Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


November 12, 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
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Tracy Peddicord
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Amy Gunter, Assistant Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Mike Morris, absent
Commissioner Brown stated he will be absent for the November 26, 2013 Study Session.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar informed the Commission of the Council’s decision to reconsider short term home rentals in single family zones for units that are owner occupied. He stated the Council has directed the Planning Commission to provide a recommendation and discussion on this item will likely begin in December.
A.   Approval of Minutes.
       1.  October 8, 2013 Regular Meeting.
       2.  October 22, 2013 Study Session.
Commissioner Peddicord requested a modification to the October 8 minutes. She stated the statement “Commissioner Peddicord shared her experience with submitting wetland delineations to the state” is incorrect and clarified she has done delineation training, but does not regularly submit them to the state.
Commissioners Dawkins/Peddicord m/s to approve the Consent Agenda with the clarification to the October 8, 2013 minutes. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 5-0. [Commissioner Miller abstained from vote]
No one came forward to speak.

  1.     PLANNING ACTION:  2013-01505
SUBJECT PROPERTY:31 North Mountain Avenue
DESCRIPTION: A request for Site Review and Outline Plan approval under the Performance Standards Options Chapter 18.88 for a13 unit, 14 lot multi-family development for the property located at 31 N. Mountain Ave. A Tree Removal Permit is requested to remove 11 trees greater than six-inches in diameter at breast height on the site. The existing building has been previously approved for demolition pending approval of a replacement plan.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION:High Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-3; ASSESSOR’S MAP #: 39 1E 09 AD; TAX LOT: 700.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Miller, Dawkins, Kaplan, Mindlin and Peddicord reported site visits. Commissioner Dawkins stated an acquaintance of his owns property at the corner of Emerick and East Main Street and that person commented to him that he has an issue with the alley and hopes when it is repaved the drainage issues are addressed. Commissioner Dawkins also reported that he observed the curb cuts while on his site visit.
Staff Report
Assistant Planner Amy Gunter explained the application before them is a request for Site Review and Outline Plan approval for a 13-unit multi-family development for the property at 31 North Mountain Avenue. She added a Tree Removal Permit is requested to remove 11 trees on the site, and the existing building has been approved for demolition pending approval of a replacement plan. Ms. Gunter provided an overview of the location and site plan details. She explained the property is located in the R-3 high density multi-family residential zone and the proposed units will be two-story townhomes grouped in three separate buildings. She stated each unit will have an attached garage and the applicants have proposed an “L” shaped driveway to access the interior of the site. Ms. Gunter reviewed the architectural details of the proposed buildings and pointed out at final plan approval the applicants will need to demonstrate compliance with solar access requirements. She noted a condition to this effect may need to be added. Ms. Gunter addressed the setbacks along North Mountain Avenue and stated the front yard setback is proposed to be the width of the public utility easement. She stated at this point the public utility easement is fluctuating and therefore the exact width of the setback will need to be addressed at final plan as well.
Ms. Gunter explained staff has raised concern with the common area amenities, open space, and landscaping. Specifically, the outline plan does not demonstrate what common area amenities will be provided to encourage use of that space. She clarified staff has recommended a condition to address this that would require verification of compliance of these standards at final plan.
Questions for Staff
Ms. Gunter clarified the lot coverage standards for the Commission. She explained the applicant’s plans show they are at 73.5% lot coverage; with 5.9% open space and common area, and 11.6% recreation area. Mr. Molnar added if the applicants cannot satisfy the requirements for lot coverage at final plan, the changes would likely be significant enough that this entire proposal would need to come back before the Commission.
Staff was asked to address why there is no common trash receptacle for the units. Ms. Gunter clarified there is no City requirement for a common receptacle, only that it be screened if one is provided.
Staff was asked to address traffic circulation and fire truck access. Mr. Molnar explained there are a number of surface spaces where a vehicle could turn around along the interior “L” shaped driveway. He stated the assumption is that not all of those spaces will have a vehicle parked in them, but the Commission is free to bring this up with the applicant if this is a concern. Regarding fire apparatus access, Mr. Molnar explained the Fire Department was involved in this proposal in its early stages and they looked at where they would stage their truck to fight a potential structure fire. In this case they determined North Mountain Avenue and the improved alley would be their primary means of fire access. He stated North Mountain Avenue clearly meets their needs and the alley will provide for 20 ft. of clear width and the surfacing will be able to support 44,000 lbs. of fire equipment. He stated this in combination with the fire sprinklers in the back building meets the Fire Department’s standards and the requirements of the Oregon Fire Code.
Staff was asked to address the setback issue. Ms. Gunter explained the public utility easement is in flux right now, but the width of the public utility easement is likely 8 ft and the applicants have worked under this assumption. Mr. Molnar explained the applicants are proposing a standard residential setback and are not requesting the 5 ft. setback outlined in the Pedestrian Places Overlay Zone. He added the intent of Pedestrian Places was for ground floor commercial to be as close as possible to the property line, and was not intended to apply to a project with 100% residential. He added the application is consistent with the requirements of pedestrian places, which states the setback shall be 5 ft. or the width of the public utility easement.
Staff commented on the alley improvements and stated the applicants are responsible for the alley for the full length of their property, and noted the Public Works Department will likely complete the Emerick connection. Concern was raised about the alley access for these homes and it was questioned whether a traffic study was completed. Ms. Gunter clarified a project this size does not trigger a traffic study requirement; however one was completed back in 2006 when a similar proposal came forward for 11 units and it was shown at that time to not be an issue.
Ms. Gunter outlined staff’s suggested modifications to the conditions of approval as follows:

  • Add condition requiring the applicants demonstrate compliance with the solar setback requirements for buildings two and three.
  • Delete last sentence from Condition #7 which states: “The alley shall be improved to 15 ft. in width from N. Mountain Ave. to the applicant’s property line.”
  • Add condition regarding fire apparatus access for a rolled curb along the landscape bays in the alley, for steppable vegetation, and basic conditions regarding addressing on both sides of the structure.
Staff was asked to comment on Condition #10, which requires common area and open space improvements be installed halfway through the project. Mr. Molnar clarified if the applicants intend to construct these buildings in phases, this requirement ensures that these improvements are built and not postponed. Suggestion was made for the condition to be clear that this is asking for the landscaping to be provided for units that are already completed.
Applicant’s Presentation
Mark Knox/Urban Development Services/495 West Nevada/Stated this application does not propose any exceptions and meets all City requirements. Mr. Knox addressed the concerns raised by the Commission and explained: 1) They are at 73.5% lot coverage which leaves a total of 8,127 sq.ft. for the common areas and 417 sq.ft. to play with. 2) They meet the solar access requirements and Sheet A-8 provides the cross-sections of the solar shadow planes. 3) Regarding trash receptacles and pickup, buildings one and two will place their cans on the curb or in front of their garage, and residents of building three will bring their cans next to the mailbox area. He stated they have already discussed this with Ashland Recology and they have not raised any concerns. 4) Fire apparatus access will be met via North Mountain Avenue and the alley; building three is 170 ft. away from the alley and the maximum distance is 150 ft., which is why sprinklers will be installed. 5) Regarding the setbacks, the Public Works Department has indicated a 5-8 ft. public utility easement for this area which is why they have designed this with an 8 ft. setback. Mr. Knox indicated they held a neighborhood meeting and the surrounding neighbors were supportive of this development, however they did raise concern with the construction activities. He also noted the City has been discussing a major capital improvement project that will extend the stormwater line through this alley and they intend to work with the Public Works Department and provide this property for storage of materials and vehicles and would like to coordinate their alley improvements with that project. Mr. Knox commented on the central courtyard element and believes this meets the intent and suggesting placing a bench in the landscaped area at the corner of the alley as a common area amenity. Regarding vehicle turnarounds, he noted they have 417 sq.ft of lot coverage to play with and suggested a notch at the top of the site could be added that would allow cars to back-up and exit the site in a forward manner.
Questions for the Applicant
The applicant was asked to address whether the parking could be shaded. Mr. Knox clarified the majority of the parking is enclosed in the garages. He stated the surface parking spaces on the fringe will have trees and shrubs to provide some shade coverage.
Mr. Molnar commented on the solar access issue and wanted the applicants to be clear about the issue staff has raised. He stated it is clear the north property line complies with the standards, however staff’s issue is at final plan to determine the shadow of the south facing wall on building three.
The applicant clarified the wall height next to the compact parking space is 18 inches, and noted there will be a light at the corner of the alley but not at the mailboxes.
Alan Harper, Applicant’s Attorney, spoke to the recommended conditions of approval. Regarding condition #23, he clarified they have no issue providing the lot coverage calculations, but noted a typographical error in the wording. Ms. Gunter acknowledged this and clarified the second sentence should read “Impervious driveway and parking areas shall be counted for the purpose of lot coverage calculations.” Regarding condition 10 and the timing of the common area and open space improvements, Mr. Harper stated they support this but would like to base it on occupancy. Mr. Knox clarified they are not planning a phased development and intend to pull the three building permits at the same time. Regarding condition 4, Mr. Harper asked that this be modified to better clarify what their scope of work is versus what the Public Works Department is doing.
Mr. Knox commented on the alley improvements and stated the Public Works Department has indicated they will grade and pave the alley section that does not front their property, and they expect this will be resolved before this project is constructed. Mr. Harper noted the alley surface on the west end is pretty rough, and while they don’t want to waste money by improving this if the City intends to do it, they would be open to smoothing out this connection for the short term if necessary.
Public Testimony
Arthur Schreiber/64 North Mountain Ave/Stated he is representing the North Mountain condominium owners. Mr. Schreiber noted they provided comment when the Police Department expansion came forward and the Commission was sensitive to their concerns about construction noise. He stated he is here tonight for the same reasons, and while they support the project, they are concerned about the disruption during construction. Mr. Schreiber asked the Commission to consider placing the following restrictions on the project: 1) no construction activity before 8 am, 2) no construction activity on Saturday, and 3) not allow construction equipment to park on North Mountain Avenue.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mr. Harper asked that they be allowed to comply with City’s ordinance for work times in order for the project build to be as efficient as possible. He stated they understand the neighborhood concerns, but the corner of East Main and North Mountain is not an unusually quiet neighborhood to being with, and stated this concern is going to continue to arise with urban infill projects.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the public hearing at 8:45 p.m.
Advice from Legal Counsel and Staff
Ms. Gunter clarified the revisions to the proposed conditions as follows:

  • Condition #10: That a phasing plan addressing Ashland Municipal Code 18.88.030.A.5d shall be provided at the time of final plan.
  • Condition #23: Lot coverage calculations including all impervious surfaces shall be submitted with the building permits. Impervious driveway and parking areas shall be counted for the purpose of lot coverage calculations.
  • Condition #5: That the alley shall comply with the Oregon Fire Code for fire apparatus access and shall be paved prior to issuance of certificate of occupancy; a rolled or mountable curb shall be provided around the landscape planters adjacent to the alley; and steppable vegetation shall be used within the 5 foot portion of the landscape planters adjacent to the alley.
  • Additionally, Condition #21 will be modified to address the solar setback between buildings two and three.
Mr. Molnar commented on the public input regarding construction hours. He stated this is a difficult request and noted the City had some flexibility with the police expansion because it was their own project, and cautioned them about setting more stringent hours.
Comment was made that the request for not parking on North Mountain by construction crews was valid, and the applicants were urged to be good neighbors and have their employees not park on North Mountain if possible.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioners Dawkins/Peddicord m/s to approve Planning Action #2013-01505 with the clarifications to the conditions of approval as listed by staff. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Dawkins commented that this is a good project. Commissioner Peddicord stated they have met the criteria and believes the applicants have put a lot of thought into this.
Commissioners Mindlin/Dawkins m/s to amend motion to include a requirement for the turnaround area suggested by the applicant in the back corner next to unit 1-B, and a requirement to smooth and pave the alley in conjunction with the Public Works project. Voice Vote: Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Kaplan, Miller, Peddicord and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 6-0.
Commissioners Brown/Mindlin m/s to amend motion to include a requirement for shading the compact parking spaces at units 5-B and 11-A-1. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Kaplan stated he is hesitant to include this as a requirement without hearing from their landscape architect, and would rather encourage the developer to shade as much as they can. Commissioner Dawkins agreed and would prefer to leave this to the project design team. He stated he would support the suggestion, but not a requirement. Commissioner Peddicord agreed with the other commissioners. Commissioner Brown withdrew the motion.
Continued DISCUSSION (on main motion as amended): Commissioner Dawkins issued a suggestion to the applicants that they work as much as possible to keep vehicles on the property and off North Mountain Ave. Commissioner Miller voiced concern with the common area and stated it seems that there is very little area for people to gather; she also voiced concern with the trash issue and thought they would provide a common receptacle. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Kaplan, Miller, Peddicord and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 6-0.

