Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Cont. from 1/10/2006

Tuesday, January 24, 2006




JANUARY 24, 2006


CALL TO ORDER – The meeting was called order by Michael Dawkins, Second Vice Chair at 7:05 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street.


Commissioners Present:


Absent Members:


Michael Dawkins, 2nd Vice Chair


John Fields


Mike Morris


Council Liaison:


Russ Chapman


Jack Hardesty, present


Olena Black


Staff Present:


Allen Douma


Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director


John Stromberg


Maria Harris, Senior Planner


Dave Dotterrer


Derek Severson, Assistant Planner


Pam Marsh (participated in 1500 Oregon St. only)


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary




Chapman/Douma m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-01674, 11 First Street.  Voice Vote:  Everyone approved.


Douma/Chapman m/s to approve the Findings for PA2005-0163, 1651 Ashland Street.  Stromberg did not feel there was enough information in the Findings to justify the Administrative Variance.  Douma withdrew his motion to give Staff an opportunity to add language that would be based on a demonstrable difficulty based on unique or unusual characteristics of the site. 






Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts  - Black had no site visit.  Stromberg had an original site visit but no follow-up site visit.  Chapman had a site visit.  Morris and Dotterrer both watched the video and read the packets and are prepared to participate in tonight’s hearing.



Harris recapped the request.  She reported the Historic Commission believes the design meets the Downtown Design Standards and Detail Site Review Standards.  The two outstanding issues are the sidewalk improvements and height of the building.  The applicant handed out materials at the last meeting that are in the packet addressing these issues.  Staff’s initial recommendation was to push the building back eight feet.  The applicant has proposed squaring off the building.  The street is angled so they can meet the street standard for a portion of the sidewalk as it nears one end of the building. The Historic Commission believes the building (all three stories) should be flush, not cantilevered with the face of the Mojo’s building.


Staff re-visited the site and talked to the Historic Commission members.  They felt like this is a pretty big compromise and a way to get to the Street Standards and wider sidewalk.  If the corner of the proposed building is jutting out, the Historic Commission was not sure that would feel right or might even be a potential hazard to a pedestrian.  From a design perspective, the Historic Commission is concerned that most of the building facades in the downtown are flush.  Staff supports this compromise because it does seem like a good way to transition from an old street with a narrow right-of-way with a more contemporary street that probably matches the height of buildings better in terms of the pedestrian corridor.


With regard to the height of the building, Harris showed the previous cross section (dated November 10, 2005).  The applicant has submitted new information showing a surveyed site.  She believes they have demonstrated they can meet the height requirement.  She explained how the height was calculated and believes it is consistent with the definition and intent of the ordinance.


Stromberg asked if squaring the building off with Mojo’s will change any part of the original design or will the whole building just be rotated.  Harris said the Historic Commission recommended they keep the building exactly as it was in design and rotate it.  That will cut a triangle off the back. 


Harris said since the proposal does not meet the Street Standards the applicant will address this.  Also, Harris noted there is a potential affordable housing project that is somewhat undecided in the City public parking lot.  The applicant is also the potential developer of that project.  The Conditions can reflect some flexibility with the sidewalk requirement so the sidewalk will match whatever is or isn’t built on the parking lot site.


Harris suggested an added Condition that if there are any fire vaults that they not be located in the sidewalk.  The fire vaults are becoming more prevalent and they are problematic in terms of maintenance and safety. 



MARK KNOX, Urban Development Services, LLC, 320 E. Main Street, Suite 202, said they are in agreement with the fire vault condition. 


Knox said using their Option B, they should be below the 40 foot height limit by 6.21 inches.  Their building from the face is approximately 37 feet.  They are pushing the envelope with a stairwell penthouse; or a roof cover for the tenants of the building to access the rooftop area, however, it won’t be seen standing across the street. 


Knox submitted findings and diagram showing the building setback.  The sidewalk standards ask for between six to eight feet of sidewalk.  They have shown two options.  They can meet an eight foot setback from the building face to the tree grate.  Knox explained that moving the building back to accommodate the sidewalk will affect and probably eliminate plans for underground parking on the adjacent lot (City’s lot).  There are some requirements for affordable housing.  It will affect the turning radius into the building for the ramp.  They are proposing the plan marked 1/A2.  That would give a six foot, six inch dimension from the face of the building to the back of the grate.  That allows them to avoid an odd step back.  By allowing the two foot, six inch step back, anyone who might need underground parking and need the extra two feet will have it.  The six foot, six inch dimension would be very consistent with everything else in that area. 


