Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, May 10, 2011





May 10, 2011



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

Pam Marsh

Debbie Miller

John Rinaldi, Jr.


Bill Molnar, Community Development Director

Derek Severson, Associate Planner

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor





Absent Members:


Council Liaison:

Melanie Mindlin


Russ Silbiger, absent



Commissioner Marsh announced their next meeting will be a joint study session with the Transportation Commission. Transit issues will be discussed, and several RVTD board members have been invited to attend.



A.      Approval of Minutes.

  1. March 29, 2011 Study Session.
  2. April 12, 2011 Regular Meeting.
  3. April 26, 2011 Special Meeting.

Commissioners Dawkins/Blake m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 4-0.

(Miller abstained)



No one came forward.



A.      PLANNING ACTION: #2011-00397     

SUBJECT PROPERTY: 2234 Siskiyou Boulevard (accessed from Chitwood Lane)

APPLICANT: Groundworks Community Development Corp.

DESCRIPTION: A request for Outline and Final Plan review, and Site Review approval to construct a five-unit townhouse development under the Performance Standards Options Chapter (AMC 18.88) for the property located at 2234 Siskiyou Boulevard, also known as Chitwood Park. The applicants have also requested a Tree Removal Permit to remove three trees six-inches in diameter or greater at breast height; Exceptions to Street Standards to allow a dead-end street in excess of 500-feet in length, a private drive to serve five units, and a separation between driveways of less than 24 feet; and an Administrative Variance to the Site Design & Use Standards to allow a reduction in the separation and screening between residential units and parking areas.


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


Ex Parte Contact

Commissioners Miller, Dawkins, Rinaldi, and Blake made site visits; no ex parte contact was reported.


Staff Report

Associate Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report and explained the application before them is a request for Outline and Final Plan review, and Site Review approval to construct five affordable townhome units at the end of Chitwood Lane. This application also includes a Tree Removal Permit to remove three trees on the property, three exceptions to the Street Standards, and an Administrative Variance to allow a reduction in the separation and screening between the residential units and parking areas. Mr. Severson stated the property is 2.41 acres and reviewed the zoning for this site and the surrounding area. He reviewed the site plan and elevations, and clarified all five units would be energy efficient. He noted the proposal includes ten on-site parking spaces to serve the five units, and also noted the proposed installation of bioswales and wetland ponds to accommodate stormwater runoff.


Mr. Severson elaborated on the three exceptions to the Street Standards. He stated the first request is to allow a 20 ft. separation between driveways (AMC requires 24 feet); the second request is to allow a dead-end street in excess of 500 ft. and to have a private drive serving more than three units; and the final request is to not have an 8 ft. landscape buffer between the building and the parking area. Mr. Severson stated these exceptions speak to the intent of the proposal, which is to cluster the development to have the least possible impact. He noted while the applicant’s are requesting a variance to the landscape buffer along the parking area, the buffer to the neighboring property owners has been doubled from the required 5 ft. to 10 ft.  


Mr. Severson reviewed the on-street parking requirements and stated the Municipal Code indicates one on-street space shall be provided for each unit. He stated this requirement is intended to ensure new streets are built to accommodate adequate visitor parking; however in this case the applicant’s are not proposing to install a new street. Mr. Severson stated even though a new street is not proposed, the applicant’s have indicated this requirement can be satisfied by utilizing the 15 on-street parking spaces on Chitwood Lane.


Mr. Severson briefly reviewed the Fire Marshall’s concerns regarding the proposed landscaping and stated the Fire Marshall would prefer to have plantings consistent with the City’s Firewise Program. Severson noted this is not a requirement of the code, but the Commission could add this as a condition if they felt it was warranted.


Fire Marshall Margueritte Hickman addressed the Commission and stated the Fire Department is recommending all new developments consider Firewise landscaping. She stated the Firewise Program recommends noncontiguous landscaping and recommends against certain plant types; however, this is just a recommendation and there is no code language that requires it.


Commissioner Marsh requested the Fire Department present an overview of the Firewise Program at an upcoming commission meeting.  


