Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Special Meeting

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22, 2008

Commission Chair John Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:05 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 Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Mike Morris Richard Appicello, City Attorney
Michael Church Angela Barry, Assistant Planner
Pam Marsh April Lucas, Administrative Assistant
Melanie Mindlin
Tom Dimitre
Dave Dotterrer
Absent Members: Council Liaison:
Debbie Miller, excused Cate Hartzell

Stromberg added Public Forum to the agenda and moved adoption of the Lithia Arts Guild findings to the top of the agenda.

Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced a joint meeting between the City Council and the Planning Commission has been tentatively scheduled for August 27, 2008. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the Croman Mill Redevelopment Plan, review the options, and identify a preferred alternative.

No one came forward to speak.


1. Adoption of Findings - PA 2008-00359, Lithia Arts Guild.
No ex parte contact was reported by any of the commissioners. Mr. Molnar noted revised Findings had been passed out to the Commission and noted the correction to Condition #10.

Commissioners Marsh/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings as presented. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Church, Dawkins, Mindlin, Dimitre, Morris, Stromberg and Marsh, YES. Commissioner Dotterrer abstained. Motion passed 7-0.


1. Water Resources Protection Zones Ordinance.
Stromberg commented on the best way to proceed with this item and recommended they take public comment and keep the public hearing open until the end of their discussions in case they want to ask questions. Support was voiced by the Commission for this process.

Terrence Stenson/172 Alida/Commented on the early civilization that occupied this valley and explained how the stream beds were altered. Mr. Stenson noted the materials he had previously submitted to the Commission and requested they include language in the ordinance that addresses the preservation and protection of the water tables.

Staff Presentation
Senior Planner Maria Harris provided a presentation on the draft ordinance. She reviewed the public hearings the Planning Commission has had to date, and provided a timeline and project schedule.

Stromberg noted the email submitted by Royce Duncan and summarized his comments. Stromberg clarified this correspondence would be included in the record.

Ms. Harris continued her presentation and reviewed why this ordinance is necessary. She noted the Ashland Comprehensive Plan goals, as well as the City Council goals. Harris provided an explanation of State Planning Goal 5 and clarified the City is required to identify significant wetland and riparian corridors and adopt provisions protecting these lands. Comment was made questioning the level of requirement imposed by the State. Harris commented on the safe harbor approach and clarified the City would need to create findings and make their argument to the State if they deviate from the prescribed path.

Hartzell commented briefly on tree canopies and how shade could assist in meeting the DEQ water temperature requirements.

Ms. Harris continued with her presentation and provided explanations of the following key issues:

1) Local native plant species requirement.
Allow 15% to be planted in non-native vegetation.
Allow outdoor use area of up to 150 sq. ft.
2) Landscape maintenance in water resource protection zones.
Exempt removing non-native, noxious and invasive vegetation with hand-held equipment.
Prohibit removing native vegetation, trees greater than 6"dbh or soil disturbance.
Define hand-held equipment (100 lbs or less).
3) Nonconforming structures and activities.
Exempt replacement of primary structures destroyed by fire or natural hazard.
Planning approval required to replace non-exempt structures.
Primary structure definition.
4) Nonconforming driveways and building envelopes.
Exempt construction of new driveways if approved prior to the ordinance.
Exempt construction of new structures on vacant lots in building envelopes if approved prior to ordinance.
5) Top of bank definition.
Amend definition to make more measurable.

Ms. Harris noted the staff recommendation listed in the packet materials and requested the Commission move into deliberations and provide specific feedback on what their issues and concerns are. She clarified staff is scheduled to provide an update to Council in August and they need to know if they are on the right track.

Top of Bank Definition
Harris clarified this language was pulled from Portland's ordinance and asked if the Commission was comfortable with this definition. Mindlin noted Rick Landt's recommendation to measure top of bank from the center of the stream. Comment was made suggesting they compromise and keep the proposed method for fish bearing streams, but consider using the center line measurement for intermittent and local streams. Several commissioners voiced support for having separate measurements for small and large streams. Stromberg voiced concern with making the ordinance too complex and questioned if they should hear from a knowledgeable scientist on the possible risks before going with separate measurements. Dimitre agreed and stated he would like more information from a specialist to help them get a handle on this issue.

Outdoor Use Area
Marsh questioned the 150 sq. ft. figure and asked if they should consider using a percentage instead. Staff confirmed that a percentage could be used, but cautioned this could allow for some significant sized areas on larger lots. Several comments were made voicing support for the 150 sq. ft. limitation.

Local Native Plant Species
Hartzell commented that streams transfer seeds and roots into other areas and stated this is where the non-native plant requirement stems from. Dotterrer expressed concern with the 15% figure and felt this was too small. He voiced support for allowing some non-native species and questioned if this would have an impact on the water quality. Church clarified these requirements would only apply to something new or if the owner needed to replace it. Stromberg stated he would like a scientist to verify that using all native plants achieves something. Dawkins commented that different scientists will give different opinions and feels they are making this more complex than it needs to be. He recommended they use a list of locally identified plants (both native and non-native) that are compatible with what they are trying to achieve. He added that he is also in favor of allowing food production within the protection zone. Mindlin agreed with Dawkins and voiced support for a list of plants, but questioned who would put the list together. She agreed that food production should be permitted, but questioned how they would address the fencing requirement. Dotterrer questioned how staff would measure the 15% limitation and felt using a percentage might make this too complicated. Dimitre commented that the ordinance needs to be enforceable and agreed that the 15% figure would be difficult to measure and hard to enforce. He stated he is not in favor of non-native species in the protection zone, but is open to hearing more from someone who is knowledgeable on this subject. Hartzell commented that native plants attract native species and feels this needs to be maintained. She added if they allow gardens there is a possibility people will clear the space to allow for more sunlight, rather than maintaining the shade. Morris voiced his opposition to allowing gardens and agreed that native plants were preferred. He also voiced concern with making the ordinance too complicated and stated it has to be clear and enforceable.

