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Planning Commission

Tuesday, March 11, 2008



MARCH 11, 2008



1.            CALL TO ORDER

Chair John Stromberg 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 Stromberg, Chair

Dave Dotterrer


Cate Hartzell, Council Liaison, absent due to quasi-judicial items

Michael Dawkins



Mike Morris


Staff Present::

John Fields


Bill Molnar, Community Development Director

Pam Marsh


Derek Severson, Associate Planner

Melanie Mindlin


Richard Appicello, City Attorney

Absent Member:  Tom Dimitre, excused


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary


2.            APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Stromberg said the first item of business after Public Forum will be to adopt the change to the Planning Commission Rules. 


It was announced at the Hearings Board that Planning Action 2008-00182, 500 Strawberry Lane, would be heard at tonight’s meeting.  Affected property owners and interested parties were contacted by phone and e-mail.  The hearing is scheduled as the second public hearing this evening. 


Fields/Dotterrer m/s to approve the agenda.  Voice Vote:  Approved.


3.            ANNOUNCEMENTS

Molnar announced the Council will be deliberating on the Land Use Ordinance amendments at a special study session on Monday, March 17, 2008. 


The next two public workshops for the Croman Mill Redevelopment site will be held Wednesday and Thursday, March 19th and 20th at the Bellview Grange at 7:00 p.m.  Both are general meetings open to the public, however, on Thursday the Planning Commission and City Council have been invited to be first to ask questions of the consultants.


4.            CONSENT AGENDA

a.            Approval of Minutes:         February 12, 2008 Planning Commission Minutes

                                                                              February 26, 2008 Planning Commission Study Session Minutes


Mindlin/Dotterrer m/s to approve the consent agenda.  Voice Vote:  Approved.


5.            PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak.



               a.            PLANNING ACTION:  2008-00053

SUBJECT PROPERTY: 201 South Mountain Avenue

APPLICANT:  Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture AIA

DESCRIPTION:  Request for Site Review approval to construct an approximately 19,375 square foot auxiliary gym and music suite addition on the Ashland High School campus located at 201 South Mountain Avenue.  The application proposes demolition of the existing 10,800 square foot auxiliary gym building and of the 5,600 square foot music suite; renovation of the 22,024 square foot main gym building; and a reconfiguration of the parking area located to the east of the existing gym building.  The net increase in building area is 2,975 square feet.  The application also includes a request for a Variance to the required sideyard setback along South Mountain Avenue; the applicants propose to construct a ramp, stairs and landings to the property line where a minimum ten-foot sideyard setback is required. 


Ex Parte Contact/Bias/Conflict of Interest/Site Visit

Marsh walked through the campus a few times since the last meeting.  Dotterrer and Fields had a site visit but no ex parte contacts.  Morris attended a couple of basketball games in the gym since the last meeting.  Dawkins has run through the area since the last meeting, but had no ex parte contacts.  Mindlin and Stromberg had no ex parte contacts.  Stromberg viewed the existing building from S. Mountain Avenue.


There were no challenges of bias or conflict of interest.



Severson reviewed the application and items from last month.  The existing parking situation is an item that stood out to Staff.  The Site Review Chapter looks at bringing a non-conforming situation (parking) into conformance proportionate to the building addition.  The building addition is relatively small at 1.5 percent.  The applicants have argued and Staff concurs that by reconfiguring the parking area to meet standards, by improving the landscaping, and the presentation of the building to the street, Staff’s concerns have been met.   The Staff Report discusses the amount of existing parking being less than the amount needed for the stadium and gym, however the use is not being intensified and there is no increase in parking demand so Staff is not requiring anything additional to address the parking. 


Severson suggested removing Condition 4 requiring the stadium and gym not be used concurrently.  However, Staff wouldn’t want to preclude having a gym class in the gym and PE class on the stadium field.  Is there a way to avoid conflicting peak demand situations while still allowing the facilities to be used?


The applicants submitted a site circulation plan since last month.  They are showing accessible routes coming from the reconfigured parking area, bike access, additional bike parking, secondary and primary entries.  They are proposing landscape upgrades including trees along Mountain Avenue. 


Severson would also recommend removal of Condition 8E (duplicates 7G).  With those changes, Staff would recommend approval with the attached Conditions.


Stromberg noted that there was an evidentiary public hearing held on February 12, 2008.



Ken Ogden, Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture, AIA, 2950 Barnett Road, Medford, OR  97504, stated the design came after several months of intensive input from teachers, administrators and community members.  Ogden discussed all of the positive aspects of the application and how they feel they achieved spaces that exemplify and are conducive to the educational process. 


