Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AUGUST 12, 2008

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

Commissioners Present: Staff Present:
John Stromberg, Chair
Michael Dawkins
Mike Morris
Debbie Miller
Michael Church
Pam Marsh
Melanie Mindlin
Tom Dimitre
Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant
Absent Members: Council Liaison:
Dave Dotterrer, excused Cate Hartzell


Community Development Director Bill Molnar noted a Planning Commissioner training opportunity scheduled for September 13 in Baker, Oregon and asked any members who are interested to contact staff.

Stromberg announced he and Planning Manager Maria Harris are working on organizing another Water Resources site visit and anticipates this will occur before their next meeting. He noted they have identified a qualified ecological scientist who is familiar with this area and she would be joining them on the site visits.

Mr. Molnar announced the 5-lot subdivision on Strawberry Lane has been appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals.

Commissioners Miller/Dimitre m/s to approve agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.


A. Approval of Minutes
1. June 10, 2008 Hearings Board Minutes
2. July 8, 2008 Hearings Board Minutes
3. July 8, 2008 Planning Commission Minutes
4. July 22, 2008 Planning Commission Minutes

The following corrections were made to the minutes:

1) June 10, 2008 Hearings Board - The commissioners present were John Stromberg, Dave Dotterrer, and Michael Church.
2) July 22, 2008 Planning Commission - Marsh clarified her position regarding the "Factoring Sustainability into the Comprehensive Plan" agenda item and stated there are other entities who may also want to get involved in this discussion.

Commissioners Marsh/Mindlin m/s to approve the July 8, 2008 and July 22, 2008 Planning Commission minutes. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Commissioners Church/Stromberg m/s to approve the June 10, 2008 and July 8, 2008 Hearings Board minutes. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

No one came forward to speak.


A. Ashland Land Use Ordinance - Annexation and Zone Change Amendments
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman provided a presentation on the Annexation and Zone Change draft ordinance. Following the presentation, he requested the Commission enter into deliberations and issue a formal recommendation to the City Council. Mr. Goldman stated the proposed changes are isolated to those sections that relate to affordable housing and the amendments address the following issues: 1) percentage of affordability, 2) land dedication option, 3) housing types and constructions standards, 4) distribution of affordable housing, and 5) construction timing.

Percentage of Affordability
Mr. Goldman stated the proposed ordinance would create a weighted point system for affordable housing units, would allow for a mix of housing types, would allow for variations in income levels, and would enable developers to provide both workforce and affordable housing opportunities. He noted the proposed language adds flexibility in targeting various households but largely retains the range currently in place.

Land Dedication Option
Mr. Goldman stated this option allows developers to provide land in lieu of actually developing the affordable housing. He stated this option is contingent that the land is sufficient to accommodate at least 25% of the projects base density, and that the land is located within the project and meets the distribution requirements. He stated any land dedicated would be deed restricted for a 60 year period and the ownership of the land that is transferred to a qualified affordable housing provider would have to occur prior to commencement of the project or issuance of building permit for any of the market rate units.

Housing Types & Construction Standards
Mr. Goldman explained this provision requires the affordable units to be proportionate in terms of number of bedrooms to the market rate units and it also establishes minimum floor areas for the affordable units. Additionally, the external design and materials need to be similar and the internal features and amenities need to be comparable.

Distribution of Affordable Housing
Mr. Goldman noted the intent of this provision is to scatter the affordable units throughout the project to reduce the potential for stigmatization of "low-income areas."

Construction Timing
Mr. Goldman explained the current ordinance has no requirement for exactly when the affordable units have to be built. He stated the proposed ordinance addresses this issue and provides that only 50% of the market rate units can be built up front, at which point the developer would have to build 50% of the affordable units. They could then construct 40% of the market rate units before the remaining 50% of the affordable units need to be built.

Mr. Goldman explained the proposed ordinance includes some flexibility to entertain alternate development proposals; however, these exceptions are not automatic and would be subject to approval by the City Council. He noted the Housing Commission recommends Council approval of the proposed ordinance with the exception of eliminating rental units at 80% AMI from being considered qualifying affordable units for the purposes of meeting the annexation requirements.

Mr. Goldman commented on the exceptions and provided further clarification to the Commission. He noted possible examples of when an exception might be needed or preferred. Comment was made questioning if the phrase "mix of housing" denotes number of units. Mr. Goldman clarified the number is the "bargaining chip" that would allow for a deviation in terms of mix of type.

Comment was made questioning the comparable materials requirement. Mr. Goldman noted the ordinance makes a distinction between interior and exterior materials and stated the intent of this language is for the affordable housing units to not be starkly different from the market rate units. Mindlin voiced concern with non-profits being held to the same standard for the exterior materials on affordable units. Mr. Molnar noted the materials do not need to be exactly the same and clarified the ordinance language states "visually compatible" and "building materials and finishes shall be substantially the same in type."

