Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

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

NOVEMBER 10, 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
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Greg Lemhouse
Community Development Director announced the first reading of the final of the three ordinances for the Normal Neighborhood Plan will go before the City Council next week, and the public hearing for the marijuana ordinance is scheduled for December 1. Council Liaison Greg Lemhouse added the Council will also be conducting second reading of the ordinances on downtown behavior at their next meeting.
Commissioner Thompson provided an update on the Downtown Parking Management and Circulation Committee. She explained there will be a phased approach and the consultant’s draft parking plan is available on the City’s website. Details include hiring a city parking manager, negotiating shared use agreements with the owners of private parking lots, and potentially paid parking and residential permits. Thompson stated the first phase will last 18 months and the plan will go before the City Council for approval early next year with a potential start date of July 1, 2016.
  1. Approval of Minutes
    1.  October 13, 2015 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Thompson/Miller m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed unanimously.
  1. Adoption of Findings for PA-2015-00797, 266 Third Street.
No ex parte contact was reported.
Commissioners Miller/Brown m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2015-00797. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed unanimously.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2015-01517                                                
SUBJECT PROPERTIES:  209 Oak St., 221 Oak St., 225 Oak St. and 11 B St. (And shared driveway partially on 237-239 Oak St.)
OWNER/APPLICANT: Spartan Ashland Natalie Real Estate, LLC
AGENTS:  Kistler, Small & White, Architects     
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Outline Plan, Final Plan and Site Design Review approvals for the properties at 209 Oak Street, 221 Oak Street, 225 Oak Street and 11 B Street. The proposal includes the renovation of two existing, historic homes; the construction of six townhouses along B Street; and the construction a new, detached residential cottage. Also included are requests for a Variance to allow a 15-foot wide, one-way driveway where a 20-foot driveway width would typically be required; two Conditional Use Permits to allow a 25 percent increase in the Maximum Permitted Floor Area, and to allow a commercial use within an existing, historic residential building; an Exception to the Street Standards to allow a curbside sidewalk along B Street where a planting strip would typically be required between the curb and the sidewalk; an Exception to the Site Development and Design Standards to allow the placement of a new residence on proposed Lot #9 to be placed behind the setback line of adjacent historic buildings; and a Tree Removal Permit to remove two trees which are within the footprints of proposed buildings. (The proposal involves use of the existing driveway which is partially located on the adjacent property to the north at 237-239 Oak Street; this property’s owner has signed to allow the application to move forward using the shared driveway.) COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09BB; TAX LOTS: 15600, 15700, 15900 and 16000. (Continued from October 13, 2015 Planning Commission Meeting.)
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson provided an overview of the proposal, the applicant’s new submittals, and outlined the issues from the October meeting as follows:
  1. Number of Residential Units. The current submittals have eight residential units, with six townhomes, one cottage, and one residential unit in the Smith-Elliot house, and a commercial office use proposed in the Mickelson-Chapman house.
  2. Entry Fire Separation. The current submittals have not changed the treatment of the slanted partitions providing the required separation between the units. The Historic Commission has recommended approval as submitted.
  3. Metal Roofs. The Historic Commission has stated metal roofs are inappropriate for the two historic homes being restored, and that composition shingles are the most historically appropriate treatment. They are supportive of metal roofing for the new cottage and while their recommendations do not speak specifically to the townhomes, they have recommended approval as submitted.
  4. Commercial Use of the Historic Home. The Historic Commission has recommended against a conditional use permit for the commercial use.
  5. Compatibility of Townhomes. At the last meeting it was questioned whether a pitched roof design would be a more historically-compatible treatment for the residential units, however the Historic Commission did not have concerns with the proposed roof design.
  6. B Street Streetscape. The applicants have requested an exception to the Street Standards to continue the existing sidewalk pattern and the Historic Commission expressed support for this request noting that it would accommodate deeper front porches while retaining the historic location of the sidewalk. However, staff believes that a full city standard 7 ft. parkrow and 6 ft. sidewalk would be preferable, but should the commission grant an exception, staff strongly recommends a minimum 6 ft. sidewalk with trees planted behind the sidewalk at one tree per 30 ft. to achieve canopy coverage.
  7. Driveways & On-Site Circulation. The current submittals do not include any widening of the driveway as discussed in October, but the applicants have added a pedestrian walkway within the 15 ft. driveway from the recreational space to B Street.  
Mr. Severson read aloud the recommendations from the Historic and Tree Commissions, and reviewed staff’s recommended conditions for approval.  
Questions of Staff
Mr. Severson stated the application complies with the City’s setback requirements; clarified the application shows a 10 ft. setback to the start of the bay windows; and commented on the potential use of structural soil for trees in a narrower parkrow.
Concern was expressed that trash facilities are not listed on the site plan. Mr. Severson clarified the applicants will need to meet the City’s standards and will also need to work with Recology on the placement of trash facilities.
Mr. Severson clarified as proposed, the applicants meet the parking demand on-site and there is no need for an on-street parking credit.
