Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, September 13, 2011





September 13, 2011



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


Commissioners Present:


Staff Present:

Michael Dawkins

Eric Heesacker

Debbie Miller

Melanie Mindlin


Maria Harris, Planning Manager

Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor





Absent Members:


Council Liaison:

Pam Marsh

Mick Church


Russ Silbiger, absent



A.      Approval of Minutes.

  1. August 9, 2011 Regular Meeting.
  2. August 23, 2011 Special Meeting.
  3. August 23, 2011 Study Session.

Commissioners Miller/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes for the August 9, 2011 Regular Meeting and August 23, 2011 Special Meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 4-0.


Commissioner Mindlin noted a correction request was received from Colin Swales regarding the public testimony he provided at the August 23, 2011 Study Session.


Commissioners Miller/Heesacker m/s to approve the minutes for the August 23, 2011 Study Session with the following sentence added to Mr. Swales’ testimony: “Swales stated there is already plenty of R-2 and R-3 land within the City that is underdeveloped (often a single family home on a large lot). No rezoning is required or needed.” Voice Vote on minutes as amended: all AYES. Motion passed 4-0.



No one came forward to speak.



A.      PLANNING ACTION: #2011-01001                     

APPLICANT: City of Ashland

DESCRIPTION: Application for approval of an ordinance amending the City of Ashland Comprehensive Plan to adopt the Buildable Lands Inventory (2011) as a supporting technical document to be included in the Comprehensive Plan Appendix entitled “Technical Report and Supporting Documents”.

Senior Planner Brandon Goldman stated the Buildable Lands Inventory is a technical document that delineates the land within the city limits and urban growth boundary that has development potential, and provided a brief explanation of how these numbers are determined. Mr. Goldman added following the August 23rd Study Session, staff went back and took a second look at historic district properties over 6,500 sq. ft. in size and determined there were 26 additional properties that could accommodate further development. He stated staff has adjusted these figures in the proposed Buildable Lands Inventory accordingly.


Commissioner Dawkins commented on rezoning the north side of Lithia Way and asked what they would need to do to covert this area to high density residential. Mr. Goldman stated the City is nearing completion of the Housing Needs Analysis, which will provide data on what housing types are needed over the next 20-40 years. He stated once they have this data they could hold an informed discussion on whether additional high density residential land is needed.


Public Testimony

Colin Swales/143 Eighth Street/Commented on the Buildable Lands Inventory being used as a justification for annexation when there is not a real need. He commented on residential being looked at more holistically; and also stated some of the so-called buildable land is physically constrained and not really developable. Lastly, he noted the assessed values in Jackson County had been trending upward, however the newest assessment coming out this fall shows 25% of Jackson County properties have a real market value less than the assessed value, and questioned how this will impact the BLI’s determination of redevelopable land.  


Commissioner Mindlin closed the public hearing at 7:30 p.m.


Deliberations & Decisions

Mr. Goldman commented on the concern expressed in public testimony regarding the redevelopable calculation. He agreed that using assessed values can fluctuate the figures wildly, which is why Ashland uses a partially-vacant calculation instead. He clarified instead of an assessment based on value, Ashland uses an assessment based on zoning and how much of the land is buildable. Mr. Goldman also clarified staff did subtract out steep slopes and floodplains in order to get the most accurate numbers possible.


Support was voiced for adopting the Buildable Lands Inventory as presented.


Commissioners Dawkins/Miller m/s to approve PA #2011-01001. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Heesacker, Miller and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 4-0.



A.      Revisions to the Development Standards for Wireless Communication Facilities.

Planning Manager Maria Harris stated this is a continuation of their agenda item from the last meeting and no new information has been presented.


