Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 10, 2012

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:
Mick Church
Michael Dawkins
Eric Heesacker
Richard Kaplan
Pam Marsh
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
Amy Gunter, Assistant Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
    Russ Silbiger, absent
Commissioner Marsh welcomed Richard Kaplan to the Planning Commission and provided an overview of the upcoming meeting schedule. She also asked for a volunteer to attend the next Chamber meeting and Commissioner Miller offered to attend.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar commented on the Economic Development Strategy and noted the Chamber of Commerce is working on a local survey of businesses. He stated this will be kicking off soon and the findings will be presented at a future Study Session.

A.  Approval of Minutes: December 13, 2011 Regular Meeting.

Commissioners Dawkins/Heesacker m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 5-0. [Commissioners Kaplan and Church abstained]
No one came forward to speak.
PLANNING ACTION: #2011-01576
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 1554 Webster Street (on the Southern Oregon University campus)
APPLICANT: American Campus Community Services              
DESCRIPTION: A request for Site Review approval to construct a new single-story dining hall near the intersection of  Wightman and Webster Streets, two new four-story residence halls near the intersection of Webster and Stadium Streets, two parking lots and associated site improvements on the Southern Oregon University campus at 1554 Webster Street. Also included are requests for Conditional Use Permit approval to allow buildings that exceed the maximum length and vary from the locations identified in the SOU Masterplan and to exceed the 40 foot height allowance in the SO zoning district, and a request for a Tree Removal Permit to remove 18 trees that are 18-inches in diameter-at-breast-height or greater. The application involves the demolition of five residences and their associated accessory structures near the intersection of Webster and Stadium Streets to accommodate the proposed development.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Southern Oregon University; ZONING: SO; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 10 CD; TAX LOT: 4200. (Continued from December 13, 2011 meeting)
Commissioner Marsh read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Kaplan performed a site visit and reviewed the previous meeting documents and video. Commissioner Mindlin performed a site visit. Commissioner Heesacker reviewed the SOU Master Plan. Commissioner Church performed a site visit, reviewed the previous meeting documents and video, and received clarification from staff regarding the SOU Master Plan. Commissioner Dawkins performed a site visit. Commissioner Marsh performed a site visit and had two brief conversations regarding the public hearing and approval process.   
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson provided an update of the issues raised at the December 13th public hearing.

Sense of Entry/Relationship to the Street and Better Address Length and Articulation Guidelines.
Mr. Severson stated the applicants have redesigned the building in response to these issues and have added an arched element; broken up the height with additional dormers; added a plaza area; and added a walkway that connects to the Greensprings Complex. He stated staff is supportive of these revisions and believes the revised proposal better addresses the standards.

Transportation and Parking Demand Management.
Mr. Severson reviewed the exhibit that was presented at the Transportation Commission hearing, which outlines the current and proposed parking supply, and clarified resident students will not be allowed to park in commuter lots elsewhere on campus. He also commented on the shift in resident population to the north side of campus and stated the application focuses on crossing treatments so that students can safely cross Siskiyou Blvd.

Pedestrian Safety.
Mr. Severson stated staff’s concern was ensuring there is big picture consideration of the circulation changes in shifting the student life zone to the north side of Siskiyou and how they will fit within the fabric of campus and the community. Staff also requested the applicant clarify what improvements will occur, by whom, and when. Mr. Severson noted the Pedestrian Circulation Plan presented by the applicants and also reviewed the recommended conditions of approval submitted by the Transportation Commission. He noted that one of the Transportation Commission’s recommendations is to install full width sidewalks and parkrows along Ashland Street; however, this would require the removal of at least 29 trees, and these improvements could potentially be disturbed when the multi-use building goes in along the Ashland Street frontage. Mr. Severson stated for these reasons, staff is recommending the Ashland Street sidewalk improvements be delayed until the installation of the future mixed use building.

Issues Raised by the Commission.
Mr. Severson reviewed the five issues raised by the Commission at the December hearing: 1) Parking, including the future Student Recreation Center and event demand, 2) Sidewalks on the north side of Ashland Street, 3) Sidewalks on both sides of Stadium Street, 4) the Ashland Street crossing at Stadium Street, and 5) Sidewalks on the east side of Wightman. He stated the applicants are now proposing sidewalks and parkrows along the full length of Stadium Street from Webster to Ashland Street; and in terms of the crossing, the recommendation from the Transportation Commission is to install audible RFBs and additional signage. He stated if feasible, the applicants are also considering median treatments and adjusting the location of that crossing to address concerns with the left hand turn movements out of the Market of Choice shopping center. In terms of the Wightman Street corridor, Mr. Severson stated the applicants have presented an alternate design that would widen the sidewalks along the Dining Hall frontage.

