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Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Tuesday, March 14, 2006



MARCH 14, 2006



CALL TO ORDER – The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Chair John Fields at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR.


Commissioners Present:


Absent Members:


John Fields, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Dave Dotterrer




Council Liaison:


Russ Chapman

Pam Marsh


Kate Jackson, Council Liaison does not attend Planning Commission meetings in order to avoid a conflict of interest.


Olena Black


Staff Present:


Allen Douma


Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director


John Stromberg


Maria Harris, Senior Planner


Mike Morris


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary




Molnar said the Council is tentatively scheduled to review the Land Use Ordinance update with Scot Siegel, Siegel Planning Services, LLC at their April 18th meeting. 







Molnar said there is a condition covering a multi-use public path.  The project is under the standard Solar Access A as well as a condition stating the homes will be constructed to the Earth Advantage standards.  The action was approved.



February 14, 2006 Regular Meeting Minutes - Strike the sentence on page 5, under Re-Opened the Public Hearing, “Move it forward as much as possible.”  Douma/Black m/s to approve the minutes as amended.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

February 28, 2006 Study Session Minutes - Dotterrer/Douma m/s to approve.  Voice Vote:  Approved.


Findings - Douma/Chapman m/s to approve the findings for PA2005-01830, 309 Alta Street.  Voice Vote:  Approved.


PA2005-02105, 145 E. Main, Urban Development Services and PA2006-00088, 588 N. Main, Ashland Community Hospital Foundation will be reviewed at the March 28, 2006 Study Session.



COLIN SWALES, 461 Allison Street, spoke regarding the arterial setbacks, an issue that came up during the Northlight action.  He will be going before the Council on March 21, 2006 for their interpretation.  He would like to see this cleared up before another similar action comes before them.  Swales also announced that the draft of the Land Use Ordinance update is available.  He asked they look carefully at the suggested changes to make sure they reflect the ambiguities in the law and don’t change the established policies of existing ordinances that tie into the Comprehensive Plan.  The ordinance reference is 18.68.050.


Fields suggested if Commissioners wish to respond, they can do so individually by e-mail to the Council.


BRYAN HOLLEY, 324 Liberty Street, congratulated Pam Marsh on her appointment to the Planning Commission.  Holley wanted the Commissioners to be aware that the Tree Commission is comprised of landscape and tree professionals who bring their expertise, years of experience and site visits to each action they review. They make consensual recommendations to the Planning Commission.  Holley hoped the Planning Commission would put weight in the recommendations brought to them by the Tree Commission. 







Site Visits or Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all Commissioners.

Marsh reported she had a work related lunch a few weeks ago and heard the developer describe a concept for energy efficiency she was considering for the development, but nothing was germane to tonight’s discussion.



Harris explained the application requires three approvals: 

1)  Subdividing the property for the development of 22 residential units and two lots for open space. As outlined in the Staff Report, the project will be done in two phases.  The first phase will be development of 18 lots and two open spaces and the second phase is development of four lots.  Access will be provided by a new public street through the center of the development connecting with Otis and Randy.  An alley will provide access to ten of the proposed lots. A public sidewalk on Randy will be continued to Laurel Street to provide safe passage to Helman School.  An open space area is proposed along the western site boundary and an area of approximately 4,000 square feet in the northeast corner of the site.  Information is contained in the packet regarding the wetlands.  2) Exception to the Street Standards to bring the sidewalk to the curb side on Otis Street to preserve a Monterey Cypress tree, and 3) Tree Removal Permit for the removal of two trees that are greater than 18 inches diameter at breast height (dbh).  One is in the building envelope and one is in the location of the new street.  Staff believes the approval criteria have been met in Chapter 18.88 and 18.61.


Main Issues

1)  Trees along Otis Street – According to the tree inventory provided, six trees are in fair condition and five have poor tolerance to construction.  The trees are a prominent feature of the site.  The Street Standards require pedestrian facilities on the frontage.  If a sidewalk goes in, in the long-term, what is the likelihood the trees will survive?  Staff has suggested they look at that in further detail at Final Plan.  Also, some construction techniques have been suggested.

2)  Wetland Area – Ideally, there would be a delineation of the wetlands at this point.  A preliminary report has been provided.  Staff suggested the Commission could consider approving the application, pending the wetland delineation.  If a significantly larger or more wetlands were discovered on-site, the applicant would have to come back and modify the Outline Plan before they could move forward.  The question to answer is:  Have the natural features been incorporated into the open spaces and buildable area?