  1. Unified Land Use Ordinance: Final Draft Review of Section 18-2, Zoning Regulations
Planning Manager Maria Harris explained tonight the Commission will be reviewing Section 18-2 of the Unified Land Use Ordinance and highlighted some of the more significant changes.

  • Duplex Provision. There are only two lots in town that can take advantage of this provision, therefore staff is suggesting an amendment to allow duplexes in corner lots in single family residential zones that are done under the performance standards option.  
  • Cottage Housing. In the single family residential zones, subdivisions done under the performance standards option could develop two cottage units in place for each single family unit. Ms. Harris provided several visual examples of cottage housing and stated the current proposal is to limit the cottage size to 800 sq.ft.
  • Half-Story Rear Yard Setback. The proposed amendment requires a setback of 5 ft. per half story. Currently a half story is considered a full story and the 10 ft. setback applies.
  • Building Separation/Distance Between Buildings. Amendment would establish a minimum separation between principal buildings as half the height of the tallest building, where height is measured at the two closest exterior walls and the maximum required separation is 12 ft. Comment was made asking if staff could simplify this and possibly establish a fixed number instead.
  • Pervious Pavement Exemption from Lot Coverage. Amendment exempts 200 sq.ft. or 5% of permitted lot coverage, whichever is greater, developed in a pervious paving system that allows stormwater infiltration. Comments were made expressing concern with the overall effectiveness of this type of pavement. Statement was made that if vehicles leak oil onto the pervious pavement it stops working; and because there is different soil compaction done for parking areas, the overall permeability is questionable. Ms. Harris commented this amendment was meant to address people who want to add patios or walkways well after the home is built, and the intent is to encourage pervious pavement for this as much as possible. Suggestion was made to possibly exclude parking areas from this exemption. 
  • Side and Rear Yard Exceptions in Residential Zones – Alleys and Accessory Buildings. The proposed amendment addresses alley and accessory building setbacks. Accessory buildings and residential units that are a maximum of 15 ft. in height and not attached to any other buildings can reduce side and rear yards adjacent to an alley to 4 feet. Back-up space of 22 ft. must be provided and this provision would not apply to the primary residence. For accessory buildings not adjacent to an alley (maximum height 15 ft. and not attached to any other building), the rear and side yard setback can be reduced to 3 ft. The Commission discussed the intent of this provision. Suggestion was made to possibly establish a flat 3 ft. setback so long as 22 ft. of back-up space is provided.
Commission Comments:
A typographical error was noted on page 29, section 18-2.3-120.D. Ms. Harris acknowledged this and clarified the first sentence should say Type II, not Type III. 
Commissioner Mindlin commented on the standards related to cottage housing and shared information on the HUD affordable housing regulations. She stated she would support a larger maximum size, perhaps 1,300 sq.ft., but limit the footprint size. She also voiced support for allowing one and a half stories. Staff commented that maintaining the existing neighborhood character is a big issue for the City Council and increasing the density to that extent in the R-1 zone may be concerning to them. Suggestion was made to possibly change the provision to allow one and a half cottage units (instead of two) in place for each single family unit, but allow larger units with a limited footprint. The commissioners shared their thoughts on what the maximum cottage size should be. After additional discussion the general consensus was for staff to consider limiting the footprint size and allowing one and a half stories, and to limit the density bonus to one and a half units. Commissioner Mindlin also asked for decreasing the amount of coverage allowed to provide for increased open space, and stated this would help to ensure these developments fit into the neighborhood.  Ms. Harris commented that she has run the numbers on limiting coverage and does not believe this would be feasible. She clarified the way it is currently written is if open space is required, the green area must be 20% of the entire site area.
Meeting adjourned at 10:20 p.m.


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