Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, July 31, 2007





JULY 31, 2007


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

Commissioners Present:        


Council Liaison:

John Stromberg, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Mike Morris


Cate Hartzell, Council Liaison, present

John Fields

Pam Marsh



Olena Black


Absent Members (excused):


Staff Present:

David Stalheim, Community Development Director

Bill Molnar, Planning Manager

Melanie Mindlin

Dave Dotterrer

Tom Dimitre


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary














ANNOUNCEMENTS - There were no announcements



Stalheim said the Planning staff has been working on the ordinance amendments for quite some time.  It is important to the Planning Staff because they have to deal with the procedures day in and day out at the front counter. 


Stalheim gave a PowerPoint presentation that has been entered into the record.  He discussed:

Ø       Evolution of Proposal – How we got to where we are today.

Ø       Upcoming Process – Next Thursday, August 9th, there will be a public workshop in the Council Chambers to answer any questions from the public.  Stalheim has asked the public to submit written comments to him by August 20th.  Staff has a list of items they have identified, both internally and from the public. They anticipate having some recommendations for changes that will be at the public hearing.  The Planning Commission is welcome to attend the meeting on August 9th and/or meet with Stalheim one-on-one to discuss the changes.  The public hearing is scheduled for September 11th.  They will present the original draft with a list of the proposed changes Staff is recommending and perhaps some options for the Planning Commission to consider. 

Ø       Scope of Amendments

Ø       How to Read Draft Ordinance

Ø       Readability

Ø       Interpretation and Internal Consistency Issues

Ø       Policy Issues

Ø       Procedure Amendments

Ø       Expedited Land Division

Ø       Amended Type I Permits

Ø       Revised Type I Notice Process

Ø       Type I Appeal Process

Ø       Costs for Simple Hearing

Ø       Type II Permit Procedures

Ø       Type II Proposed Appeal Procedures

Ø       Ordinance Interpretations

Ø       Application Requirements

Ø       Options – The Commission can choose not to address some of the policy issues.  They could add other “trigger” mechanisms for Type II public hearings that were discussed at the June 26th Study Session.  The Commission could request that Staff develop options for identified subjects.

Ø       Action – At this time, it is recommended that we proceed to public input and hearing to get feedback before we deliberate, perhaps with direction to develop options for consideration at the public hearing.  Motion requested:  “Move to consider the proposed amendments to the Ashland Lane Use Ordinance and set a public hearing date on September 11, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.”



ART BULLOCK, 791 Glendower, said tonight’s packet is a classic example of how a small group of people control Ashland’s planning process.  The packet proposals are not a balanced set of changes nor are they in the public interest.  Every substantive change he has reviewed so far has the potential of increasing developer’s profits and government power at the expense of the public interest.  The packet doesn’t show the issues and options for changes to the code.  He submitted for the record, Issue #4, “Of the People” which includes articles on the proposal to start charging $250 for public hearings.  That has the affect of pushing away public speaking through the hearing process.  The proposals, if implemented, would dramatically change the face of Ashland and not for the better.  Public hearings on the ordinance changes have been scheduled after the decisions have been pre-made.  He suggested rather than charging $1000 for appeals (copying charges), refer people to the web (no charge).  Changes should be done based on an updated Comprehensive Plan done in the public interest. 


Stromberg restated that he thought Bullock was trying to say he would like to see for any given change, the issue articulated and then options for addressing the issue.


EVAN ARCHERD, 550 E. Main Street, expressed his appreciation for the work that has gone into this.  He has not had a chance to go through the changes in great detail.  With regard to Section 10, Drive-Up Uses, he does not believe anyone is in favor of expanding drive-up uses in Ashland, particularly in the Historic District.  He is aware of three drive-up uses currently in the Historic District.  We will never get anything else on the Wells Fargo site, for example, if we don’t allow that drive-up use to be transferred someplace else.  The Commission might want to think about allowing for existing drive-up uses to be relocated.  If we want to think about a more historic, useful structure being built on probably the most prominent site in Downtown Ashland (corner of Pioneer, Oak, Lithia Way and Main Street), then there may need to be some mechanism by which that drive-up use could be relocated.  It would provide encouragement to those users to rebuild their structure that might be more useful to our community. 


