Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Special Meeting

Tuesday, September 29, 2009





SEPTEMBER 29, 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

Tom Dimitre

Dave Dotterrer

Pam Marsh

Melanie Mindlin

Mike Morris

John Rinaldi, Jr.


Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant




Absent Members:


Council Liaison:

Debbie Miller


Eric Navickas



Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced Southern Oregon University will be holding a meeting on the Campus Master Plan Update on Monday, October 5th. He stated if the commissioners want to attend, they are free to do so but will have to declare it as ex parte contact. He added commissioners can go and observe, but they should not participate in the actual discussions.


Commissioner Marsh noted the Commission’s annual retreat is scheduled for Saturday, October 31. It was noted that Commissioner Dotterrer will not be able to attend. Marsh stated they are still developing the agenda and encouraged the commissioners to submit their ideas to staff.



No one came forward to speak.



A.      Approval of Findings for PA #2009-00784, 615 Washington Street.

Commissioners Morris and Dimitre stated they would abstain from voting since they did not participate in the hearing. No ex parte contact was declared by any of the commissioners.


Commissioners Dotterrer/Blake m/s to approve the Findings for PA #2009-00784. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Blake, Dawkins, Dotterrer, Marsh, Mindlin and Rinaldi, YES. Motion passed 6-0.



A.      Croman Mill District Plan.

Commissioner Marsh provided a brief summary of Croman process thus far. She stated two years ago the City was awarded a state grant for the Croman Mill site and engaged with consultants Crandall & Arambula to develop the draft plan. The scope of work for the project included several goals, including: 1) to involve owners, residents, government, and others interested in the area in the process of developing a master plan, 2) to develop an identity and vision for the area, and 3) to maximize opportunities for business development and employment consistent with the Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA). Marsh noted the public meetings that occurred during the plan development process and stated in February, 2008 the final draft was submitted to the City. She noted the final draft included goals that were based on input that had been gathered throughout the process and included: 1) to provide for a large number of family wage jobs, 2) to allow for light industrial and manufacturing uses, 3) to create parcels with a flexibility to support local new businesses, business expansions, and large employers, and 4) to consider a range of housing options. Marsh stated this package went before the Council in February, 2009 and at that point Council directed staff to begin the process of adopting the Croman Mill Redevelopment Plan.


Commissioner Marsh stated tonight’s meeting has been reserved for the Commission to put forward issues they feel warrant more discussion and her hope is for the Commission to get a clear sense of direction on the master plan elements. She stated as they work through the discussion outline they need to determine whether the Commission as a whole is supportive, whether they wish to make minor modifications, or whether they will recommend major changes that require City Council approval.


Mr. Molnar clarified at the end of this meeting, staff will distribute the draft AMC language and draft Site Design & Use Standards. He noted these two documents touch on some of the items to be discussed tonight and if necessary can be adjusted based on the outcome of tonight’s discussion.


Commissioner Marsh clarified what tonight’s deliberations will include and how they will proceed.


Commissioner Dawkins expressed his frustrations and questioned the ramifications of moving forward with the Croman Plan. He submitted an outline of his questions and concerns to the Commission and stated economic development should occur within the downtown area. Comment was made that if Dawkins wants to propose major changes to the plan he should make a motion and let the group vote on it.  Mr. Molnar clarified if their interest is to ensure a certain amount of land will develop as manufacturing, a master plan is the only tool to ensure that occurs. He added right now there is no guarantee on what will occur on that land and two of the last three developments in that M-1 zone have been for professional offices.


Commissioner Marsh referred to the Discussion Outline that was included in the packet and suggested they begin with the Land Use issues.


Question: Are the CMD land use designations of “Office Employment” and “Compatible Industrial” appropriately located?

Commissioners Dotterrer and Rinaldi voiced their support for the proposed layout of uses. Blake quoted sections from the EOA and noted it says that the Croman site should be retained in an industrial designation. Mr. Molnar clarified the purpose of the EOA was to create a standardization for communities to look at their long term employment needs and ensure they have a 20-year supply of land within their UGB to accommodate this. He added this document talks about trends and where the community might have competitive advantages in certain industries, however it is up to the community to decide which direction they want to go. Mr. Molnar added the EOA and State Goal 9 are not suppose to be prescriptive to the community, but rather the EOA provides information and allows communities to make their own decision.


