Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Tuesday, May 09, 2006




MAY 9, 2006


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


Commissioners Present:


Council Liaison:

John Fields, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Olena Black


Kate Jackson, Council Liaison,

Allen Douma



John Stromberg

Pam Marsh


Staff Present:

Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director

Dave Dotterrer


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

Mike Morris



Tom Dimitre



Absent Members:








Fields introduced and welcomed Tom Dimitre, newly appointed Planning Commissioner. 


The Downtown Plan forum was attended by about 200 people.  The committee is recommending the Council budget money for the first phase. 


Black attended a Housing Commission meeting and reported they are drafting ordinances to put forward concerning conversion of apartments to condominiums.  Molnar thought the Housing Commission had additional work to do before bringing it to the Planning Commission. 


The Planning Commission Retreat will be held on May 20th.  There will be no Study Session on May 23rd. 


Dawkins will chair the June Planning Commission meeting because Fields will be out of town. 



Black/Fields m/s to approve the minutes and findings of the April 11, Hearings Board meeting.  Voice Vote:  The minutes and findings were approved.


Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of the April 11, 2006 Planning Commission meeting.  Voice Vote:  The minutes were unanimously approved.


Black/Marsh m/s to approve the findings for PA2006-00366, Bramscher Motors, Jefferson Street.  Voice Vote:  The findings were unanimously approved.



ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, spoke about Development Access Streets – Part 2.  He referenced ALUO 18.80.020B7.  “All major means of access to a subdivision…shall be from existing streets fully improved to City standards…”  He provided six conceptual examples.  He felt it would be helpful if the City would adopt these types of standards so the Commission would not have as much difficulty making a decision involving access streets.


Molnar noted that every situation is going to be a little different and the key word is “proportionality.”  Most of the developments in Ashland have paved access but they don’t all have sidewalks. 







Site Visits or Ex Parte Contacts – Dotterrer was not present for the first hearing, recused himself and stepped out of the room.   Dimitre and Morris each had a site visit, reviewed all materials from the previous meeting, watched the streaming video and are prepared to participate.  Dawkins had an additional site visit. 



Molnar said the issues included looking at a broader transportation analysis and some of the impacts based on the proposed layouts.  A traffic analysis has been provided by the applicant with a more detailed plan showing how students will be dropped off.  The revised plan in the packet shows a one-way system entering in front of the building with diagonal parking, one drop-off lane and a by-pass lane.  There will be signage indicating the rear parking area is for staff only.  They have identified some potential site improvements (raised pedestrian crossing, bays on each side of the street that could be marked for off-loading) when the City improves both sides of Clay Street.  The study also identifies some traffic demand management strategies in order to reduce parking demand and traffic associated with a full build-out.  The driveway exiting and entering the school zone at full build-out would operate at a level of service A, given the breaks in time of traffic. 


There has been no new information provided concerning the pedestrian access at the northwest corner of the property over to the City park land.  Staff still feels strongly that such an access should be explored if final surveying shows there is ample area to construct an access (crossing over the creek).  There are strong Transportation Plan policies specifically for pedestrian improvements that link neighborhoods and schools to recreation areas.  Access to the park by way of the Stratford Apartments is unsafe along Clay Street until such time Clay Street can be improved (around 2009). 


Based on the last meeting, Harris had made some changes to some of the conditions.  Molnar handed out a list of “Revised Conditions” with changes to Condition 8 and 9 and a suggested Condition 23 and 24.  The changes are in bold.


Marsh suggested a revision to Condition 23 that the applicant’s maximum contribution will be capped at $3,000, not $15,000. 



Tom Giordano, 2635 Takelma Way, is the agent for the applicant.  He clarified that there will be a total of ten classrooms.  Also, the parking spaces on Clay were for parking, not exclusively for drop-offs.  The parking bays would be designed to accommodate bikes on the street.


STEVE SENGAR, 707 Morton Street, said their ability to produce a public easement and still continue their good relationship with the neighbor is jeopardized by the need for public access.  He is asking the Commission to approve this project for up to 180 students so that it is transferable to the school. 


ALEX GEORGEVITCH, Alex Georgevitch Consulting,  642 Faith Avenue, is an engineer and a neighbor.  In doing traffic work, he tries to look at the worst case scenario.  In looking at the adequacy of Clay Street, specifically at the intersections with the school and at the site, Clay Street operates adequately as a two-lane county road.  Adding the 180 students will mean 232 vehicle trips per day.  There is adequate capacity.


