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Planning Commission

Tuesday, February 13, 2007




FEBRUARY 13, 2007



(Note:  The approximate time will be shown in brackets [ ] throughout the minutes in order to enable the reader to follow along with the video version of the meeting.) 


[00:00:00]  CALL TO ORDER Chair John Fields called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR.


Commissioners Present:           


Council Liaison:

John Fields, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Olena Black

Tom Dimitre


Cate Hartzell, absent

John Stromberg

Pam Marsh



Dave Dotterrer

Melanie Mindlin

Mike Morris


Staff Present:

David Stalheim, Community Development Director

Bill Molnar, Planning Manager

Absent Members:


Maria Harris, Senior Planner

No absent members


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary


ANNOUNCEMENTS There were no announcements.



January 9, 2007 Hearings Board Minutes:  Marsh/Dimitre m/s to approve.  Voice Vote:  The minutes were approved.  Morris commented that he is concerned that an accessory residential unit was approved at the Hearings Board but the gross habitable floor area was calculated a different way for the main house than it was for the accessory residential unit.  Will this set a precedent? 


January 9, 2007 Regular Meeting Minutes and Findings:   Marsh/Dimitre m/s to approve.  Voice Vote: The minutes were approved. 


January 23, 2007 Study Session:  Dotterrer/Dimitre m/s to approve.  Black added to Questions & Comments 13. “…and environmental science.”  Voice Vote:  The minutes were approved as corrected.


[00:09:00]  PUBLIC FORUM

Philip Lang, 758 B Street, discussed the condominium conversion ordinance. The ordinance has nothing to do with public policy, but market forces.  Lang submitted his written comments. 




SUBJECT PROPERTY: 720 Grandview Drive

OWNER/APPLICANT:  Lynn & Bill McDonald

DESCRIPTION:  Request for a Physical and Environmental Constraints Review Permit for development in the Wrights Creek Floodplain and Riparian Preservation Area for the improvement and widening of a portion of an existing driveway, re-grading of a portion of Grandview Drive and the extension of utilities to serve a new single-family residence.


Fields announced the public hearing has been closed on this action.



Harris said Staff has reviewed the materials that have been submitted and still believes the decision for the Commission is the Physical Constraints Review Permit outlined in the original Staff Report for the driveway and utility changes.  The bulk of the information received is the supporting documentation to the City Attorney’s memo on the legality of the lot.  It was submitted to make the record complete. 


[00:17:00] Harris read the four Conditions.

1.    All proposals of the applicant are conditions of approval.

2.    That an access easement for the portion of the driveway on the property to the east shall be recorded and submitted prior issuance of a building permit.

3.    That the area of disturbance for the private storm drain trench shall be landscaped to prevent erosion and shall be addressed in the landscape plan submitted with the building permit submittals.

4.    That a landscape and irrigation plan to re-vegetate the area between the driveway and the top of the bank shall be submitted with the building permit.  The landscaping shall be installed and irrigated prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. 

5.    That the storm drainage from the roof and driveway shall be directed to a retention and water quality treatment system including but not limited to a planter box, vegetative swale or a filter strip.  The retention and water quality treatment system shall be reviewed and approved the Ashland Engineering and Building Divisions. 


6.    That the public utilities shall be moved more than 20 feet from the top of bank from Wright’s Creek Drive.

7.    That an encroachment permit is obtained for work in the right-of-way.



Dawkins/Morris m/s to approve PA2006-01784 with the seven Conditions as outlined.  Roll Call:  Dawkins, Dotterrer, Mindlin, Marsh, Morris, Dimitre, Stromberg and Fields voted “yes” and Black voted “no.”  The motion carried.


[00:31:00]  PLANNING ACTION:  2006-02354 (CONTINUED)

SUBJECT PROPERTY: N. Main Street & Glenn Street

OWNER/APPLICANT:  Raymond J. Kistler Architecture

DESCRIPTION:  Request for Site Review approval to construct a two-story office building located on the vacant parcel at the southeast corner of the intersection of N. Main St. and Glenn St.  A Variance is requested to allow a 10-foot front yard setback where a 20-foot front yard for properties abutting arterial streets is required.  An Exception to the Street Standards is required to provide a curbside sidewalk on Glenn St.


Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts – Since the last meeting Stromberg, Black and Morris had another site visit.  Morris called Ray Kistler after the last meeting and apologized to Kistler for the lack of civility he was afforded at the last meeting.  They did not talk about the planning action.  No other Commissioners reported a site visit this month.


[00:35:00]  STAFF REPORT

Harris reported this action is continued from the January 9, 2007 Planning Commission meeting.  After reviewing the applicant’s request, she suggested the Commission focus on the Variance to the Special Setback Requirement.  Staff believes the site design standards have been met.  She showed the alternate site plan that changed the footprint of the building.


The Historic Commission’s original concerns have been remedied.  Their list of recommendations is in the packet.  They recommended approval of the revised proposal with the ten foot setback, but because they did not have enough design details, also recommended a condition that the plans with architectural details are submitted for review of the full Historic Commission prior to submission of the building permit application.    


[00:43:00]  Harris explained the Variance. 


[00:50:00]  Harris said if the Commission is moving toward approval, Staff is suggesting 19 Conditions with two added Conditions.

20.          That the recommendations of the Historic Commission with final approval of the Staff Advisor shall be incorporated into the building permit submittals.

21.          That the requirements of the Ashland Fire Department including fire apparatus access and fire hydrant flow requirements shall be satisfied prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy.


[01:00:00]  The Commissioners asked Staff questions.



[01:10:00]  ART BULLOCK, 91 Glendower, said he believes the alternate plan satisfies the code and the fact the revised plan exists means the Variance is self-imposed. The 12 percent grade is not a unique circumstance.  The negative impact is that with a ten foot setback, this will diminish the light, air and space, landscaping and pedestrian friendliness.  The Variance would set a precedent. He is supportive of the Historic Commission review of the details. 


[01:16:00]  JEROME WHITE, 253 Third Street, read from the LCDC Infill Redevelopment Handbook regarding variance criteria under Review Procedures.  He spoke about how applicants are required to maintain the historic façade line of streetscapes.  The Commission has to balance several issues.  He also read from The Pattern Language concerning building fronts, and light and air.  He showed the various building setbacks along North Main and if there is a 20 foot setback along North Main, seven buildings would have to be clipped and if there was a ten foot setback, only two buildings would have to be clipped if the street is ever widened.


[01:23:00]  COLIN SWALES, 461 Allison Street, believes the question is whether or not the ordinance should be obeyed.  He referred to the Historic Commission minutes stating that additional right-of-way for turning lanes at Wimer and North Main Streets might be needed someday.  He believes White took The Pattern Language discussion of light and air out of context. 


[01:27:00]  PHILIP LANG, 715 B Street, handed out his comments.  He believes the ordinance needs to be fixed and enforced.  Most of the buildings along North Main meet the 20 foot setback. He would recommend they only approve this application if it meets the code.


Rebuttal [01:34:00]

RAY KISTLER, 2025 Butler Creek Road, said the 20 foot setback on arterials has only recently come up.  The unique circumstance is this is a lot in the Historic District on North Main Street and somehow a 20 foot setback is being applied that came up in the 1960’s but not used to his knowledge for building along Main Street.  He would ask the Planning Commission make a determination on what kind of setbacks they would like to see on Main Street and Lithia Way as they reflect the community values.



Marsh/Mindlin m/s to approve the application (the revised plan that has been submitted, not the alternative plan) for Site Design, Variance to Street Standards, and Variance to the setback.  Marsh is satisfied the rendition presented is both high quality and satisfies the historical criteria imposed on the site.  She particularly likes the way the application treats the corner by opening up that area.  It is important this go back to the Historic Commission to let them look at the details.  With regard to the Variance to Street Standards and curbside sidewalks, this neighborhood has curbside sidewalks and it would not be appropriate to do anything else.  Concerning the Variance to the setback, variances are a matter of judgment.  There are variances because we want to be able to accommodate peculiarities of every site. 