Council Liaison Navickas noted that the City Council unanimously approved the draft plan and suggested the Commission discuss the specifics within the plan and not these big picture items. Marsh agreed, but stated in order for the group to move forward they need to tackle this question and come to an agreement.


Commissioner Mindlin stated she has a lot of questions about whether this plan meets the goals of the EOA and presented a summary of her issues. She voiced her disagreement with the assumptions that rezoning from industrial to employment will create more jobs, that office jobs will be higher paying than industrial jobs, and that the new jobs would be held by Ashland residents. Mindlin also commented on the job sectors identified in the EOA for potential growth and recommended the City complete an economic development plan to guide this master plan. Comment was made that most of the uses Mindlin is recommending are currently located in E-1 zones, and disagreeing that the Croman site needs to be an industrial zone for these uses to occur.


Commissioner Morris shared his concerns with not having enough employment options available and stated when Ashland kids leave here and go to college, there is no place for them to work when they return. He stated Ashland needs this sector of employment and manufacturing jobs will not fill this void. Marsh agreed and voiced her support for office employment. She stated the EOA was predicated on existing uses and it did not set out a vision for what kind of community we want and what we want to build. She voiced her support for providing family wage jobs that will allow more families to live in Ashland and stated she is comfortable with the layout of uses. Dotterrer agreed with Marsh and commented on keeping the plan flexible. He added there are a lot of industrial opportunities that would be allowed on the Croman site. Dimitre stated he agrees with the issues mentioned by Mindlin and stated he is concerned with the arrangement of uses and Plexis picking the site they want. Mindlin restated her position that this plan ignores the EOA and what it says are going to be Ashland’s growth sectors. Morris disagreed and stated this plan would not preclude those activities from happening. Dawkins commented that the strict design standards would likely discourage these types of uses. Mr. Molnar noted that they will be discussing the design standards at an upcoming meeting and the Commission can determine how flexible they want them to be.


Commissioner Marsh asked if there are members who are unable to move forward with the layout of uses plan as presented. She stated if they want to change the land use designation to all industrial this is a major shift and will need to be taken back to the City Council for approval. Councilor Navickas expressed his disappointment that there are commissioners who seem unwilling to compromise and stated there are still a lot of opportunities for adjustments. Comment was made that this land could be purchased today and almost anything could be built there, and then the City would have no choice but to build around what’s there. Suggestion was made for someone to make a motion so they can move forward.


Commissioners Mindlin/Dawkins m/s to eliminate the employment zone and revert the entire plan to a modified M-1 zone that is meant to have flexibility, include employment uses, and exclude the heavier/dirtier manufacturing uses to be yet determined. DISCUSSION: Marsh clarified if this motion passes the plan will need to go back to the City Council because this is in direct conflict with what they were instructed to do. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Dimitre, and Mindlin, YES. Commissioners Blake, Dotterrer, Marsh, Morris and Rinaldi, NO. Motion failed 5-3.


Commissioner Blake noted a suggestion made by the Croman Advisory Committee to possibly rezone the two blocks southwest of the park to industrial land and make the two blocks closest to the residential area office employment land. He stated this would create the potential for a larger industrial lot and might be a good compromise. Hearing no real support for this suggestion, Marsh stated the Commission will move forward with the current layout while keeping in mind that they will stay flexible and adjustments may be made as they move forward with the public hearing process.


Questions: Is the addition of “Mixed” land use designation that requires ground floor employment use while permitting some upper floor residential appropriately located? Should any limitations for upper story uses be considered? Is too much or too little area allocated to the “Mixed Use” designation?

Staff briefly reviewed the areas on the Croman site that have been allocated for mixed use. It was clarified the ground floor would be for an employment use, and the upper floors could be either residential or employment use. Mindlin stated she is hesitant about designating the area outside the city limits at the south end of the property for mixed use. Marsh stated they have yet to decide whether this area will be included in the master plan, and asked that Mindlin set aside this concern until they reach that point in the discussion. Dotterrer voiced his support for the mixed use area along the creek and stated it makes a lot of sense to allow for this flexibility.


Question: Should the most southerly portion of the CMD Plan area be annexed as part of the CMD Plan adoption process?