With regard to site improvements, Georgevitch believes the angled parking makes it a more obvious one-way route and more pedestrian friendly.  There is a by-pass lane allowing cars to leave the parking lot if the other lane is stacked.  No parents or students will be allowed to use the parking area in the back of the building. 


The most important part of the study is the recommendation of a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program.  It will reduce vehicle use and encourage all modes of travel to the school.  The TDM program can result in significant impacts on site trip generation.  There is an opportunity to cut the 232 vtpd in half with a successful TDM program.  It is important with a TDM program to allow flexibility for the school so they can continually work with the student body and neighborhood to find the best solutions. 


LEXI DELGADO, 2030 Wine Street, stated she is a former member of the Bike and Pedestrian Commission.  When this issue came up with the school, she put together a survey of the school’s families – where they live, what they were will do to (carpooling, walking, riding, etc.). They are continuing to gather data.  They are working on a Safe Route to School program.  She is working with RVTD.  They are considering using the bus stop at Ashland and Clay and providing adult supervision to the school.  Carpooling and busing are currently the best options.


Delgado said that once they are doing a Safe Routes to School there is a guaranteed ten percent reduction in vehicular trips.  Gerogevitch said the idea is to have many strategies and it would not be uncommon to see as much as a 50 percent reduction at a site.  As the weather gets better, there seem to be fewer vehicle trips.


Marsh asked if the discussion of TDM was included in the report, not because Georgevitch thinks it is important as a mitigation measure, but more because it is the right thing to do.  Georgevitch affirmed.  Delgado counted cars for five days.  Georgevitch used those numbers in calculating his worst case analysis. 


There was further discussion with regard to peak drop-off times, queuing distance for the drop-off, parking to talk, staggering school start and release times, using monitors, having a “legend” on the ground to direct vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians, and use of pylons.


Fields asked how the school use compares with the target use of the zone.  Georgevitch believes in reality, the school will generate similar traffic to ten or 15 residential homes.  Giordano added the school operates 34 weeks per year.  Marsh noted that based on 180 students, the vehicle trips are much more (180 students x .42 vtpd) than ten houses.  Molnar said trips are significantly more than the target use. However, the ordinance allows the Commission to make a finding for a Conditional Use when comparing the target use ( “…shall be considered in relationship to the target use…”) concerning generation of traffic and affects on surrounding streets.  The ordinance goes on to say “Increases in pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit use are considered beneficial regardless of the capacity of the facility.”  In this case there is a facility that might link not only to the school, but the residential neighborhoods between Clay and Tolman.


TIMOTHY RINGER, 682 Glendale Avenue, said his residence backs the proposed project. He feels the traffic study is insufficient.  There will be more cars creating more congestion.  The travel lanes on Clay are narrow and he asked how delivery trucks going to the school have been addressed.  He is concerned parents may find it too difficult to access the school on Clay and will park on the cul-de-sac on Glendale and children will find their way through properties to the back of the school. 


R. C. HEUBLEIN, 678 Glendale Avenue, said he’s had people jump his fence to get to the easement approach to the park from Glendale Avenue.  What will occur if there is an easement coming off Clay and book-ending his property with another public access?  He handed out photos showing what is going on in the creek now and where the proposed easement and bridge are proposed.  He has told the school they can have private access to the park by way of a corner of his property.  He does not want public access to the park this way.  Where are the plans for the bridge?  This application is for a Physical Constraints Permit too.   He keeps the riparian area cleaned up because people are using this area now by going through a break in a fenceline.  He sees people on bikes with their dogs.  The area is not illuminated.  If a bridge is installed, is he going to have to tolerate a street light?


Staff Response – Molnar said if Heublein refuses to grant access, the bridge would be built on park property.  Construction of a fence within ten feet of the top of bank or channel would require a special review for a Physical Constraints Permit.  Condition 9 refers to the bridge.


Rebuttal – Georgevitch said the study considered delivery trucks.  The higher the speed of the vehicles, the further apart the vehicles get.  The capacity doesn’t change.  His analysis was based on 25 mph.  The Clay/Ashland/Faith intersection is part of a larger corridor study.  Concerning access to the school from the park (Glendale Street), that would take a person to the courtyard. 