Tree Commission Recommendations.
Mr. Severson stated the Tree Commission did not review the applicant’s newest submittals, but they are supportive of the application and recommend the following: 1) that the existing, established trees along the Wightman and Ashland Street frontages not be removed, 2) that an arborist be present at all times during the sewer line installation on Iowa Street and supervise the hand excavation within the root zones of Trees #200 and #201, and 3) to take extra effort to save Tree #200, but they recognized that this proposal may necessitate the removal of Tree #201.

Applicants Requested Revisions.
Mr. Severson stated the applicants have requested revisions to the conditions proposed by staff. 1) Condition #1 – the applicants have requested the LEED requirement be revised to require them to submit the materials for LEED certification within an agreed upon timeframe, rather than setting a deadline for obtaining approval. 2) Conditions #5i and #7d– the applicants have asked that the requirement for stairway access be removed and that the requirement for radio coverage be based on testing and supplied if needed as a condition of occupancy. Mr. Severson stated staff is comfortable with the revisions as proposed.
Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and stated Staff is supportive of the application and are recommending approval with the conditions as outlined.
Questions for Staff
Suggestion was made for the applicant to install a crossing treatment for the Francis/Siskiyou crossing, including audible RFBs.
Concern was expressed regarding the Stadium Street crosswalk and it was questioned whether there are other treatments that could be done. Public Works Director Mike Faught addressed the Commission and stated one idea is to extend the median and to prohibit left hand turns from the shopping center; however, more outreach with the community and surrounding business owners would need to be done before a change like this was implemented.
Recommendation was made for the TDM strategies to focus on outcomes rather than monitoring behaviors. Suggestion was also made for the excessive signage along Siskiyou to be reviewed and to consider removing those that are not legally required.
Applicant’s Presentation
Kurt Schultz/SERA Architects/Thanked the Commission for their comments made at the first hearing and reviewed some of the changes that have been made to the design, including: 1) Enhancing the pedestrian connectivity throughout the site, including the addition of an Ashland City Street Standards sidewalk with parkrow along both sides of Stadium Street from Webster to Ashland, with the exception of a small segment in order to preserve several mature trees, 2) Changed the residence hall design to create significant entries and added dormers to break up the roofline, and 3) Created a pedestrian crossing across the new parking lot to new stairs and also created a new pedestrian circulation path that connects to the Greensprings Complex. Other modifications include the addition of landscape islands in the parking lot and additional landscape screening around the trash compactor. 
Mr. Schultz reviewed the Pedestrian Circulation hierarchy diagram and identified the primary and additional circulation paths for the Commission. He also commented on the proposed alternate treatment for Wightman, which would widen the sidewalks along the Dining Hall frontage. He stated this would require the removal of four Sycamore trees, however 5-foot tree grates would be installed and new street trees planted. He stated their preference is to retain the original design, however they have presented this alternate for the Commission’s consideration. Mr. Schultz agreed with staff’s concerns regarding the installation of wider sidewalks along Ashland Street and noted the issues with the number of trees that would need to be removed and the grade changes. He stated their preference is to install the Ashland Street improvements with the development of the future multi-use building, which will include underground parking.
Mr. Schultz concluded his testimony and noted several members of the design team are here to answer any questions the Commission may have.
Questions of the Applicant
Comment was made questioning if the Mediterranean design style for the buildings is something the university will stick with. Mr. Schultz explained when the university was first developing several buildings were done in this style; however, in the 1960s and 1970s a different style was used. He stated the university does not want to create the type of institutional looking buildings used in the 60s and 70s, which is why they are going back to the design roots of the campus.
Mr. Schultz provided an explanation of where the bollards on Webster would be placed, and also clarified where ADA parking would be located.
Comment was made expressing concern that the Greensprings Complex does not front the quad, which was the original design in the Master Plan. Mr. Schultz commented on the integration of the Greensprings Complex and stated they have created an outdoor area along the walkway from the Greensprings to the Dining Hall. Mr. Craig Morris added that 1% of the construction costs will be allocated to art, and commented on the landscaping and exterior art that will be located along the promenade and inside the quad.
Comment was made questioning if there is a treatment that could be done to the Ashland Street sidewalk that would improve the drop hazard until the full improvement takes place.
Comment was made expressing concern with the number of trees to be removed. Mr. Greg Covey explained there are several challenges with this site, and the biggest one is the change in grade. He stated it is impractical to try and save the trees that are very close to buildings, however they will be planting more trees than they are removing, and in the end this will improve the campus tree canopy since more consideration is being taken regarding the species, diversity and location.
Comment was made that not all trips to the Dining Hall will be from the dorms, and support was voiced for the alternate Wightman treatment suggested by the applicants.
Comment was made expressing concern regarding the adequacy for event parking. Mr. Phil Worth stated they are looking at a small number of events each year that generate a significant parking demand, and the neighborhood, campus and city will likely need to come to an agreement on what parking can be used for these events and what is off limits. Mr. Morris noted the parking lot next to McNeal Stadium is not residential and will remain commuter and staff parking. In terms of the transportation piece, recommendation was made for a more outcome based analysis that measures parking and transportation impacts rather than monitoring the university’s use of bus passes, etc. Mr. Worth encouraged the City to move in this direction and stated an outcome based method is very appropriate. He stated the difficulty will be identifying the right outcomes, and selecting outcomes you can confidently measure.
The applicant’s were asked to clarify their proposed revision to the LEED condition. Mr. Schultz explained the university has no control over how long the U.S. Green Building Council might take to approve their application. Mr. Morris stated they intend to do everything possible to be certified, however their last application took nearly 3 years to be approved and they just can’t guarantee how long this process might take.