Stromberg requested the commissioners share their final thoughts on this issue. Dimitre voiced opposition to non-native species within the protection zone and felt the 15% figure was unenforceable. Dotterrer stated he does not have any issues with allowing both native and non-native species and felt property owners should be allowed to landscape to a certain extent. He added he does not think gardens are a good idea in the riparian zone. Church stated he does not think they should allow a mix of native and non-native plants and felt they should get these areas back to a natural state. Dawkins restated his support for a list of allowable native and non-native species. Mindlin stated she is not in favor of the all native approach and would like to see a list of suitable plants. Marsh noted the staff report provides a convincing argument for requiring all native plants, but stated she is supportive of vegetable gardens.

Commissioners Dotterrer/Church m/s to extend meeting to 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Landscape Maintenance
Stromberg voiced support for the proposed parameters regarding landscape maintenance. Church commented on a situation where equipment had to be brought in to remove a large amount of blackberries. Staff clarified the proposed ordinance would not prohibit this type of removal, but it would trigger a review. The commission voiced general consensus for the proposed landscape maintenance requirements.

Nonconforming Structures
Comment was made questioning how this would affect the Plaza businesses. Staff clarified these areas could be rebuilt, but the ordinance would trigger a review before this is allowed. It was questioned if the ordinance could distinguish between commercial and residential. Morris commented if they wanted to take this approach, they would have to break it out by zone. Staff clarified the ordinance states the primary structure can be rebuilt, what would require planning approval are other structures, such as decks. City Attorney Richard Appicello commented that for commercial businesses there are other things that are required, such as parking areas, and suggested they include language that allows for the replacement of all structures that are essential for the continuation of the business. Comment was made questioning how this provision would affect Lithia Park. Mr. Molnar explained if Lithia Park were damaged by a flood, the Parks Department would be required to obtain a city permit to replace any structures. He clarified bridges are allowed to be constructed; however they are required to withstand a 100-year flood. Dimitre commented that they should require structures to be built outside the riparian zone if this is available. Church agreed and stated they should make it possible to remove the nonconformities over time. Dawkins stated he is not in favor of replacing nonconforming structures and made a distinction between structures and houses. Morris expressed concern with how this would affect the Water Street Inn. Marsh voiced support for staff's recommendation and felt it was a good compromise. She noted it would only be a Type I permit process to replace the nonconforming structures. Stromberg expressed concern with how this provision might affect the downtown businesses and stated there is a difference between placing a burden on a residential owner and placing a burden on a business that is part of the City's economic process. Church questioned if it would be possible to make the downtown zone exempt. Mindlin stated if there is room to move the structure out of the protected area it should be moved, but if not, people should be allowed to have the same amount of use as before.

Nonconforming Driveways & Building Envelopes
Morris commented on the Bud's Dairy project and questioned how this would be affected by the ordinance. It was clarified this site it located within the protection zone and the affordable housing has not been built yet. City Attorney Richard Appicello suggested they include language that establishes a "drop dead date."

Commissioners Dawkins/Mindlin m/s to extend to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES.

Dimitre voiced support for a time limit as suggested by Mr. Appicello. Mr. Molnar commented on the Bud's Dairy issue and clarified this is a unique situation and staff would have to look into how this ordinance would affect that project and the conditions of the planning approval. Several comments were made voicing support for including a timeline in this provision. Ms. Harris stated staff would need direction on how much time they would want to specify. She clarified there is a very limited set of properties that would be affected by a time limit. Dawkins voiced hesitation over whether this was necessary. Stromberg recommended they not make a decision at this time and come back to it.

Stromberg recommended the commissioners submit any additional comments or concerns they may have.

Stromberg announced the hearing would be continued to September 9, 2008. No objection was voiced by the commission.


1. Factoring Sustainability into the Comprehensive Plan.
Stromberg commented on whether the Planning Commission should begin a process to incorporate sustainability into the planning process. He suggested they take an inventory of what is currently being done in the community and then bring a proposal before the Council for their approval. He stated they would need to incorporate all those who have some ownership of this issue and would need to make this a joint process.

Stromberg asked the commissioners whether they should proceed with this task. Dotterrer expressed concern with how this project would affect staff and stated he does not think staff has enough time to work on this. Morris questioned how they would merge sustainability into the Comprehensive Plan and questioned if it was appropriate for the Commission to be undertaking this action. Marsh voiced support for getting the conversation started and noted there are other entities who may also want to get involved. Dawkins voiced his support for this item and stated it was appropriate for the Commission to do this. Hartzell voiced her support for the Commission moving forward. She stated the Council has expressed consistent interest in this topic and felt there were a lot of things the Commission could do with this issue.

Commission reached a general consensus to take this proposal before the Council.

Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant


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