Giordano said they are willing to make it a public access and willing to work with the Parks Department for a crossing.  It would all be a part of the creek restoration.  No bridge has been designed because they are not sure they are even going to need a bridge.  If this action is approved and a public access is required, they will obtain a Physical and Environmental Constraints Permit. 



Dawkins/Douma m/s to approve PA2006-00284 with the revised Conditions.


Add to Condition 9 that the applicant obtains any other applicable or appropriate state and federal permits.  Don’t tie the applicant to “bridge” but change to “appropriate crossing.” 


Change Condition 23 from $15,000 to $3000 for the applicant’s total maximum contribution.


Dawkins has a problem with the public access to the park.  He finds the apartment access convenient.  He would be happy with the agreement the school has worked out with Heublein.  Morris said he could live with a private easement.  Douma agreed.


Some of the commissioners were concerned with where the crossing would be located and how it would be done. 


Marsh cannot support the project without the easement and the public access. 


Fields said we want and need as many links as possible.  The de facto path can be seen now.  If we don’t have the links, people three blocks away will jump in their car to get to the park.  The park will be improved.  There are always going to be transients.  The fence will be moved ten feet away from the creekline, the creek restored and a fence will screen any view.  The neighbor will have an open wetland that will never be built on and a door opening right onto a park anytime he wants.  Our Transportation Plan is built on making connections.  We want to encourage pedestrians.


The vote was for the motion and modified conditions.  Roll Call:  Stromberg, Dawkins, Fields, Black, Douma, Morris, Marsh voted “yes” and Dimitre voted “no.”


Dotterrer rejoined the meeting.



Request for Conditional Use Permit and Site Review approval to modify the existing church campus located at 175 N. Main St. by removing two additions and constructing a new narthex, administrative office, classroom wing and addition to Wesley Hall.  The project proposed is in two phases and would include demolition of approximately 5,500 square feet of existing building and constructing approximately 7,100 square feet of new building.  The application includes a Tree Removal Permit to remove four trees six inches diameter at breast height or greater in size. 

APPLICANT: First United Methodist Church of Ashland


Site Visits and Ex Parte ContactsDotterrer disclosed that he is close personal friends with several members of the church.  He has attended several of their men’s group session.  He believes he can be fair and impartial in the proceedings.  Black had a site visit and spoke with Graham Lewis, Operations Manager of the church about a clarification of something on the drawings.  They talked about websites and the location of the memorial area in front of Wesley Hall.  She believes she can be impartial.  Douma has had numerous site visits and has been on a Chamber of Commerce committee with Mr. Lewis and Douma said those contacts will not prejudice him.  All the other Commissioners had site visits.



Molnar reported the details of the project in the written staff report.  The proposal consists of removing some additions that were constructed and re-constructing those areas with a new narthex, a new educational wing that will connect the church to Wesley Hall, an outdoor covered walkway colonnade system with a central plaza and an addition on the back of the sanctuary for a choir space and office space.  There will be a net increase of approximately 1600 square feet. 


The proposal is in two phases.  It is a request for a Conditional Use Permit.  The target use for the property is low density multi-family zoning or approximately 25 to 35 residential units.  Staff felt there was not really an increase in intensity.  The playground is moving closer to Bush Street (20 feet from the residential properties).  This action was approved administratively and called up for a public hearing by the neighbors.  The issues involve parking lot lighting, impacts of glare on adjoining property owners, use of the parking area after hours for disruptive activities.  A Condition has been added, recommending that the current parking lot lighting be modified.  Also, that the applicant provide some type of lighting to provide a surveillance function.  Other issues raised concern activities allowed by the church but not monitored.  It is not uncommon for churches in Ashland to use their spaces for community spaces.  Looking at land use definitions for churches, especially definitions based on traffic generation, it is recognition that church campuses provide community space beyond serving the needs of the church.


The applications involve a Site Review.  The Historic Commission reviewed the application and recommended unanimous approval.  They recommended a Condition that they work out some of the details of the design with respect to materials with the applicant as they work toward a building permit. 


The application also involves a Tree Removal Permit.  There are currently 44 trees on the property.  The request is to remove five of those trees primarily due to the location of the proposed footprint of the educational wing and a walkway access to the central plaza area and narthex entry.  Comments from the Tree Commission are included in the packet.  The applicant will talk about how the Tree Commission’s design decision warrants removal of the trees.


An e-mail from Bryan Holley dated May 9th was distributed to the Commission. 