Marsh addressed each criteria.  1)  Unusual circumstances –The historical overlay is significant and on a prominent corner and the design needs to relate to that.  The slope and the importance of access to the site from the back is an unusual circumstance.  2)  Negative impacts on adjacent uses – There are no negative impacts to surrounding uses because there is an historical pattern documented in the maps.  And, she believes having the buildings closer to the sidewalk is better for pedestrians, giving them a sense of safety.  It also mimics the historical pattern of the street.  3) Is it self-imposed?  The criteria does not say you have to prove you can’t do it another way.  We are looking for a way to accommodate good design and a way for the site to be able to relate to all the circumstances on the site.


Dawkins has a concern with the setback on North Main.  The historic houses were always along the west side of North Main and commercial development on the east side.  As a pedestrian, biker and runner, North Main is very unsafe.  A bike lane on either side of the road is essential for safety reasons for those that are trying to commute from other places (from the rest of the valley).  Dimitre agreed and believes the criteria for granting a Variance is a much higher standard than given in the motion as well as the building being too big for the lot. 


Mindlin sees a conflict in the rules.  There is a rule that there is supposed to be a 20 foot setback and there is a rule that says the application has to meet the historic façade.  Either way, a Variance will be needed.  The applicant has been guided by the Historic Commission and perhaps by Staff in determining that the historic façade line is at ten feet and that’s how the building should be designed. 


Fields believes North Main can’t be widened anyway, the 20 foot setback becomes a stumbling block, and therefore, the decision has already been made by the other buildings and the existing street width.  The historic compatibility and integrity is better served by making the building deeper front to back than it is wide.  It’s a balancing act.


Stromberg noted that a 20 foot setback is required.  There was a prior ruling by the City Attorney that the setback takes precedence over the historic design standard.  Nevertheless, the design standards are in place as an expression of something the community has decided and part of something the Commission is supposed to apply.


[02:02:00]  Roll Call:  Marsh, Dotterrer, Mindlin, Fields, Morris voted “yes” and Stromberg, Dawkins, Dimitre and Black voted “no.”


PA-2006-01787, 479 Russell Street has been postponed until March 13, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.  The Commission took a five minute recess.


[02:12:00]  PLANNING ACTION:  2007-00091

SUBJECT PROPERTY: 165 Lithia Way & 123 N First Street

OWNER/APPLICANT:  Archerd & Dresner LLC & Redco Development LLC

DESCRIPTION:  Request for Subdivision approval of an eight-lot subdivision consisting of seven lots for future development and an eighth commonly-owned lot to accommodate landscaping, parking and circulation, for the properties located at 165 Lithia Way and 123 North First St.  Site Review approval is requested for the proposed parking lot and perimeter landscaping.  A Tree Removal Permit is requested to remove four trees six-inches in diameter at breast height and greater in size.  [Note: This application is similar to a proposal under the Performance Standards Options chapter 18.88 on last month's agenda, but a new application has been submitted for consideration under the Subdivision chapter 18.80.]  


Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts – Stromberg, Dimitre, Dawkins and Fields had a site visit.  Dotterrer, Marsh, Morris and Mindlin had no change from last month’s site visits.  Black took measurements on the site.   


[02:14:00]   STAFF REPORT

Severson said the applicants withdrew their application from last month and are now requesting a Subdivision.  The changes are outlined in the Staff Report. Staff is recommending approval with the 20 attached Conditions.


Molnar said forty-three units are based on a large amount of common area and distributing density throughout the seven lots.  Continuing through the standards, if the total number of residential units exceeds ten, then the affordability criteria comes into play.  Staff’s feeling is if the applicants are going to compute density based on the entire lot area and use the common area, if the density exceeds ten units, then they should be required to provide a proportionate amount of affordable housing.  He suggested a Condition should be added that there needs to be some kind of legal instrument prepared by the applicant’s legal counsel, prior to recording the subdivision plat that would make allowances as to where the affordable units would be provided and how they would be phased in. 


Severson said the maximum build out of the lots will be determined by parking available at Site Review.   The applicants could build underground parking if they choose to do so.  The applicants are looking to preserve their options for development down the line. 


Stalheim said most often Variance criteria are applied to lots or circumstances that were created prior to the establishment of the standards.  In this case, clearly the standards for parking and other things are in place.  He does not think there is any way the Variance criteria could be met or have any support for approval. 


