ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Mike Gardiner began the meeting with a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives today in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. He called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. Other Commissioners present were John Fields, Alex Amarotico, Russ Chapman, Mike Morris and Marilyn Briggs. Absent members were Ray Kistler and Kerry KenCairn. Staff present were John McLaughlin, Bill Molnar, Maria Harris and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
Briggs moved to approve the Minutes of the August 14, 2001 Hearings Board. Amarotico seconded the motion and the Minutes were approved. Briggs moved to approve the Findings of the August 14, 2001 Hearings Board. Amarotico seconded the motion and the Findings were approved.
Amarotico moved to approve the Minutes of the August 14, 2001 Regular Meeting. Morris moved to approve the Findings (2001-059), the motion was seconded and the Findings were approved.
PUBLIC FORUM- No one came forth to speak.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
PLANNING ACTION 2001-076
REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT AND SITE REVIEW TO CONSTRUCT AN ADDITION ONTO THE EXISTING SOUTHERN OREGON UNIVERSITY RESIDENCE HALL. THE ADDITION IS 14,115 SQUARE FEET IN SIZE AND WILL BE USED FOR AN ELDERHOSTEL.
APPLICANT: SOUTHERN OREGON UNIVERSITY
Knox reported that noticing along with applicable criteria were mailed to surrounding property owners. He explained this property is at Siskiyou and Frances Lane. The addition will have three stories and a basement. The three main levels consist of ten rooms each. There is a proposed, somewhat raised pedestrian path from Siskiyou Boulevard to the building providing some sense of security for the pedestrians. The path will be placed where there is a trail already used for pedestrian travel. There will be landscaped islands in between parking spaces. Both sides of the path will have some large trees and landscaping to give some type of shading opportunities for pedestrians. On the other side of the building is path that will lead to the one-way street that leads to some of the other university buildings, allowing for a shortcut.
Knox said in some respects, the building is somewhat utilitarian but because of the use of materials and some character-defining elements, it makes it stand out. This volume projects out in front of the building and the projection lends some interest to the building. The purpose of the projection, however, is to save two significant trees.
Knox explained a Conditional Use Permit is required because this building was not clearly noted on the SOU Master Plan even though it is considered a permitted use in the SO zone. The intent of the request to build is to quickly respond to some market conditions. The dormitories have only a common bathroom on each floor and that is really having an affect on participation in the program. Staff believes this is a very straightforward application. The infrastructure is already in place as well as transit on Siskiyou Boulevard.
There are eight attached Conditions. Knox noted particularly Condition 8 that the street standards need to be met. He added at the end of the first sentence "...and Siskiyou Boulevard."
Site Visits or Ex Parte Contacts - All Commissioners had a site visit. Briggs said during her site visit, she talked with an Elderhostel employee about the entry.
Briggs asked about the other trees on the property. Knox said two fruitless mulberry trees are being removed. They are located in the far corner. They are not a significant species and not healthy.
Briggs noted there is no door into the building where the path is shown. The applicant will address this.
KEN OGDEN, Ogden Kistler and Associates, 2950 Barnett Road, Medford, OR 97504, stated is he is the project architect. For some time, SOU has wanted to enhance their seniors’ program. Lately, they have seen a decline in some of their programs because of the facilities. That has been the motivation to move forward with this project.
In placing the building, there was concern over the trees. They wanted to enhance and retain as many as possible. They were challenged with a fairly severe slope. That is one of the reasons they projected beyond the existing face of the building in order to have the building function the way it needed to. In doing so, it articulated the building, gave it more depth and break-up within the frontage of the building. The creation of the path along the face with the introduction of the additional trees and vegetation along the building front will work to create a more inviting human scale. They wanted to keep the simplicity in the design but wanted to articulate it more definitively. They have introduced a split-faced block all around the building. They have a polished face that defines the vertical elements at either end of the building and adjacent to the large window expanse. The window wall is a curved wall. They have inset some steel structure that will extend to the face of the building. A cornice element has been introduced to define the cap of the building and give more design sense. Exterior plaster is a two-tone coloration with expansion joints.
Briggs asked about the building entrance. Ogden said they are not building a new entrance, but enhancing the existing entrance. The pedestrian path to the building will help define the entrance along with the introduction of landscape elements, paving patterns and bench structures. The entrance will have a canopy that will have some directional signage. Briggs understands the existing entry is very hard to find. Will the half wall be removed? Ogden said they could look at that. Right now, the half wall is integrated into the full face of the building. Adjustments to that, along with the canopy and pedestrian path, should define the entry. Briggs suggested using some pillars.
