Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 10, 2008

Commission Chair John Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E Main Street.

Commissioners Present: -- Staff Present:
John Stromberg, Chair Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Michael Dawkins Angela Barry, Assistant Planner
Mike Morris Derek Severson, Associate Planner
Debbie Miller Richard Appicello, City Attorney
Michael Church April Lucas, Administrative Assistant
Pam Marsh Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Melanie Mindlin
Tom Dimitre Council Liaison:
Dave Dotterrer Cate Hartzell, absent

Mindlin noted her address was listed incorrectly on the Planning Commission information sheet.

Stromberg submitted his proposed agenda to the Commission. Marsh voiced concern with moving the Public Forum to later in the agenda. Stromberg indicated his reasons for recommending the adjustments and clarified the items preceding Public Forum should only take a few minutes to complete.

Commissioners Dotterrer/Dimitre m/s to approve Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 9-0.

WATER RESOURCE ORDINANCE - (Continued Public Hearing)

Commissioners Miller/Dawkins m/s to continue the Water Resource Ordinance to the June 24, 2008 Planning Commission meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 9-0.


A. Adoption of Findings - PA 2008-00353, 215 Fourth Street, Ashley Jensen

Commissioners Church/Stromberg m/s to adopt the Hearings Board Findings. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 9-0.


A. Approval of Minutes
1. May 13, 2008 Planning Commission Minutes
2. May 13, 2008 Hearings Board Minutes
Commissioners Church/Mindlin m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 9-0.

Diarmuid McGuire/696 Siskiyou Blvd. #1//Urged the Commission to make sustainability a top priority and asked that they begin discussing this issue. Mr. McGuire commented on the rising gas prices and stated the Commission should be discussing the future energy demands of Ashland. He suggested the Commission take initiative and recommend that the City Council set up a body to study this issue. He suggested they engage the entire community in this discussion and then start taking action.

Art Bullock/Commented on the N. Main St./Glenn St. land use application that was appealed to LUBA. Mr. Bullock stated the City lost this case and LUBA ruled in favor of the three petitioners. He stated the City acted improperly on this land use application and claimed some of the Planning Commission members had financial links to developers. Mr. Bullock stated this was a flawed project and thanked the commissioners who voted against it.

Terrence Stenson/172 Alida Street/Submitted information to the Commission regarding the Water Resource Protection Ordinance and requested the Commission insert the following language into the proposed ordinance: "All streams, intermittent streams, ephemeral streams, and wetlands within the legal jurisdiction of the City of Ashland, including the City of Ashland Watershed, shall have their respective water table step cascades properly maintained and restored by the use of stream sourced boulders and rocks with zero concrete and zero rebars. The express purpose is to preserve, protect, and restore local water tables, thereby preserving, protecting and restoring a limited natural resource, water. This substantially reduces the threat of fire in the Ashland Watershed region."

City Attorney Richard Appicello was called forward to comment on the N. Main St./Glenn St. LUBA case. Mr. Appicello clarified LUBA denied 7 of the 8 assignments of error submitted by the petitioners, but found that the findings did not adequately address the demonstrable difficulty for the curbside sidewalk. He stated this one item would come back to the City Council and clarified LUBA did not rule in the petitioners favor on their setback argument. Mr. Appicello also spoke to Mr. Bullock's claim that some of the Planning Commission members were driven by financial interests. He stated that to his knowledge none of the members violated state law.

Dotterrer requested the Commission be kept better informed on these types of issues. Mr. Appicello indicated he would be providing a summary to Council and would provide a copy to the Planning Commissioners.


A. PLANNING ACTION: 2008-00359
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 265 North Main Street
APPLICANT: Lithia Arts Guild
DESCRIPTION: Request for a Conditional Use Permit to allow a portion of the former Briscoe Elementary School building and the surrounding grounds to be used for individual artists' workspaces and community events. The application requests permanent approval for a yearly event that was previously approved on a temporary basis. The applicant is requesting to host 11 additional events per year in addition to the previously approved event. The application also includes a Type II Variance to parking to allow the parking for events to be off-site in the adjacent neighborhood. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR'S MAP #: 39 1E 05 DD; TAX LOT: 2500

Stromberg real aloud the public hearing procedures for Land Use Hearings. It was clarified the applicant is requesting 4 additional events per year, not 11.