JULI DICHIRO, Superintendent of Schools, 885 Siskiyou Boulevard, reiterated Ogden’s comments.  One of the criteria for the architects was to make the current gym a better educational space as well as a great place to see a game.  The goal of the PE program is to promote lifelong fitness.  She re-emphasized the amount of public input they have had throughout the process. 


DiChiro added that they would feel comfortable not exceeding the capacity (3000 people) of the stadium with any combined usages.  Currently, the stadium is used about five times a year for football games. If a turf field replaces the football field in the future, there would be a lot more use by community groups and high school functions.  She could envision a Pop Warner football game going on at the same time as a play in the theater.  She feels comfortable assuring the Commission that they would not exceed the stadium capacity they have now.  They would like the flexibility to use a variety of venues as long as the capacity limit is not exceeded.


Marsh asked if the bus parking would be left right in front of the new door on Mountain Avenue. DiChiro said they could use the bus loop closer to the Administration Building.  Marsh expected that a lot of the drop-off and pick-up would happen on Mountain Avenue in front of the new door.  Are the three parking spaces adequate for the drop-off and pick-up?  Ogden said they haven’t had any input from the Staff.  The campus entrance will be retained. 


JEFF SCHLECT, 489 Friendship Street, Principal of Ashland High School, said he would like the buses to be parked further down the street (north) with pick up and drop off in front of the new Mountain Avenue space. 


Schlect added that even with the combined theater and gym activities, they have not been anywhere near capacity.  Typically, only the home football games would meet capacity.  He assured the Commission they would not schedule anything on those days. 


KATE KENNEDY, 495 Poplar, teacher at AHS, said she is interested in the front entrance too.  She thinks it will be helpful being able to have people enter the building on both sides.  .


Questions of Staff – There were no questions.


Rebuttal – No comment.


Stromberg closed the public hearing and the record.


Staff Comment – Molnar said, though the Staff Report can be dry as they try to identify applicable standards, Staff is excited about this project and believes it exemplifies the pride the community has in their academic and civic institutions.  He commended the applicant, their team and community for putting forth a design for this building that it long deserved.  It meets the community standards for orienting it toward the street as well as the internal parts of the campus, and is a going to be a great asset for many years to come.  This is a design that has taken into account the City standards as well as the community process.



It was agreed that Condition 4 and 8E should be removed.


Marsh suggested a Condition 8E that the applicant shall present a plan for pick-up and drop-off on the Mountain Avenue frontage prior to occupancy.  She would like something submitted to Staff before the building is used that says how the pick-up and drop-off will be used and where the buses are going to park.  Molnar said it is part of “adequate transportation.” 


Morris has an issue with maintenance of the landscaping.  He thinks that Condition 7D would cover it, but wanted to bring it up as a concern.  Dawkins agreed.  Molnar said there is a standard in the Site Review Chapter that all landscaping be maintained in accordance with the applicant’s plan.  The Commissioners agreed that a Condition should be added to re-state the landscape maintenance requirement. 


Dottorrer/Morris m/s to approve 2008-00053 with the removal of Condition 4 and Condition 8E.  Add a Condition that the plan for pick-up and drop-off on Mountain Avenue be provided for Staff review and approval prior to occupancy.  Add a Condition 7D-4 that landscaping be installed prior to occupancy and maintained in perpetuity.


Adoption of Findings

Dotterrer/Morris m/s to approve the findings for PA2008-00053 with the removal of Condition 4 and 8E and in the inclusion of the new 8E (circulation) and the condition on landscape maintenance.


b.            PLANNING ACTION:  2008-00182

SUBJECT PROPERTY: 500 Strawberry Lane

APPLICANT:  McLellan, Robert & Laura

DESCRIPTION:  Request for Outline Plan Approval to allow a six-lot, five-unit subdivision under the Performance Standards Options Chapter for the property located at 500 Strawberry Lane.  The application also requests a Physical & Environmental Constraints Review Permit for Development of Hillside Lands, a Tree Removal Permit to remove 13 trees six-inches in diameter at breast height (d.b.h.) or larger, and an Exception to Street Standards to allow the applicants to end street improvements at the driveway of Lot 5 rather than extending them to the southern boundary of the project.