Public Testimony
Tom Burnham/1344 Apple Way/Clarified he is speaking as a citizen and not as a member of the Transportation Commission. Mr. Burnham read his letter that was included in the meeting materials and expressed his concerns with: 1) the safe and efficient crossing of Siskiyou Blvd by pedestrians and cyclists, 2) the accuracy of the pedestrian counts at the intersection of Siskiyou, Wightman and Indiana, and 3) possible problems for pedestrians attempting to get from the north/west corner of Siskiyou and Wightman to the south/east corner of Siskiyou and Indiana. Mr. Burnham also recommended the applicants not discard the idea of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge. He asked that this be put in the plan for future campus development and to set aside the needed space for its construction. He also recommended the applicant’s develop plans for a campus shuttle service.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Craig Morris/Stated the Dining Hall is not the only place for students to eat, and noted the large eating area inside the student union on the south side of campus. He added students that are in class often choose to eat lunch at this location rather than returning to the Dining Hall. Mr. Morris clarified the north side of campus is not the only location where they will develop in the future. He noted the land bank that will be created by the removal of the Cascade Complex and stated they also plan on repurposing the Suzanne Holmes building. The applicants also clarified the issues associated with a pedestrian bridge and explained why this option is not being considered at this time.
Advice from Legal Counsel/Staff
Mr. Severson clarified that no comments or concerns were received from the surrounding neighbors and property owners.
Commissioner Marsh recommended they address each issue separately as they move towards a decision.
Wightman Entry
Several commissioners voiced support for the revised proposal submitted by the applicant, which would remove the Sycamore trees and widen the sidewalk along the Dining Hall frontage. Commissioner Miller disagreed and would prefer to retain the trees. Comment was made that the existing Sycamores are pushing up the sidewalk and creating a hazard, and this will only continue if they are left in place. Additional comment was made that the revised proposal will create a much better sense of entry to the Dining Hall.
Frances Street Crossing
Comment was made that the crossing activity at this location will continue to increase and several commissioners voiced support for installing improvements at this location.
LEED Certification
Staff clarified they are comfortable with including some flexibility into this condition. Commissioner Marsh commented that the reason the applicant gave for increasing the length of the buildings was for energy efficiency, and she does not believe it is unreasonable to give this condition some teeth. Staff noted LEED certification requires post-construction monitoring and therefore submitting for certification immediately at occupancy is not feasible. Suggestion was made to require the applicant to submit for certification within 12 months of occupancy and receive approval within 36 months. General support was voiced for this condition.
Ashland Street Sidewalks
It was clarified that the Transportation Commission has recommended the sidewalk be improved to full city standards, however staff is recommending this improvement be deferred. Comment was made voicing support for keeping the trees until such time that development warrants taking them out. Opposing comment was made recommending some type of improvement be done to reduce this hazard and noting that it could be 10-15 years before that frontage is development. Commissioner Marsh commented that while she is resistant to the idea of not requiring new sidewalks, the issues regarding utility placement, trees, and the future design of Ashland Street make holding off on this more appropriate.
Stadium Street Crossing
Commissioner Marsh clarified the conditions of approval require the applicants to address the crossing. If they come back with a minor change this could be done right away, however any larger changes would need to be looked at in a broader way. Mr. Molnar agreed and stated the business area will want to be consulted before any major changes to that intersection occur, and they will likely have strong opinions about restricting turn movements at that location.
Building Redesign and Site Plan Changes             
The majority of the Commission voiced support to the changes presented by the applicant. Commissioner Miller voiced her appreciation that the applicants added archways, but stated she would have preferred to see four buildings and is uncomfortable with the size of these structures. Commissioner Dawkins stated he does not share the same concerns regarding Greensprings not fronting the quad, and stated he is comfortable with a promenade to connect these areas. Additional comments were made voicing support for the improvements made by the applicants since the last hearing.
Commissioners Dawkins/Miller m/s to continue the meeting past 9:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 7-0.
Commissioner Church commented on the lighting issues along Siskiyou Blvd. He stated the current lighting makes the situation worse, not better, and noted the cobra heads create shadows and make it difficult to see people. Mr. Molnar acknowledged this concern and stated this issue is on the City’s radar. Recommendation was made for the Transportation Commission to look into the lighting and signage issues along this corridor.
Commissioners Dawkins/Heesacker m/s to approve Planning Action #2011-01576 and to incorporate the consensus reached by the Planning Commission during deliberations: 1) to incorporate the Wightman improvements along the Dining Hall's frontage as proposed by the applicant, 2) to incorporate pedestrian safety improvements to the Frances/Siskiyou crossing as recommended by Kittelson & Associates, 3) to incorporate the pedestrian crossing improvements at the Wightman/Indiana intersection, 4) to amend the condition regarding LEED Silver certification to require the applicant to submit for certification within 12-months of occupancy and receive approval within 36 months, 5) to include the changes to conditions 5i and 7d requested by the applicants and supported by the Fire Marshal regarding rooftop stairway access and radio coverage, 6) to incorporate a requirement for audible rectangular rapid flash beacons (RRFBs) into all conditions requiring RRFBs, 7) to not require the applicant to replace the sidewalks along the Ashland Street frontage, and 8) to include all other conditions recommended by staff. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Miller stated she is supportive of this project as a whole and will not oppose the motion, but feels strongly that the original design for the Wightman frontage should be adopted. Commissioner Marsh voiced her desire for SOU to move towards the idea of TDM outcomes and provide baselines to measure. Commissioner Church suggested staff be included in SOU’s meeting with RVTD. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Church, Dawkins, Heesacker, Kaplan, Miller, Mindlin, and Marsh, YES. Motion passed 7-0.

