to stop talking about this project. What he has heard is that people are concerned about the bulk and scale of the building and appropriateness of the project.
Black attended a charrette toward the end of that process. The last time she had a phone conservation but during that did get a general comment about bulk. She had someone ask her tonight about solar access and she referred them to Senior Planner, Maria Harris.
It was noted that the public hearing will be opened and new testimony will be taken, in addition to reviewing past testimony. All issues are on the table.
Molnar reviewed the Staff Report Addendum. In June the applicants were granted additional time to address the issues. In August the applicants submitted new information responding to the 20 foot front yard requirement. There has been only one minor change and that is that there has been a slight shifting of some of the underground parking to insure that the entire underground parking configuration is within the outline of the footprint of the building. The applicants have responded to a number of the issues in Mike Reeder’s memo of June 13th where he outlines issues open to interpretation by the Planning Commission. A letter from the Transportation Engineer for the project is included, giving a short synopsis of his initial impact study.
Molnar said the issue we left off with was the Special Setback Requirement as referred to in General Regulations, Chapter 18.68. There was a determination made by the City Attorney that along arterial streets in this section of the town that there was a 20 foot front yard requirement applying to this project. The site plan showed the buildings were approximately seven to eight feet set back from the front property line, therefore, the proposal at that point violated the provision and the Commission allowed the applicant to address that. There are two parcels of record on the property and the applicants filed a request to modify the boundaries of those parcels, creating two wide lots with narrower frontages along
Black asked about something that had been said at an earlier hearing about the possibility of widening Lithia Way at a future date to create a two-way street and the setback would allow for that widening at some future date. Molnar understands that is more a longer range issue in terms of looking at the purpose of
The City adopted a Transportation System Plan in the early 2000’s and the consultant looked at all the arterials and collectors and identified any that might have capacity issues and any that would need widening. That document did not identify
Dawkins referred to Reeder’s memo and submitted that in the 1964 plan the group of 50 appointed by Mayor O’Neill did indeed look at
Reeder said in this part of the code it clearly says “front yard.” In other parts of the code it says “every yard.” The plain language cannot overcome the purpose and intent. You only look at the purpose and intent when the plain language isn’t clear. It is not within the power of this Commission to make a determination that there is some higher good.
Stromberg believes there is an interpretation issue. Chapter 18.65.05 clearly states the purpose of the special setback applies to arterials in general and to specific streets. The purpose is to afford better light, air and vision and also to protect arterial streets. The criterion it uses for doing this is a 20 foot front yard setback. That instrument isn’t adequate to achieve the stated purpose of the Section. He asserted this ordinance is in conflict or inconsistent. When this happens, the Planning Commission has the right to make an interpretation. Stromberg believes we have the ability to interpret this ordinance in such a way that the arterial street is protected by a 20 foot setback.
Molnar continued with his Staff Report discussing the Special Permitted Uses. The memo from Reeder gave the Commission two options. The Staff Report and Reeder’s memo explain the options. The applicant has argued that regardless of how the Planning Commission wishes to apply this standard, the proposal meets it in either case. They identified that approximately 55 percent of the total lot area is in a commercial special permitted use other than residential and the accessory uses that accompany the commercial are special permitted uses such as the public plaza spaces adjacent to the commercial components of the project as well as the surface parking spaces and the driveway aisle accessing those commercial parking spaces. Staff agrees that the ground floor meets the requirement but there is a question whether or not the accessory use of other areas on the project are for the sole use of the commercial or special permitted uses or if there is an overlapping use by the residential component of the project. The driveway aisle connects to the City parking lot so there will be some cross-use. If the Commission believes that the 50 percent requirement applies, it is unclear to Staff if the applicants have met the burden of proof that the areas they have identified should solely be apportioned to the commercial aspect of the project. The Commission has some discretion if they want to include all those areas in the 50 percent requirement.
Stromberg wondered about “uses.” Reeder said accessory uses to permitted uses are permitted uses. It is in C-1 Permitted Use, 18.32.020. Stromberg said it does not say the following uses include accessory uses. It mentions them separately. Molnar said the Staff Report includes a definition of an accessory use.
Molnar said the third issue relates to the applicability of the Design Standards. By virtue of the location of this project, all of the City’s Design Standards apply. TThe standards are included in the packet. These are mandatory design standards and the Commission’s charge is to find that each and every one of the Design Standards have been met or that the applicant has requested an exception to a Design Standard to the Downtown. In the case of separation between buildings, that requires an Administrative Variance.
Molnar said there was a concern about how the project complies with the Large Scale Development Standards. Staff concurs with the applicant that the project is viewed as a series of buildings. The intent of the Large Scale Development Standards was to look at the exposed bulk and volume of buildings above grade and to the use of underground parking and not potentially penalize a proposal for using underground parking and then have it structurally connected to a building above.