Staff is recommending approval of the application with the 26 Conditions included.  On a separate sheet, there is suggested language for Condition 10.  Also, a possible Condition 27, “That all homes shall qualify in the Ashland Earth Advantage program.  The applicant shall meet with Ashland Conservation Division regarding eligible site activities prior to issuance of an excavation permit requiring Earth Advantage documentation and shall be submitted with each building permit.” 


Add the word “not” to Condition 9 (Structures, signs, and vegetation…shall “not” be placed….). 


Since the lots in this subdivision would be smaller than required in an R-5 zone, Marsh wondered if the surrounding lots are consistently 5,000 to 6,000 square feet?  Harris believed most of the surrounding lots are in the 6,000 to 9,000 square foot range.  However, she noted if the alley square footage is calculated in the proposed subdivision, it adds approximately another 500 square feet to those homes that would gain access by way of the alley.  The Street Standards encourage the use of alleys. 


Harris said a Condition is included that when Final Plan is reviewed, the Phase 2 timing needs to be described.  The worst case scenario is the lot with the buildings could just be left as one big lot as long as the buildings are in place.  Molnar said if they are going to be phased, the City wants to make sure there is an appropriate proportion of open space per phase.   



DEVIAN AGUIRRE, 2782 Siskiyou Boulevard, introduced her team.  She said the site has been driven by the natural features, municipal ordinances and state ordinances.  They realize there is a lot of work yet to do.  They would like to make their application to the state with the blessing of the City and come back at Final Plan, incorporating all the conditions and requirements from the state. 


The Helman Baths and the home have not had any maintenance in about 40 years.  The owner wanted to sell the property but not the pool even though the family has not resided on the property for years.  Phase II is not currently part of the Aguirre’s transaction.  It will remain in the ownership of the family and is not part of this discussion.  Aguirre is required to outline, delineate and provide for the remainder of the portion as the whole parcel.  She will probably not ever be bringing back Phase II to the Commission.  The pool is not currently fed by a spring underneath the pool.  There is a box spring created in the 1880’s running 120 feet that feeds the pool.  The wetlands area is separate. 


DON RIST, 260 Joy Drive, Talent, OR, is the property owner’s representative.  The owner specifically excluded the pool and house from the agreement with Aguirre because the owner wants to keep the property in the family.  The owner has no intention of improving or making the pool a public pool.  It is fed by a well that is over 100 years old.  The designed wetlands are not part of the water that fills the pool.


Aguirre said they accept the Conditions in the Staff Report.


KERRY KENCAIRN, 147 Central, said their findings address the development of the whole site, showing how the lots could be developed if Phase I happens and Phase II follows.  Phase II can be left out of the whole subdivision approval.  The sizes of lots, amount of open space, the percentages required have been worked out with Phase II as part of the subdivision and with Phase II removed. 


STEVE KOSKELLA, 215 Scenic Drive, K&C Environmental Services, said he looked on the site in September and early October.  At that time, the vegetation had all been mowed and mulched so it was impossible to determine the vegetative component of the wetland at that time.  They’ll visit the site again in April to check the vegetation.  It is obvious there is an active spring near the northern portion of the area identified as the wetlands.  The land slopes from north to south, the water from that spring slopes through there, creating the wetland.  They will present their findings to the state.  The state makes a final determination.  The spring that feeds the swimming pool does not meet the criteria for a jurisdictional wetland.  He’s never run across a wetland that has been so completely altered 100 years ago. 


KenCairn said the spring box will be retained and will continue to feed the pool.  The water from the pool goes into the storm drain system.  The pool leaks.  There are two conveyances across the property.


TOM MYERS, Upper Limb-It Tree Service, 2040 Ashland Mine Road, said he did the tree inventory.  He doesn’t know when the trees were cut and he didn’t notice any new cutting.  The trees on the site have not been maintained.


Aguirre said she is comfortable with Staff’s plan to allow for the accommodation of the trees.  There might be some other type of mitigation they could do that would serve everyone better for the long term.  Even if the trees are carefully trimmed, she still believes there are going to be problems. 


Concerns were expressed about the sulphur smell that might be coming from the pool area and also the likelihood of stagnant water on the property, creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  KenCairn responded that the wetlands will keep flowing at the rate the spring is flowing in.  If the water is moving there should not be a mosquito issue.  Aguirre added that this is a highly altered site.  They will be required by the state to allow for a healthy movement of water. 


Marsh asked how the applicants envisioned the design elements for public access.  KenCairn said there is a public access adjacent to Lot 2 that connects with the street adjacent to the wetland.  She imagines people will be able to walk through the area where it is not too wet.  The area will have wetland plantings.  Paths will probably go along the edges in order to not impact the wetland habitat. 


ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, recommended not approving this plan as submitted because 1) the wetlands and springs should be protected and property integrated into the site, 2) require improvement to access streets be brought to City standards and 3) financially participate in the Laurel Street LID.  Bullock submitted his written comments for the record.