JOHN ECKLUND, SERA Architects, said this is a model of infill development in downtown Ashland.  They have done everything possible to meet the intent of the ordinance and supporting documents.  They believe the scale, massing and orientation are appropriate for the site.  The building materials, proportions, scale, the relationship of windows to the exterior wall and the treatment of the alleyway (pedestrian traffic in particular) are appropriate.  They have worked with the Historic Commission in four separate meetings concerning the height of the building and the variation in the façade to iron out the details and he believes they have reached a strong consensus on the design.


They have taken traditional architecture and reinterpreted that within the design.  There is 2200 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, accessed primarily on Lithia Way.  The entry is recessed.  They are providing two separate entries to Will Dodge Way accomplished via a stairway.  The building will be ADA handicap accessible.  There will be two townhouse units along Will Dodge Way accessed from a stairway or elevator.  The living spaces will face Lithia Way.  They would like to have the rooftops utilized as outdoor terrace.  There is a parapet that provides a railing.  They will be under the 40 foot height. 


They are maintaining the historic façade line of the streetscape by locating the front wall of the new building in the same plane as the façade of adjacent buildings. They aren’t pushing it back but squaring off the building.  They only have preliminary survey information on the site next door (City lot).  Based on the information they have and the known dimensions, the parking area below will be impacted if the sidewalk on this project is set back the full four and one-half feet.  It can affect the number of parking stalls and the ramp.  The ramp would probably be located at the wider part where Lithia Way curves.


Staff Comments – If the Commission decides to go with Staff’s recommendations, Harris provided suggested language for Condition 2.  Where it states “The sidewalk, as measured from the south edge of the tree well…,” would instead say “The sidewalk as measured from the south edge of the tree well to the face of the building shall be six feet, six inches to eight feet in width as approved by the Staff Advisor.  The sidewalk shall be permitted to be reduced if deemed necessary for development of the lot to the east.  In no case shall there be less than six feet, six inches from the face of the building to the south edge of the tree well.” 


There is a typographic error in Condition 23.  It should read “comprehensive sign program,” not “sigh.” 


Add Condition 24 “That the fire vault shall not be located in the pedestrian corridor, including the sidewalk and parkrow.” 


Black asked about Condition 20 concerning the windows on the ground level.  She thought the windows on the ground floor should not be tinted and the upper level windows should be permitted to be tinted.   


Black noted the applicant is showing a window on the first floor on the southeast corner.  The applicants agreed if there is a building that is going to be built on the adjacent property, they would agree to close up the windows and frame them in brick.  They are trying to keep their options open by maintaining a nice façade on all office level sides. 


Rebuttal – Knox said they are not asking the Planning Commission for an exception based on what happens on the adjacent parcel.  They are asking to be consistent with all the other buildings along the street.  The six foot, six inch dimension works in context with the other buildings. 



Douma/Morris m/s to approve PA2005-02105 with the addition of the Conditions stated by Staff that would include modification of Condition 2 and the addition of Condition 23 and 24. 


Stromberg said it may turn out the next door project may not turn out and it may not have an underground garage.  Staff will have to make a judgment at a certain point in time.  Harris said they can adjust Condition 2 to tie it to that particular affordable housing project.  She suggested something more open because the City may have an interest in preserving some flexibility with the 18 inches. 


Black believes it is important to increase the pedestrian friendliness along Will Dodge Way.


Roll Call:  The vote was unanimous.


Dawkins introduced the Commission’s newest member, Pam Marsh.  She will be participating in the following action.






Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by Dotterrer, Douma, Stromberg, Dawkins, Marsh, and Chapman.  Morris drove by the site.  Black had a site visit and noted the out-of-date nature of the Comprehensive Plan and also the proximity of the site to SOU. 



Severson described the site and explained the proposal as outlined in the Staff Report.  The applicants are proposing access to the existing house off Oregon Street.  They are proposing a meandering drive to serve Lots 2 and 3.  Lots 4 and 5 would be accessed off Windsor using a short bridge style driveway off Windsor.  The reason to meander the drive is to preserve trees.  In a couple areas within the tree root zones the applicants wish to use permeable paving to further mitigate the impact to the trees. 


The applicants are requesting an Exception to the Street Standards to allow them to construct a five foot wide, meandering sidewalk along the Oregon Street frontage in order to preserve some vegetation on the neighboring property.  Staff feels they can support the request, however, there is already a curbside sidewalk on the other side of Oregon Street along the SOU resident’s hall so Staff feels it may be just as appropriate to propose curbside sidewalk with full frontage. 


The Performance Standards require that natural features be preserved.  The primary natural feature is the trees.  There are 52 trees on the site over six inches in diameter at breast height (dbh).  The most significant are three giant redwoods in a grove near the center of the parcel and another grove of nice large cedars.  The applicants have proposed to retain those by way of the meandering sidewalk, the layout of their lot lines, and building envelopes.  They would be preserving those trees on individual lots.  The majority of the other trees are proposed to be preserved as well.  There is a proposal to remove ten trees. 