With regard to building height, if the Commission decides the parapet is ornamental, it does not need to be included in the height requirement. If it is an integral part of the roofing structure, it would need to comply. In discussions with Staff and Historic Commission, the applicant felt having a raised parapet feature at the corner adds something to the design.
There have been questions regarding the legitimacy of the existing easement. Molnar deferred to Legal. They have concluded the existing easement is adequate for the two parking lots to be connected. It looks like the easement is centered on the boundary lines.
Molnar gave the Commissions some options on how to deliberate toward a decision. The application includes an Administrative Variance that the buildings be separated by the height of the tallest building (40 feet). The separation goes at the widest section, 75 feet down to 25 feet. The area encompassed in the public space is equal to or exceeds 40 feet, but it is not a continuous 40 feet. He suggested they start deliberating on that item. If the majority feels the burden of proof has not been met for an Administrative Variance, there is not reason to move on with deliberations. Molnar suggested next it would be advisable to tackle the interpretation of the mixed-use provision.
Molnar cautioned the Commissioners not to lose sight of the fact that this could easily be the largest project in the downtown and there is a design process as to whether the City Standards have been met. Staff had raised issues regarding the bulk and scale of the project. The applicants have made changes to the Commission’s initial concerns, but are those enough to clearly find whether each one of those design standards have been clearly met?
Reeder reiterated the 20 foot setback does not apply because there is no front yard. It is not an applicable criterion. He disagreed with Stromberg’s analysis. He doesn’t want the Commissioners going down the road of deciding on a 20 foot setback. Reeder believes if this went to LUBA, LUBA would reject it.
EVAN ARCHERD, 550 East Main Street, stated this project is the result of input of hundreds of citizens. Their intent is to answer questions that have been raised and any questions raised tonight. He believes they will show that far from being an end run, the boundary line adjustment will put into place what was always the intent and in accordance all the ordinances and with the Comprehensive Plan.
Building Separation - They modified and increased the public space to 3,655 square feet between the buildings. They widened the mouth of the project and have breezeways that create sheltered space as well as open space. Beyond that, there is no precedent for separation of buildings in the downtown. He showed several examples. The intent in the downtown is to build buildings lot line to lot line. The intention of the Large Scale Development is to provide light and air between larger buildings. He believes they have solved this inherent conflict in the ordinance with a useful, beautiful space that meets the intent of ordinances.
Commercial Use Space – They provided a handout. All the space is commercial space, commercial access to parking or the plaza between the two commercial buildings and the sidewalks mandated by the commercial use. They did not include the residential or additional parking or some other public spaces. The end result is that they far exceed the required amount of space to meet the 50 percent standard.
GEORGE KRAMER, 386 N. Laurel, said he has been through this before in numerous public meetings. The project meets each and every one of the Downtown Historic Design Standards. The Historic Commission has reviewed the project four times and found by general consensus at their May meeting, no individual standards with which they took issue. The Staff Report agrees in their Addendum. Downtowns are vibrant places. It is not their intent to freeze progress.
ALAN HARPER, 717 Murphy Road, Medford, said he was asked to take a look at the code on how to interpret the ordinance. What do we do with an ordinance that doesn’t seem to be working, specifically, the special setback? He agrees with Reeder that the Commission can’t interpret the ordinance. In order to accomplish the goals, the Commission has been given certain tools and the applicant has been given certain standards they have to live up to. It doesn’t appear the setback standard has been applied uniformly. This is not the first building to come in on that side of
KRAMER talked about why it is a really good thing the 20 foot setback doesn’t apply. Everything we have learned in the 30 to 40 years since that setback was adopted, has required buildings to be put on the street line. He referenced an ODOT article from November, 1999, an award winning document, “
Stromberg asked what will keep a condominium owner from parking in the commercial spaces. Archerd said the commercial spaces will be designated commercial and the tenants will have designated spaces and will primarily park in the underground parking. There will be an elevator to bring them up. If they wish to walk, they can go out the residential lobby to the street.
Archerd said there is 47 percent glass in the buildings.
CRAIG STOCKWELL, GB ARCHITECTS, 1120 N. W. Couch Street, Portland, OR, was available.
Dawkins said there is not one block in the downtown where there are not different building heights. There is nothing close to two buildings that are as long as the Plaza. He doesn’t see any relief at all by recessing parts of the building, but he doesn’t see any relief in the difference in heights. It appears very bulky.
KRAMER responded by describing the various push and pull design of the buildings including a broken parapet and dropping the end of building 1 as it enters the breezeway and balcony. Building 2 uses a broken parapet as well. He gave other design examples, including the Ashland Springs Hotel. The buildings are long. They are within the size allotment for this building classification. They have broken up the masses and the facades and included vertical rhythms as per the Design Standards. They have incorporated a 25 to 50 foot rhythm.