Declaration of Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Dotterrer and Dimitre indicated no ex parte contact. Commissioners Mindlin, Dawkins, Morris, Miller, and Marsh indicated they had visited the site in the past. Commissioner Church indicated he drove around the block. Commissioner Stromberg declared a site visit, but had no ex parte contact.

Art Bullock/Submitted a challenge against Commissioner Marsh. Mr. Bullock provided an email written by Ms. Marsh and claimed she was not impartial based on her comments. He stated Marsh had made public attacks against him and requested she be recused from this decision.

Marsh provided a brief explanation of the email submitted by Mr. Bullock. She stated she never used the word "crazy" in reference to Bullock and denied she was biased against him.

Mr. Appicello clarified Bullock was not the applicant, but rather a party due to his participation. He also noted what constituted an actual bias. Commissioner Marsh affirmed that she had not prejudged this application, was not prejudiced or biased, and would make her decision based solely on the application of the relevant criteria and the standards to the facts.

Staff Report
Assistant Planner Angela Barry provided an overview of the application to the Commission. She explained the request is for a Conditional Use Permit to allow a portion of the former Briscoe Elementary School building and the surrounding grounds to be used for individual artists' workspaces and community events. She noted the conditions of the original approval and stated the applicant is proposing to increase the number of indoor and outdoor events held at the site. Ms. Barry stated the property is zoned R-2 and is surrounded primarily by single family homes, with the exception of the Methodist Church across the street. She noted the applicant's request for a variance to parking requirements for larger events, and stated they are proposing to use the church's parking lot and the adjacent neighborhood for overflow parking.

Ms. Barry listed the following as the main issues related to the approval criteria: 1) amplified music and drumming, 2) timing and frequency of events, 3) number of indoor events, and 4) access and pedestrian safety. She noted the applicant submitted a revised proposal to address the neighbors' concerns with noise. She also noted the proposed conditions outlined in the Staff Report which address the noise and traffic safety concerns.

Ms. Barry clarified a public school is an outright permitted use in an R-2 zone. She stated this site is essentially a private arts school and therefore subject to the conditional use criteria. Community Development Director Bill Molnar stated the target use of this property is multi-family use and has a potential density of 46 to 56 units.

Staff clarified the orientation of the stage was taken into consideration and the intent was to direct the noise towards the complex instead of the surrounding neighborhood. Mr. Molnar stated the impact of the music is something the Commission needs to consider and noted they could decide to limit the time and duration of the events.

Staff commented on the initial approval criteria, which included a provision for the Conditional Use Permit to be evaluated after the first year. Mr. Molnar noted it was a traffic safety concern emailed to staff that led them to pull the file and realize this application needed to come back for review. It was clarified the cost to the applicant for a new Conditional User Permit is approximately $1,500 and the Planning Commission needs to determine if the proposed events are consistent with those that would be held at a school.

It was noted that the applicant's Mid Summer Nights Dream event is scheduled for this weekend.

Applicants Presentation
Jim Young/Chair of the Lithia Arts Guild/
Provided some history of this project and explained how the Lithia Arts Guild came to occupy a portion of the Briscoe Elementary school building. He commented on the Guild's rental agreement with the School District and stated the Mid Summers Night Dream event was created to help offset the rental costs. He noted the success of this event and clarified they currently pay the School District 4% of their gross sales.

Mr. Young noted two of the four events requested for approval would be un-amplified and limited to 350 guests. He commented on some of the neighbors' concerns and stated they are doing their best to be responsive to their concerns. He noted the orientation of the main stage and felt noise would be best contained if the stage were directed towards the art wing. He clarified the Cypress stage is kept at a much lower decibel level than the main stage and offered to reduce the decibel levels at the main stage if requested by the Commission.

Mr. Young commented on the Guild's relationship with the Methodist Church and stated the church has offered them use of their parking lot during events. He stated the only exception to this would be when church is in session or when the church is hosting weddings or funerals.

Mr. Young noted that they are under contract with the musicians for the Mid Summers Night event until 10 p.m., but are offering have the music moved indoors at 6 p.m. He stated in the future they would arrange to have the music conclude at 6 p.m.

Dawkins noted the cost to have this reviewed and questioned who was responsible for making sure the review occurred. Mr. Molnar stated that ultimately the applicant is charged with complying with the conditions; however, staff would make a point to remind them. He noted the fees could only be waived by the City Council.

