Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Special Mtg

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

These are DRAFT minutes and are pending approval by the Ashland Planning Commission.
OCTOBER 27, 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
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Greg Lemhouse, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar updated the commission on the Normal Neighborhood Plan. He stated the City Council has held two meetings and approved first reading of two of the three ordinances. The Council made a minor amendment to reduce the size of the neighborhood commercial overlay and the ordinances have been continued to November 17, 2015. Mr. Molnar requested the commission check their holiday schedules and stated it is likely either the November or December study session will be cancelled.
No one came forward to speak.
  1. PLANNING ACTION: PL-2015-01677
DESCRIPTION:  An ordinance amending chapters 18.2.2, 18.2.3, 18.2.5, 18.3.3, 18.3.5 and 18.6.1 of the Ashland Land Use Ordinance relating to homegrown marijuana cultivation and marijuana- related businesses including production, processing, retail sales, testing, and wholesale.
Planning Manager Maria Harris reviewed the draft ordinance and noted the ordinance addresses both homegrown marijuana and marijuana related businesses. She explained the following changes have been made to the ordinance since the commission’s last review:  
  • Laboratories were added as an eligible use in the E-1 and M-1 zones.
  • Marijuana related businesses were added to the list of prohibited uses for a home occupation.
  • The limitation on the number of indoor plants was deleted.
  • Removed the sliding scale for number of plants allowed on larger lots.
  • Removed language prohibiting homemade marijuana extracts.
  • Added language to ensure outdoor grows are secured at all times.
  • Added 1,000 ft. separation requirement for retail outlets.
  • Added language that prohibits vacant dwelling units for being use for marijuana cultivation.
Ms. Harris identified the following items for commission deliberations:
Cultivation Area Location
Ms. Harris stated the draft ordinance includes a requirement for residents to locate the cultivation area closer to their primary residence than to dwellings on adjoining properties or to dwellings in the same multifamily development. However, staff has some concerns about this. Ms. Harris explained this would be a fairly complicated standard for a resident grower to figure out and would likely require review of aerial maps to determine distances. This requirement would also be more difficult for staff to administer and enforce.
Maximum Plant Height
Ms. Harris stated the current draft sets a 10 ft. maximum height, however staff has suggested coordinating this with the 6.5 ft. maximum fence height.
Ms. Harris stated the draft ordinance establishes a 10 ft. setback from property lines and 20 ft. from residences. If the commission changed this to 20 ft. from property lines and 30 ft. from residences it would adversely impact many of the homes in the R-1.5 zoning district, as well as smaller lots and townhouses throughout town. Ms. Harris stated on larger lots the setback is not an issue, but smaller lots would not have an area eligible for outdoor growing. 
Southern Oregon University & Croman Mill Districts
Ms. Harris clarified the need to add a provision for homegrown marijuana in the Southern Oregon University and Croman Mill zoning districts. She noted this was an oversight and should have been included in the original draft.
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Dawkins expressed concern with the cultivation space requirements and stated he is not clear why this limitation is needed or whether 50 ft. is enough space. He also recommended the measurement of the setback be taken from the center of the plant’s base. Comment was made that the restrictions are there to limit odor. Dawkins countered that residents are already limited to four plants. Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the intent was to limit the size of the planting area and associated odor, and stated a single marijuana plant can grow to 25 sq.ft.
Commissioner Thompson suggested the ordinance include a reference to the limitations set by the state law. Ms. Harris stated staff did discuss this with the city’s attorney and came to the conclusion to not reference all of the state’s laws and rules since they are constantly evolving. Commission Thompson requested the ordinance include a statement similar to “In addition to the requirements contained in…” so that people are aware that there are other requirements that apply.
Commissioner Pearce commented on section and asked how this ordinance would apply to someone who owned multiple lots. Ms. Harris stated if someone owns multiple lots on a contiguous piece of property staff would treat this as a single lot; however, she stated she would look into this further.
Request was made to amend the Homegrown Marijuana definition (pg. 36) to read: “…for personal consumption, whether for medical or non-medical purposes, or for a medical marijuana card holder.” Amendment request was also made to change to read: “Outdoor marijuana cultivation or storage of merchandise, raw materials, or other material associated with the business is prohibited.” A typo was noted at the top of page 36; it should be corrected to read: “…cultivation of fragile or out-of-season plants for personal enjoyment or for subsequent use.”