Briggs said she sees the connecting point on the south elevation has horizontal windows. All the other windows have a verticality to them. She was wondering if he could re-introduce the verticality instead of the horizontal because it scrunches the mass of the wall to have the horizontal windows go almost edge to edge. Ogden they could look at introducing an element below those windows that would create a more linear line all the way up that facade.
Briggs noted on the walkway to Siskiyou Boulevard, there is no crosswalk where the path ends. She is very concerned about this. She believes pedestrians will be very tempted to jay walk rather than go to either corner to get to the crosswalk. Is this a good location for the pathway? Also, will there be a door at the building end of the path? Ogden said there would be a door. Knox said two other pedestrian links are closer to the crosswalks that can direct people across Siskiyou.
BILL ANDERSON, 370 Patterson, favors the application. He was Vice President of Southern Oregon Learning and Retirement (SOLIR). One thing they are finding is that the population is getting increasingly older, but increasingly active. If you are 90 years old and you have to use the bathroom and you have to go down a floor, it is not that easy. He thinks it is important to have a bathroom with each room.
MARTHA MACINTYRE, 58 Fourth Street, said worked part-time in the program since 1994. When she first started, they had double groups booked. Since then, enrollment has decreased and they believe it is because of the lack of private bathrooms.
WAYNE SCHUMACHER, 960 Mary Jane, started the Elderhostel program in 1980 and he has watched it grow over the years. He has seen a decline in enrollment at the time when so many are moving to private motels and accommodations that are not related or directly connected to the campus. They would like to retain Elderhostel as an educational program bringing hundreds to the campus. The numbers they have require private bathrooms.
Staff Response - None
Rebuttal - None
Briggs would like to see Condition 9 that the architects will work on enhancing the entrance with the elevator. Knox suggested wording: That the entrance next to the elevator be enhanced to provide a better sense of entry to be submitted with the building permit.
Briggs moved to approve PA2001-076 with the attached Condition and the addition of Condition 9. Fields seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
McLaughlin said there are Findings in the packet. Staff will amend Condition 8 and add Condition 9. If the Commission would approve the Findings, Staff can have them ready for signature on Wednesday.
The Commission took a break. After the break, Gardiner read the modification to Condition 8. That prior to the issuance of a building permit, street trees and lawn shall be placed in front of the Visual Arts Center along Indiana and Siskiyou Boulevard. Landscaping and irrigation plan identifying the trees shall be submitted to the Staff Advisor for his or her review and approval. Condition 9: That the entrance next to the elevator be enhanced to provide a better sense of entry and that Condition be met at the time of submission of a building permit. Chapman moved to approve the Findings, Briggs seconded the motion and the Findings were approved.
PLANNING ACTION 2001-089
REQUEST FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT AND SITE REVIEW APPROVAL TO CONSTRUCT A MEDICAL OFFICE AND 24 RESIDENTIAL UNITS LOCATED AT THE SOUTHWEST CORNER OF GRANT AND NORTH MAIN STREETS.
APPLICANT: CHUCK BUTLER
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all but Fields.
Harris stated proper noticing was done for this application. This is a three-part proposal: 1) Site review approval for 24 residential units and medical/tenant space, 2) Conditional Use Permit for the medical and tenant spaces because it is in an R-2 zone, and 3) Boundary Line Adjustment. Harris thought originally that all three tax lots were being combined. It may be the applicant wishes to have two lots. If so, it will make a difference which is the side and rear property lines.
The base density of the property is 20 units. The applicant is proposing to use a conservation and open space density for an additional four units.
Three separate structures are proposed. Building 1 fronts North Main with a side entrance on Grant. The ground floor is the medical office and tenant spaces. Above are four residential units. In all three buildings, the residential units will be two-bedroom units. Building 2 faces Grant Street with five units on the top and five on the bottom. Building 3 is on the interior of the property with the same configuration as Building 2.
The site is constrained with a 13 percent slope from the southwest corner to the northeast corner. In the back, there is a planting area about 17 to 18 feet in width. That will stay at about the same level as grade is now. There will be a retaining wall behind the upper parking lot that will be about eight to nine feet high. The building on Grant Street steps down in three sections down the hill. The open space will be filled to make it relatively flat. There will be another three to four foot retaining wall to the final level that is slightly above North Main Street in grade. The finished floor elevation is shown at four to five feet above the sidewalk level.
There are two driveway accesses on Grant Street, one to each parking lot. There are 23 trees on the site. The proposal is to retain one tree. Harris believes there is a mistake in locating the tree on the site plan. The applicant’s representative still believes the evergreen is where it is shown on the plan and can be retained.
