Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, October 23, 2007



OCTOBER 23, 2007



I.             CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chair John Stromberg at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR


Commissioners Present:        


Council Liaison:

John Stromberg, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Mike Morris

Tom Dimitre


Cate Hartzell, Council Liaison, present

John Fields

Pam Marsh



Dave Dotterrer

Melanie Mindlin

Absent Members:


Staff Present:

David Stalheim, Community Development Director

Bill Molnar, Planning Manager

Olena Black, excused


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary



               A.    Council Items – On November 27, 2007, there will be a possible report on the Wetland & Riparian Ordinance and the Croman Master Plan.  The arterial setback ordinance will be brought to a regularly scheduled meeting. 

                       B.    Roles and Responsibilities – Stromberg reported that the City Administrator is reviewing newly drafted language.  She will decide if it is ready to move onto the Council for their review. 


Recessed to honor David Stalheim.  Tonight is his last meeting.  The meeting reconvened at 7:15 p.m. 

Stromberg thanked Stalheim for his service, his hard work and willingness to push things forward, for bringing an outside perspective to planning along with his dedication and commitment to planning.  Stromberg noted how Stalheim has had an appreciation for his staff and their abilities.  Dotterrer added his appreciation for Stalheim’s unique organizational ability to listen to lots of people and issues and put it all together into a coherent form.



BRENT THOMPSON, 582 Allison Street, discussed the Safe Routes to School program.  The state has $3.7 million in grant money for improving safety on any of the pathways and walkways to school.  The program allows for planning of anything within two miles of school to increase the probability of children walking to school.  Whoever gets their request in first, gets the cash.  He encouraged the Commission to put this item on their list of goals by moving it forward and contacting the program administrator, Julie Yip, 503-986-4196, to find out what we need to do to make this happen.  Dotterrer said Traffic Safety has been working on planning for safe sidewalks.  Molnar said Derek Severson, Associate Planner, has been working on this too.


IV.           APPROVE AGENDA – Dotterrer/Dimitre m/s to approve the agenda.  Voice Vote:  The agenda was approved.



A.            PLANNING ACTION:  PA2007-01283

               APPLICANT:         City of Ashland

               DESCRIPTION:    Proposed amendments to the Ashland Land Use Ordinance implementing portions of the recommendations in the Land Use Ordinance Review prepared by Siegel Planning Services.  In addition other recommendations of the City Planning Director concerning land use decision-making procedures will be considered.  Proposed changes affect the following chapters of the Ashland Land Use Ordinance (Title 18):  Definitions, Districts and Zoning Map, Woodland Residential District, Rural Residential District, Single Family Residential District, Suburban Residential District, Low Density Multiple Family Residential District, High Density Multiple Family, North Mountain Neighborhood, Retail Commercial District, Employment District, Health Care Services Zone, Tree Preservation and Protection, Physical and Environmental Constraints, Southern Oregon University District, General Regulations, Site Design Review, Partitions, Parking, Sign Regulations, Procedures and Enforcement.


Note:  The public hearing and record have been closed.


Stalheim reviewed his memo dated October 15, 2007 memo outlining the work of the subcommittee.  In summary, if there any items on the list that the Commission would like to continue discussing, he suggested tabling those items tonight to a specific time and date.  This will allow the items to be continued without requiring re-noticing.  Be clear what is being left on the table and what is approved.


Dotterrer/Dimitre m/s to table 1) the proposed changes to residential ground floor in C-1 and E-1 zones, and 2) the proposed changes to Vision Clearance.  These items will be discussed at the February 26, 2008 Planning Commission Study Session, 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers.  Roll Call:  The motion carried unanimously.


With regard to the Procedures revisions, Stromberg noted at the last meeting the sense of the Commission was that the Procedures were acceptable, except they added a recommendation to the Council that the appeal fee should be set at zero.  And, wait to see if there are any problems concerning misuse of the appeals process before adding a charge.  Marsh clarified it is the appeals process for Staff approval to the Planning Commission and not a recommendation to change the appeal fee for a Planning Commission decision to the City Council.