Staff was asked whether limiting the height would reduce odors. Ms. Harris explained the 6.5 ft. height limitation was suggested to address visibility issues from other residences as well as security concerns. She stated if people can’t see it hopefully they won’t try to access it. Comment was made that using the fence height is an easy marker for homeowners to know where they need to top their plants.
Comment was made expressing concern the term “limiting view” and it was questioned if the ordinance should say “prohibit view” instead. Ms. Harris stated you can’t completely limit the view from a two-story residence, but if you go with the fence height limitation neighbors won’t be able to see the plants from yard level.
Staff was asked how the noise created by fans will be addressed. Ms. Harris clarified the legal department will be updating the nuisance section of the municipal code to address this.
Staff was asked if a minimum setback would present the same problems as requiring residents to locate grow areas closer to their residence than adjacent residences. Ms. Harris stated the setback is a bit more manageable because it is a set figure that applies to everyone.
Staff was asked why the plant height would be limited if they are not visually unappealing and it was noted other plants (tomatoes, etc.) do not have a height limitation. Ms. Harris explained staff has received concerns from residents with children who live next door to grows and this would limit the potential for children to access the plants.
Staff was asked to explain the removal of the indoor growing limitation. Ms. Harris stated the city cannot legally enter a person’s home and therefore any city limitation on the number indoor plants would be unenforceable. It was noted, however, that the state does limit the total number of plants allowed. If you have four or less plants total, you are not subject to the state’s licensing requirements, but if you have more than four plants you must adhere to the state’s regulations.
Commissioner Dawkins noted that retail establishments cannot be both medical and recreational; they have to be registered as one or the other under state law.
Commission Deliberations
Commissioner Mindlin stated she is not in favor of limiting height and stated marijuana is now legal and people’s attitudes will eventually change about seeing it. She added limiting the height could create a hardship for someone attempting to grow a plant and could kill it. However, she stated she is very concerned with odor and voiced support for the restriction on the size of the cultivation area, even if this means people can’t grow four large plants outdoors.
Commissioner Norton voiced support for Dawkins’ idea to use the base of the plant when measuring where it sits in the 50 ft. cultivation area.
Commissioner Brown stated he would prefer to be more restrictive starting out and agreed that the community’s attitude will change over time. He voiced support for the 6.5 height limit and stated this will help with security. He added if down the road they find 6.5 ft. is not working it can be increased. The setbacks could also be changed to be more lenient in the future if it’s deemed appropriate.
Commissioner Pearce voiced support for the larger setbacks and keeping the language that states the cultivation area needs to be closer to the residence than neighboring residences. Commissioner Miller disagreed and sated this is too subjective. She added the city has setbacks for chickens, and goats, and everything else and believes this would work fine. She noted she is also in favor of the larger setbacks, even though this won’t work for townhouses and smaller lots.
Commissioner Dawkins stated he is not in favor of the cultivation area. He stated growing marijuana is a big job and most people won’t find satisfaction in it. And by legalizing it, there will be a much wider selection available at retail stores. He added if the ordinance is too restrictive it will push people to grow indoors and people should be allowed to use our climate for this.
The commission discussed reducing commercial sites from 10,000 sq.ft to a maximum of 5,000 sq.ft. Comment was made that they should not be encouraging commercial sites in the city and these should be located in agricultural areas instead. Statement was made that if the maximum size was reduced this would push these uses out to where they really belong. General agreement was voiced to lower the maximum commercial site size to 5,000 sq.ft.
Commissioners Dawkins/Thompson m/s to restrict commercial sites to 5,000 sq.ft. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed unanimously.
Commissioners Brown/Dawkins m/s to include the Southern Oregon University and Croman Mill zoning districts to the ordinance. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Harris clarified she would correct the minor word-smithing items raised during deliberations and would include a reference in the homegrown section to the state law requirements.
Commissioners Pearce/Dawkins m/s to recommend approval of PL-2015-01677 as amended. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Thompson, Brown, Norton, Miller, Pearce, and Mindlin. Roll Call Vote: all AYES. Motion passed unanimously.
Meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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