Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27, 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:
Michael Dawkins
Richard Kaplan
Pam Marsh
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Michael Piña, Assistant Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Eric Heesacker
  Mike Morris
Commissioner Kaplan announced he has reviewed the meeting video and packet materials for the 622 Drager hearing and is prepared to participate in the continued hearing tonight.  
Community Development Director Bill Molnar commented on the two handouts that were distributed: 1) a flyer from Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) regarding Planning Commissioner Training on February 20, 2013, and 2) a booklet on Sustainable Street Network Principles.
Commissioner Marsh suggested the February study session be cancelled and for commissioners to attend the RVCOG training instead.
No one came forward to speak.
A.    PLANNING ACTION: #2012-01321
DESCRIPTION: A request for a Solar Access Variance for the property located at 622 Drager Street. The property to the north is under the same ownership and has agreed to the proposed shading. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-5; ASSESSOR’S MAP#: 39 IE 14BB; TAX LOT #: 1300.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Dawkins reported a site visit. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Assistant Planner Michael Piña explained this is a continuation of the hearing from the November 13, 2012 Planning Commission meeting, at which the applicant was asked to submit a revised drawing showing the shadow produced by the proposed home to the south. Mr. Piña noted the requested illustration is included in the packet materials and depicts the shadow displayed on a summer solstice eve.

Applicant’s Presentation
Mark Knox/485 W Nevada/Noted the additional drawings that were provided and stated if the Commission bases their decision on the criteria he is confident they will vote in favor of this request. Mr. Knox commented further on the criteria and stated: Criteria #1 - 18.70.060.B.2(a): No expansion of the buildings are planned and what they see is what will be built; Criteria #2: 18.70.060.B.2(b): The shadow falls on the garage wall, which is not heated space, and hits the back of the garage where there is an office with no windows. He added there will be no thermal loss whatsoever; and Criteria #3: 18.70.060.B.2(c): There are unique and unusual circumstances regarding this lot. It is a 50 ft. wide corner lot that has extra setback requirements, and they believe the creation of this lot was an error made at the original planning stage.
Patrick May/Stated he is the designer of the homes in the subdivision and displayed a 3D illustration for the homes. Mr. May explained this development was conceived as a cohesive project and a lot of attention was given to the massing and building envelopes and how they relate to each other. He noted where the shadow would hit the adjacent home and clarified the shadow will not impact the thermal performance of that house.
Mr. Knox concluded his presentation and urged the Commission to focus on the criteria for the request before them.
Questions of the Applicant
The applicant was asked to address the reason for the proposed roof height. Mr. May explained if they were to change the roof pitch any further it would be more of a ranch style home, instead of the craftsman style of the rest of the development. Mr. Knox stated this house is small and very limited on its lot, and added the roof would be at the same height even without a second story, but it would have been wasted attic space. Mr. May clarified they have lowered the roof pitch height as much as possible and stated they have done everything they can to make this work.
The applicant clarified the square footage of the house requesting the variance is just under 2,000 sq.ft.
Public Input
No one came forward to speak.
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked to comment on the applicant’s assertion that a mistake was made in allowing this lot to be created. Mr. Molnar stated he does not agree with the claim that this was an error. He explained the solar access ordinance clearly states that lots shall be created that allow for a 21 ft. high shadow producing point in the middle. The next paragraph of the ordinance states if the applicant chooses not to do that, the City places an envelope on the property essentially flagging that this will be a difficult lot to build a two-story home on. Mr. Molnar briefly commented on the testimony and discussion that occurred at the original public hearing and clarified most of the testimony was regarding the bath house, geothermal inventories off the property, the wetlands area, traffic, and proximity to the elementary school.
Mr. Molnar clarified the option of pursuing a solar variance is always on the table. He also thanked the design team for their thoughtful consideration of the relationship between the homes.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mark Knox/Commented that 21 units were allowed on this property and only 18 homes are proposed. He also commented that that the City should look into how to achieve density and creative design while still meeting market demand.
Patrick May/Thanked staff for the recognition that significant thought has been put into how these lots relate to each other, what the intent of the solar setback is, and how it affects the relationship of these houses. Mr. May stated they knew going in that this lot would be a difficult lot for the development and believes they have been successful in creating a family home that fits on the lots and fits in with the surrounding neighborhood. He clarified they are not trying to maximize the building footprint and instead are 10% under the maximum allowed footprint and did so in order to retain outdoor space for the homeowners.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the public hearing at 7:52 p.m.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioners Dawkins/Marsh m/s to approve PA-2012-01321. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Dawkins voiced his opinion that this development does not fit in with the Quiet Village neighborhood and noted he raised this concern when this subdivision was first approved. Regarding the solar ordinance, he appreciates Commissioner Brown’s argument that they should be considering future owners of the property, however that is not part of the approval criteria. He added he believes there will be a similar problem with another lot in this development. Commissioner Marsh stated there were a number of factors with the original proposal and in the end they got a lot that was oddly sized and they flagged it appropriately. In any instance, she stated the application for a solar variance is always an option and believes they have met the criteria and should be granted the variance. Commissioner Miller stated this is a good lesson for the Planning Commission that they need to do a better job of making sure lots meet the standards before they are approved.  Commissioner Kaplan voiced his support for Marsh’s comments. He stated their decision should be based on the criteria and he believes it has been met, and stated the other issues being discussed should not cloud their decision. Commissioner Mindlin voiced concern with the alternative interpretation of the solar ordinance being discussed and stated she does not believe only the roof matters and that solar capabilities should be maintained for south facing windows as well. She stated Commission Brown made a good point at the last hearing about protecting future buyers and stated it is disconcerting to her that people continue to design homes that do not take advantage of passive solar; however they do not have anything in place to discourage this at present time. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Kaplan and Marsh, YES. Commissioners Miller and Mindlin, NO. Motion passed 3-2.
