Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10, 2013
Vice Chair Michael Dawkins 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
Richard Kaplan
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Tracy Peddicord
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Mike Morris, absent
Commissioners Brown and Miller stated they would be absent from the September 24, 2013 meeting.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar updated the Commission on several actions that have gone before the City Council: 1) The City Council has decided to not substantially change the travelers accommodation ordinance to allow greater flexibility for short term home rentals. They did agree, however, to add language that stipulates a business license, transient occupancy tax registration, and land use approval must be obtained prior to operation of a travelers accommodation. Additionally, the changes require a safety inspection by the Fire Department and will make it a violation to advertise units for rent that have not received City approval;  2) The Council passed second reading of the Housing Needs Analysis; and 3) First reading of an ordinance creating a combined Housing and Human Services Commission was approved.
A.   Approval of Minutes.
       1.  August 13, 2013 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 5-0.
[Commissioner Kaplan abstained from vote]

No one came forward to speak.

  1.     Long Range Project Update.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar, Planning Manager Maria Harris, and Senior Planner Brandon Goldman presented an overview of projects the Community Development Department is considering pursuing over the next 18-24 months. Staff explained the Normal Neighborhood Plan and Unified Land Use Code projects will be wrapping up at the end of this year and staff will be transitioning into the next set of projects starting early 2014.
Downtown Parking Management & Multi-Modal Circulation Study
Mr. Molnar stated this project was identified during the Transportation Systems Plan (TSP) Update and the City Council has already approved an intergovernmental agreement with the University of Oregon to assist with this study. He noted the Council Goal that states “Review the Downtown Plan including zoning of areas around downtown and create a roadmap for the future planning of downtown” and explained the zoning analysis project entails a review of existing zoning adjacent to the downtown and will be undertaken at the same time as the parking management and multi-modal circulation study.
Staff was asked to clarify the objective of the zoning review. Mr. Molnar commented on creating transition zones and the interest to potentially create more flexibility for residential properties that abut or are across the street from commercial zones. He cited Winburn Way, which is zoned single family residential, as an example of an area where a zone change might be reasonable. He added the Council felt it was logical to look at the zoning and have it considered as part of the parking management study.
Historic Preservation 10-Year Plan
Planning Manager Maria Harris stated the impact of exterior changes to residential structures is a high priority area in the Historic Preservation Plan and is something the Historic Commission has been concerned about for some time. She explained currently the code addresses exterior alterations to commercial buildings, but not residential structures unless it is specifically listed on the national register. Ms. Harris explained the City does not require a building permit for certain residential alterations, including siding, windows, doors, and roofing materials; however, exterior changes can significantly impact the integrity of a historic structure. This project would include an evaluation of the impacts of establishing a process to review these types of changes, and potentially developing ordinance language that establishes approval criteria and a review process. Ms. Harris added because Ashland is a Certified Local Government (CLG), we are eligible for state grants that could help fund this project.
Infill Strategies Along Transit Corridors
Ms. Harris stated this project is still being formulated and pertains to the Council Goal that states “Investigate land-use and funding strategies that provide affordable and workforce housing units.” She stated this project would identify opportunities for and constraints to transit-oriented development in the East Siskiyou and Ashland Street area, and would include an assessment of market conditions, mixed-use housing costs, financial feasibility of multi-story development, regulatory process, frequency and quality of transit service, and public infrastructure improvements. Additionally, this project would develop options and strategies for addressing opportunities and barriers, and identify incentives that could be provided to encourage affordable workforce housing near existing and future transit routes.
Vertical Housing Development Zones
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman explained the establishment of a Vertical Housing Development Zone (VHDZ) is an incentive based strategy intended to encourage more mixed-use developments through a partial property tax exemption. He explained this is a state authorized tax exemption and is administered through the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department. He stated the program provides a 20% tax exemption for each residential floor built for 10 years, with a maximum of 80%, and could provide developers incentive to build more mixed-use buildings. Mr. Goldman stated this project would include the evaluation and establishment of Vertical Housing Development Zones in Ashland, and while this is not a land use decision, staff recommends the Planning Commission’s involvement before this is taken to the City Council for approval.
Comment was made voicing support for providing incentives to create smaller, workforce housing units; as opposed to larger residential units which often are second homes for people who live out of town.
Code Incentives for Affordable Workforce Housing
Mr. Goldman stated this project falls under the same Council Goal as Vertical Housing Development Zones and includes the consideration of a number of code amendments in the Unified Land Use Ordinance that are intended to provide greater opportunities for affordable housing and workforce housing. He stated increasing density bonuses for affordable housing, streamlining the application process for accessory residential units, eliminating impediments to the location and design of manufactured housing, and the establishment of standards for pocket neighborhoods are some of the changes being considered at this time. He added the recently adopted Housing Needs Analysis outlines a number of other strategies and the Housing Commission will be reviewing these and issuing a recommendation to the City Council.
Croman Mill Area – Analysis of Opportunities and Impediments
Mr. Molnar stated the Croman Plan was adopted in 2010 which was right in the middle of the recession, and while the City has started to see some improvements in commercial building activity, there is an interest from the Council to see if there is anything the City can do as part of the economic development strategy to encourage development at the Croman property. This project would entail identifying opportunities and impediments to the development of the Croman Mill area and developing strategies for preparing the site to be development ready. The Commission held general discussion of the Croman Plan, including the infrastructure improvements that would be needed, what types of businesses this area might attract, and the intent of the plan itself.
Housing Element Update
Mr. Goldman stated the Housing Element is an important part of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and its primary goal is to ensure a variety of dwelling types to provide housing opportunities for the total cross-section of Ashland’s population consistent with preserving the character and appearance of the City. He explained the Housing Element was last revised in 1981 and consequently some of the items are outdated and do not reflect the current conditions of the City. This project would involve refining the general narrative, replacing outdated information, and reviewing the existing policies and goals to ensure they remain effective at addressing the community’s housing needs. Mr. Goldman noted the City’s Housing Program Specialist has identified this project in the Housing Work Plan as a project she would like to undertake in the next 18-24 months.
Railroad Master Plan – Evaluate Benefits of Adoption
Ms. Harris explained this plan was developed in 2001 but was not adopted in its entirety. She stated the zoning was changed from industrial to employment, the plan area was put in the Detail Site Review Zone, and the street network was adopted; but the “vision documents” were not approved. Ms. Harris stated this project would evaluate the benefits of the unimplemented portions of the draft Railroad Property Master Plan.

  1.     Annual Report to City Council.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar reminded the Commission that the Council has asked the various commissions to come before them once a year and highlight projects that have been completed. He commented that the City Council is a lot more familiar with the work of the Planning Commission because much of their work goes onto Council, and suggested this might be a good opportunity to address other topics of concern instead of specific land use actions. He asked the Commission to start thinking about this and to identify a date.
Meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.


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