Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

These are DRAFT minutes and are pending approval by the Ashland Planning Commission. 

June 9, 2015
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
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Roger Pearce   Greg Lemhouse
Community Development Director Bill Molnar reviewed upcoming agenda items. He stated the June special meeting will include the tree removal request for 380 Clay and a discussion on marijuana grows in residential areas. Additional items to come forward in the next few months include changes to the airport zone and the revised Normal Neighborhood Plan.
Council Liaison Greg Lemhouse provided an update on current council items, including the approval of Tighe O’Meara as police chief, an update on drought conditions, and the new ad hoc committee for climate action and energy plan.
Councilor Lemhouse left the meeting at 7:15 p.m.
  1. Approval of Minutes
1.     May 12, 2015 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Miller/Dawkins m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed unanimously.
No one came forward to speak.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2015-00418
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  1465 Webster Avenue
APPLICANT:  Southern Oregon University 
AGENTS:  CSA Planning, Ltd.              
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review for the renovation of McNeal Pavilion on the Southern Oregon University Campus. The application also includes requests for Conditional Use Permit approval to allow the construction of a new Student Recreation Center which was not identified in the 2010 SOU Campus Master Plan and which will exceed the 40-foot height allowed in the SO zoning district, and for Tree Removal Permits to remove nine (9) trees that are 18-inches in diameter-at-breast-height (d.b.h.) or greater. (106,722 square feet of the existing 113,000 square foot building area will be demolished.  With the proposed renovation and new construction the combined building area will consist of 104,891 gross square feet on three levels, a 7.17 percent reduction in the total building square footage.) COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Southern Oregon University; ZONING: SO; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 10 CD; TAX LOT: 100.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Miller, Mindlin, Norton, and Thompson declared site visits; no ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson reviewed the applicant’s proposal to demolish the majority of the existing McNeal structure, retain the existing footprint, and construct an approximately 100,000 sq.ft. stadium with office space and a student recreation center. The plan includes the removal of eight trees that are over 18-inches in diameter with the reason for removals stated as excavation, utility installation, demolition, and construction; and that all of the trees are in close proximity to the building area. Mr. Severson noted the applicant’s are mitigating the tree removals beyond what is required by code, and reviewed the two building layout options submitted by the applicant.
Mr. Severson commented on the issues raised in the staff report. He stated the SOU master plan talked about a clear circulation to the pavilion and staff feels the Wightman corridor should be improved to provide additional refuge for pedestrians; additionally, staff is recommending the parking lot landscaping be improved and offered the following condition for the commission’s consideration: “That prior to the submittal of building permits, a revised site plan reflecting parking lot upgrades for the lot between McNeal Pavilion and Wightman Street shall be provided to address: at least six parking lot trees on the interior of the parking lot, additional parking lot trees on the parking lot perimeter, and sight-obscuring landscaping and at least two areas of paved pedestrian refuge in the buffer strip along Wightman Street.” Mr. Severson cited the Tree Commission’s recommendations and clarified these are included in the recommended conditions of approval. He stated staff is recommending approval with the conditions as presented.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Severson was asked to elaborate on tree #7. He responded that this is a Modesto Ash located on the corner and stated the existing underground utility tunnel will need to be extended and will cut through the root zone of this tree and a number of others. Staff was asked whether it is within the commission’s purview to require the rerouting of the utilities in order to save the trees. Mr. Molnar clarified they would want to consult with the Fire Department on this as this structure also needs to meet the emergency vehicle access requirements.
Fire Marshall Margueritte Hickman was asked to come forward and she provided an overview of the Fire Department’s requirements. She stated because of the height of the building a 26-foot wide fire access for an aerial apparatus is needed, and access is needed on more than just one side of the building. She added clearance is needed above the access way as well in order for the apparatus to work. Ms. Hickman clarified when the Fire Department reviewed this application it was under the assumption that the trees would be removed and they would need to reevaluate the plan before she could say yes or no to certain trees.
Applicant’s Presentation

Gilliland, Jay Harland, Dave Strauss, and Mira Theisen addressed the commission. Mr. Gilliland spoke to the tree removals and noted he has consulted with Casey Roland from the Tree Commission and the Mulberry tree can be saved but likely won’t survive for more than a few more years. He stated they did look into moving the utility tunnel however it would affect the fire lane access and shifting the tunnel would still impact the root zone of these trees. Regarding the trees on the east side, he stated they are diseased and does not believe there is value in saving them. 