A Craftsman style design has been used on one of the buildings. Building 1 has a series of step backs with gabled roofs with a rather generous entry canopy. There are storefront windows on the ground floor and an entrance above oriented to Grant Street. Stepping Building 2 down the hill should break up the massing.
Eight additional bike parking spaces are needed.
Harris said the applicant has done a good job of trying to buffer adjacent uses from the buildings. Originally, it was Staff’s understanding all the tax lots were being combined. However, if only two lots are being combined that would change a side yard to a rear yard and then the setback would be an issue. There are some single family residences adjacent to Building 3. Those rear yards face this area.
The evergreen and sycamore trees are the two most notable on the site, both located in the front of Lot 1900.
Harris said the final issue raised by Staff is the applicant’s findings in regard to Criteria C, 2, for a CUP, the generation of traffic and effects on surrounding streets. The CUP is only for the medical office and commercial space on the ground floor in Building 1. The residential units are an outright permitted use in the R-2 zone. The central argument of the applicant’s findings is that the traffic impact from the medical office and commercial use is going to be very limited as to where it is going go. Their assertion is that the traffic will be limited to using the intersection of North Main and Grant. She is not sure there has been enough information gathered to know that. The tenant spaces weren’t discussed in the trip generation numbers, just the medical office. What are the medical office hours, days of operation, number of employees, and when do they have their peak traffic? All of that leads to getting a sense of how many trips will use that intersection during peak hours. It is a tricky intersection because some of the turning movements. Potentially, there is a possibility that trips could use an alternate route. Harris believes the Commission needs this information before making a determination whether or not it meets the criteria. This is the largest Conditional Use Permit the Commission has seen in the past couple of years in terms of the size of the medical office in a residential zone and also in terms of the scale of the proposal. There are a lot of trade-offs. The proposal has quite a few constraints; it is a difficult site. It has been well designed and it buffers the neighborhood. There are transportation benefits to having a mixed use building on North Main.
Harris suggested adding some language in Condition 10 about coordinating with Oregon Department of Transportation. There is a project coming up in early 2002 to work on North Main, replacing curbs and sidewalks. The Condition would be amended to say the applicant coordinate with ODOT.
Harris added three additional conditions: 1) That the sign in the corner complies with the vision clearance standards, 2) If this is going to stay two tax lots, there needs to be a mutual access and parking easement, 3) That a public pedestrian easement be reserved (a pad) somewhere in the front area for potential to put in a bus stop later on if RVTD finds it to be a good space.
Briggs said there are inaccuracies in the tree list.
Fields wondered if in parking calculations, is the tenant space included? Harris said they don’t say that specifically, although they provide for extra spaces. If they used it all for medical, it would still work.
Fields suggested in the street work by ODOT, that this is an opportunity to move the sidewalk back, if at all possible. McLaughlin said the Commission can ask the front be redesigned to accommodate those features and move the sidewalk back.
KEN OGDEN, Ogden Kistler, 2950 Barnett Road, Medford, OR 97501, project architect, said one of the things that was important to his client, is that the project be kept in a very residential scale. The mix of residential and commercial seemed to work well and keep the philosophy of integrating the commercial/residential co-habitation, especially located on North Main Street. This design addresses the edges of the property very reasonably with the commercial application on North Main and stair stepped Building 2 and Building 3 perpendicular to Building 2. There were some severe disadvantages to having Building 3 rotated parallel to Building 2 because it creates an edge that is more in the face of the neighborhood, but it also leaves the open space fighting the topography. What they are proposing is less of an impact than the houses that are currently on the site right now.
Ogden said the articulation of the buildings repeat some of the concepts encouraged in Ashland, especially street frontages. Building 2 has the appearance of a townhouse with front porches and the articulation of the building face is very defined so there isn’t just a smooth surface for a long length. The medical office/residential building has a similar type characteristic. The upstairs units are held back a little so they are stepping down to street level from a two-story volume to a single story volume and keeping a human scale along Main Street.
Ogden said the tree list looked at 22 trees on the site. There are several trees slated for removal. With the topography required on the site, it would be very difficult to maintain the sycamore tree in a healthy condition. They are requesting removal of that tree. There are seven other trees that could be retained, if necessary. It would be their preference, however, to remove those trees. The Tree Commission concurred with the applicant’s findings. The Tree Commission comments are included in the packet.
Ogden said the medical office building will have eight staff persons. Between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. there would be no trips generated. Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., they would see four to five patients per hour. Between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., the patient load is expected to be between six and seven patients per hour. At this point, the occupancies of the other two tenant spaces have not been defined, however, they have been calculated based on medical uses. He believes a space could be set aside for a bus pad.
