Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Meeting

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


October 8, 2013

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
Richard Kaplan
Melanie Mindlin
Tracy Peddicord
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Debbie Miller (Recused due to potential conflict of interest)   Mike Morris
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the Commission will be finishing up the Unified Land Use Ordinance and Normal Neighborhood Plan projects over the next few months, and there are also two land use hearings coming. He also stated the City Council will be discussing short term vacation rentals in single family zones and potential changes to the 200 ft. rule in multi-family zones at their November Study Session.
A.   Approval of Minutes.
       1.  September 10, 2013 Regular Meeting.
       2.  September 24, 2013 Study Session.
Commissioners Kaplan/Dawkins m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 4-0. [Commissioner Brown abstained]
No one came forward to speak.
  1.     Normal Avenue Neighborhood Plan.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman stated the final draft plan was presented at their last meeting and reviewed the Staff Memo which addressed the questions previously raised by the Commission. He noted the Transportation Commission discussed this plan at their September 26 meeting and have continued their discussions to October 24. Mr. Goldman addressed the next steps in the process and explained the Planning Commission will hear the plan again on November 26 with the public hearing scheduled for December 10; and the City Council hearing has been tentatively scheduled for January 7, 2014.
Staff was asked to comment on any items that are unique to the Normal Plan and deviate from the current standards in the land use code. Mr. Goldman responded that the dimensional regulations are unique to these zoning designations, and added the cottage development minimum outdoor recreation space could be included in the new code language if they are specific to the Normal Plan, or could be removed and included in the Unified Code if there are opportunities to apply those standards in other zones throughout the City. Aside from those, he stated the remaining standards were intended to be consistent with the existing standards in the land use code.
Staff was asked whether any of the properties have had their permitted density decreased. Mr. Goldman clarified the area in the southwestern corner would change from suburban residential (7.2 units per acre) to single family residential (5 units per acre).
Public Input
Sue DeMarinis/145 Normal Avenue/Read aloud her prepared statement that outlined her concerns with the plan, including density, wetlands, and traffic safety. (See Exhibit A, attached)
Randy Jones/815 Alder Creek Drive, Medford/Stated he is speaking on behalf of six different property owners and explained while they would prefer to have lower density on their land they are willing to support the plan. Mr. Jones stated they are in the process of obtaining a wetland delineation and the wetlands as currently shown on the map will significantly shrink and some will disappear completely. He stated they are hoping for a wet year so they can determine the true hydrology of the site and what has been artificially charged by irrigation water. Mr. Jones stated the Cemetery Creek wetland will shrink down because there is some illegal dumping of storm water from projects to the east, and stated the local, significant wetland adjacent to the new Normal Street will disappear as it is artificially charged by sloppy irrigation. Mr. Jones stated they are fixing these things now so when the delineation happens this winter they will know exactly where the setbacks are and what can happen on their property.
John Cowell/501 Canter Lane/Stated he represents Grace Point Church and read aloud a prepared statement that addressed their concerns with the wetland delineation and the proposed density for their property. (See Exhibit B, attached)
Ray Eddington/501 Canter Lane/Stated he is also a representative of Grace Point Church and voiced his support for the statements made by Mr. Cowell.
Suzanne Marshall/369 Meadow Drive/Commented on the issue of sewage and stated this is a problem that needs attention. She stated they experience odors and have witnessed City workers vacuuming out the sewers on a monthly basis for several years. Ms. Marshall stated denser housing will exacerbate this problem and asked for assurance that the sewer system will be improved as new development occurs.
Howard Miller/160 Normal Avenue/Listed his concerns with the plan and stated currently there are two roads going across his property and a sidewalk across his front porch. Mr. Miller commented on the hydrology of the site. He stated the wetlands do indeed change and having roads too close to them is not the right way to handle this. He stated the subsurface flows are quite significant and recommended this be carefully examined. Mr. Miller voiced concern with the adjacent cottonwood trees in the wetland area that were removed today, and noted his four-acre property is used for food production and there has been no discussion of this. He concluded by stating the Normal Plan is too compact for the area and asked them to recognize the residents that are already there and will have to live with this plan.   
Bryce Anderson/2092 Creek Drive/Stated he represents the Meadowbrook Park Estates Homeowners Association and read aloud a prepared statement that outlined their traffic concerns. (See Exhibit C, attached)
Marni Koopman/1790 Homes Avenue/Read aloud her prepared statement which outlined her concerns about climate change and the increased potential for floods, draught and wildfires. (See Exhibit D, attached)
Paula Skuratowicz/2124 Creek Drive/Stated she represents Ashland Meadows Homeowners Association and read aloud her prepared statement that outlined their concerns with the lack of public transportation for this area. (See Exhibit E, attached)