The applicants will address the steep slope off Windsor by constructing a short bridge style driveway from Windsor.  This will lessen the amount of excavation and fill and impervious area required and at the same, better engage the streetscape and better situate the yard areas for the adjacent parcels.  Severson said they will limit the houses on Windsor Street to no more than one and one-half stories above the street grade to lessen the impact on the streetscape. 


Staff believes the proposal makes good use of the flexibility allowed in the Performance Standards Option.  They’ve located their lot lines and building envelopes to mitigate the impacts of the development on the mature trees and the sloped areas and they have also worked to mitigate impact to adjacent homes. 


The Tree Commission has recommended approval and was favorable to the meandering drive and permeable paving. 


The applicant is requesting on Condition 14 that we don’t require specific wording for creation of a homeowner’s association.  They feel they can accomplish the same thing without the added Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions (CC&R’s).  There will be some bioswale areas and the drive area that will be common areas. 


Staff would like to see some type of private pedestrian easement that would give the two Windsor lots an access to the driveway to get down to Oregon Street.  


Severson said the density under the Performance Standards Option is for 3.6 dwelling units per acre.  A 1.2 acre parcel has a base density of 4.6 units.  The applicant is proposing to do Conservation and Housing Density Bonus (eight to nine percent) and bring them up to five units.  Stromberg mentioned if the applicant was interested in doing Earth Advantage, then the bonus would be worth discussing.  Severson explained there is no ordinance basis for requiring it.  Marsh wondered if there would be two-way access to allow the lots in the internal part of the lot to also go up to Windsor.  Severson said it would be difficult given the slope and the setbacks between. 



MARK DIRIENZO, Urban Development Services, LLC, 320 E. Main Street, Suite 202, introduced the project arborist, JOHN GALBRAITH, Galbraith and Associates.  DiRienzo said this is a good example of how the whole process should work with an owner that is open and codes that are flexible that allow them to end up with lots that are large in size with significant natural features that will be retained using new materials to preserve trees.  He explained that under the Performance Standards Option they were just shy of five allowed lots so they chose to add the Conservation Density for an eight percent bonus, bringing them up to five homes.


They are adding 16 trees to replace the ten trees that will be removed. 


They are agreeable to the Conditions with the exception of the pedestrian easement.  This could be a privacy issue for the owners of Lots 2 and 3.  A two-way pathway would be difficult.  Maybe they could do an easement and restrict it to maintenance. 


The curbside on Oregon Street is fine, but they thought the meandering sidewalk would be more aesthetic. 


With regard to the CC&R’s, DiRienzo explained that the State Planned Community Act uses five homes as the threshold of consideration for homeowner’s associations.  The association is required to fulfill a myriad of requirements so he is proposing to perhaps tie everything to deed restrictions with a set of CC&R’s, but they would not need a non-profit formality.  The trees would be the responsibility of each homeowner whose property houses a tree, however, the deed would be restricted to following the tree plan.


DiRienzo likes the Earth Advantage program. The owner is reluctant to do the Earth Advantage program considering all the wrinkles haven’t yet been ironed out of the program and she has already gone to considerable to expense to get her project this far.  


Galbraith said he plans to use pervious concrete that will minimally disturb the root systems of some of the mature trees.  They would place eight inches of one inch crushed rock to allow air and water as a reservoir.  In considering the meandering sidewalk, he asked the Commission to consider the power line currently going over the top of the existing trees (plum trees).  They would replace the trees with similar trees.  If they had the curbside sidewalk, they could possibly push the trees further back from the sidewalk and have larger trees that could shade the paving at certain times of the year. 


DiRienzo handed out brochures for pervious concrete. 


Staff Comments – Severson used the words “common area” because there was a driveway included in the maintenance language as well the potential use of detention areas.  He was trying to use broad language.


With regard to tree removal, if an owner wanted to remove a tree, he/she would have to go through Modification of a Subdivision before removing a tree because there is an adopted Tree Protection Plan whether it is recorded on the deed or not that has to be followed. 


Chapman noted that the easement dead ends at the dorm.  A pedestrian would still have to go to Frances Lane or Indiana to get anywhere.  He feels this is a privacy/maintenance issue that seems a bit onerous.  A pedestrian could accomplish the same thing by walking from Windsor.  Molnar agreed that the applicant has brought up some valid points.  They have tried to create yard areas that complement the yard areas of adjoining properties.  By putting a pathway through there, some of what was intended through the design is compromised to provide these private back yards. 