Stalheim said this is a larger issue policy issue than what we are taking on now.


Stromberg read the e-mail received from Colin Swales dated July 30, 2007. 


BRENT THOMPSON, 582 Allison Street, encouraged the Commission to move forward and get done what they can get done – to do the best they can.  He believes they have to make incremental changes.  If they get majority vote, send it through for the Council to review. 


Thompson commented on the following:

Ø       18.40.020 – Permitted Uses – The Commission should discuss if they want to have residential on the first floor in an E-1 zone.  If there are more than three units above the ground floor, an elevator is required.  . 

Ø       Percentage of lot coverage in PUD’s - Example on the extension of Nevada Street where it seemed the square footage the developer wanted to include could have been achieved if they just kicked more upstairs and shrunk the building envelope.  A common complaint he hears is that houses take up too much of the lot; there is no place kids to play.

Ø       Minor Land Partitions in existing parcels – Current language states that no lot can be created that is wider than it is deep.  Oftentimes the only way we are going to build a partition is if we end up with a little bit wider lot than it is deep.  In general, the intent of the wording was to stop the wide, land-consuming sprawled out parcel.     

Ø       Signs – There are still instances where they can have signs on three sides of a building.

Ø       Credit for on-street parking.  Currently it is prohibited in an area where the street width is not up to a standard.  Do we really care if the street is slightly narrower?  The intent of the credit was to recognize that people are parking on the street and going into that building.  Is the street an important criteria for excluding parking?



Fields commented on the corner curb setback.  He said Stalheim had explained that by changing it, it will allow us to have a broader sidewalk.  He thought the problem generally has been that often property lines are further back than the curb. Stalheim responded that they changed the measurement from the curb line rather than the property lines.  By allowing for vision clearance of both pedestrians and cars, no one will be penalized for having a wide sidewalk.  Stalheim met with the Public Works Director and City Engineers to review the change.  He wanted to make sure when we move the line from the property line to the curb line that we have adequate sight distance.  Fields is concerned we could be losing vision clearance that we may need in the future.


Fields asked if the hotel/motel definition is in essence saying we are going to allow traveler’s accommodations in C-1.   Stalheim said they pulled a definition out of a development guide that allows for transient accommodations or hotel/motel by Conditional Use Permit.  The criteria will be whether or not it is compatible with the neighborhood, not whether it has an outside entrance or a stove.


Fields referred to 18.24.048, Maximum Permitted Floor Area (MPFA) and attached accessory structures with a six foot separation and added breezeway.  If there is a breezeway, can the separation be less than six feet?  Assistant Planner Amy Anderson responded that if structures are six feet away, they can be connected with an unenclosed breezeway, and it is still not counted in the MPFA.       


Fields will make a list of other comments for Stalheim and send it to him.  For example, is it the Historic Railroad District or the Railroad Historic District?


Stalheim said the proposal is nothing more than what is here. 


Marsh noted that she’d met with Stalheim about her list.  She believes the biggest challenge is to contain ourselves to what is here and stick with these changes. 


Morris will meet with Stalheim. 


Black is confused about making the maps for the Comprehensive Plan official.  Stalheim said all the maps are existing and adopted through existing ordinances.  They are putting the maps on a parcel database.  We want to make sure what is depicted is what was originally adopted.


Black said when the Siegel report came back to us, she thought it was agreed it was time to clean up the code and do the housekeeping.  What she is hearing tonight is that it is really a nuisance to do the housekeeping because it makes it so onerous.  We are not even looking at the low-hanging fruit.  We’re not even making those nuisance petty changes and bringing in other changes, not even in the Siegel report.  


Stalheim said the Siegel report contained a lot of things within it.  Many of the issues that we are looking at are housekeeping issues.  Staff wrestles with these issues everyday at the counter. Siegel came in as an outsider, but he did not spend the amount of quality time that Staff does in dealing with these issues on a daily basis.  You can’t expect everything in the Siegel report to be the end of things.  Most of things Stalheim has pulled out in the memo are the more substantive issues that require some discussion because many of them have options that require discussion.