Applicant’s Presentation

John Wheeler, Groundworks and Kerry Kencairn, Kencairn Landscape Architecture addressed the commission. Ms. Kencairn commented on the parking situation and stated the ordinance is written to provide on-street parking for street extensions or new streets; however this project is located in the park land, and their intent was to limit excess paving and to keep development as far away from the park as possible. Ms. Kencairn stated they would be providing two spaces for every unit on the site, and while they do not intend on using the on-street spaces on Chitwood, there are 15 spaces available within 200 ft of their development and technically this satisfies the City’s requirement. 


Ms. Kencairn provided some background on this project. She explained the City provided a Request for Proposals for the creation of affordable housing on a piece of property owned by the Parks Department, and Groundworks was selected to develop this project. She reviewed the constraints of the property, and noted the adjacent riparian area which would be developed into a functional wetland. Ms. Kencairn noted they originally had a smaller buffer between this site and the adjacent properties, but in response to the neighbors’ concerns they have retained the Cypress trees and moved the parking lot as far as possible from those trees. She noted that Junipers and other evergreens have been identified for the buffer area, and these were selected to create a dense visual screen for the neighbors. She stated they would be willing to move in a direction that would satisfy the Fire Department, however their main goal is to satisfy the neighbors.


Ms. Kencairn reviewed the site plan, landscape plan, and grading of the site. She also commented on the sustainable features of the design and explained all five units would be Earth Advantage and solar ready. Mr. Wheeler noted that they have applied what was learned from the Rice Park and Verde Village projects and listed some of the specific features of the proposed development.


Ms. Kencairn noted part of their negotiations with the Parks Department was to create a bioswale on the Parks property. Mr. Wheeler added in exchange for use of some of the park land for the bioswale, they agreed to pay for the master planning of the park. When asked when this master planning will occur, Ms. Kencairn stated it will happen when the Parks Department and neighborhood determine they are ready to move forward. She stated the parks master planning is not part of this land use application, and this is a separate agreement they have with the Parks Department. Mr. Wheeler commented that once the purchase and sale agreement is finalized, they will be obligated to provide the master planning for the park. He further clarified that Groundworks is pursuing this land use application in conjunction with the land purchase agreement.


In terms of the development timeline, Mr. Wheeler stated they would begin construction as soon as they get through the planning and building permit process and have five families ready to go. He stated the homeowners will be participating in the construction of these homes, and are required to provide 32 hours per week in sweat equity. He added, however, that they would like to flexibility to not have these affordable units be sweat equity required, just in case Groundworks has to build them themselves.


Public Testimony

Matt Terreri/2252 Chitwood Lane/Stated he supports the development of this area, however he disagrees with the applicant’s statement that there is adequate on-street parking on Chitwood Lane. Mr. Terreri stated one side of the street is signed ‘No Parking’, and there is a fire hydrant on the opposite side which limits parking. He stated he does not believe there are available spaces within 200 ft of the project site, and voiced his concerns regarding parking for this development as well as the future park.  


Maria Barnes/2252 Chitwood Lane/Stated when she purchased her property she was told about the potential for an affordable housing complex and park; however, following the neighborhood meeting last fall, she was told by the Parks Department that they were delaying the park due to funding. Ms. Barnes stated the neighborhood consensus was to the have the park in cohesion with the affordable housing. She questioned whether the proposed architecture was compatible with the surrounding homes, and also commented on the narrow width of Chitwood Lane.


Patrick Hildreth/2242 Chitwood Lane/Stated parking on Chitwood Lane is very restricted, and larger vehicles (delivery trucks, etc.) have difficulty turning around on this narrow street. Mr. Hildreth suggested the applicant create four units instead of five, which would resolve many of the tight spacing issues. He voiced his support for affordable housing at this location, but stated the park needs to go in as well. He added the neighbors were assured that they would be getting both, not one or the other. He also questioned how the traffic flow would be impacted with the increased vehicles trips created by this housing complex.  


Signa Fischer/2271 Chitwood Lane/Stated there is a fire hydrant in front of her home, and there is no on-street parking available. Ms. Fischer stated Chitwood Lane is very narrow and very windy, and stated she is very concerned with whether parking demands for this development will impact Chitwood. She added if the park is not developed, she has major concerns about the potential for a fire.


George Cota/4300 Highway 66/Stated he was the developer of the Chitwood subdivision and concurred with the neighbors’ testimony regarding the restricted parking on this street. He stated he feels betrayed by the City’s Parks Department and asked that this housing be developed in continuity with the park land, and encouraged them to not do these separately.


