Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, January 12, 2010





January 12, 2010



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

Maria Harris, Planning Manager

Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner

Richard Appicello, City Attorney

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant





Absent Members:


Council Liaison:



Eric Navickas



Commissioner Marsh announced the vacancy on the Planning Commission and encouraged interested citizens to submit applications to the Mayor’s Office.


Community Development Director Bill Molnar indicated the Commission’s March Study Session falls over spring break and if a Study Session is needed they will meet on March 30th instead. 


Commission Rinaldi provided a brief update on the Economic Development Technical Advisory Committee. He stated the group is currently working on a SWOT analysis and if the commissioners have any questions they can contact him later. Commissioner Marsh recommended adding this to a future agenda so that Rinaldi can provide a more thorough update.



A.      Approval of Minutes
1.  December 8, 2009 Planning Commission Minutes


Commissioners Dotterrer/Blake m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 8-0.



No one came forward to speak.



A.         PLANNING ACTIONS: #2009-01292 
APPLICANT: City of Ashland
DESCRIPTION: A request to amend the Ashland Land Use Ordinance (ALUO) creating a new Chapter 18.53 Croman Mill, to amend the multiple chapters of the Ashland Land Use Ordinance to provide consistency with the new Chapter 18.53 Croman Mill (ALUO 18.08, 18.12.020, 18.61.042, 18.68.050, 18.70.040, 18.72.030, 18.72.080, 18.72.110, 18.72.120, 18.72.140, 18.72.180, 18.84.100, 18.88.070, 18.106), to amend the Ashland Comprehensive Plan Map and Zoning Map to include the Croman Mill District, and to adopt the Croman Mill Site Redevelopment Plan as a supporting document to the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

Commissioner Marsh read aloud the public hearing procedures and noted the commissioners have been asked to disclose ex parte contact. Mr. Molnar clarified the commissioners will need to report any conversations they had outside the meetings where they were exposed to factual information that they will use to deliberate towards a recommendation.


Declaration of Ex Parte Contact

Commissioner Dawkins stated he attended the staff organized site visit and has had conversations with Dr. Morris about the plan in general and the cost of the infrastructure.  


Commissioner Rinaldi stated he had a briefing on the Croman plan with Planning Manager Maria Harris after he was appointed to the Commission.


Commissioner Miller disclosed that she had spoken with the man who runs the Village Farm and he had voiced his concern with a road going through his garden. She also had a conversation with an individual who indicated their preference for the land to remain mostly manufacturing.


Commissioner Dotterrer stated he attended the staff organized site visit.


Commissioner Mindlin stated she has had many conversations over the past year; however her exposure to factual information was very limited. She stated she has spoken with Mark DiRienzo but they did not discuss anything that was not in his letter. She has also spoken with the people at the Village Farm and members of the City Council.


Commissioner Blake stated he attended the site visit and has been spoken to by Huelz.


Commissioner Morris stated he attended the site visit and has also been spoken to by Huelz. He disclosed he has spoken to his parents about the plan and noted his family received notice because their business is near the site. He added nothing was discussed that changes his views.


Commissioner Marsh stated she has spoken with Huelz about energy efficiency and solar orientation. She has also spoken with representatives from SOREDI, attended the Council Study Session on this plan, spoke with an Airport Commissioner about the FAA and height limitations, and has also spoken with Mark Knox.


Commissioner Marsh noted that she will be discussing the issue of quasi-judicial procedures for legislative items further with staff.


Staff Report

Planning Manager Maria Harris stated the Commission is being asked to make a recommendation on the Croman Mill District implementation plan, which: 1) creates the new CM zoning district, 2) establishes development standards for the CM district, 3) revises existing Land Use Ordinance for consistency, and 4) adopts the 2008 Redevelopment Plan as a supporting document to the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Senior Planner Brandon Goldman provided a brief overview of the Plan goals and objections. He reviewed the street framework, the central boulevard phasing, the Tolman Creek Road realignment, the pedestrian and bicycle framework, the transit framework, the natural and open space areas in the plan, and the parking framework. Ms. Harris noted the project webpage ( and stated there is an extensive amount of documentation posted if anyone is looking for more information.  