JEROME WHITE, 253 Third Street, said the standard says the buildings need to be “slightly” dissimilar. It is his recollection that he and Kramer helped write the standard. The committee recognized the buildings would be built up to the height limit.
Dawkins is confused to see a flat line for the entire length of the project. Even though there is a slight difference in height, to the eye, the buildings look the same height.
White acknowledged they won’t get the greater degree of break along the roofline. Kramer explained that Building 2 has more vertical rhythm than Building 1 and Building 1 has more horizontal rhythm than Building 2. There is a very large separation between buildings (wider than
LARRY KELLOGG, 415 Merrill Circle, believes a project of this size and scope should insist the designer lay it out on the site and see how it will look in the future. He showed overlaid photos and entered them in the record showing different vantage points.
LARRY MEDINGER, 115 Fork Street, is a believer in underground parking. We’re using the underground parking aspect to make it one building. It’s hard to build parking underground and move your cars around, but it is a wonderful investment and use of space.
Stromberg asked if buildings have to be 40 feet high if they are three stories. Medinger said in residential buildings they commit eleven feet per story, floor to floor.
ERIC NAVICKAS, 711 Faith, feels this is in violation of the Big Box ordinance. It has been said that the Big Box is just about bulk and scale, but in reading the original writing about the Big Box ordinance it states “any new building or contiguous groups of buildings.” There are implications of a large scale development project, for example, traffic flow and parking. With regard to being able to build something on top of something else, he believes the ordinance is referring to the passage of time; adding something on. He had a diagram from Colin Swales showing the HVAC system in one place for both buildings. That should clearly define it as one building and we should look at the entire square footage. He believes a precedent was set by the Bemis project and it will probably stop this project too. There are many lots we need to be concerned about in the downtown, especially the Wells Fargo lot that will probably develop soon. We need to encourage the subdividing of lots.
REGINA AYARS, 199 Hillcrest, stated she is very concerned about the mass and height of Northlight. There are numerous concerns that have been voiced about this project. To name a few: The capacity of existing streets to handle the traffic flow, congestion around the Post Office, require 20 foot setback on Lithia Way, questionable solution of changing the frontage of the parcels to First Street, architecture not being appropriate for the Historic District, violation of the Big Box ordinance, the breezeway variance, the lack of dedicated public space, the cancer center tenant and required ceiling heights (she understood they have pulled out of the project). Why does the second building have to have 17 foot ceilings, access to the project roadway through the public parking and not provide a pedestrian walkway that may eventually be underground parking?
Ayres’ primary concern is the height of the two large structures facing
LYNN GALLAGHER, 386 B Street, agreed with Ayars’ comments. On May 17, 2005, she submitted 65 signatures of those opposing the approval of the project because of bulk and scale, appearance, design and materials of the two main buildings that are inconsistent with downtown
One of women she spoke with that participated in the charrette process. The priorities that came from the charrette included open spaces, affordable housing, improving the existing problems with parking on
Gallagher asked the Commission not grant any Administrative Variances mostly because of the negative impacts on adjacent properties.
RAMONA DUVALL, 865 Palmer Road, said she agreed with the last two people who testified. She read a statement. She asked the Commission to consider the historic architecture and the staggering of building heights. The applicants were asked to stagger the building heights but we still seem to be dealing with the same issues. Why hasn’t a serious attempt been made to stagger building heights? She gave traffic count numbers on surrounding streets and said there needed to be an in-depth study of traffic. Northlight will be setting a standard and precedent for large buildings in the future.
TOM BRADLEY, 700 Terrace Street, said it seems clear that obtaining unanimous community consent on this project is not even remotely possible. It seems like conceiving a project that conforms to every applicable standard is nearly impossible. The Administrative Variance is at issue. When he wants open space he goes up the side of a mountain. When he goes downtown it is to be squeezed and to interact with people. He believes granting the Administrative Variance is the right and best thing to do for
STEVE NEELY, 386 B Street, read from the National Historic Preservation Week brochure concerning the
RON ROTH, 6950 Old Highway 99 South, said he worked in the downtown for 28 years and believes this is an incredible opportunity for the City to get both affordable housing and parking. He would like to see this project approved. He’s had a lot of conversations with a lot of people including Staff and the applicants, but never any with the Commissioners. He doesn’t understand why we can’t have a conversation concerning higher densities, affordable housing and parking underground. He would like to see housing for people who live downtown. He somewhat disagrees with people who say more housing in the downtown means more traffic. He thinks there is an incredible infrastructure downtown. We just need more people to be within walking distance of it. The process is on trial here and has been for a long time. A lot of people talk about it, but no one does anything about it. He congratulated Staff for figuring out a way to take care of the setback rule. He is suggesting more affordable units. They could work with the City to get more units that are smaller for the single people who work downtown. He has a petition he submitted with 85 signatures of downtown merchants and citizens that support the Northlight project. He’d like to see this hearing more like planning and less like a jury trial. With regard to the parking, he is talking about digging out the surface parking and providing a City parking lot too.