Accessory Residential Units - Marsh questioned the Accessory Residential Unit (ARU) in R-2 and R-3.  It does not make sense to her to allow for an accessory residential unit up to 1000 square feet on a 5000 square foot R-1 lot, and yet in the R-2 (7500 square foot lot minimum) and R-3 zones (5000 square foot lot minimum) not be allowed an accessory residential unit.  Morris responded that the committee looked back at what the ARU was intended to do and at the Housing Needs Analysis.  We are looking at getting smaller units.  R-2 and R-3 are higher density multi-family zones.  If apartments are not going to be built on R-2 and R-3 then should 1000 square foot units be built?  Marsh argued that it can only be up to 1000 square foot.  It could include units less than 1000 square feet.  It is clearly secondary to the primary unit on the lot.  Morris said parking becomes an issue as two parking spaces are needed for anything more than 500 square feet. He looks at R-2 and R-3 not in density, but in number of units.  He believes it’s better to have more units at a smaller size.  Marsh believes there is more diversity with varying square footages.  Units over 500 square feet can be more flexible in size to accommodate more than one person.  Dawkins said instead of needing larger spaces, he believes we will be moving to smaller spaces. 


Molnar agreed it should be lowered to 500 square feet.  Historically, most of the accessory residential units that have been built in R-1 have been on lots between 7000 and 8000 square feet.  The ordinance was set up to allow R-1 lots that are oversized – not big enough to split – to have a second unit.  In R-2, once you go over 500 square feet, lot coverage requirements and parking will become an issue.  Under a Conditional Use Permit, issues like scale, bulk and coverage can be addressed.  In R-2 and R-3 they would be subject to Site Review.


Fire Truck Turnaround – Stalheim said the Oregon Fire Code Standard is 150 feet, however, to allow flexibility, wording was added to extend the turnaround to a distance of 250 feet in length (bottom of page 27 of Draft 3 – strikeout version)


Appeal Fee -18.108.070.B.2.c.i. – page 41 of Draft 3 – strikeout version - Dimitre noted the appeal fee language is still there.  He recalled the motion at the last meeting, was that the Planning Commission recommended that there be no fee.  It seems the Council should add the language back in if that is what they want.  Stalheim said no fees have been established because they are set by separate resolution or ordinance of the Council.  It does, however, allow for a placeholder.  Dimitre’s concern is that someone could read into it that there is a fee. His intention was that the language would not be there.  Dotterrer reads it that it authorizes the Council at a later date to establish a fee.  It would be better to leave the wording in if we think the Council may want to establish a fee.


Dimitre/Dawkins m/s to delete the last part of 18.108.070.B.2.c.i – “”be accompanied by a fee established pursuant to City Council action…” and c.ii.  Roll Call:  Dimitre, Dawkins, Stromberg and Mindlin voted “yes” and Morris, Fields, Marsh and Dotterrer voted “no.” The motion failed.


Fields/Dawkins m/s to recommend to the Council passage of this package of ordinance revisions. 



Dotterrer referred to page 2 and 4, Definitions.  The definition “Porous Solid Surfaces” should be changed to match the wording in “Coverage, lot or site” to “solid porous surfaces.” 


Dotterrer asked for an explanation of 18.08.74, Story (page 3, Draft 3 – strikeout version).  Stalheim said sometimes dormers will come out to the setback lines, but if  the dormer is taken out all the way to the edge so it is part of the wall, and if there is a requirement for an increased setback for multiple stories, then that should be considered a story for purposes of setback.  He said they are trying to make it clear that they cannot take advantage of the half-story definition and create a huge wall face along the setback line.


Temporary Uses.  Molnar explained there has always had a CUP for temporary uses in an E-1 and C-1.  Often, proposals for temporary uses in other zoning districts have come up; a use incidental, seasonal or subordinate to the permitted use.  This revision would allow some flexibility in the other zones to review a temporary use under a CUP process.


Retail Commercial District, Special Permitted Uses in C-1, 18.32.025 (page 13, Draft 3 – strikeout version) -   Units of less than 500 square feet shall count as .75 of a unit is language that was already in the multi-family zoning districts.  Some of the proposals in the Downtown and E-1 zones, applicants have been interested in providing smaller units because there was a need, but under our current ordinance, they would get docked for a full unit even if it was a full unit.  This won’t penalize someone for doing smaller units.


Appeal – 18.108.070.B.2.c.ii – This language is out of state law.  It is Stalheim’s understanding organizations exempted from the fee would have to be bona fide non-profit associations and recognized by the City.