Ms. Harris explained the proposal before the Commission redistributes allowed uses in the district boundary, focuses on land efficient/high employment uses, increases the residential density in the neighborhood center, and adds residential uses in mixed use areas. She stated most of the Croman Mill District is within the city limits and the bulk of it is comprised of the former Croman Mill site. Ms. Harris stated the current M-1 industrial title is somewhat misleading because this zoning district allows for a wide range of commercial and employment uses in addition to what most would consider typical industrial uses. She elaborated that retail, restaurants, offices, nightclubs/bars, and hotels/motels would all be allowed in the M-1 zone, in addition to industrial uses like manufacturing/assembly warehouses, junk yards, and outside storage. Ms. Harris explained the proposed Croman Mill District is really a redistribution of many of those uses.


Ms. Harris reviewed the planning application process and stated applicants will still have to go through site review approval; however proposals in the compatible industrial district will be subject to a smaller set of standards (similar to basic site review), while projects in the neighborhood commercial, office employment zone, mixed use area, and those located along active edge streets will go through a process comparable to detail site review. Ms. Harris noted the green development standards, which focus on site infrastructure, green parking, green streets, and building orientation, and also commented briefly on the major and minor amendment process.


Community Development Director Bill Molnar noted there have been 15 meetings on this topic, and tonight’s meeting is for the public to see the whole package and present their comments. He explained the goal is for the Commission to work on formulating their recommendation to the City Council, and highlighted the following three areas where the Commission could consider issuing sub-recommendations: 1) inclusion of property outside the district boundary, 2) east-west orientation alternative, and 3) alignment alternative for the central boulevard. Mr. Molnar reviewed these three items in further detail. In regards to their first option, he clarified staff is recommending the front of the property on Mistletoe Rd (Mistletoe Storage) be included in the district boundary in order to keep continuity. In regards to option two, Mr. Molnar displayed the east-west alternative and stated recommending this layout would provide more opportunity for southern building exposure, but it would impact block lengths and would require staff to make slight modifications to the minimum lot size requirements. Lastly, option 3 explores a potential realignment of the central boulevard during phase 2 that would look at ways to work around the two existing buildings.


Mr. Molnar noted the Transportation Commission will be holding a meeting to further explore some of the transportation issues and will be forwarding their comments to the Commission. As such, the Transportation Commission has requested that the Planning Commission not make a formal recommendation to the Council until they have received their comments. Mr. Molnar recommended the Planning Commission hear public testimony and hold a discussion on the options, but to wait and finalize their motion(s) at the February 9th Planning Commission meeting.


Public Testimony

David Wick/2560 Eagle Creek Lane/Submitted information on bringing the “Triple Bottom Line” concept to the Croman plan. Mr. Wick stated this approach is in line with Ashland’s values and the idea is for businesses to pay attention to the following three bottom lines as the key to enhanced prosperity and lasting sustainability: 1) Profit – your established traditional measures of financial performance, 2) People – commitment to your employees, customers, suppliers and community, and 3) Planet – reduction of you carbon footprint, resource consumption and pollution. Mr. Wick cited various cities that are using this approach and requested Ashland incorporate Triple Bottom Line as the framework for the Croman site.


Mike Montero/4497 Brownridge Terrace, Suite 105, Medford/Stated he represents the property owners of the Croman site and stated the revised plan is wholly acceptable to his clients. He stated the plan will provide sufficient flexibility to deal with current and future economic challenges, and he urged the Planning Commission to issue a favorable recommendation to the City Council.