B.   PLANNING ACTION: #2011-01699
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 763 & 777 Jefferson Avenue
APPLICANT: Brammo Motorsports LLC         
DESCRIPTION: A request for Site Review approval to construct two, two-story buildings of 14,857 square feet and 18,805 square feet for the research, design, manufacturing of prototypes, warehousing, storage and administrative offices for the production of Brammo Electric Motorcycles & products. The proposed buildings will be located at 777 Jefferson. A private, dirt test track to further the research and design is proposed for 763 Jefferson. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment and Industrial; ZONING: E-1 & M-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 14AC; TAX LOT: 101 & 102.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Miller, Heesacker, Church, Dawkins and Marsh performed site visits. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Assistant Planner Amy Gunter presented an overview of the application. She the subject property is located at 763 and 777 Jefferson Avenue, between Oak Street Tank and Steel and the Ashland Racket and Fitness Club, and the applicants are proposing to install two new commercial buildings and a dirt test track. She provided some history of the property and explained this area was annexed into the City as part of a larger parcel in 2006, and clarified the zoning for the two lots are M-1 and E-1. Ms. Gunter noted the subject properties are divided by Knoll Creek, which is a seasonal intermittent ephemeral stream, and during the annexation process a 40-foot wide conservation easement was placed over the creek corridor. She added there is also a delineated wetland on the property, but it is not considered a locally significant wetland.
Ms. Gunter stated two structures are proposed. Building A is the smaller building at 14,857 sq.ft, and Building B is 18,805 sq.ft. She stated both structures are setback 25 feet from the front property line, which is consistent with the requirements of the zone, and the applicants have proposed 52 parking spaces, which is the required amount plus an additional 10%. Ms. Gunter noted the applicants have also requested a phased parking installation in order to prevent an excess of parking that will not be needed for some time.
Ms. Gunter commented on the proposed test track and stated the applicants would use the track to test their electric motor bikes. She stated the proposed track would circle the wetland area and staff is recommending a conservation management plan for this area.
Ms. Gunter reviewed the landscape plan, building elevations, and roof design, and stated staff is recommending approval with the conditions as outlined.
Questions for Staff
Comment was made questioning if the glare from the roofing material would be an issue for other developments in the area. It was also questioned if the swale at the south end of the property is in an appropriate location.
The Commission received clarification regarding the location of a path from the sidewalk to the front door, and also received confirmation that the applicants can have more than one curb cut on each lot.
Comment was made questioning if there are degradation concerns regarding the dust and potential impacts on the wetland. Ms. Gunter clarified there is a broken irrigation line at the rear of the property, and it is likely this wetland will go away once that line is repaired.
Commissioners Dawkins/Church m/s to extend meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 7-0.
Applicant’s Presentation
Ray Kistler, Project Architect; Craig Bramsher, CEO of Brammo Motorsports; Brad Barber, Civil Engineer/Mr. Barber addressed the bioswale question and explained by dropping the building they are able to get half of the water from the east building as well as the stormdrain from the center aisle to the bioswale. Mr. Kistler circulated a sample of the siding material and clarified the proposed roofing material is zinc aluminum. He stated this is a highly reflective material, is great on heat gain, and does not fade over time. Mr. Bramsher commented on the history and growth of Brammo Motorsports. He stated their business is expanding, technology is moving very quickly, and it is important that they move quickly from concepts to products. He noted they offer a wide range of jobs in Ashland, from floor level positions to high tech, and would like to continue to grow their company in Ashland. He stated the test track is very critical to their business, as currently they have no way to test these products. Mr. Bramsher stated Brammo currently has 45 employees, but by the end of 2013 they plan on having 250-300 employees. He commented on the proposed track and stated they have eight of these tracks in Europe. He stated the electric vehicles are very quiet and noise will not be a problem, and stated after every session they will water the track to mitigate the dust concerns. He stated they have done this in Europe and it works very well and noted use of the track will be sporadic. Mr. Kistler added they see this track is a temporary use and eventually there will be a building where the track is located.