Ex Parte Contact/Bias/Conflict of Interest/Site Visit

Marsh, Morris, Dawkins and Stromberg were a part of a site visit with Staff.  Morris built a house for the current owners and worked for the Shostrom Brothers three or four years ago.  Dawkins has been a friend of a neighboring property owner, Karen Darling, for 20 years.  He runs in the area frequently and has talks with Darling about the development in her area.  He called her to find out if she had signed off on all the items in the packet.  She left a message for Dawkins that she was resigned to the fact that it was going to be developed.  He’s comfortable with that and thinks his bias has been remedied.  Mindlin had a site visit on her own, and walked the pedestrian trail on the property.  Dotterrer and Fields had no site visit or ex parte contact. 


Appicello asked if Morris and Dawkins are prejudice or if they have pre-judged this application based upon their prior contacts or involvement, and can they make the decision based upon the facts as applied to the law in this application?  Morris said he could and Dawkins agreed


There were no challenges of bias or conflict of interest.




Severson showed an aerial photo of the site containing the six lots.  He reviewed the application as outlined in the Staff Report.  The applicants are proposing to create six lots, five of which would contain homes.  They are proposing to move the existing gate at the end of Hitt Road 30 to 40 feet to the south to accommodate a driveway.  The applicants are proposing an Exception to Streets Standards to not improve the Hitt Road right-of-way to full City street standards all the way to the south property line.  The applicant is also proposing an elevation height limit that the applicant will explain to the Commissioners. 


Staff had two issues with the application.  The application seems fairly straight-forward in terms of the subdivision in that the density of the site is not being exceeded.  They are not requesting any kind of density bonus.  The lots are generally larger than the minimum size.  The applicants, of their own accord, identified Lot 6 on the steepest portion of the property to preserve in open space as commonly owned area to protect it from further development because of the slope. 


The applicants had proposed some solar envelopes in designing the project.  (See pages 4 and 5 of the Staff Report.)  Some of the solar access envelopes may exceed the requirements for one or potentially two of their lots.  Staff did not believe the ordinance gives leeway to do that without requesting a Solar Variance.  Severson has included a Condition to state:  “That all the lots will be subject to solar access standard “A” unless the applicant either provides evidence that they have a downward trending slope to the north of more than 15 percent (subject to Class “B”) or that they request a Variance at the time of Final Plan approval.   


The houses have been staggered and they have tried to minimize tree removal and driveway slopes, etc.


Another item for discussion is the Exception to Street Standards request.  The applicants are proposing to remove the existing gate and place it about 30 to 40 feet up the road where they would install a driveway apron.  Any necessary improvements up to the driveway would be completed, transitioning the street and sidewalk to the driveway.  Beyond the driveway, the applicants are proposing to have the gate and no further improvements.  The gate really restricts the use of the road to strictly vehicle access to the City owned water tower above.  There are some fairly steep cut slopes along the road currently.  Installation of further street improvements and sidewalk would necessitate significant impacts to that those areas when the applicants are trying to protect them from development with the sixth open space lot.


Morris was questioned the slope of Lot 6 (referring to it as a “tract”).  Severson explained that outright open space is required on developments of less than ten units.  Severson said the applicants could have potentially sought a density bonus to get an additional lot, but chose not to. The applicant has recognized that the steep slopes are a significant natural feature that they would like to see preserved.


Molnar said he recalled when Park Estates was developed on upper Morton, there were a few tracts that were unbuildable and they put them in open space.  Generally, there are costs associated with fuel management over time and the tracts are put into common area in order to distribute the costs among home owners. 


Severson said further development of other lots in the area would be to the south and would be severely limited due to the hillside grades. 


Marsh asked where the Dimino property is located.  Severson said they live directly across from Lot 1 at the intersection of Strawberry and Hitt Road.



MARK KNOX, 700 MISTLETOE ROAD, Suite 204, introduced his clients, LAURA AND ROBERT MCLENNAN, LAURIE SAGER, Landscape Architect, and the rest of his team, Mark Amhrein, Geotechnical Engineer, and Mark Kamaranth, Civil Engineer.


Knox said they started with the following goals:  1) To create a subdivision that could be seen as a positive hillside development that meets the intent of the Hillside Ordinance,  2) what mistakes did others make in the neighborhood that they could improve upon, and 3) to create a subdivision that does not impact the existing neighborhood or each other.


Stromberg asked if they disagreed with anything Staff brought up.  Knox said they are basically on the same page. 


Knox said the applicants are proposing an average height of homes of about 28 feet or 25 percent less than what is required.  They have capped the houses below each house from the houses above.  They have tried to tone down the massive rooflines, hopefully make a more horizontal profile.  They reduced the density, added some deed restrictions that were not required.  They have addressed light and glare, the use of glaring materials and sprinklers.


