Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, August 11, 2009




AUGUST 11, 2009



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


Commissioners Present:


Staff Present:

Larry Blake

Michael Dawkins

Dave Dotterrer

Pam Marsh

Debbie Miller

Melanie Mindlin

Mike Morris

John Rinaldi, Jr.


Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Associate Planner

Richard Appicello, City Attorney

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant




Absent Members:


Council Liaison:

Tom Dimitre


Eric Navickas



Commissioner Marsh stated she would like the Commission to discuss their annual retreat following the public hearing. Community Development Director Bill Molnar requested they also add the selection of Hearings Board members to the agenda.



A.      Approval of Minutes
1.   July 14, 2009 Hearings Board Minutes

2.   July 14, 2009 Planning Commission Minutes


Commissioners Mindlin/Blake m/s to approve the July 14, 2009 Hearings Board minutes. Voice Vote: Commissioners Blake, Dawkins and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 3-0.


Commissioners Dotterrer/Miller m/s to approve the July 14, 2009 Planning Commission minutes. Voice Vote: All AYES [Commissioner Rinaldi abstained]. Motion passed 7-0.



No one came forward to speak.



A.      Approval of Findings for 155-157 Sixth Street, PA #2009-00662.


Commissioners Blake/Mindlin m/s to approve the Findings for Planning Action #2009-00662. Voice Vote: Commissioners Blake, Dawkins and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 3-0.


B.      Approval of Findings for 426 A Street, PA #2009-00551.


Commissioners Dotterrer/Miller m/s to approve the Findings for Planning Action #2009-00551. Voice Vote: All AYES [Commissioner Rinaldi abstained]. Motion passed 7-0.



A.           PLANNING ACTION:  #2009-00817
APPLICANT:  Southern Oregon University
DESCRIPTION:  A request for adoption of the Southern Oregon University Campus Master Plan 2010-2020 as part of the City’s Comprehensive Plan.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION:  Southern Oregon University; ZONING: S-O.

It was noted the Applicant has requested this hearing be postponed to a future date.



A.           PLANNING ACTION:  #2009-00873
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  1860 Ashland Street
APPLICANT:  PSE Architects, Agents for the City of Ashland
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Review approval to construct a 10,076 square foot two-story fire station building to replace the existing Fire Station #2 located at 1860 Ashland Street.  Also included are requests for a Variance to the front yard setback along Ashland Street, an Exception to Street Standards, and a Tree Removal Permit to remove one tree, a 12-inch diameter blue spruce. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION:  Low Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP #: 39 1E 15 AA; TAX LOT: 6200

Commissioner Marsh read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.


Declaration of Ex Parte Contact

All of the commissioners declared site visits; no ex parte contact was reported.


Staff Report

Associate Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report on the planning application. He explained this application involves site review approval, a conditional use permit to modify the existing non-conforming use, a variance request to the front yard setback along Ashland Street, an exception to the Street Standards, and a tree removal permit to remove a Blue Spruce that is 12-inches in diameter.


Mr. Severson reviewed the site and surrounding neighborhood, including the adjacent Sherwood Park. He stated with the proposed application the current Fire Station building will be demolished and replaced with a 2-story, 10,076 sq. ft. building. He noted the existing 4.5 ft. sidewalks will be replaced with 7-8 ft. parkrows, 6 ft. sidewalks, and an additional hardscape courtyard area that will include a placeholder for public art installation. Mr. Severson noted the application includes a single driveway for the Fire Station that will access all three emergency vehicle parking bays. He briefly reviewed the planting plan and clarified the single Blue Spruce is proposed for removal due to vision clearance concerns and for sidewalk installation. He reviewed the existing Fire Station building and noted while the building itself has a 2,800 sq. ft. footprint, the entire the lot is being utilized by the Fire Department, including training apparatus on the lawn area and a large canopy next to the building that accommodates vehicles.


Mr. Severson explained this action requires a conditional use permit because while the purpose and intent of the R-2 zoning district is to accommodate residential uses and pertinent community services, public buildings are not listed as a permitted or conditional use. He stated even though the Fire Station use has been in place since 1965 and it is a legal non-conforming use, because the structure is being expanded it needs to meet the requirements of a conditional use permit. Mr. Severson stated although the building is proposed to be changed, the number of firefighters is not changing, the number of vehicles is not changing, and the area dedicated to fire use is roughly the same.


Mr. Severson stated the variance component of the application is a setback variance for the front yard setback along Ashland Street. He stated in a typical R-2 zone (outside a Historic District) there is a 15 ft. front yard setback, but because this building is located on an arterial street, the setback requirement is 65 ft. from the centerline of the Ashland Street right of way. This measurement would come to 25 ft. back from the property line. As proposed, the front of the building is approximately 15 ft. from the property line. The justification for this in the application is that there is currently a very distinct separation between the park and the Fire Station use, including well established trees on the park side, and in order to not disturb the park and the trees the Applicant is requesting the building be moved a little closer to the street.


Mr. Severson stated this is an ideal location for a Fire Station and the location insures adequate response time to locations within the City. He stated staff is recommending approval of the application and believe this will be a significant improvement from the existing building and will also provide a significant improvement to the streetscape.


Questions of Staff

Mr. Severson clarified adjusting the location of the sidewalk would not save the Bruce Spruce because there is also a vision clearance issue.


Mr. Molnar commented on the reasoning behind the 65 ft. setback for Ashland Street. He explained this standard was established with the anticipation of possibly adding a third lane in the future. He stated the traffic volumes on Ashland Street may never justify adding the third lane. Additionally, the thinking has changed since then and there could be some justification for looking at a “road diet” for Ashland St.


Mr. Molnar commented briefly on 90 degree parking. He explained this is not prohibited and is evaluated on a case by case basis.