Is there an ordinance that guides the Commission with regard to the impacts of the changes to the Conditional Use Permit as compared to going back to do a de novo CUP? Molnar said there is not.  He’s not sure when they amended the CUP ordinance about ten years ago that they ever anticipated existing legal non-conforming uses.  Traffic and adverse impact are around 330 to 350 vtpd.  Twenty-five to 35 homes is similar.  There are similar issues as to the last action where the distribution of that traffic occurs at different times.  The Commission can use their powers through Site Design and the CUP criteria to require amendments or other provisions.


Marsh asked if the playground could be located in a side setback.  Molnar said it could as long as any fencing or wall met the height requirements.  As part of a Site Review or CUP, the Planning Commission can require increased setbacks or moving activities.



Jac Nickels, 821 Beach Street, project architect, introduced Lee Bowman, Co-chair of the Building Committee, 554 Mountain Meadows Drive and Graham Lewis, Facilities Manager, (address unknown).  The church has an aging congregation and they are hoping to add new vitality and draw in younger families.  They held a one day charrette inviting the congregation.  They have tried to be good neighbors.


The campus has been designed so the police can drive by and see the colonnade for any unwanted activity.    The playground is much smaller than the existing playground.  They have set it 20 feet back and depressed it about 2 ½ feet.  They are disappointed they had to lose some trees.  There were grade differences that were difficult for the tree’s health.  With regard to the median strip in the parking lot, they will increase the size of the median to encourage a wider tree canopy.  They agree to regular maintenance of the landscaping.  One of the trees mentioned by Mr. Foster (neighbor) was pruned by the City.  Nickels said they will analyze all the lighting.  They agree they need to have surveillance lighting or motion detectors to deter undesirable activity.  They are willing to install parking lot lights that are dark sky lights.  The parking for the Montessori School will stay the same.  They will drop children off at the front and can drop them off in the rear as well.  With regard to the CUP, Nickels sees very little change in intensity of use. 


Stromberg asked what measures they are taking to reduce the sound from the playground to the neighbors.  Nickels said they will have a wood fence and they are looking at using other sound deadening materials.    


Lewis addressed the management of non-church activities.  The ask groups to pay for maintenance, custodial and utilities.  They do not try to make money from groups.  On Saturday nights, groups are required to be out by 10 p.m.  They do not currently have a contact person from the church if there is a problem, but they have been discussing having a person on-site.  The pastor will be moving soon and the use of the parsonage is undetermined at this time.  They will use the parsonage as their office during construction. 


The smaller playground space will affect the number of children that will play outside at one time.  The enrollment has decreased.  There are from 55 and 60 children between pre-school up to kindergarten age.  There are between 15 to 20 children on the playground at one time.  Montessori’s long-term plan is to not have kindergarten at this site during construction and then move to their site on Garfield. 


ROBIN FOSTER, 63 Bush Street, said the back of their lot abuts the middle of the church parking lot.  Five neighbors have joined to bring forth their concerns.  They’ve seen successive waves of trustees at the church over the years and have seen some patterns of problems with the church.  They have some fine trees that are on the church property but extend over their yard.  The Fosters have had them professionally pruned and they are grateful for the trees.  He submitted a letter dated May 9th, condensing the conditions (made part of record).  He discussed Conditions 1 and 2 in his letter concerning the provision of regular maintenance and care of the all the landscaping and exercising sufficient monitoring and control over all activities at the church.


Black/Marsh m/s and approved to continue the meeting until 10:30 p.m.


HOLLY EAST, Executive Director of Peace House, 543 S. Mountain Avenue, provides free meals (Uncle Food’s Diner) on Tuesday nights.  Their participants are held to a standard of behavior on the premises.  If they do not follow the rules, they will be removed.  In the event a crime is committed, they rely on the services of the Ashland Police Dept.  They have taken this action only one time since August of 2005 when she took charge.  She would direct the neighbors to call the Police Dept. if there is a problem.  They serve 100 plus people.  She is concerned no neighborhood wants homeless, low-income people gathering nearby to obtain food. 


CARMEN & JON REINHARDT, 159 North Main.  Carmen said their main concerns are security and noise.  She feels over the last 20 years have had to deal with these problems.  Now is the perfect time to make some adjustments to see what can be done.  It is not a secure situation.  They’ve had people walking through their building.  The cottage will be torn down with no fencing and unless that’s taken care of, people will be going through their property more regularly. They have had their house broken into by a transient.  The area is not secure and people wander around.  There is no one at the church who will take responsibility.