Chapman asked what access streets are not up to standards.  Bullock said the section between Laurel and Orange Streets and possibly Drager if Glenn is closed and a small section of Otis.  They should be required to meet the Street Standards.


ANNE TAYLOR, 492 Willow Street, said her house is a one-story ranch style house.  Her lot and most of the lots in her neighborhood are one-third larger than those proposed.  Most of the houses proposed will be two-story and about 37 feet tall.  This is a quiet neighborhood and the impact of the additional vehicle trips per day will have an impact.  She hopes the trees will be protected.  The density concerns her.  There is wildlife on the property. 


DAVID CHASMAR, 468 N. Laurel Street, said he is opposed to this project as presented.  This is a site of historical significance – the baths, house, springs, and the well and hot water coming up on the site.  He does not like the density.   The project needs to be examined much more thoroughly.  Currently, you couldn’t walk thru the property without getting wet.  That site should be preserved and made into something for the City.  He believes the springs and the bathhouse should be preserved. 


LIJA APPLEBERRY, 704 Willow Street, said this is an area of small homes, conducive to young families.  Our elementary schools are losing population and it’s been nice to have more modest priced homes in the neighborhood.  She does not want the hot spring put underground.  She would recommend a more thorough study of the soil and hydrology of the site before approving the subdivision.  She questions the density of the homes if there is poor drainage.  Most of the existing homes have sump pumps and French drains. And, more problems are caused for the areas downhill from this site.   She would recommend more trees.  When they start digging most of the existing trees probably won’t survive.


CYNDI DION, 897 Hillview, showed a map of wetland inventory of this area.  The missing wetland that appears on the Local Wetland Inventory (LWI) map is considered by Fishman (wetland consultant) as a significant wetland and registered by the Division of State Lands (DSL).  The wetland has been drained and re-conformed with fill.  This happened long before this planning action.  She doesn’t know if a removal fill permit had been applied for.  There is a lot of water coming across this property.  A proposed house is designed to partially cover the hot sulphur spring.  There is off-gassing that happens on a daily basis.  Where is the missing significant wetland?  She would like to see a study done with monitoring for a year so we can see where all the wetlands reside.  There is a culvert that is an open ditch that pools up at the north end of the property with fingers of stagnant water, with water falling over the curb and into the storm drain.  There is a stream designated on the LWI that has been culverted and part of a tree died after the culvert was installed.


Dion believes the intent of the Performance Standards is to have open spaces usable for all. She does not believe the emergent wetlands can ever be developed, therefore, the square footage should not be taken into consideration for density bonus. 


BILL HICKS, Engineering Geologist, 190 Vista Street, said in his opinion, we should understand subsurface information on the ground – the geology underlying the evolution of the area.  There is a fault from Jackson Hot Springs, running under this area to the Ashland Food Co-op.  There is leakage from these faults.  Won’t the foundation conditions, treatment and construction cause the drainage and destruction of the wetlands?  How much ground water is flowing through the wetlands?  More information is needed before a decision is made.


Questions of Staff by Commissioners

Harris said Laurel Street exceeds the standards (driving surface) but it is missing a parkrow and sidewalks.  She is not familiar with the LID that was mentioned.  The sidewalk and pedestrian improvements gets difficult off-site because of the Supreme Court rulings (Dolan) in terms of how much sidewalk improvement can be required off-site.    The Dolan case determined there has to be some kind of rough proportionality between the proposed land use and how many off-site transportation improvements are required.  Staff focused on getting the connection to Laurel Street on Randy.  With regard to improving the access streets, the applicant has to show that adequate transportation has been met.


Harris clarified that Dion was referring to the open space conservation density and the applicant is not using that.  At this point, they are not proposing any density bonus. 


Molnar said the final map received from DSL doesn’t identify the wetland as significant.  DSL is going to require delineation of the entire property.  That will be the time to find the extent of the wetland boundaries.


Harris suggested rewording Condition 20 to state:  “That the timing of Phase II development, lot creation and development shall be addressed in the Final Plan application.  The Randy Street improvement shall be installed with the Phase I improvement prior to a signature of the final survey plat.”  However, the home is extremely close to the property line, if not over.  This will have to be addressed at Final Plan.


Add to the last sentence of Condition 8:  “Off-site sidewalk improvements on Randy Street connecting the site to Laurel Street shall be included in the preliminary engineering.”


There is a side yard setback requirement in the Performance Standards subdivision requiring half the height of the walls between the buildings in the setback.  This is covered under Condition 24 and could require more information at Final Plan.