Mr. Harland stated there are six trees that could be saved and could help provide shade for some of the new plantings even if they ultimately don’t survive; however 18 trees will likely not make it due to the amount of excavation required. He stated the only issue they have with staff’s recommendations is the condition about improving the parking lot and stated this would significantly impact their project boundary area. He clarified the master plan does call for future improvements to the parking lot, however this lot still has some useful life left. Mr. Harland stated they are willing to install some plantings to make this project work, but they do not want to redo the lot entirely. He requested flexibility on the six planting areas and asked that they be allowed to work with staff to develop a plan that accomplishes staff’s objectives.
Ms. Theisen commented on the layout of the proposed structure. She called attention to the plaza area for the multiuse facility and clarified the west entry will be used for events in the McNeal gym and the southern entry will be the main entry to the student recreation center. She noted the two layout options and stated they are looking at two plans due to the costs involved. Ms. Theisen stated first plan is their preferred option but if they need a less expensive option the alternate plan relocates some of the second floor offices down to the shell space on the lower level. She clarified this affects only the building’s interior and does not change the footprint. Ms. Theisen stated the design of the structure was influenced by the Hannon Library and this building will help tie north campus to south campus.
Questions of the Applicant
Comment was made that the small trees installed in front of the new dining hall are not doing well and the applicant was asked how they will ensure the new trees flourish. Mr. Gilliland stated they have an arborist on campus and would be happy to also work with someone from the City on this issue. Mr. Molnar noted there is already a provision in the code that requires dead trees to be replaced.  
Commissioner Miller voiced her disappointment with the number of trees proposed for removal and asked whether this plan addresses the parking need. Mr. Gilliland stated there are enough spots campus wide to meet the need and they have areas to handle overflow parking for men’s basketball and football which get the most attendees. He added the university recently built a new parking lot but students tend to park where it is free, and stated they will continue to work with the city on this issue.
Commissioner Thompson stated the parking area is run down and the landscaping is not very nice, and stated she is struggling with the applicant’s statement that this is not part of the site. Mr. Gilliland stated the parking lots are funded separately and need to have a separate plan, but agreed that this area will need to be addressed in the future. Mr. Harland added the university is willing to do some maintenance and specific improvements, but they believe this is outside the scope of this project. He added if the building size were increasing that would be different, but the square footage is going down and added this is not required under the master plan.
Public Input
Rick Vezie/446 Walker Ave/Voiced his concerns with the lack of communication between the university and the surrounding residents, the increase in traffic, and the condition of the university’s rental houses. He recommended a traffic study be completed, the three rental units be maintained and kept, and a maximum of 24-hour parking be implemented on the west side of Walker.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Molnar clarified parking management has been looked at over the years and stated the overall number of spaces campus wide is consistent with the code. He added the locations might not be optimum and stated the City has met with the university to explore opportunities for a residential parking permit system to mitigate impacts on surrounding neighborhoods. Regarding the parking lot not being included in the application, he agreed that the university has performed isolated capital improvement projects but stated staff took the position early on that some effort needs to be made to bring the parking lot more into conformance with city standards. He added it would be a significant undertaking to bring it all the way up to city standards, but staff is looking for some middle ground.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mr. Harland stated the building size is being reduced and they are not expecting traffic to increase. Regarding the testimony on parking along Walker, he stated this is a City right-of-way and the university does not have the authority to limit parking durations as suggested. Mr. Gilliland commented on the family rental units and clarified they are in the process of renovating units, it’s just a matter of priority, time, and money.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the hearing and the record at 8:45 p.m.
Deliberations and Decision
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve PA-2015-00418 with the conditions presented by staff. DISCUSSION: Dawkins voiced his support for minor upgrades to the parking lot and supports using container trees temporarily. Staff clarified the recommendations from the Tree Commission are included in the conditions of approval. Brown stated he supports the motion and is fine with negotiating the mitigation to the parking lot. Miller stated she would have liked a stronger statement about saving the trees. Norton stated he is comfortable with the motion and working on mitigating the parking lot. Mindlin stated her preference is for trees instead of smaller shrubs in order to create shade for the parking area, and encouraged the applicant to save the trees recommended by the Tree Commission. She added there is value in saving them even if they only last a few more years. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Brown, Norton, Miller, Thompson, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed unanimously.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2015-00825
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  87 W. Nevada St., 811 Helman St. and 127 Almeda Dr.