Brett Lutz/1700 East Main Street/Noted he provided comment to the Transportation Commission at their September 26th  meeting and shared his concerns with the wetland areas. He stated his property is on a well and there are areas of this property that stay green year round due to the underground water. Mr. Lutz commented that the area that is now the bus loop used to be a larger wetland area, but the water was diverted to a pipe under the road to a nearby stream. Additionally he voiced his concern with the proposed density for the area and raised issue with the location of the roadway on East Main.
Bob Ayers/2090 Creek Drive/Stated his primary concern is the Cemetery Creek wetland area, which is adjacent to his home, and encouraged the Commission to preserve the existing wetlands and wildlife.
Questions of Staff & Commissioner Comments
Staff was asked to clarify the relationship between the plan they are making and the property owner’s ability to delineate their wetlands differently from what the plan shows. Mr. Molnar explained the maps that people have referred to were created by a very prescriptive process laid out by the State of Oregon and those areas became part of the statewide local wetlands inventory. He stated this inventory was much more detailed and contains better information than the national inventory that was done decades ago, and was intended to let property owners know where the wetlands likely are. Mr. Molnar explained at the time someone chooses to develop their property and encroach onto that area, they are required to provide a wetland delineation which is a much more detailed survey that is submitted to the State for verification, and then becomes the official wetlands boundary that our local ordinances go off of. He clarified wetland delineations are only good for a certain amount of time because wetlands change, and if there is a wetland on any part of the property the delineation is required.
Comment was made questioning the potential weakness of approving the plan with the current wetland delineations from the State.
Comment was made questioning delineating the wetlands in wet versus drought cycles. Commissioner Peddicord shared her experience with wetland delineations and stated they have to meet a very prescriptive criteria. She added while a delineation now would be very helpful, it might be very different 15-20 years from now when development actually occurs.
Comment was made acknowledging the residents’ concerns with traffic on East Main Street, but clarifying that this is an issue for the Transportation Commission. Mr. Goldman clarified these improvements are laid out in the Transportation System Plan, but ultimately these are capital improvement projects as well as improvements that are development driven. He added in staff’s conversations with RVTD they have indicated the buses will follow the people, and it will not be until this area builds out that bus service is provided.
Staff was asked whether assisted living facilities are allowed in the proposed zones. Mr. Goldman clarified currently it is not listed as a permitted or conditional use; however in our standard multi-family zones these are a conditional use. Several commissioners voiced support for allowing assisted living facilities as a conditional use and for the Normal Area zones to not be any more restrictive than similar zones throughout the City.
Mr. Molnar commented on the hydrology issue. He stated this is a difficult subject but staff has listened to the input and will return with some options for the Commission to consider. He stated he would have a hard time recommending a full delineation of the site at this point to the City Council, and noted the issues of who would pay for it and how long it would be valid. He stated they will need to determine whether to address the wetlands on a case by case basis, and regardless of the delineation are there areas they want to preserve; and if so, how are the property rights of the individual owners affected by the plan. Comment was made expressing concern with creating special conditions in terms of the wetlands and hydrology of this area and commenting that there are a lot of places in town that could be considered equally as sensitive. It was questioned how far they can really go in creating special circumstances here.
Comment was made questioning if the increased density they are allowing compensates for the allocation of open space. Mr. Goldman stated staff has not done a property by property analysis of this; however it is clear the properties in the southwest corner will have a reduction from 7.2 units per acre to 5 units per acre. He added that all of these properties are currently in the County and they are free to develop under the County’s standards which differ from the City’s. He noted the comment made during public testimony of trees being removed and clarified that the County has different riparian protection standards and this would have required a permit and review under the City’s ordinance. He added under the County standards property owners can build a home with only building permits, and do not need to provide a wetland delineation if they show they are outside the state’s wetland inventory; whereas if they annexed into the City, this would be a requirement as well as locating their home in a way that allows for future street connectivity.
Comment was made questioning where the funds will come from to address the transportation concerns. Mr. Molnar stated staff will meet with the Public Works Department and try to determine if the East Main Street improvements will be paid for by the capital improvements plan. He added the other big ticket item will be improving the railroad crossing. Opinion was given that if the Baptist property develops they should have to pay for the street improvements rather than pushing this cost onto the neighbors.
Fire Marshall Margueritte Hickman was asked to come forward and speak to the fire access requirements. Ms. Hickman explained that if a street dead-ends this would be a concern for the Fire Department. Mr. Molnar clarified this plan shows the minimums necessary to access the property and there could be extra streets or requirements added based on the individual development proposals. He also noted this plan anticipates the future connectivity for the entire site and there could be interim requirements to facilitate fire apparatus access.
Meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.


EXHIBITS A - E (pdf file)


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