The Commission asked if it is appropriate to use the square footage of the Phase II area to compile base densities for Phase I.  Staff said “yes” because a lot is being created.  Molnar said it will depend on how they plat the subdivision.  He is not sure it would come out to four units if it is not part of the subdivision.


Fields said it is up to the Commission to interpret how the hot springs fits into the existing and natural features of the site.


Rebuttal – KenCairn said they have no trouble with the conditions Harris added.   She would like to condition a way to legally conserve the hot spring box and the function of the hot spring and pull the building envelope back so there is no encroachment.  The wetlands issues are identified by aerial photos.  The state will look at the information the applicant provides along with historic information to make sure they are delineating what is there.  Aguirre submitted aerial photographs of the area dating 1939, 1960 and 1994. 


KenCairn said in order to meet solar, structures will not be over 33 feet in height at the peak.


Dotterrer/Morris m/s to extend the meeting to 11:00 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved.



The Commissioners discussed the following issues:

Density – There are diverse lot sizes.  Because the lots are smaller, there is a greater opportunity to draw families to this neighborhood.  Using alleys to access the garages from the rear is a positive way to ameliorate garage access in the front, particularly since some of the homes will be using every possible amount of air space.  Additionally, the site is flat, close to a school and close to downtown.


LID issues – Most of the Commissioners were reluctant to include this project in the Laurel LID.  The applicant is providing sidewalks contiguous with the development.  Is it fair to require more or stretch it farther?  Are there more options for added conditions that Staff can provide at Final Plan?   Should this group contribute to anything going on with Laurel Street?  Let the Council decide.


Some of the questions and comments concerning the wetlands and the natural features of the site follow.  Are the wetlands a natural feature?  The wetlands have to be delineated by the state. The feature that attracts the most public interest and has the most historic value is the hot springs.  However, it’s the wetlands that are the environmental feature the applicant is planning to preserve.  What happens if Phase II is removed from the project? Is the hot springs a natural feature?  Is the hot springs feeding a pool?  It would be nice to see a pool as part of the amenity.  The subdivision doesn’t include it. Would it be better to take it out of the project?  The wetland is a concern along with preservation of the hot springs.  How can the hot springs be preserved if it is on private land?  Can public access be provided?  Will the hot springs benefit a private individual because we are trying to preserve these things for a community purpose?  It doesn’t necessarily mean everyone gets to use it.  Maybe the applicants can come up with something more meaningful to do with the hot springs.  If the water rights belong to the owner of Phase II, how can you do anything else with this feature?  Should the wetlands be fenced? 


Molnar heard the applicant say this is a 19 lot subdivision and Phase II is a future phase.  Phase II is not excluded because it is one large lot within the development.  Do the majority believe the hot springs is a natural feature?  If so, the ordinance states the natural features shall be included in open space, common areas and unbuildable areas.  The only thing Performance Standards defines is an open space – a common area designated or set aside for members of the development.  Molnar said if the applicant intends to completely exclude the bath from the subdivision, it would have to be partitioned off and then they would come forth with a plan for the remaining property.


Douma/Marsh m/s to continue the hearing.  The Commissioners agreed that they would like to see the applicant incorporate the natural feature (hot springs) into the whole property in a way that meets the spirit and intent of the Performance Standards.  Is the applicant interested in coming back to them with a plan for the development of the whole site in which the hot springs is treated as a natural feature according to the ordinance for benefit of the whole development? 



Are the applicants open to a continuance and are they willing to extend the 120 days another 60 days?  Aguirre recognizes the issue regarding the hot springs.  She believes there is an opportunity to use a natural resource that has been under utilized for 50 years.  The current owner wants to continue to use and will their right to use the pool to their relatives on the East Coast.  Aguirre has asked that she be included in that decision.  She has the opportunity to share in the water rights and include them in her project.  She wanted a conceptual idea before going to DSL.  If she is excluded from the source of water, it weakens her position.  She wants to work with the owner in a more collaborative way. 


DON RIST said one of the conditions is that the well is deeded to her for the pool. 


Aguirre added that the pool does have value and the hot water is a resource that can be shared.


Fields announced that PA2006-00384, 631 Clay Street, will be continued to March 28, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers. 


(PA2006-00078 Resumed)

KenCairn would like to put a conservation easement on the well (both functionally and physically) and remove Phase II as part of the application.  However, if the Commission is going to deny the application, they would rather continue the hearing.


Fields said they would like more detail regarding how Phase II is a natural feature.


The public hearing was closed.


Douma/Marsh m/s to amend the motion by adding the applicant has granted a continuance and agreed to extend the 120 day period an additional 60 days.  Roll Call:  The motion was unanimously approved. 


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 11:08 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary






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