Applicant’s Rebuttal

John Wheeler and Kerry Kencairn/Ms. Kencairn provided an explanation of how she determined the on-street parking availability on Chitwood Lane. She stated if she made an error in this calculation, then they will need to request a variance to the on-street parking standard since there is no way to create these extra spaces. Mr. Wheeler noted in his experience with these types of projects, families who qualify and participate typically do not have multiple cars.


Mr. Wheeler provided an explanation of why five houses were proposed instead of four. He stated this was the number put forward in the City’s RFP, and had Groundworks lowered the number of homes they likely would not have been selected. Additionally, five is the lowest number of families you can have to do a successful self-help project, and they also need a minimum of five to keep the units affordable.


Ms. Kencairn commented that they have no control over how the Parks Department decides to move forward and she does not agree that the open space needs to be turned into a developed park to facilitate the affordable housing.


In regards to the concerns about architectural compatibility, Ms. Kencairn stated she believes there are things they can do to satisfy these concerns. Mr. Wheeler noted the siding that would be used, and assured the color palette would be complimentary.


Commissioner Marsh closed the public hearing at 8:36 p.m.


Staff was asked to respond to the neighbors’ testimony regarding the available on-street parking. Mr. Severson stated the street width of Chitwood Lane is 23 feet, which is a foot wider than the requirement for a neighborhood residential street. He stated on his visits out to this site, he observed that the curbs could pose a problem for delivery trucks and construction trucks; however the signage that is in place is consistent with how the applicant described it. He stated the street is designed for parking on one-side, and the Public Works Department is responsible for the signage.


Mr. Severson clarified the base density of the parcel is 8.6, and with the affordability and energy efficiency components, the applicant’s would qualify for density bonuses that would allow them to build 13 units on this site.


Commissioner Marsh closed the record at 8:43 p.m.


Deliberations & Decision

Commissioner Dawkins commented that they cannot combine this development proposal with what the Parks Department might do and this should be removed from consideration. Marsh agreed and stated there are issues that are outside their purview, although they can add comments or encouragement.


Commissioner Dawkins/Blake m/s to approve Planning Action #2011-00397. DISCUSSION: It was clarified this motion includes the exceptions and variances as presented in the staff report. In terms of parking, Commissioner Blake stated the City has painted the developer into a corner, and because of the incomes guidelines that governs who can live in these units, they may have capacity for guest parking on-site. He sympathized with the neighbors’ concerns, but stated they are in a tough spot. Commissioner Rinaldi requested the Public Works Department provide a determination of where parking is allowed, both physically and legally, on Chitwood Lane. Comment was made that if the on-street parking situation is holding them up, they should consider postponing this decision until they hear from the Public Works Department. The Commission listed other issues they would like to discuss, and it was agreed that they should continue this hearing and obtain a determination on the parking issue. Commissioner Dawkins withdrew his motion.


Commissioner Dawkins commented on the Fire Marshall’s concerns regarding the landscape plan and stated spacing out plants does not necessarily make them non-combustible, and he does not believe a linear grouping of plants would pose a significant fire hazard. He stated a landscape plan needs to take the deer into account, and stated he would not support a condition that requires the applicant’s to use fire resistant landscaping.


The Commission continued their discussion of this application and requested staff bring back the following information: 1) the parking determination for Chitwood Lane, 2) information on the timeline for the park master plan and park development, and 3) the proposed building’s color palette.


Commissioners Dawkins/Miller m/s to reopen the public hearing and continue this item to the June 14, 2011 Planning Commission meeting. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Miller, Dawkins, Rinaldi, Blake and Marsh, YES. Motion passed 5-0.



A.      TSP Joint Meeting Follow-up Discussion.

The Commission held a brief follow-up discussion of issues presented at the April 26th joint study session. Transit issues were noted and Marsh recommended each of them make a point of riding the bus before their next joint meeting. Commissioner Rinaldi voiced his objection to ideas being dismissed solely on the fact that there is no current funding. Commissioner Dawkins voiced his support for the use of express buses, and commented that the existing bus routes take way too long. Commissioner Marsh noted RVTD’s strategic plan is available on their website if anyone is interested in some background material before their next meeting.


Meeting adjourned at 9:25 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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