Gardiner asked about the lot split. Ogden said the goal would be to maintain the two lots. Gardiner explained that would mean the setback would be too close for Building 3. Ogden said it might mean the loss of a unit. McLaughlin clarified. The Commission could approve a proposal for two lots and removal of a second story unit and the second story would be 20 feet away from the property line with the roof of the lower unit, single story in size and ten feet from the property line. If they have only one lot, the proposal is the way it has been proposed tonight.
Briggs noted the porches are now five feet deep and a Condition asking for the porches to be six feet deep. That will either narrow the distance between the two buildings or push the Building 3 closer to the lot line. Ogden said they could take three or four inches from each unit and make the building just a little smaller.
Ogden said someone is interested in purchasing and relocating the two houses. If not, McLaughlin said the applicant will have to go through a demolition process.
Briggs said there is no way she would recommend cutting the sycamore for more parking. Ogden said if it stays, they are looking at the loss of eight parking spaces. The biggest obstacle is the grade change. Briggs had a picture for Ogden of drought tolerant plantings instead of lawn. Ogden mentioned the Tree Commission recommendations.
Briggs felt the upper ridge of the units looks very barracks-like. Ogden said he can add a few ridgeline details and give a little more interest to the roofline.
Fields expressed his concern with the traffic stacking on North Main. And, he is concerned with traffic making a left hand turn on North Main from Grant. Ogden said if there is a need for a traffic analysis his client has agreed to do that.
Fields wondered why there wasn’t covered parking or any kind of storage area. Ogden said they could look at doing that on the upper parking area on the left hand edge. They could implement a series of covers. He would be reluctant to have a whole carport along the edge, but they could do some break ups. Ogden said in the stairwells and bridges there are some secured areas under the stairwells for some of the units.
Fields said the open space is undefined as far as amenities. Ogden said they see it as a more park-like setting. The Tree Commission noted there is not a regional park within the vicinity. It’s a place for recreational space. The Tree Commission recommended moving the row of trees facing the open space to the other side and planting more trees for a shaded area.
Chapman is concerned about the generation of traffic. He would like to see better figures and calculations at the next meeting. He would also like to see some accident data for that intersection. He would like to see comments from the Police Department or review by a professional and the intersection declared safe.
JACKIE REID, 1040 Clay Street, owns property on Greenbriar. She is concerned about the two-story building and would appreciate a 20 foot setback. She would also be in favor of reducing the size of the last unit. She would argue with a ten foot setback. This is more a Grant Street development, not a North Main development. In looking at the floor plans, it appears the bedrooms have the view. The living rooms are looking up the hill. She thought the City bought property for a park just south of here. She likes the idea of carports. It would greatly help with car lights. She commented that turning left from Grant Street is like taking your life in your hands.
CRAIG CHOW, 454 Prim Street, practices medicine across Grant Street. He’s had experience with patients traveling from Grant Street to North Main. The traffic from Medford comes at a relatively fast speed, making the left turn across North Main much more dangerous. The main driveway for the Bread Board is directly across from Grant Street. Grant is very steep and controlling a car coming down the street can be difficult. Frequently cars travel down Grant faster than they should. He is concerned about the driveway on Grant. He believes many of the doctor’s patients will be coming from Medford until he gets established in Ashland. He would propose changing the access to North Main.
REID added that Greenbriar is more a single family street even though it is zoned R-2.
Ogden said the preference would be to have access on Grant. They are keeping the entrance beyond the minimum distance to North Main. He does not mind doing a traffic analysis. Gardiner said they could waive the 120 rule and grant a continuance. The applicant would need to come back with the information requested that includes: How many lots are there, a traffic study for the whole project, ridgeline of Building 3, canopied parking, parkrows and bus easement, and showing some of the things the Tree Commission requested. Briggs would like to see what they can do to save the sycamore.
Briggs has a problem with the bulk and scale of the project. She does not believe it is in scale with the neighborhood. Ogden said these buildings are smaller than the ones adjacent to the medical office building. Briggs thought those were broken up and not as visible from the street.
Ogden agreed to a continuance and waiving the 120 day rule.
Harris noted, due to the spacing standards on North Main, a driveway access from North Main is not a spacing standard that can be met.
Molnar said they can schedule a site visit for the Monday before the next Planning Commission meeting.
McLaughlin said Chapman is the Second Vice Chair. The Commission may want to make him the Vice Chair since Chris Hearn, current Vice Chair, has been appointed to the Council. Gardiner will be absent from the October meeting. Chapman will chair. Voting for Second Vice Chair will be next month.
There will be a Study Session in two weeks. There will be a presentation of the regional planning efforts. The final report is done. They want to present it to the Council and Planning Commission
ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned at 9:25 p.m.