Stromberg wondered how Roth could convince the developer to build smaller units when they could get $500,000 and up for a condominium. Roth just thinks there are so many creative things that could happen. He would like to get the Ashland Community Land Trust involved and have 50 units. It would need a zone change, but let’s start talking about this.
NEELY clarified that he did not say “no one” was in favor of this project, but he hadn’t run across anyone that was.
Fields read comments from:
FRANCES LOPEZ, 249 B STREET, was concerned with parking and traffic.
LARRY AMBROSE, 269 B STREET, was concerned with parking, design and underground springs.
JACQUELINE AMBROSE, 269 B STREET, was concerned with design, parking and size of the project.
MARY BARNHILL, 165 N. FIRST STREET, opposed approval of the Variance with a negative impact on traffic, design and parking.
Dotterrer/Chapman m/s to extend the meeting to 11:00 p.m. Everyone approved.
BILL STREET, 180 Mead Street, referred to handout submitted by Colin Swales. He addressed three reasons to deny this action.
Variance Criteria – In order to meet the Variance, criteria A must be met. There is a demonstrable difficulty in meeting the specific requirements of the Site Design Standards due to a unique or unusual aspect of the proposed use of a site. He has not heard the applicant say he has difficulty in meeting those requirements. What is the unique aspect of the site? How can they give them a Variance?
#6 – Reasons to deny –Reference to the lot line adjustments circumventing the City policy to setbacks. He believes Reeder contradicted Mike Franell, City Attorney. Referring to 18.72.100, Power to Amend Plans, Site Design and Use Standards, Franell wrote, “Certainly the cited section gives the City authority to require greater setbacks than would otherwise be required. This could be applied to the Northlight project.” He goes on to talk about discretionary development controls. We heard the need for light and air and space and the possible future widening of
#7 – Mainly residential use in retail commercial zone – Street read from the Staff Report, referring to retail commercial. Staff’s comments state the overriding purpose of the district, and the standard is open to interpretation. Staff believes the standard should be applied in such a way that carries out to the best of its ability the purpose of the district. Staff felt some of the project area included in the applicant’s calculations is comprised of required parking and public space and could likely be used by the residents of the projects and their guests and they are not convinced the total area encompassed by these uses should be counted toward the standard. Street believes the Commission can interpret that rule and apply the multiple building standard.
#1 – Too Big – Excessive “bulk and scale.” - Kellogg’s illustration showed the tremendous affect this project will have on the downtown. He asked the Commission to consider the neighbors and the transition to their historic neighborhood. This building should be on the other side of
Street referred to the Big Box ordinance. The Staff Report did not refer to the fact that even if you don’t count the square footage in the basement, if you consider the building as one building, it still exceeds the Big Box ordinance. He agreed with Navickas’ comments regarding the mechanical equipment located in one building. If the Commission allows this pattern of development, you’ll be contributing to the over development of
Street asked the Commission to deny this project so we can go back to the drawing board and we as a community try to develop this property so it serves the interest of Ashlanders and creates the mix of affordable housing for people who can afford housing.
Street submitted a list of design standards he does not believe were met. He reviewed those items.
Stromberg wondered how Street sees this property adhering faithfully to the Design Standards. Street said the buildings should not be the same height. The sense of entry has not been clearly established. Reduce the bulk and scale. Some of the windows look like they are horizontal rather than vertical. He would like to see windows similar to those in the downtown. There is a blank wall in the pedestrian breezeway. One window is not enough. It does not encourage pedestrian participation. The roof shapes of the row houses violate the standard. Will the pedestrian area encourage the kind of pedestrian climate we want. Is there weather protection? There are pockets of public space in this development that mock the concept of public space and mock the intent of the public space requirements?
DAVID FRENCH, Rogue Fly Shop, 165 Lithia Way, stated it has been incredibly challenging finding retail space in
Reeder suggested leaving the public hearing open.
Alan Harper asked at the very least the record be left open for seven days, then closed so we are done with new evidence and the applicant can proceed with their rebuttal. He suggested they leave the record open for written comment.
Dotterrer clarified that the written record will stay open for seven more days, then it closes, then they will come back in two weeks and begin with rebuttal.
It was decided anyone could submit new information and the applicant can respond to any additional evidence submitted. The continued meeting will occur on September 27, 2005 at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers.
OWNER/APPLICANT: BRIAN & DIANE SMITH
DESCRIPTION: REQUEST FOR A LAND PARTITION TO DIVIDE ONE EXISTING PARCEL INTO TWO PARCELS INCLUDING ONE FLAG
This action has been postponed.
ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.