Knox explained how they have increased the setbacks significantly.  The zoning has a 20 foot front yard setback, five foot side yard and ten foot rear yard setback.  The setbacks range from 24 to 40 feet in order to retain the views for the neighbors.


The Tree Preservation plan shows the building envelopes have been curbed all around the significant trees.  Of the 72 trees over six inches in diameter, they will remove 13.  The ordinance says if you show a tree in an envelope, you are supposed to say you are going to remove it.  They are not, however, planning to remove any trees.  They have tried to provide enough flexibility within the envelopes that they hope future homeowners/contractors will find ways to work around the trees.  The only time trees will be removed, is if a property owner proposes to move a tree because their home is located in the envelope area and then they will have the option to do so. 


Knox said the caps on the heights are somewhat self-imposed.   They needed to know where the driveways would be cut and where they would end up.  They wanted to make sure they were not creating an engineering nightmare or an impossible situation where they couldn’t meet the requirements.  The desire is not to have happen what happened at 360 Strawberry.


They have agreed to reduce additional fuels in the area.  They have a plan approved by the Fire Dept. 


Solar Access  

They are basing everything on the location of the property line.  The setback on the side of Lot 2 is showing a 30 foot setback.  They plan to move the building envelope ten more feet, using Standard A, and giving the property owner more flexibility, perhaps forcing more earth disturbance. 


Lot Coverage

The applicants are proposing 20 percent lot coverage based upon the entire property including the open space.  Some lots may be over and some under.  They are asking for the additional coverage to go to other lots.  For example, recognizing one of the neighbor’s (Darling) needs, the envelope will be pulled way back and the driveway will create more lot coverage. 


Knox realizes that a neighboring property owner, Mrs. Dimino, has a couple of issues.  The gate at the driveway is hugging the edge of the driveway.  The applicant is proposing moving the gate an additional 20 to 25 feet up the road to allow for cars to turn around or park and not block the driveway. 


Marsh asked Knox to respond regarding the Building 1 envelope.  By compensating for Mrs. Darling’s property, it pushes the building envelope within ten feet of Hitt Road.  Ten feet is a much smaller setback than anyplace else in this area.  Knox said the lot is a half acre and is still big enough to accommodate all sorts of designs and shapes of houses.  They would not have a problem if the Planning Commission would like to adjust the setback.


Sager said she did a site visit with Jessie Blue, building designer that came up with the conceptual buildings for the site.  Building envelope 1 is a gorgeous place for a home.  It did not feel to her like the home would be sitting on a precipice.



CATHERINE DIMINO, 423 Strawberry Lane.  Mrs. Dimino is using Lou Dimino’s five minutes to speak.  She submitted written materials that were distributed to the Commissioners.  She said the building envelopes are too restricted.  In general, the larger the building is, the more creativity the owners will have to build a more interesting design.  A smaller envelope will restrict that ability.


Dimino believes it is unnecessary to give the various lots larger lot coverage.  There is plenty of room to adjust the lines.  She said the ordinance states 20 percent lot coverage for the lot, not the project.


She mentioned moving the gate.  There are always people parking on the common driveway for Strawberry Meadows that won’t be able to park there once it is developed. 


Dimino is primarily concerned with Lot 1.  The conceptual design pushes the design closer to Hitt Road.  She would like to see the envelope along Hitt be moved to the West and a reduction in lot coverage.  If the envelope is expanded, she doesn’t necessarily mean she wants any trees removed.


Lou Dimino said the sidewalk should be extended to the new gate location and a small distance beyond because people use this for passage for hiking and it is always difficult to get around the gate.


ALEX KNECHT, 181 Birdsong Lane, stated he was a participant in the development of Strawberry Meadows.  He does not oppose the development.  He said a trail skirts the applicant’s property and it is well used.  He suggested a trail from a part of the property up to Hitt Road (approximately 50 feet) for those that don’t want to hike up a very steep trail.


Since developing his property, Knecht believes the applicant is smart in trying to establish the 20 percent lot coverage from the beginning. 


Questions of Staff

Dotterrer asked what the ordinance says regarding the 20 percent lot coverage for the entire property.  Molnar read a portion of the definition of Lot Coverage.  In practice, it has been an option for a development early on to look at the coverage of an entire site.  Quail Haven is an example that calculated lot coverage based on the entire parcel.  Molnar said it is important to look at the Purpose of the Performance Standards.  There could be a situation where clustering of homes might be fine, or it might be less appropriate based on the development pattern in the neighborhood. 