The other issue is the pre-school.  They had a fence built and planted trees.  It is like an amphitheater and the noise travels directly to their area.  She would like to know how the wall will make a difference in the noise now that the proposed playground will be 16 feet from their property. 


Jon said the parsonage garage is between them and the playground.  Once that is removed, he believes it is impossibility that a 2 ½ foot wall will absorb the playground noise.  They were told that it was not the responsibility of the Police Dept. to monitor the premises.  The playground noise goes on during the day at different times. 


HOWARD HEINER, 784 Garden Way, lives by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.  The church and he each have a responsibility.  There have been problems.  The church installed lighting in their parking lot that shines in his bedroom.  The church has given him a key to the church so he could go over and turn the light off should they forget.  He did the landscaping on his property to get the buffering he wanted.  He can hear hymns being sung on Saturday.  The kids play outside yelling and screaming.  It’s good to hear kids playing rather than demonizing them.  The Seventh Day Adventist Church has a public program for the needy.  He is proud of the church.  He believes it is the purpose of the church to reach out to everyone.  He moved in knowing a church would be his neighbor.


Staff Response - Molnar believed it would be good to add a Condition to have a solid wood fence installed where the cottage is going to be removed.


Rebuttal – Nickels gave the rebuttal.

He called every neighbor on Bush Street and asked if they had any problems with the design.  Mrs. Reinhardt said she did not have a problem.  He talked with Mr. Foster and Ms. Nelson.  They had a neighborhood meeting. 

·        The landscaping will be maintained.  If it is not, the City has a Code Compliance officer that can cite the church. 

·        It will take a special effort for those attending Uncle Food’s to get to the Reinhardt’s area after the courtyard is built. 

·        The Reinhardt’s structure is on the church’s property and houses the Reinhardt’s air conditioning units.   

·        They are willing to work on the playground noise and investigate materials for sound deadening fencing materials.

·        They will provide a well-lit parking lot with motion sensors and dark sky lights.


At 11:00 p.m., Black/Dotterrer m/s and approved to extend the meeting until this action is completed.



Dotterrer/Dimitre m/s to add a Condition 21 that once all the construction is completed, the applicant is responsible for closing any gaps with a six foot fence ensuring there is not a way to move from the church property to the neighboring property (the Bush Street properties).  Dotterrer/Black m/s to amend the motion stating that wherever gaps are created from this applicant’s actions that a six foot fence be placed where the gaps are located.   Voice Vote:  The vote was unanimous. 


Black proposed a Condition 22 that fencing around the playground be a minimum of 6 feet  above ground level (grade) and an effort is being made to use a sound barrier material on the perimeter of the playground not facing the building (east/west/south perimeter).    


Stromberg/Black m/s and approved to continue the meeting past 11 p.m. 


Molnar corrected Condition referring to the landscaped median.  Delete the first sentence and replaced with “That the center parking lot landscaping median shall be enlarged to approximately seven to eight feet in width around the three proposed large shade trees.”  The rest of the Condition remains. 


Stromberg suggested a Condition 22 that on the property line there will be a six foot high wooden gap closing fence.  There will be a buffer zone of landscaping of various materials that will come to the edge of the playground or perhaps stepped back a couple of feet and a 2 ½ foot block wall where the playground is excavated plus a four foot high masonry or sound absorbing wall (approved by Staff) either on top of the 2 ½ foot block wall or stepped back toward the neighbors. The wall can be a combination of block and wood. The height to be a minimum of 6 ½ feet above the floor level of the playground.  The wall will be installed along the side that faces Bush Street and wrapped on the edge. 


Dotterrer questioned Condition 2.  Molnar said the wording can be changed to say “That the Historic Commission’s recommendations as identified in the meeting and documented on May 3, 2006, and consistent with the Design Standards shall be followed.”   


Stromberg suggested adding a requirement a church employee or official representative be present at all public events at the church.  Douma suggested the church have someone that can be called in the event of a problem.  Fields would like to see the parsonage remain residential.  This was not part of the motion but the Commissioners strongly encouraged the church to keep the parsonage residential. 


Morris/Dotterrer m/s to approve PA2006-00453 with the revised Conditions 2 and 3 and added Conditions 21 (as voted on above) and 22 (Stromberg’s wording above).  Roll Call:  The vote was unanimous to approve.


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 11:20 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary



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