Mark DiRienzo/700 Mistletoe Road/Clarified he owns Mistletoe Road Business Park and shared his concerns with the proposed plan. Mr. DiRienzo stated the new Croman Mill code language will be impossible to interpret and will create cost-prohibited developments that businesses cannot practically use. He stated the site will build out slowly, if at all, and stated no one will be happy with the results. Mr. DiRienzo explained that he has approved plans for a 10,000 sq. ft distillery building for Organic Nation Vodka and just found out that his land is now proposed to be included in the district boundary and rezoned as office employment. He added he is also in talks with an energy efficiency engineering company that wants a 15,000 sq. ft. design and assembly space on his south lot. Mr. DiRienzo stated the new zone prohibits Organic Nation’s distillery building, and he will also lose his other prospective tenant. He stated the proposed road alignment would create a deadly corner directly in front of his office building on Mistletoe Rd., and the new zoning will make his existing building non-conforming and they will not be able to build their planned office building. He stated the current M-1 zoning designation of his property provides freedom to accommodate the needs of actual tenants who are looking for space, not just possible future tenants. He stated this plan would make his property partially in the Croman Mill District and partially out. Mr. DiRienzo stated he cannot accept this short notice inclusion of his property into the Croman Mill District without adequate time to review its impacts and strongly urged the Commission to delay this plan’s approval until a review of the practical implementation is completed. He stated the project has taken this long to assemble, a few more months to ensure they get it right is appropriate.

Staff pointed out the location of Mr. DiRienzo’s property and clarified this is the property referenced in staff option 1. It was noted that up until recently, this area was not included in the plan and staff has presented options to include either all of Mr. DiRienzo’s property, or just the front portion.


Mr. DiRienzo clarified he owns three tax lots along the Mistletoe Rd. frontage and including the frontage of his property in the Croman District would split the zoning for the middle lot which houses the existing office building and mini-storage complex. He added the two lots on either side would become office employment and he already has prospective tenants for both of these lots which are currently zoned M-1. Mr. DiRienzo also clarified his concerns with the blind corner and stated the proposed angle of the road could create an unsafe transportation issue.


Commissioner Marsh noted Mr. DiRienzo’s suggestion to have the feasibility of the plan looked at and asked if there is any reason why local professionals cannot take what was presented tonight and provide staff with some analysis. She noted tonight’s hearing is just one step in the process and stated there is still time for the professionals in the field to submit their input.


Marilyn Briggs/590 Glenview Drive/Stated six years ago the Planning Commission voted to keep the Croman property as light industrial and voiced her disapproval of the proposed plan. Ms. Briggs stated the plan takes away from infill and there are office spaces downtown that could be utilized instead of constructing new office buildings on the Croman site. She voiced her concerns with the firm Crandall Arambula and felt they were not open to public input, and asked that the Commission deny this proposal.


John Weber/295 Mistletoe Road/Voiced his concern with a proposed bike path and stated it would be located directly behind his house. He stated there are a lot of homeless people in this area and would prefer to not have them wandering behind his house.


Commissioner Marsh noted the written testimony that was handed out at the beginning of the meeting and read the letters aloud. Letters were received from Mark Knox, Stark & Hammond P.C., Knecht Family Trust, Historic Commission Staff Liaison Derek Seversen, and Transportation Commission Chair Colin Swales.


Commissioner Marsh closed the Public Hearing at 8:35 p.m.


Commissioner Marsh noted the public record will remain open and at this point deliberations will be deferred to their February 9, 2010 meeting.


Advice from Legal Counsel and Staff

City Attorney Richard Appicello recommended the Commission not begin their deliberations since the record is not closed. He added the Commission is allowed to identify issues for staff.


Commissioner Dawkins shared his concerns with the plan. He stated they are being asked to up-zone a piece of property and does not believe a new start up company is going to be able to pay for all the required infrastructure and stringent site review standards.


Staff commented briefly on the proposed lot sizes and stated the intent was to give businesses room to grow. Ms. Harris provided examples of existing companies in the area and stated Blackstone Audio is on a one-acre sized lot, and Modern Fan is just under 2-acres. 


Commissioner Dotterrer acknowledged the concerns expressed during the public forum and questioned if the plan places too high of a standard. He commented on the LEED standards and asked if this would make the Croman plan economically unviable. Staff clarified the LEED standards only come into effect if an applicant wants a height bonus; however there are other sustainable standards that are required.