Applicant’s Presentation

Michael Fisk, PSE Architects, Hans Ettlin, PSE Architects and Ashland Fire Chief John Karns addressed the Commission. Mr. Fisk thanked Mr. Severson for his thorough presentation and commented on the styling of the building. He stated it is a civic style building similar to the style of the other fire station and noted the incorporation of public spaces and their desire to create an environment that encourages people to use the space. He stated public art can be placed in the plaza area at the corner of Sherwood and Ashland and there is a lot of opportunity for seating and plants.


Mr. Fisk clarified the building will be LEED Certified Gold, and they will either be reusing the materials from the existing building or taking them to an appropriate recycling facility.


Commissioner Marsh asked if any of the head-in parking would be signed for Fire Station use, or if it will be made available for the public to use. Fire Chief Karns explained the Fire Station will need a certain number of spaces for the staff that is on duty (typically 2-4 workers per shift). Mr. Severson clarified there are 13 total spaces proposed which can accommodate the Fire Station employees and the general public. Mr. Fisk noted bicycle parking will also be provided.


Public Testimony

Letter from Philip Lang/758 B Street was read into the record by Commissioner Marsh. Mr. Lang’s letter voiced his opposition to the Fire Station proposal. He stated the citizens of Ashland previously voted down a proposal to spend money on the replacement of this station, and any stimulus money the City might receive should go towards other projects, such as affordable housing.


Rebuttal by the Applicant

Mr. Ettlin stated the existing Fire Station is not seismically sound, does not meet current codes, and does have enough space to adequately house the apparatus and equipment for the firefighters. He stated the replacement station will adequately house all of the apparatus on site that is currently stored in tents and will provide a safe environment for the firefighters. He stated it is essential for the City to have services that will be there when an emergency strikes and this Fire Station will provide that.


Commissioner Dawkins requested clarification on the Tree Commission’s recommendation for smaller stature trees along the Ashland Street frontage. Mr. Karns stated the Tree Commission’s recommendation was based on their desire to provide adequate vision clearance for the emergency vehicles. He added he does not share the Commission’s concern. Dawkins disagreed with the recommendation and stated smaller stature trees can often create more of a sight hazard and might not be the best choice in terms of scale for Ashland Street. Mr. Severson noted the Tree Commission also had concerns with the overhead power lines.


The project’s landscape architect Laurie Sager came forward and explained she had spoken with the Parks Department when selecting the particular Oaks that the application proposes for Ashland Street. She stated they talked at length about vision clearance and the overhead power lines and decided on the Oaks because they can be pruned around the power lines or to provide vision clearance and their stature is more in scale with a large boulevard. Mr. Severson noted Ms. Sager was not present at the Tree Commission meeting to let them know she had this discussion with the Parks staff.


Commissioner Marsh closed the record and the public hearing at 7:50 p.m.


Deliberations & Decision


Commissioners Dawkins/Dotterrer m/s to approve Planning Action #2009-00873 with the disregard of Tree Commission Recommendation #2 regarding installation of smaller stature street trees along the Ashland Street frontage. DISCUSSION: Blake questioned the long term vision for Ashland Street and asked if it is a more urbanized appearance with zero lot lines. Dawkins commented on the need to revisit the setback issue on Ashland Street and stated he see Ashland Street as being different from North Main. Dotterrer agreed, but stated that is not part of this application. Mindlin disagreed and stated it is part of the application since they are being asked to approve a variance. She stated she understands the restraints with this particular application, but it does not set a good example when the City does not follow its own regulations. Marsh agreed that the setback along Ashland Street should be added to their long list of items that need to be looked at and stated they need to take a wide look at what they want to accomplish with Ashland Street. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Morris, Marsh, Dotterrer, Rinaldi, Dawkins, Miller and Blake, YES. Commissioner Mindlin, NO. Motion passed 7-1.


Adoption of Findings for 1860 Ashland Street, PA #2009-00873


Commissioners Dotterrer/Rinaldi m/s to adopt the Findings presented by staff with the modification of Condition #4 to remove Tree Commission Recommendation #2. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Miller, Rinaldi, Blake, Morris, Marsh, Dotterrer, Dawkins and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 8-0.



A.      Hearings Board Assignments

A sign-up sheet was passed around the group. Commissioner Marsh explained she would like to eliminate the possibility that people may think Hearings Board members are picked arbitrarily. She stated the Hearings Board is intended to have rolling representation and having the members sign up in advance will protect them from any wrong perceptions.


It was determined members would sign up for a 4-month period ending in December and the Commission would select the 2010 Hearings Board members in January. Commissioner Dawkins, Blake, and Miller signed up to serve through the remainder of 2009.


B.      Annual Retreat

Commissioner Marsh requested they discuss possible dates for their annual retreat and also hear suggestions for agenda items. Mr. Molnar stated any one of the last three weekends in October would work for staff and asked that they check their calendars.


The Commission briefly discussed their schedules and Saturday, October 31st was tentatively selected. Staff was asked to email the members for confirmation of their availability of this date.


In regards to possible agenda items, Dawkins suggested they discuss parking in the Railroad District and the Ashland St. setback issue. Dotterrer suggested staff go back and look at previous decisions that were difficult for the group to make and revisit those structures to see how they turned out. Staff stated they would do some brainstorming on this, but if the commissioners have specific examples that come to mind to email those to staff. Dawkins suggested they visit the Montessori School. Mindlin stated she would like to discuss how the Council responded to their goals and talk further about their sustainability goal. Councilor Navickas suggested the Planning Commission and City Council may want to hold a joint meeting on how the two groups can work better together on meeting these goals. The Commission invited Councilor Navickas to attend the retreat.


Meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant

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