Dawkins sees the easement as a plus from a yard maintenance standpoint.  There should be some way to access these properties with equipment.  It would be difficult to come off Windsor.  Douma agreed.  He would not buy a lot if he didn’t have access.


DiRienzo thought the answer could be some form of an easement but a very restrictive one perhaps limited to loading and unloading but no parking.  They can look at language at Final Plan.



Molnar said Staff does not have a problem removing the provision for a homeowner’s association as long as there is a provision set up for shared maintenance of the access facility and that the Tree Protection Plan is followed (Condition 14).  Strike the words “homeowner’s association” and use “CC&R’s.” 


Dotterrer/Douma m/s to approve PA2005-02107 with the change to Condition 14, striking “for the homeowner’s association.” 


Black amended the motion, suggesting there be some language included in the deeds for Lots 1, 2 and 3 that Lots 4 and 5 upon request can have access for maintenance to that driveway. 


Dotterrer said if he owned Lot 3, he is not sure he would like to have that wording. 
Depending on what Lot 3 does, for Lot 4 to have access, they could end up with a meandering easement, forcing someone to have access.  He has a problem with the privacy issue.  The neighbors can have access themselves.  Reeder would hesitate, based on Dolan issues, to propose that Condition. 


The motion died for lack of a second.


Douma would favor a meandering sidewalk for aesthetic reasons.  Chapman noted if the sidewalk is curbside, they would lose the plum trees and have the opportunity to plant larger trees further back and get out from underneath the power lines.  The larger trees could provide more shade. 


Severson said the meandering sidewalk establishes a pattern allowing it to adapt to the neighborhood.  He explained that Condition 21 refers to a meandering sidewalk along Oregon Street. 


Morris would like to have a sidewalk on both sides of the street and he would prefer a curbside sidewalk.  He is concerned about the driveway apron and grade if the meandering sidewalk is approved.


Severson explained if the sidewalk is meandering, street trees in the parkrow would be required. 



DiRienzo can agree with a curbside sidewalk if it means planting larger trees.  Meandering is fine if it means the fruit trees will not be impacted. 


The Public Hearing was closed.



Stromberg/Black m/s to amend the motion to install a curbside sidewalk (not meandering) on Oregon Street. 


Marsh opposes the amendment.  She believes the Commission should be looking for an environment that makes a pedestrian feel safe.  A curbside sidewalk is right next to parked cars and cars traveling on the street.  She believes if we have an opportunity to create a meandering sidewalk, we should.



DiRienzo said the neighbor on one side has a large maple tree.  On the other side they looked at their ability to save the crab apple tree. 


The Public Hearing was closed.



Roll Call (on the amendment):  Black voted “yes.”  Douma, Chapman, Stromberg, Dawkins, Dotterrer, Morris and Marsh voted “no.”  The motion was defeated.


Marsh is not particularly worried about maintenance or access to the back yard.  She would like to see pedestrian access with a gate in the fence of the homes that are sitting at the top of the subdivision so that people can go through and cut down through town.  That is what makes Ashland a unique place.


Roll Call on the original motion: (Dotterrer/Douma m/s to approve PA2005-02107 with the change to Condition 14, striking “for the homeowner’s association.”).  Roll Call:  Morris, Black, Dotterrer, Marsh, Dawkins, Stromberg, Chapman and Douma voted “yes.”  The motion was unanimously approved.



Citizens Guide to Planning Commission Meetings

Douma/Dotterrer m/s to approve the guide.  First, Chapman asked the Commissioners to pass along any suggestions they have for Staff to revise and return to the Commissioners.  Stromberg would like to have the “streaming videos” called “videos.”  The document in the packet is not the most current copy.  The correct document will show up in next month’s packet.  Douma withdrew his motion because this is not the final document.



Molnar said that the Planning Commission workload is primarily set by the Council.  However, it is helpful if the other commissions could develop goals that will complement the Council goals. The City is trying to get the other commission’s input earlier so their goals can be considered as the Council adopts their goals.  Molnar will be meeting with the Council on Saturday and he can bring up the goals recently submitted by the Planning Commission so the Council can consider how the goals will mesh with their goals, particularly in considering workload issues. 


Black suggested setting the Planning Commission goals aside until the Planning Commission retreat.


Stromberg noted that the Commission has done a lot of their own work so they don’t need to assume that the work of the goals necessarily is put on the Staff. 


Dotterrer explained at the last Council meeting the Housing Commission asked to review planning actions that have an affordable housing component.  And, the Historic Commission is looking at forming a design review commission.  Dotterrer thought this is something the Planning Commission should have a chance to review before they add another step to the process. 


Douma would like to see better communication with the Council.


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary



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