The applicant was asked to comment on how often gas powered vehicles would be used on the track. Mr. Bramsher stated it is difficult to say, but in the last year they have done this once. He estimated this might be done 3-5 times a year, and for only 30-45 minutes each time.
Public Testimony
Peter Finkle/785 Beach Street/Stated he is representing Yerba Prima and voiced concern with the proposed test track. Mr. Finkle stated their business is directly across the street from this site and while they support Brammo’s expansion they would like for the issues associated with the track to be mitigated. He stated dust in the air would negatively impact people working out at the Fitness Club, and could also impact Yerba Prima’s food manufacturing facility. He stated if gasoline powered motorcycles will be running on the track, the Commission should implement some sort of condition to address this. He also requested a condition to make sure dust does not become a nuisance or health issue for the neighboring businesses and patrons.
Advice from Legal Counsel/Staff
Ms. Gunter suggested a condition for the Commission’s consideration to address the dust concerns raised: “The applicant shall submit a dust mitigation plan addressing the mitigation aspects of the test track such as the frequency of water, the application of a dust abatement product, and a contact of Brammo Motorsports for any compliance related issues.” Mr. Molnar added that while this property is located in a manufacturing zone, which allows for the most intensive of uses, there are still landscaping requirements to address any buffering issues the Commission may have.
Comment was made that the applicants are still required to meet the noise and dust abatement requirements in the nuisance chapter of the municipal code. Staff clarified enforcement of this section of the code is primarily complaint driven and the City would normally not monitor the noise and dust levels unless complaints are received.
Commissioners Dawkins/Church m/s to approve PA-2011-01699 with the proposed dust mitigation condition suggested by staff. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Dawkins stated he is not supportive of an additional buffering requirement and stated he is supportive of the dust abatement condition proposed by staff. He added these electric vehicles are extremely quiet and does not believe noise will be an issue. It was noted that this property is zoned M-1, and eventually it will be developed. Commissioner Church stated landscaping will not solve any potential dust issues and the City already has procedures in place to deal with any complaints, should they arise. He stated the Commission could consider adding a condition that allows the City to pull the approval for the track in the event the dust becomes a major problem, but overall he is supportive of this project. Commissioner Miller voiced support for additional buffering between this site and the Fitness Center and recommended they add a condition regarding this. Commissioner Dawkins stated he is not interested in amending his motion to include an additional landscape buffer requirement. Commissioner Marsh asked if anyone had concerns about non-electric vehicles on the test track. Commissioner Dawkins suggested they add a noticing requirement that would require Brammo to notify their neighbors when they plan on running a gas-powered motorcycle on the track. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Church, Heesacker, Miller, Mindlin, Kaplan and Marsh, YES. Motion passed 7-0.

A.  Pedestrian Places Update
Informational item only. No discussion was held.

B.  Bi-Annual Attendance Report (July – December 2010)
Informational item only. No discussion was held.
Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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