Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25, 2012
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:
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Eric Heesacker
Richard Kaplan
Pam Marsh
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Dennis Slattery, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar noted the email distributed to the Commission that expressed concern with the Siskiyou School and stated staff would look into this. He also noted the new code sections that were handed out and stated the Land Use Ordinance has been amended to include the recently adopted ordinance language for telecommunication facilities and the keeping of chickens. He added Council directed the Commission to look into the keeping of other animals and this will come back at a future study session.
No one came forward to speak.
A.      Gray Water Presentation by City of Ashland Building Division.
Building Official Michael Grubbs and Plumbing Inspector Richard Hackstock provided a presentation on the newly adopted state regulations that permit graywater for landscape use. The presentation, titled “Graywater Reuse and Disposal Systems for the Homeowner”, outlined the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) permitting process for these types of systems, and provided an overview of the three different graywater system tiers and the DEQ permit fees. Mr. Grubbs explained a City permit is only required if the system is tied into the home’s plumbing system. If the water is diverted directly to a homeowner’s yard, the City is not involved and this falls under DEQ’s jurisdiction. He stated these types of systems are new to the state and new to Ashland, but staff is excited about this type of use and is willing to assist any homeowners who want to pursue this.
Questions and Comments
Mr. Grubbs clarified DEQ has a recommended setback for graywater systems so that water is not sprayed on an adjoining property. He also clarified outdoor systems do not required the installer to have an irrigation or contractor’s license.
Comment was made questioning if staff had an outreach program to inform citizens about this. Mr. Grubbs clarified an open house was held in June, and in addition to the Conservation Division pushing these types of systems, the City’s website has lots of information available and of course staff is available for questions. Suggestion was made for staff to include information in an upcoming utility bill insert, possibly in the spring edition to generate more interest.
Commissioner Dawkins noted the Water Wise Landscaping website created by the Conservation Division and staff clarified how to access this site through the City’s website.
A.      Unified Land Use Code.
Planning Manager Maria Harris addressed the Commission and provided a brief presentation on the Unified Land Use Code project. She called attention to the outline document contained in the packet materials and stated they will be talking about part one tonight, which is titled “Introduction and General Provisions”. Ms. Harris described the first section in the Unified Land Use Ordinance and stated it covers purpose, what the code language applies to, how it relates to the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map, how it coordinates with the building permit process, how to address questions about meaning or intent, and how to address structures/developments, uses, and lots that do not meet ordinance requirements.
Ms. Harris reviewed the amendment highlights, which include: 1) an expanded general administration chapter, 2) legal lot determination criteria, 3) repair and restoration standards for nonconforming structures, 4) ordinance interpretation procedure and referrals, 5) responsibility for enforcing ordinance, and 6) recession extension deletion. She also provided an example of a nonconforming structure and the types of issues staff often deals with, and requested the Commission provide input on whether there should be some flexibility in the Code for structures akin to a garage.
Ms. Harris concluded her presentation with an overview of the project timeline. She stated the final draft will be presented in June 2013, and the adoption process will take place July 2013 through October 2013. Ms. Harris explained staff is finishing up the first draft and will start bringing forward pieces for the Planning Commission to review. She went on to say that staff would like to bring this forward in small sections, and noted this project will come before the Commission at regular meetings in addition to study sessions, and there may be a need to hold extra meetings. 
Questions and Comments
Commissioner Marsh commented on the process and questioned whether they should form a subcommittee. In regards to the meeting schedule, Marsh shared her preference to keep with the regular meeting schedule and to not hold additional meetings for this project. Mr. Molnar stated staff was worried about the time commitment involved for smaller groups, but would revisit this idea if there is support on the Commission for a subcommittee. The Commission continued their discussion of the subcommittee idea and the desired meeting schedule and general consensus was reached for the packet materials to be presented further in advance, to not form a subcommittee, and to keep with the regular meeting schedule.
Commissioner Dawkins voiced his support for proving some flexibility in the Code for nonconforming structures such as garages or sheds and recommended this be a Type I action instead of a conditional use permit. Additional support for this change was voiced by the Commission. The commissioners went on to share their input on the first section in general, and the following comments and suggestions were made:
·         Recommendation was made for Type I Process and Type II Process to be added to the definitions section.
·         Recommendation was made for staff to look into the wording of the sentence listed at the top of page I-7. Comment was made that the word “of” appears to be missing.
·         Opinion was given that it is easy to go past the 6-month time limit for reconstruction projects (pg. I-13). Ms. Harris clarified this section is referring to when you discontinue a nonconforming use; the timeline of a land use approval is one year, but an applicant can receive an additional 18-month extension to begin their construction project. She added there is an additional reactivation section in the Code that allows a property owner to come before the Planning Commission for approval to reactivate their nonconforming use.
·         Recommendation was made for the appeal process to be added to the procedures section.
·         Comment was made that Section 18-I.6.080 Violations (pg. I-21) is difficult to read and it was questioned if there was a way to simplify this.
Commissioner Miller recused herself and left the meeting at 8:30 p.m. in order to avoid a conflict of interest on the Normal Avenue Neighborhood Plan discussion.
B.      Normal Avenue Neighborhood Plan Update.
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman addressed Commission and handed out the results from the resident questionnaires and stakeholder interviews. He commented on the public involvement process used to gather this information and stated it has been helpful in preparing the frameworks for mobility, infrastructure, open/space and greenways, land use, and sustainability. Mr. Goldman explained the public design workshops for the Normal Neighborhood Plan will take place in October and have been advertised in the City Source newsletter, and staff has also arranged for drop in sessions with the consultants and key stakeholder interviews the same week of the workshops.
Commissioner Marsh informed the group that the Transportation System Plan (TSP) Update will be presented to the City Council next Tuesday, and stated if they have any general comments to pass them along to her. She also noted the TSP Public Forum is scheduled for October 24, 2012 and hopes everyone will attend.
Meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

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