Molnar said if the applicants wanted to pull the lot line closer to First Street and still meet the setback, Staff would not be opposed.



[02:36:00]  MARK KNOX, 320 East Main Street, Suite 202, said 43 units is what the density allows, however, they believe because of parking demands they will probably build between 20 and 25 units with approximately three to four to a lot -- they want to have flexibility.  They are trying to set up a situation where there are many lots with individual owners that will end up reflecting what happened in downtown naturally without all these code requirements.  They are not asking for any exceptions. 


Stromberg asked if the applicants would be willing to accept a Condition that would prohibit combining lots.  Knox thought the applicants would be willing.  He added there is no intention to make one monolithic lot. 


With regard to the affordable housing issue, Knox doesn’t know of any other subdivision requiring affordable housing.  How will they allocate them? 


Knox said walkways will extend in multiple directions through the property.  They are not proposing underground parking. 


Dawkins hoped the applicants would find a way to develop within each of these buildings small studio apartments – like the type of studios that used to be in the downtown. 


Marsh asked if they had been in contact with the neighbor (K. Spierings) who is concerned about the fence.  Knox said the wall and fence are non-conforming and they plan to leave it alone.


Marsh wondered if Knox had addressed any possible parking conflicts.  Knox said the parking will presumably be signed.  He is hoping, however, the parking will be utilized to its full potential all the time.  Marsh asked if it was necessary to lock the alley that ends on Lithia Way that cuts through the buildings.  Knox understands they’ve had a lot of problems with the walkway next to Gold and Gems on the Plaza and it seems safer to lock it. 


Stromberg asked if it will be possible for residential units and parking spaces to be able to be bought and sold between the owners of the different properties as long as the total numbers stay the same.  Knox expected that would happen depending on the different uses and demands.  They want the buildings to recycle to whatever the market is demanding at a particular time. 


[02:57:00]  Dotterrer suggested adding wording to Condition 18:  That the CC&R’s shall describe responsibility for maintenance of both common areas and the reallocation of parking spaces between lots.  Knox recommended changing Condition 21 after “eight spaces each.”  Add:  Parking may be transferred from one lot to another. 


[03:00:00]  Dawkins/Fields m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved.


Molnar read from 18.32.025 D5.  It states if the number of residential units exceeds ten, then at least ten percent of the residential units shall be affordable.  This seems open to interpretation.  If no one does subsurface parking, there would be 15 to 20 units because parking will be the limiting factor. 


[03:08:00]  COLIN SWALES, 461 Allison Street, believes this project is more in keeping with the Historic District and downtown than the last project proposed for this site.  He believes the easement through the parking lot would have to be renegotiated with the City.   He would like to see the easement between the two lots (alleyway) kept open because it creates a nice shortcut.  The buildings could be quite large.  The units can be anything from a studio to a large penthouse condominium.  He would like a Condition that buildings be developed as individual units.  He doesn’t want to see someone buying the whole lot and building one monolithic building. He’d like a Condition that each of these units has separate utilities to it so they remain individual buildings.


[03:13:00]  RON ROTH, 6950 Old 99 South, has seen a lot of the downtown affordable rental units lost due to gentrification.  He thinks underground parking should be revisited, perhaps through a public/private partnership. He would e Helike to see the setback issue settled on the entire north side of Lithia Way. 


[03:20:00]  Staff Comments

Severson stated the Tree Commission’s recommendations are in the packet.  He proposed adding wording to Condition 14:  That revised Landscaping and Irrigation Plan “and Tree Protection Plan” shall be submitted…survey plat. 


Molnar suggested wording for Condition 25:  That a legal instrument binding the subdivision to the residential requirements set forth in 18.32.025(D)5 shall be prepared by the applicant’s legal counsel for review by the Staff Advisor and approval by the City Attorney.  The agreement shall be recorded with the subdivision plat specifying how the applicant’s obligations under 18.32.025(D)5 shall be guaranteed and fulfilled.