Regarding the ADA parking space, Mr. Severson stated it is his understanding that the one space can serve both the residences and the office space.
Applicant’s Presentation
Ray Kistler/Stated there is no standard for one-way driveways and does not believe access to the site warrants two-way traffic. He also clarified the proposed pedestrian path would be flush with the driveway but a different material would be used. He stated there is room for a 20 ft. wide driveway but does not believe this serves a purpose or looks as nice. Mr. Kistler commented on the City’s parkrow and sidewalk requirements and stated it is up to the commission on what they would like to see here. He stated they could make the sidewalk compliant with the standard but this would take 7 ft. from the property frontage and would negatively impact the people who live in these units. He suggested a compromise be reached on the parkrow. Regarding the firewall separation, Mr. Kistler stated their intent was to tie this element to the Winston building next door.
Questions of the Applicant
The applicants were asked to comment on their solution for the trash. Leslie Gore responded that they have met with Recology and they recommended individual cans picked up at the curb. Comment was made expressing concern with the number of cans that would be placed on the street for pickup, especially since B Street is already fairly narrow. Mr. Kistler stated there is space behind the Mickelson house and they could potentially add a screened enclosure at this location. Mr. Severson noted Recology conducted pickups on the street for the units that are there now.
The applicants were asked if there is an opportunity to push the porches and townhomes back a little so they wouldn’t be as close to the sidewalk and parkrow. Mr. Kistler stated the private outdoor space in the back of each unit in addition to the garage space for each unit would make this difficult to accomplish.
The applicants were asked if they meet the backup space requirements and Mr. Kistler responded that they have 2 ft. more than the minimum.
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked to clarify the roofing material standard. Mr. Severson explained the design standards specifically say wood and metal are to be avoided, and stated the Historic Commission recommended composition shingles for this project. Staff was asked if the commission decided to not follow this standard, would they have to justify their decision with specific criteria, and could they consider the City’s sustainability goals. Mr. Molnar clarified AMC states for projects located at the boundary between zones or overlays, different treatments may be considered to address compatibility. Comment was made that if they allow the metal roof this gets ahead of the curve of where the City is heading, but it may make it difficult for other applicants if they do not know what the commission is wanting. Comment was made that there is a difference between requiring a different material versus allowing the applicant to do what they have asked for.  
Applicants Rebuttal
Leslie Gore clarified the proposed metal roofs are a recyclable material. She also clarified the historic housing units are just 2 bedrooms and 1 bath each, and do not lend themselves to be multifamily units. 
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the hearing at 8:15 p.m.
Deliberations & Decision
The commission identified the key issues for deliberation:
Conditional Use Permit
Commissioner Norton commented that the office space is the element that is causing issues for the site. He stated if the office goes away, the ADA parking issue goes away, they won’t need to put a pathway in, and the extra space can be used to solve the garbage issue. It would also allow for better landscaping and provide a better transition to the new building. Commissioner Brown stated he is comfortable with an office on the corner. He added a commercial use would work better than a residential unit due to what is already occurring on that corner, and stated as long as the building maintains its character he is comfortable with granting the CUP. Commissioner Pearce stated the office use meets the criteria for a CUP and it would not be a greater impact than other uses in the zone. He added the code does not regulate historic uses and stated he would support a commercial use. Commissioners Thompson, Dawkins, and Mindlin agreed with Pearce, and Dawkins noted this building has had commercial uses in the past. Commissioner Miller stated she would prefer to keep this residential but would not fight this issue.
Commissioner Dawkins voiced support for widening the sidewalk and agrees with the Historic Commission recommendation to maintain the larger patios. He stated this would allow a landscaped area above the trees and would provide a better transition to the building on the corner. Commissioner Miller agreed and stated the parkrow would be problematic. Commissioner Thompson noted there are a number of historic areas in the city with no parkrows and does not think this would be an oddity. Commissioner Brown stated widening the sidewalk and installing trees along the building side is the right approach and would provide shade for the sidewalk and units. Commissioner Pearce agreed and stated adding another 7 ft. to the project for the parkrow would make it very problematic for the townhouses to work, and voiced support for a 6 ft. sidewalk with no parkrow. Commissioner Mindlin stated she is interested in a narrower parkrow, but will not go against the group.
Roofing Material
Commissioner Dawkins stated it is appropriate to allow the metal roof. He stated they need to look at this from a sustainable approach and stated the applicant can put a roof on that looks the way the Historic Commission prefers without using asphalt material. Commissioner Thompson voiced concern with going against the Historic Commission’s recommendation without having a broader discussion about revising the historic district standards. Commissioner Miller stated she would support metal over composition if these are their only choices, and stated she is more concerned about the pitch of the roof than the material. Commissioner Mindlin stated the value of metal roofing is high (rainwater runoff, fireproofing, etc.) and stated wood shingles are the most historically compatible material but these would not be allowed for fire reasons. She stated composite roofs are not as good and do not look the same as wood, and voiced support for taking this up with the Historic Commission. Mindlin voiced her opinion that they have sufficient grounds to allow the applicant to do what they have proposed, and stated this is different than setting a new standard. Commissioner Pearce agreed with Thompson and stated he is hesitant, but stated he will not say no to metal. Commissioner Miller recommended they make it clear the metal roof should be darker in color and not shiny or reflective.