Commissioner Dawkins voiced his support for Mindlin’s comments and stated it might be time to consider changing the criteria.
A short recess was held and Pam Marsh was acknowledged for her time on the Commission.
Commissioner Dawkins voiced support for cancelling the February study session and having the Commission attend the RVCOG training instead. Staff clarified there may be too many items on their docket to cancel and they will need to check the schedule.
A.      Unified Land Use Code Project.
Review of Part III: Special Districts:
Planning Manager Maria Harris provided a presentation on Part III of the Unified Land Use Ordinance Project and reviewed the proposed amendments for this section.
1)  Affordable Housing Density Bonus. Ms. Harris stated per the 2006 Land Use Ordinance Review recommendations, the density bonus has been increased to 2%. She added staff will be attending the Housing Commission’s January meeting and they will talk with them about this and see if they have any further input. Commissioner Marsh questioned if they should consult with the development community to make sure this incentive is adequate and Ms. Harris clarified they can bring this forward to the focus groups. Commissioner Dawkins expressed concern with only one-bedroom units being built as affordable units. Additional concern was raised that the ordinance that prohibits this practice only applies to annexations and not infill developments.
Ms. Harris clarified the remaining six amendments are technical adjustments.
2)  Exception to the Street Standards. Ms. Harris stated this is an existing exception and staff is recommending the addition of performance measures for transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities to help the commission in their determination of whether “the exception will result in equal or superior transportation facilities and connectivity”.
3)  Lot Coverage in Subdivision Using the Performance Standards Option. Ms. Harris explained historically lot coverage is calculated for each individual lot or for the entire site, but this is not explicitly stated in the ordinance. The proposed amendment would make this practice clear.
4)  Hillside Development Building Step-Back. Ms. Harris clarified the proposed amendment clarifies that decks that project out from the building do not qualify as the required building step back.
5)  Upper Story Projections into Water Resource Protection Zone.  Ms. Harris stated the proposed language specifies that the upper stories of the building, including decks, shall not project beyond the building footprint over the Water Resource Protection Zone.
6)  Moving and Vegetation Thinning in Wetlands for Fire Prevention.  Ms. Harris stated the proposed amendment allows going beyond the perimeter and into the wetland if the vegetation removal is part of an approved wetland mitigation plan or if it can be demonstrated that there will not be removal of native vegetation.
7)  Tree Protection Fencing in Water Resource Protection Zones. Ms. Harris clarified the proposed language allows temporary fencing for tree protection when it is required in conjunction with a development.
The Commission held general conversation on Part III of the Unified Land Use Code. Commissioner Marsh suggested the zoning maps be included in this section since they are essential for comprehending the text. She also voiced support for the way the Croman land use regulations are listed and suggested this format be used elsewhere. Commissioner Mindlin questioned the building separation language on pg. 3-55 and whether this standard is meaningful and useful. She also commented on pocket neighborhoods and stated some minor changes to the performance standards code could provide the pathway to accomplishing this, specifically, extending the concept of pedestrian access into residential zoned lands and increasing density requirements in pedestrian access neighborhoods based on lot coverage. General support was voiced for pursuing Mindlin’s suggestions to promote pocket neighborhoods.
Continued Discussion of Part II: Zoning Regulations:
Ms. Harris noted there were three issues from the last meeting that the Commission wanted to discuss further: 1) Accessory Residential Units, 2) C-1 Building Height, and 3) C-1 and E-1 Setbacks from Residential Zones.
Accessory Residential Units
Ms. Harris clarified the proposed amendment would make accessory residential units (ARUs) a permitted use in all zones. Site Review approval would still be required, but this amendment would remove the conditional use permit requirement. Commissioner Miller voiced concern that residents who were opposed to an ARU would have less opportunity to voice their concerns. Staff clarified residents would still be notified and given opportunity to comment before a decision is made. Commissioner Marsh stated the City desires these types of units and the site review process will give protection to neighbors. Commissioner Miller stated she is still hesitant to this change but no other opposition was voiced to the ARU amendment.
C-1 Building Height
Ms. Harris clarified the proposed amendment allows structures greater than 40 ft. and less than 55 ft. where the building would be located more than 100 ft. from a residential zone, and displayed a map of where this could occur. General support was voiced for this amendment.
C-1 and E-1 Setbacks from Adjacent Residential Zones.
Ms. Harris stated staff is recommending a standard side yard setback of 5 ft., and a rear yard setback of 10 ft. for the first floor and then a 10 ft. setback for everything above. Commissioner Mindlin suggested creating an exception based on underground parking, and Commissioner Dawkins voiced concern that underground water will pose a problem for those wanting to pursue underground parking.
Meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

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