Commissioner Mindlin shared her concerns with minimum building size and the costs involved with developing a phased concept for start-up businesses. She noted the public concerns raised about parking and asked if they have created a “catch 22”. She also asked if it is possible to obtain more input from local professionals as suggested during the public forum. Mr. Molnar clarified if they would like to pursue this they could recommend that the City Council work with a group of local professionals and stated it would be most helpful if the Commission could identify specific aspects they would like evaluated. Commissioner Morris commented that implications are site specific and will depend on the individual lots. He stated he would be surprised if they could get the type of general comments they desire since there are site specific concerns. Commissioner Dotterrer questioned if it would be possible to get some type of read-out on whether this plan precludes development. City Attorney Richard Appicello noted the public hearing has been closed, however the record remains open and the Commission could ask staff to prepare something that helps them make a judgment about the feasibility of the regulations.


Commissioner Marsh requested staff come back with evidence as to the feasibility of actually developing under the proposed plan. Commissioner Rinaldi suggested staff instead address the specific concerns raised this evening by Mr. DiRienzo and in the letter from Mr. Knox (what would this plan do to their development plans?) Mr. Molnar stated that focusing on Mr. DiRienzo and Mr. Knox’s property may be the best approach. He stated in order to bring in a team to evaluate the standards the Commission would need to identify specific objectives. 


Commissioner Marsh clarified it is the Commission’s choice as to whether they want to recommend Mr. DiRienzo and Mr. Knox’s property be included in the Croman district boundary. Commissioner Dotterrer asked if staff could elaborate on the rational for including this property and what the impact would be for not including it.


Commissioner Mindlin noted that the central boulevard would pass through someone’s property and asked how this would be accomplished. Mr. Molnar clarified at this point the roads are not being designed and it is not uncommon for master plans to identify general areas of connections. Commissioner Marsh noted the staff report indicates the final design of the central boulevard could fall under Phase 2 and be further evaluated at that time.


Mr. Molnar clarified the City’s land inventory and use needs are identified in the Economic Opportunities Analysis and this information has been provided to the Commission. Ms. Harris added a land inventory of where less restricted manufacturing uses could go has also previously been provided. Commissioner Marsh requested staff email their previous presentation that contains this information to the group. Commissioner Miller stated she is also interested in vacant E-1 property that is currently available.


Commissioner Mindlin voiced her concern with the land at the southern end of the Croman site (Village Farm). Staff clarified this are was included in the district boundary in the previous version of the plan that was presented to the Council and the Planning Commission at the beginning of last year. Mr. Molnar questioned why they would want to exclude this area and stated it is within the City’s urban growth boundary, is adjacent to the site and is owned by the same owner as the rest of the property. He added the plan recommends to not annex this property, but it is included in the plan area. He noted if the Commission wants to see this area remain as a certain use, they could recommend to the Council that this land be put in a different zoning designation.


Commissioner Marsh provided clarification on the concept of minority reports. She stated her hope is that one cohesive minority report be issued to the Council along with their formal recommendation. She added members of the commission who want to do a minority report should get together and do this. Mr. Appicello clarified the Commission will have to make a motion for the minority view to be forwarded to the Council, and that motion must pass.


Staff clarified if a property owner has already received planning approval for a project, then their plans are still valid until the approval period expires.


Commissioner Rinaldi suggested that changes to the proposed accessways should be allowed under the minor approval process.


Commissioner Dotterrer/Morris m/s to continue the public hearing to the February 9, 2010 Planning Commission Meeting. DISCUSSION: Marsh clarified the record is still open and asked individuals to submit their written testimony by February 2nd  so that it can be included in their meeting packet. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 8-0.



A.      Selection of 2010 Hearings Board Members.

A sign-up sheet was passed around the table. Commissioners Morris, Blake and Dotterrer will serve on the Hearings Board January through April; Commissioners Miller, Rinaldi and Dawkins will serve May through August; and Commissioners Marsh and Mindlin will serve along with the newly appointed member September through December.


Meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant

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