Severson asked the applicant has given a square footage allocation to each lot showing total coverage of the subdivision is 20 percent at Final Plan submittal. 


Dotterrer asked what the argument is against making the building envelopes as large as possible.  Molnar said in hillside areas where there is a concern for reducing the impact on trees, steep slopes, increasing driveway cuts, etc., it is more desirable to have a smaller building envelope.  With regard to Lot 1, the main issue would be protecting trees in the area.  It seems the applicant has worked with an adjoining neighbor to try to move the envelope.  Molnar said the establishment of the building envelope generally falls under review of the natural features of the site.  Has the applicant adequately preserved those?  One way is by fine tuning of the placement of the envelopes.  In this case, it seems there is some flexibility with moving the envelope on Lot 1 and a finding can still be made. 


Severson said the height elevation limit of Lot 5, is misstated on the February 19th submittal.  He believes the finished floor level is 2,449 feet, not 2,443 feet.  He would like the applicant to comment


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


Molnar said if the Commission believes it is an issue, they might want to find out how the applicant is planning to accommodate guest parking.  Stromberg noted the public hearing is still open and it might be advisable to give people an opportunity respond to this potentially new information.


Fields asked if the access to Lot 1 committed to how it is shown on the subdivision plan.  Severson said he believes the slopes are upwards of 35 percent for the road cut.  It would be a bigger disturbance than following the contours and would have to be 35 feet from the intersection.


Marsh wondered if there is anyplace for hikers to park.   Molnar thought Hitt Road is 20 feet wide.  If it becomes problematic and a concern of the Fire Department and people are parking on a 20 foot wide street, there could be a request for No Parking signs. 


Molnar said the remainder of the street past the gate has to be installed to City street standard that might allow some space for on-street parking.  He is not certain if that deals with the issue.  It’s fair to look at a better option.  If the majority of the Commission believes guest parking has not been addressed to their satisfaction to approve the Exception, they can ask for additional information.  There might be allowances for guest parking on the individual lots.  Dotterrer asked under what criteria is the applicant required to provide parking for hikers?  Molnar had been speaking about guest parking.  Additional homes off Hitt Road will draw more people possibly creating a situation where people will park on Hitt.  They are requesting an Exception.  The current Street Standards allow the Commission to require street improvements that allow for on-street parking that would speak to that concern.


Stromberg asked if there was anyone that participated in the hearing that would like to rebut any of the facts that were disclosed in the discussion.   


KNECHT clarified that his development did not have the lot coverage for the entire parcel in place.  They had to implement it after the fact because of the constraint the lot and 20 percent coverage.  Parking at the top of Hitt is going to be a problem.


APPLICANT’S REBUTTAL – Knox said the lot envelopes are large enough to accommodate guest parking in the individual driveways.  Bird Song Lane provides an opportunity to park and walk. 


Lot 1 is extremely steep.  The first design they did was unworkable. 


Knox responded to Dimino’s concerns.  The building envelope for Lot 1 is more than adequate.  The width of the envelope (east/west) is 50 feet and north to south is 110 feet.  At the narrowest point closest to Mrs. Darling’s house, is about 30 feet.  He said the applicants are requesting only what has been allowed by adjacent subdivisions. 


Dawkins/Dotterrer m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m.  Roll Call:  The motion carried with Dawkins, Morris, Marsh, Mindlin, Dotterrer and Stromberg voting “yes” and Fields voting “no.” 


Stromberg asked if anyone wished to request either the public hearing or record be kept open for seven days.  The public hearing is continued to a date certain.  Dimino asked the public hearing be left open for seven days.  Stromberg said the Planning Commission has the option of keeping the public hearing or record open for seven days. 


Knox asked the applicant be given seven days to respond if there additional written arguments submitted.


Fields/Morris m/s to close the public hearing and keep the written record open for seven days.  Voice Vote:  The motion carried with Morris, Marsh, Mindlin, Dotterrer, Stromberg and Fields voting “yes” and Dawkins voting “no.”


The public record will be kept open until March 19, 2008 until 5:00 p.m.  The applicant will have until March 26th, 2008, 5:00 p.m. to file a written argument – argument, not evidence. 


Dotterrer/Mindlin m/s to continue deliberations to the April 8, 2008 Regular Planning Commission meeting to be held at 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR at 7:00 p.m.


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 10:20 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by,

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary





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