Comment was made questioning the construction timing provision. Mr. Goldman clarified this language came out of conditions of approval the Planning Commission added to the Verde Village and Willow Brook projects. He noted this was included in the ordinance so the developer knows up front what will be asked of them. Stromberg expressed concern that this language may result in the land dedication not being a viable option for most developers. Councilor Hartzell voiced support for the proposed language and stated if they remove this, it may take a long time to get the affordable units built out. Mr. Goldman noted there is an exception to this language and an applicant could submit an alternate phasing proposal for approval. Mr. Molnar noted this would create a situation where the developer has to form a responsible relationship with the non-profit early on in the process.

Stromberg asked the Commission whether they were comfortable with requiring the affordable units to look the same (externally) as the market rate housing. Marsh voiced her support for this provision. She stated the point of all this is to create diverse, heterogeneous neighborhoods and they need to be consistent on design features in order to accomplish this. Dawkins also voiced his support and stated the idea is to get as many people as possible into affordable units and to have them compatible so they don't stick out from the other units.

Marsh questioned how the language "affordable housing units shall be distributed throughout the project" would apply to smaller projects. Mr. Goldman acknowledged that the clustering problem most commonly applies to larger scale developments and clarified the burden of proof for this provision is on the developer. Comment was made questioning if there should be criteria included in the ordinance for this provision. Morris commented on the difficultly in including specific criteria that would apply to all developments. Stromberg voiced concern with creating a procedure where the developer does not know if they are meeting the criteria until it comes before the Planning Commission. Comment was made noting that the applicant will have to work with staff during the initial stages. Church stated they may be overanalyzing this and if something does not work, they can come back and change it.

Mr. Goldman clarified why the proposed language reads "exceptions" instead of "variances."

Commissioners Dawkins/Morris m/s to send this on to Council. DISCUSSION: Marsh cited the Housing Needs Analysis and recommended they remove the language "or rental units" from 18.106.030.G.1(c). Dawkins stated he is willing to accept this amendment. Commissioners Dawkins/Marsh amended motion. Roll Call Vote on Motion as Amended: Commissioners Dawkins, Marsh, Morris, Miller, Church, Mindlin, Dimitre and Stromberg, YES. Motion passed.


A. Sustainability Proposal
Stromberg noted Commissioners Marsh and Mindlin have been working on developing the proposal that will be forwarded to the City Council. Marsh noted the Informational Memorandum, which was emailed to the commissioners, and asked if they have any specific feedback before this is submitted to the Council. Mindlin pointed out that the commissioners would be carrying out this proposal and not relying on staff.

Mindlin commented on the definition of sustainability. She stated this has been defined in many ways and recommended they start by finding out how the community has defined this. Marsh commented on transportation needs and whether this should be part of the Planning Commission's scope. She recommended they develop formal links between planning and transportation and noted it is very difficult to separate these out. Mr. Molnar noted than he and Associate Planner Derek Severson have been meeting with the Public Works Department regarding the creation of a Transportation Commission. He said the feeling is that the Transportation and Planning Commissions should take a more active role in making recommendations on the City's Capital Improvement Plan. Morris expressed concern with looking at what everyone else is doing and adjusting their policies accordingly, rather than making their own decision about where the City wants to go. Stromberg stated that he does not think they will be bound by what they observe and stated this is just a first step before they come up with their own ideas.


A. Regional Problem Solving Update
Community Development Director Bill Molnar provided the Regional Problem Solving update to the Commission and noted this issue would be coming before them later this year.

Stromberg questioned if the City had been allocated a growth rate and whether this needed to be imbedded in the City's Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Molnar noted this issue came up early in the process and the City Council submitted a letter indicating their concerns with this. He noted the County is responsible for allocating the population growth and clarified the City of Ashland did not identify any urban reserves. He stated he does not foresee the City making any significant changes to the Comprehensive Plan, other than recognizing that a regional plan has been adopted. He added the plan is not that substantive to the City until they start identifying urban reserves.

Mr. Molnar provided a brief overview of the Participants Agreement and outlined the following approval process:

STEP 1: LCDC will review the plan and participants' agreement in October, 2008 and provide tentative acceptance of the local plan amendments.
STEP 2: Local agencies will agree to sign the participants' agreement. (This is where the Planning Commission will become involved.)
STEP 3: Once the local agencies sign in agreement, LCDC will sign the participants' agreement.
Jackson County will then start their adoption process and begin incorporating the agreement into the Jackson County Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Molnar noted cities can either go through a parallel process of amending their Comprehensive Plans to identify these urban reserves, or they can wait until County has completed their adoption process.

Commissioners Marsh/Morris m/s to continue meeting to 9:10 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

B. Hearings Board Assignments
Mr. Molnar stated the Hearings Board members for September through December are Morris, Marsh and Dawkins; however due to the record being left open at the Hearings Board meeting today, he asked that Stromberg fill in for Marsh at the next hearing. He added Morris, who was not at the Hearings Board meeting today, would need to review the planning record and video of the meeting in order to be prepared.

Mr. Molnar requested clarification about what happens when a commissioner cannot attend the Hearings Board. It was clarified the commissioner is responsible for findings a replacement. If they are unable to do so, they need to inform the Commission Chair and staff.

Stromberg commented on a recent incident that happening during a Planning Commission meeting and stated he would like to establish a rule that no member of the public or the press may linger near the door behind the dais. He clarified this should curtail any future distractions.

Meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant


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