What about the typographic errors, punctuation, etc, Black asked.  Stalheim said if we are going to get to that level, maybe we should start over with the code.


Black referred to Stalheim’s summary memo outlining the changes.  She is concerned about R-2 and R-3 having accessory units.  She is not sure whether the intent of some of the ordinance changes meets the Comp Plan goals.  For example, she is concerned about the R-2 and R-3 having accessory units.  These issues need further discussion. 


Dawkins had no questions or comments.


Hartzell said in April of 2006 the Council asked for the Siegel report to come back to them and they had a discussion about whether to include policy changes.  They specifically asked for housekeeping changes.  If the Commission decides to tackle policy issues as part of this process, she would ask for a public forum first before the public hearing.  She would like a forum where Staff/Commission articulates to the public what is being changed.  Walk through the changes and give options, schedule meetings that will allow people to attend, and televise the meetings.  She wants to make sure the public knows what is happening and trust is built.  Stromberg followed up by saying the Commission could think of doing a more active outreach.  He would like to do a really good job at the public hearing and clearly distinguish items that have policy implications.  It’s hard to get the public involved in this because it seems so bureaucratic.


Fields said Staff is concretely trying to move forward.  We have an existing ordinance that is not perfect, but semi-functional.  The shear effort of re-writing the ordinance would require a Comp Plan re-write, but we don’t’ have the money or the time for it.  He sees the bigger picture – the political body has to struggle with defining how it is going to do business with what we have, without the privilege of going back and rebuilding the ideal thing.  It requires checking in and reflecting to make sure transparency is there and is it fair.  In his experience the process is quite fair in the community and there is a lot of access.  The system seems to be harassed by limited people holding the whole process to its detail.  The laws now on the books were made by people who were all good intentioned, using their best common sense and experience to solve growth issues.  Is this list too much to handle in a public hearing?  He believes there are going to be about a half dozen people who have concerns and those can be addressed.  If we throw this out, where will we go from here?


Stromberg said we need to remember that we are the Planning Commission talking via our liaison to the Council.  Whatever we do here is going to be wasted if it doesn’t make sense at the Council level.


Stalheim said the purpose of going to a public hearing is to get the public out first and find the hot spots.  After discussions with the public, we can start filtering out.  If the Commission wishes to push this to September 25th, that’s an option too.


Marsh agreed the public hearing is the right place to deal with these changes.   When you start reading the document, there is very little in it other than clarification.  This is about making it easier for people to understand the code – simplify it and clarify it.  The majority of this is just about language.  If there is a controversial part that deserves a little bit more focus, that discussion can occur during the public hearing process.  She would focus any outreach we do on letting people understand we are talking about some changes to the public hearing process; that is where we will get the most interest from people.  She would not support doing the broad kinds of public outreach.  Those types of open-ended forums should be reserved for much larger issues such as planning design workshops or things that will really compel people to come and invest their time.


Hartzell said she has looked at the section in the Staff memo concerning minor policy issues. The Commission can expedite the process and get through it pretty quickly if it is truly housekeeping.  Once they start getting into the policy issues, they are getting into it for the long haul.


Stromberg is inclined to move forward.  He would like to see some kind of statement telling people what we are trying to do along with using examples.  At the public hearing, we need to work hard to give the motivation for every change, and prepare the presentation so it is alive.  We want the lay person to be able to understand this.  He would like to see a tailored package that goes to the Council.


Marsh/Fields m/s to consider the proposed amendments to the Ashland Lane Use Ordinance and set a public hearing date on September 11, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.

Roll Call:  The motion carried with Fields, Marsh, Dawkins, Stromberg and Morris voting “yes” and Black voting “no.” 


Stalheim said there will be a second draft after August 28th that will be advertised on the City’s website.



Wetland and Riparian Inventory and Draft Ordinance – August 28th Study Session

Economic Opportunities Analysis – Public Hearing

Arterial Setbacks – September 25th

Wetland and Riparian Ordinance – Public Hearing in October


Stalheim mentioned the Planning Commission Goals are on the next Council agenda.  He encouraged Planning Commissioners to attend the September 4th meeting at the Council to discuss the Planning Commission Goals.


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

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