Staff clarified the applicant is requesting approval for 4 outdoor events: Mid Summers Night Dream, First Nations Day, and two other unannounced, un-amplified events.

Public Testimony
Craig Wright/25 Gresham/Commented on the importance of music and stated Ashland is known nationally as an "arts town." Mr. Wright commented on keeping young people in town and stated at times the current art scene seems elitist and geared towards the high arts. He stated the annoyance some have expressed regarding the music is no worse than the annoyance he faces caused by the Shakespeare Festival.

Beverly & David Thruston/103 S. Laurel/Indicated they live directly across from the Art Wing and requested the Conditional Use Permit set guidelines that everyone can live with. Ms. Thruston cited the criteria that states the CUP will have no greater impact than the target use of the zone, and issued the following requests: 1) that the annual events be limited to Mid Summers Night Dream and First Nations Day; and for the two unannounced events be only one day long, 2) to limit the applicant to 6 indoor events per year, 3) to limit the applicant to only 2 events during the month of December, 4) for the events to end earlier, 5) for the applicant to obtain a parking agreement with the Methodist Church, 6) to distribute a schedule of events to the neighborhood, and 7) for the applicant to be responsible for traffic control during the large outdoor events.

David Scoggin/10320 Wagner Creek Rd, Talent/Stated he is one of the teachers with the Lithia Arts Guild. Mr. Scoggin stated the First Friday events are geared towards education and stated the other entertainment events are also education oriented. He stated they are willing to work out a compromise with the church and the neighbors, and noted the extra money these events raise for the School District. He stated they want to do this responsibly and cooperatively, and requested they be allowed to hold all of the proposed events.

Zoe Alowan/258 Greenbriar/Stated she participates as one of the artists and teaches painting. Ms. Alowan noted these events are free to everyone and families are encouraged to bring their children. She stated the community revolves around art and felt this was a win-win situation. She noted their willingness to stop at 6 p.m. and indicated the support they have received from the neighborhood.

Marcus Scott/1205 Talent Ave, Talent/Stated he is the Director of the festival and noted the City grant funding they receive to make these events happen. Mr. Scott spoke to the importance of these events and how they support the artists. He commented on the success of the Mid Summers Night Dream event and stated it is as good, or better than similar events held throughout the Northwest. He noted the sound level at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Green Show and suggested they handle this similarly by coming to an agreement on decibel levels. Mr. Scott stated their current contract with the band is for a 10 p.m. curfew and expressed his objection to the 6 p.m. limit. He suggested they be allowed to monitor the decibel levels at this year's event and return next year to set parameters.

Mr. Molnar clarified the applicant's previous Conditional Use Permit is still in effect and this application would not effect the Mid Summer Nights Dream event scheduled for this weekend. He added the Commission's decision on the revised CUP would not be effective until the Findings are approved and the appeal period has concluded.

Allen Drescher/115 Nob Hill/Disagreed with staff's assertion that the previous CUP was still in effect and stated the original approval was for a one year permit. He noted the complaints he received as Ashland's Municipal Judge and stated entertainment venues are not permitted under any circumstances in this zone. Mr. Drescher stated the target use in an R-2 zone is residential, and that a school is a permitted use, not the target use. He indicated that loud events that go past 6 p.m. is not what was intended for this building and voiced support for a 6 p.m. cut off time and a reasonable decibel level prior to 6 p.m.

Commissioners Dawkins/Marsh m/s to continue hearing to 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 9-0.

Stromberg noted the other items on tonight's agenda and suggested they continue with public testimony but postpone deliberations to a subsequent meeting.

Richard Fulton/355 High Street/Noted the letter of support he circulated around the neighborhood and stated the majority of neighbors are supportive of this event. Mr. Fulton voiced his support for the 10 p.m. music curfew and encouraged the Commission to allow this.

Carol Young/1102 Holten Rd, Talent/Noted the significance of the timing of the Mid Summers Night Dream event and how it correlates with the longest day of the year. Ms. Young explained this is a free event and everyone is welcome to attend. She also commented on the wide spread support of the community for this event.

Michelle Zundel/107 Granite/Representing the Ashland School District. Ms. Zundel stated the District values it's partnership with the Lithia Arts Guild.