Jim Fong/759 Leonard Street and Rod Newton/1196 Timberline Terrace addressed the Commission and presented the following questions and suggestions regarding the proposed ordinance changes:

  • AMC 18.72.180.B: Asked what changes were made to the applicability chart; what the difference between the three categories are; and whether all wireless installations could be required to go through a CUP process regardless of the zone.
  • AMC 18.72.180.D(1.e): Asked for clarification on whether wireless facilities are allowed in residential zones.
  • AMC 18.72.180.D(2.a): Requested language be added to subsection (i) that clarifies a “significant service gap” exists when the City fails to meet its legal requirements under the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Mr. Fong clarified the City should better define “infeasible”, and stated the City is required to make services available but they are not required to accommodate every provider’s individual service needs. In regards to subsection (iii), they asked that language be added that clarifies it must not be physically possible to add to an existing structure (not that there are no limitations, but that those limitations cannot be overcome). And regarding subsection (v), asked that language be added that elaborates that some interference obstruction can occur as long as the City can meet its requirements under the 1996 law.

Mr. Fong concluded their testimony by asking the Planning Commission to include a recommendation for an independent technical analysis fee with their recommendation to the City Council.


Ms. Harris clarified no changes were made to the applicability table; in terms of flow staff felt it was better to move it to its proposed location. She added this chart has been in the ordinance since it was originally adopted and explained what the three table headings meant. Regarding 18.72.180.D(1.e), Ms. Harris stated this is not new language and clarified wireless facilities are allowed in residential zones if they are attached to existing structures, but the structure has to be over 45 ft in height. She added the maximum building height in a residential zone is 35 ft; and this language could allow for facilities on structures such as the university or high school’s stadium light towers.

Ms. Harris explained staff’s intention was to incorporate the Council’s decision but not change the other existing language in the ordinance. She stated the language in 18.72.180.D(2.a) is mostly new, and stated staff can look into the suggestions about tying this to the standards in the Federal Communications Act.


Mr. Newton recommended the City also look into what it means to have coverage in an area and to seek legal guidance on whether they are required to accommodate a company’s desire for higher levels of data reception.


The Commission voiced support for looking into whether the City is required to allow every provider to have coverage within the City, and whether cellular telephone service constitutes coverage, or if they need to accommodate data streaming.


B.      Pedestrian Places Proposed Code Amendments.

Ms. Harris noted staff provided an update on this item at their last meeting and stated this is the Commission’s opportunity to discuss any outstanding issues before this comes back as a public hearing.


Colin Swales/143 Eighth Street/Questioned why these code amendments would go before the Council separate from the TSP update. Mr. Swales also commented on the arterial setback requirements and voiced concern with some of the wording. He stated he does not believe it is un-conducive to pedestrian places to have small plazas on the street. He stated there is no public plaza space requirement in the ordinance and expressed concern with all new buildings being built to the minimum setback.


Ms. Harris clarified the Pedestrian Places project is a subset of the TSP Update. She explained Planning staff had submitted a separate grant application for this project; however the State contacted the City and agreed to fold this into the TSP Update in order to receive the grant award. She stated it was always conceived as a separate project, and Public Works and the consultants have no problems with moving this ahead since the land use changes proposed do not impact how the main street network functions.


Ms. Harris also clarified there is a public patio space requirement for large scale projects and this is an existing requirement in the detail site review zone. She commented on providing some flexibility in the code on where to locate that space and stated sometimes a plaza off the side street or on the side of a building is more desirable and conducive to a functioning pedestrian place; and commented on allowing the design professionals to design a plaza space that works for that particular building and location.


Correction was noted to 18.56.040.E(3) and E(4). Staff clarified these two items should have been combined and indicated this would be corrected.



A.      Grant Application for Unified Land Use Ordinance.

Ms. Harris announced the City Council has authorized staff to apply for a Technical Assistance Grant to create a unified land use ordinance. She stated creating a more user-friendly land use code was a recommendation of the Siegel Report, and if awarded this project would: 1) incorporate the various standards documents into the land use code, 2) make the code more approachable by improving the organization, formatting and graphics, 3) integrate a form-based approach where feasible, and 4) incorporate some of the green code updates. She clarified this project is not focused on policy changes, but rather repackaging the land use code to make it more user friendly.  


Colin Swales/143 Eighth Street/Stated the first stage of the Siegel recommendation resulted in major changes to the code and stated the idea of streamlining the code worries him. He gave examples of previous streamlining that caused problems and recommended they not tinker with the code if it is working. Mr. Swales also spoke to the Commission quorum issue that has come up at recent City Council meetings and stated it is worrisome when major issues are decided by so few people.


Meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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