Evidentiary Hearing – The purpose is to collect evidence by way of public input to find out what the neighborhood issues are.  The issues can get into the record and it allows Staff to respond.  It is not a mandated process, but an optional tool.  An alternative is a neighborhood meeting. 


De novo or on the record appeal to Council – Stalheim said sometimes a de novo hearing is selected because with the political process, the elected officials feel citizens can come before the Council unencumbered – they can come before them with no restrictions.  On the record, there will be restrictions.  De novo hearings can cure any procedural issues that occur at lower hearings.  In the proposed revisions there is wording to allow an “out” for the City Administrator if there are any procedural issues so they could do a limited de novo process.  The Procedures are written so the mayor or the council can set rules ahead of time regarding how an appeal would be done.  Most on the record appeals allow the parties to file written arguments and then allow the parties to the action.  Other people do not get to testify.  It would limit the action to what is in the record rather than allowing new evidence.


Stromberg said if an appeal is on the record, it makes the Planning Commission’s decision more important.


Dotterrer suggested amending 18.108.110A.4. by substituting the word “may” with the word “will.”    


Roll Call:  The motion carried unanimously. 



Stalheim gave a PowerPoint presentation reviewing the pros and cons and why he is recommending a hearings officer.


Stalheim said the Commission needs to prioritize their work.  He reiterated that if the Commission wants to do aggressive long-range planning, they need the time to spend on it.  It does not have to be permanent.  He believes a Design Review Board would be a positive option.  The officer usually charges a flat fee.


Dawkins said it’s been asserted that if the Commission did not hear all the actions, there would have more time to work on other things.  A couple of years ago, at the direction of Council, three members of the Planning Commission worked for over a year on developing a Downtown Plan that was rejected by the Council.  There seems to be a fundamental problem with visioning and he’s not so sure it’s directly related to the fact the Commissioners are reviewing planning actions.  By going through the cross-section of projects that come to them, they get the pulse of the community.  Planning is an art.  However, until we somehow have a clear vision from the Council, he would just rather not have a hearings officer.


Marsh lived in a community that had a Hearings Officer, an Architectural Review Board, and a Planning Commission.  The hearings officer, a planner (not an attorney), worked very well for their city and she could support that.  The recommendations passed tonight regarding Procedures is a baby step.  If the commissioners can let go of Hearings Board and put more decisions in the hands of Staff, over time, we will find out how comfortable we are with that.  Dotterrer agreed and will also wait and see what the Council does with the Planning Commission’s Roles and Responsibilities.  Dawkins concurred.


VII.         MEASURE 37/MEASURE 49

Stalheim put the Measure 49 language in the packet for informational purposes only.



Molnar reviewed the background for this upcoming ordinance.  Over the past month, while this has been delayed, he has had the opportunity to talk to members of the Technical Advisory Committee, and go out into the field to see how the proposed ordinance can be applied to actual creek environments or wetlands.  As a result, he is reformatting some areas of the proposed ordinance.  It is not ready this evening, so he is just going to give an overview of each section.  He would like the Commission to have a basic understanding of that they are doing prior to sending out a notice under the Measure 56 requirements.  The purpose is to draft a new chapter in the Land Use Ordinance.  Molnar gave a PowerPoint presentation.


Questions from Commissioners/Topics for Future Discussion

  • Density transfer that would compensate commercial owners for sitting next to mitigation areas.  To how many sites would this apply? 
  • State law allows communities to have alternative ways to determine where the buffer zone is in a riparian area.  What are the options?  Molnar said cities can include a 50 percent reduction in the setback and establish criteria.  If the applicant is willing, they can go to a more discretionary review. 
  • Should there be provisions to treat a subdivider differently than a single existing homeowner?

Contact Staff with additional comments, questions or concerns.


IX.           OTHER

Marsh read in the local newspaper that the Council has approved a Transportation Committee.  She wondered what kind of nexus we would like to have as a Planning Commission with that body.  She personally wrote to the Mayor suggesting the Planning Commission reserve one seat on the committee for communication purposes.


Stromberg reported that he had just attended a meeting that will start the revision of the Transportation System Plan and there is a whole process lined up to move ahead.  Does this have any connection to visioning/comprehensive plan process?  Stalheim suggested Stromberg speak with Paula Brown, Public Works Director.


X.            ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 9:40 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by,

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary


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