Stromberg asked if there was a way to condition the project to prevent the lots from being re-combined into one big lot.  Molnar said lot consolidation is an option for any owner, however, any building will be subject to Site Review.  The applicant could so stipulate.


[03:28:00]  Rebuttal

Knox reminded the Commission that every project will come back in front of the Planning Commission for Site Review.  He believes the mass and scale will be limited by widths being applied to the lots.  He believes it is a stretch to say the property owners are now subject to affordable housing. 


EVAN ARCHERD said he believes there is a much simpler solution for the affordable housing and that is:  If any of these property owners build more than four units of residential housing on any one of these lots, they will guarantee at least one will be affordable. 


[03:33:00]  Fields closed the public hearing.  Dawkins/Marsh m/s to extend the meeting past 10:30 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved. 



[03:33:00]  Black/ Dotterrer m/s to accept project PA2007-00091 with the addition of the language for Condition 14 adding “Tree Protection Plan,”  the addition of Condition 25 with Molnar’s wording, and Condition 21 regarding transfer of parking. 


The Commissioners discussed Condition 21.  

With regard to the entire project, Morris believes this project as an inefficient use of this property.  We are driving ourselves the wrong way.  By breaking this parcel up into several parcels, we’ll have a bunch of small buildings.    


[03:49:00]  Black clarified that the motion is to have Condition 21 written by Assistant City Attorney, Richard Appicello clearing up any ambiguity by stating that the parking is flexible in how it is allocated, in accordance with the ordinance discussing joint use of facilities. 


[03:51:00]  Harris said the parking issue is most critical when the project is initially built out.  The applicant should be responsible for coming up with and managing the parking before the plat is signed and that information communicated to property owners.  She thought a simpler Condition 21 would be:  That a parking management and allocation plan be submitted for review and approval for Staff before signature of the final survey plat and recorded with the plat.  Then, that plan is communicated to property owners who buy the properties.    


Appicello agreed with Harris’ wording.  He said if the code changes, new property owners will develop in accordance with the code that is in place at the time they develop.  This should be included in the Findings.


[03:57:00]  Dotterrer/Marsh m/s to accept Harris’ wording to Condition 21.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous. 


The Commissioners discussed Conditions 24 and 25 concerning affordable housing.

Appicello said none of the residential standard (18.32.025(D)5 will come into play until the lots are developed.  This is a subdivision.  He’s not sure it can be applied to the whole property.  Applying affordable housing would come with the subsequent approval and not at this time. 


[04:10:00]   Stromberg/Black m/s to extend the meeting to 11:30 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved.


The Commissioners decided to take the applicant’s offer  for affordable units (anything more than four residential units, the fifth will be affordable).  Molnar said Appicello was providing an option that would allow the applicants to take an individual lot and through an owner’s agreement, apportion one-seventh of the common area for the purpose of determining residential density. 


Marsh said if we eliminate Condition 24, then the affordable issue is moot.  The affordability was triggered because they were allocating residential density ahead of time. 


Stalheim said the applicants proposed that if there are more than four residential units on a lot, the fifth will be affordable.  If so, it can fall under Condition 1, that all proposals of the applicant are conditions of approval. 


Appicello said Condition 24 can be deleted and then accept the applicant’s proposal. 


Condition 24:  The Commission is asking Staff to wordsmith it with the intended goal  to not leave a vested interest of amount but make it clear that they want an allocation over the entire site for whatever the allowable density is to be distributed at the time of building.


[04:17:00] Severson suggested adding wording to the first sentence of Condition 24 at the end of the sentence: “subject to density regulations at the time of development.”  In other words, we can allocate now as long as the applicants are aware it is subject to density regulations at the time of development. 


Dotterrer/Black m/s to accept Severson’s language.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous.


Marsh reiterated that she would like to see the alleyway kept open all the time.  It is a great transition between downtown and the neighborhood.  It’s very visual and until there is some indication from the police that there is a problem, she believes it is a mistake to cut off our byways.  This project has the possibility for changing the way people move around downtown. 


Stromberg/Black m/s to call for the question.  Voice Vote:  Approved.  Roll Call:  Unanimous. 


[04:23:00]  ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 11:25 p.m. 


Respectfully submitted by,

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary




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