Hank Singmaster/145 N. Main St/Noted he is the owner of Hank's Auto Shop on Main Street and expressed concern with the overflow parking for these events. Mr. Singmaster stated he relinquishes his parking lot for the City's 4th of July event and does not think he should have to give up his lot for an additional 12 weekends a year.

Art Bullock/Voiced his support of the application, so long as the Commission includes conditions that address the following: 1) protection of the tree trunks and roots, 2) monitoring of the trees, and 3) creation of an evacuation plan.

Commissioners Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to continue meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 9-0.

Mr. Molnar read into the record an email submitted by Colin Swales. Stromberg recommended the Commission take rebuttal from the applicant and then close the public hearing.

Rebuttal by the Applicant
Jim Young/
Commented on the parking issues and noted they have asked Diamond Parking Enforcement to come into the neighborhood during events and ticket individuals who are illegally parked. He stated that property owners are also free to contact tow trucks for illegally parked cars. Mr. Young noted the suggestions regarding the protection of trees and stated they have never had problems with the trees or witnessed damage caused by events. He noted the First Friday event is educational and caters to children, and the parking lot at the church is almost always available. He stated they would limit the two unannounced events to one day each and as chairman, he would recommended to the board that the music at this years Mid Summers Night Dream event conclude at 6 p.m. Mr. Young restated their relationship with the Methodist Church and indicated the Arts Guild would have use of the church's parking lot except on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Stromberg closed the public hearing at 10:12 p.m.

The Commissioners commented briefly on the application. Dimitre stated this is a good project, but noted they are bound by the criteria. Marsh stated this was a more desirable use than what they would have with the target use and felt that an annual, one night event with music until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. was reasonable. Dawkins voiced concern that the applicant felt they had to make compromises, even though this had not been asked of them by the Commission. Church agreed with Marsh's comment on relative impact and suggested the applicant work with staff for this weekend's event. Stromberg noted his desire to set specific guidelines. Comment was made voicing support for the conditions proposed by staff.

Commissioners Mindlin/Dawkins m/s to continue this action to the regularly scheduled July Planning Commission meeting. Roll Call Vote: Commissions Dimitre, Stromberg, Morris, Dotterrer, Mindlin, Church, Marsh, Miller and Dawkins, YES. Motion passed 9-0.

B. PLANNING ACTION: #2008-00766
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 165 Lithia Way & 123 North First Street
APPLICANT: Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market
DESCRIPTION: Request for a Conditional Use Permit to allow the operation of an outdoor farmers market on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. during the months of May through November. The proposed market would be held in a portion of the existing parking lot for the property located at the Northwest corner of First St. and Lithia Way, and would be limited to 25 vendor booths. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Commercial; ZONING: C-1; ASSESSOR'S MAP #: 39 1E 09 BA; TAX LOTS: 90000, 90001, 90002, 90003, 10100, 11601 & 11701

Commissioners Dotterrer/Church m/s to continue hearing to the June 24, 2008 Planning Commission meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 9-0.


A. Election of Officers

Commissioners Dimitre/Dotterrer m/s to elect John Stromberg as Planning Commission Chair. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dimitre, Stromberg, Morris, Dotterrer, Mindlin, Church, Marsh, Miller and Dawkins, YES. Motion passed 9-0.

Commissioners Marsh/Dimitre m/s to elect Michael Dawkins as Planning Commission Vice Chair. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Miller, Church, Mindlin, Dimitre, Stromberg, Dotterrer, Dawkins, Marsh and Morris, YES. Motion passed 9-0.

Commissioners Dawkins/Dimitre m/s to elect Pam Marsh as Planning Commission Second Vice Chair. Roll Call Vote: Dawkins, Dotterrer, Marsh, Morris, Miller, Church. Stromberg, Mindlin and Dimitre, YES. Motion passed 9-0.

B. Historic Commission Policy Recommendation
Mr. Molnar noted the recommendation from the Historic Commission, which states "The policy allowing transient housing in the Historic District's residential neighborhoods has had a deleterious effect by contributing to a shortage of rental housing, and by diminishing the sense of place by creating a disproportionate commercial presence in the residential neighborhoods."

Comment was made that it would have been beneficial to have had some accompanying data in addition to the recommendation. Additional suggestion was made for the Historic Commission to present their recommendations in person in the future.

C. Retreat Follow-up
Item not addressed due to time constraints.

Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by,
April Lucas, Assistant to Community Development Director


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