OWNER:  Wilma, LLC
APPLICANT:  Urban Development Services
DESCRIPTION:  A request for a modification of the previously approved Verde Village Subdivision for the properties located at 87 West Nevada Street, 811 Helman Street and 127 Almeda Dr. The proposed modifications include partitioning the property to be consistent with the approved phasing plan, to adjust the property lines for Lots #3-#9 and #15-#17, and to modify Exhibit E, Condition #30 of the approved Development Agreement as it relates to the construction and timing of street improvements for both Perozzi Street and Almeda Drive.     COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Suburban Residential & Single Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-3.5, R-1-5 and R-1-7.5; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 04B; TAX LOTS: 800, 1100, 1400 and 1418.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Dawkins and Norton declared site visits; no ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson provided the background information on this residential subdivision and clarified the affordable housing units have already been built. He explained the applicant’s propose to partition the property to be consistent with the approved phasing plan, to adjust the property lines of the units around the perimeter, and to modify the construction and timing of the street improvements for Perozzi Street and Almeda Drive. Mr. Severson clarified the property owners around the perimeter would be responsible for maintaining the landscaping adjacent to their unit, and stated staff has recommended a condition that makes it clear that as housing clusters fill in the open space needs to be completed. He added the last element of the request is to install a temporary drive instead of Perozzi St.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Severson clarified the applicants would maintain responsibility for the installation of the plantings, and clarified they still meet the open space requirements.
When asked when Perozzi Street would be completed, Mr. Severson responded that a temporary drive would be installed to provide access to the dog park, and Perozzi St. would happen in Phase 2.
Staff was asked whether the temporary street would be one-way because of its width. Mr. Severson responded that the width would be 29 ft. (more than the standard street improvements require) and would be wide enough to accommodate parking on both sides of the street.
Commissioner Norton voiced his concern with the landscaping maintenance being shifted to the homeowners and recommended the CC&R’s be strongly worded to prevent owners from removing or altering the landscaping.
Applicant’s Presentation
Mark Knox, Val Williams, and Greg Williams addressed the commission. Mr. Knox stated this is a very straight forward request and explained they would like to fence the backyards and make the landscaping maintenance a responsibility of the property owners. He stated the project side of the street will have a sidewalk, street trees, curbs and gutters, and they are asking to no install a curb on the opposite side in order to allow drainage to run off naturally into the Phase 2 area. Mr. Knox added the street will be 34 ft. in width when it is completed. He stated the interim street will connect to the dog park and stated the Fire Departments concern about address numbers will be remedied with the installation of a permanent sign.
Questions of the Applicant
Commissioner Mindlin stated she does not understand the objection to installing curbs on both sides. Mr. Knox explained Phase 2 does not have storm drains yet and stated installing curbs could cause erosion issues. He added they will put down an extra edge of rock base to prevent the asphalt edge from deteriorating. Regarding landscaping, Mr. Knox clarified there is a guaranteed financial mechanism to make sure the landscaping is installed and added this is a requirement of the final certificate of occupancy.
Charlie Hamilton addressed the commission. He stated there is a huge amount of infrastructure for these small homes and stated they are asking for some flexibility. He explained there will be separate timeframes and interest payments on their bank loans and places extra pressure on them to move forward and sell these lots. He stated if the City places too much additional burden on this project they won’t be able to make it work.
Commissioner Norton restated his concerns about the fences and maintaining the landscaping. He stated this would no longer be common area and is concerned about an enforcement problem down the road.
Ms. Williams explained that she worked closely with the attorney on drafting the CC&Rs. She stated because this is a passive solar community the plants and plantings are very defined and stringent, and there is a special committee of the homeowners association to oversee this element. She stated anyone buying into this community is going to know the requirements from the onset and stated the homeowners association will deal with any renegade homeowners who don’t follow the rules.
Mr. Knox added one of the benefits of the fencing is to reduce the fees and make it more affordable for people.
Public Input
No one came forward to speak.  
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked if they are concerned with the curbing. Mr. Severson stated he has spoken with the city’s engineer and he was concerned with not having a final edge because the Public Works department will take over responsibility for this street after one year. Mr. Molnar stated having a curb would affect the way water is transferred and stated he would prefer for this decision to lie with the Public Works Director.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mr. Williams emphasized this is an extremely unique project and the CC&Rs speak in detail about the landscaping, as this can impact solar and water retention.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the hearing and the record at 10:00 p.m.
Deliberations and Decision
Commissioners Brown/Dawkins m/s to approve the application with the recommended conditions of approval with a modification to Condition #5 to insert an 18-month timeframe, and for the Public Works Director to evaluate and approve of a plan for the curb. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Brown, Norton, Miller, Thompson, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed unanimously.
Meeting adjourned at 10:10 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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