Mr. Molar clarified including this area in the Croman master plan may facilitate changes in this area quicker than they might like. Mindlin stated this area was not on the table for discussion during the plan development process with Crandall & Arambula. She recommended this area remain as is and not be included in the master plan. Several commissioners expressed agreement with Mindlin. Morris stated he supports including the portion that has the central boulevard passing through it. Marsh questioned the implications of having a city street pass through county land. Mr. Molnar clarified the street could still be constructed to City standards. He added the applicants are currently looking at grant opportunities to build this central boulevard and if they receive a grant, the road would likely be built all at once. Several comments were made about the farm currently located on that piece of property and expressing desire for it to remain. Marsh stated there does not seem to be support from the Commission to pursue annexation of this area as part of the master plan.


Questions: What type, if any, night-time or evening uses should be allowed? Should land uses that are typically land are intensive and accommodate a relatively low number of employees per acre, such as lumber yards, sorting yards and recycling centers, be permitted within the CMD?

Commissioner Marsh stated these issues would be pushed to their next meeting when they will be talking about kinds of uses and refinements.


Question: How does the CMD Plan protect opportunities for utilizing future rail freight?

Mr. Molnar noted the design standards, which will be addressed at their next meeting, includes a map and language that speaks to this issue and ensures land is reserved and this option remains viable.


Question: Are the CMD’s Plan assumptions related to “parking” appropriate?

Mr. Molnar clarified the plan includes the City’s standard parking requirements but also includes the ability for shared and mixed parking. He stated certain areas like the neighborhood commercial might have reductions in parking beyond the current parking standards and there is also a placeholder for a parking structure. Marsh asked for the Commission’s general direction on the parking issue. Blake noted the LEED neighborhood program and commented on providing less than ample parking in hopes of encouraging people to use public and alternative transportation. Mindlin agreed with this and voiced support for looking at some of the suggestions in the LEED standards. Marsh agreed with the comments made and stated they should do everything they can to move in this direction.


Questions: How will solar access be provided in the CMD Plan? What types of green building or sustainable development standards should be incorporated within the adopted plan implementation package?

Mr. Molnar stated staff has been working under the assumption that this project will be subject to the City’s solar setback standards and have also conducted research and held discussions with architects out of Portland that have a lot of experience in solar orientation. He explained what they have found is in terms of street orientation, there is a big distinction between residential and commercial/industrial developments. Mr. Molnar stated for industrial and employment buildings, street orientation is not so much of a consideration for passive heat gain, but is a major consideration for rooftop solar photovoltaic systems. He stated architects are often recommending industrial and employment buildings be elongated along an east-west access in order to limit the length of the west facing façade. He added the primary issue for these buildings is the energy costs to keep them cool, and the second major energy cost is lighting. Mr. Molnar explained staff is not looking at relocating the proposed streets, but rather are looking to protect access to rooftop solar collection systems and enacting standards that minimize west facing building facades.


Mr. Molnar commented on sustainable standards and listed possible methods that could be used to encourage green building. He commented on providing incentives for buildings built to LEED standards, or they could consider a “menu” of options and require developments to perform a certain number that would increase the efficiency of the building. Mr. Molnar added some communities are exploring fee reductions or an expedited permitting process for projects that meet a green standard. Mr. Goldman noted the draft plan also outlines several options for incorporating sustainability. Rinaldi suggested certain green attributes (such as rainwater catchment and solar orientation) be required, and then have a menu of options for applicants to choose from in order to qualify for incentives.


Commissioner Marsh questioned how green streets fit into this. Mr. Molnar explained the plan will show which streets are going to be designed as green streets, and clarified they are working with the Public Works Director to develop a green streets standard. Dawkins expressed concern with taking the cement on the site and grinding it up for road base, and stated he does not believe this meets the definition of sustainable. Mindlin commented that she is torn between requiring high standards and offering incentives. She explained she also feels they are doing a disservice with the proposed street orientation and feels they are making a major mistake by not pursuing an east-west layout. Dotterrer questioned if it is possible in the Site Design & Use Standards to give applicants more flexibility in terms of setbacks to allow them to orient their building differently. Rinaldi voiced his support for this suggestion. Mr. Molnar stated if there is consensus from the Commission, staff can look into these issues further and bring back possible adjustments.


B.      Comments on Proposed Council Rules Ordinance and Uniform Policies and Operating Procedures Ordinance.

Postponed to next meeting due to time constraints.


Meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant

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