Commissioner Pearce commented that there are no special or unique circumstances to justify the variance to the driveway on B Street. He noted the applicant’s statement that there is room for a 20 ft. driveway and stated this would allow for two-way traffic off B St. He stated this project will add quite a bit of traffic to the site, and with Oak being the busier street it is important to have an alternate access. Commissioner Brown gave his opinion that the proposed traffic patterns work for the site and noted that B Street is very narrow. He stated he is okay with the variance and with the proposed 15 ft. width. Commissioner Thompson commented that because of the constriction at one end she is okay with the 15 ft. driveway onto B Street and stated it seems to work well with the site plan. Commissioners Norton, Mindlin and Dawkins also voiced their support for the proposed 15 ft. driveway width. Concern was expressed regarding vision clearance at the B Street driveway and Mr. Severson stated they can include a condition that requires a wider apron width, no parking within 10 ft. on either side, and trees selected and placed to ensure the vision clearance standards are met.
Proposed Staff Conditions
Based on the commissions discussions, Mr. Severson stated they will want to remove the Historic Commission recommendations for the composition shingle roof and a residential use only in the Mickelson-Chapman house, and edit condition #9L to state “Pedestrian circulation shall not reduce the driveway width below the proposed 15-ft. width but may include a materially distinct pedestrian path within the driveway.” Recommendation was made to modify condition #9M to state “Building permit submittals are to include the identification of the placement of the trash enclosure, if any.” Mr. Severson questioned whether there was any interest in tying the restoration of the historic homes to the construction of the townhomes and if so, suggested a condition that would state prior to the issuance of the fourth occupancy permit, the restoration of one of the historic homes should be completed and before the completion of the last townhome or cottage the second restoration shall be completed. Commissioner Pearce commented that until they know how the financing for this project will work he is reluctant to include such a condition. Commissioner Dawkins noted they have had issues in the past with affordable units never getting built and gave his opinion that it is reasonable to include a condition that addresses this. Commissioners Brown and Mindlin supported a condition to address the timing, and Mindlin noted this is the only tool they have to ensure this gets done. Commissioner Norton commented that if the houses are not improved the applicants will have a difficult time selling the townhouses and he is not sure this condition is necessary.   
Commissioners Brown/Dawkins m/s to approve PA-2015-01517 with the modifications and staff recommendations for conditions #3, #4 ,#9J, #9L, #9M (including adding “if any” to the end), #11A, and conditions as stated by staff addressing the timing and the vision clearance along B Street. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Norton stated he can’t support the motion and stated the full 25% bonus plus the office space is too much for the site. Commissioner Pearce stated he is uneasy about the timing condition, but he will support the motion. Commissioner Miller stated she reluctantly supports the motion and stated her preference would be for the units to look more residential. Commissioner Mindlin voiced support for the motion and believes they have addresses all the issues. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Brown, Thompson, Miller, Pearce, Dawkins, and Mindlin, YES. Commissioner Norton, NO. Motion passed 6-1.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2015-01284
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  474 Russell Street
OWNER/APPLICANT:  Laz Ayala/Ayala Properties, LLC
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review approval to construct two mixed-use buildings for the property located at 474 Russell Street.  “Building A” will be a two-story, mixed use 8,688 square foot building consisting of commercial space and garages on the ground floor, and four residential condominiums on the second floor; “Building B” will be a two-story 12,617 feet commercial building consisting of commercial space with six residential condominiums on the second floor. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09AA; TAX LOTS: 2805.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Pearce, Norton, Mindlin, Brown, and Miller conducted site visits; no ex parte communication was reported.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson reviewed the application to construct two mixed use buildings at 474 Russell Drive. He noted the bulk of the infrastructure is already installed, including the parking lots, streetscape, and pedestrian connection. He reviewed the site plan, Tree Commission recommendations, landscape plan, floor plans, and elevations. He commented on the commercial/residential split requirements (AMC and provided a detailed overview of the parking calculations. Mr. Severson explained the applicant’s have illustrated how the parking will work as the commercial space develops and provided a summary of their parking management strategy. He stated in evaluating the request staff believes there is reasonable assumption that the residential and commercial parking demand will be offset and staff is recommending approval of the parking management strategy and requiring 28 on-site spaces with 4 on-street credits and a 12.8% reduction.
Mr. Severson commented that it difficult to tell from the submittal how wide the entryways are and whether they would provide adequate protection from sun and rain, and noted staff has recommended a condition of approval to address this. He also commented on the fenestration standard and suggested the commission consider the number and placement of windows to ensure large masses are divided into a more human scale. Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and stated staff is recommending approval with the conditions as presented.
Applicant’s Presentation
Mark Knox/604 Fair Oaks/Mr. Knox introduced Laurie Sager, Laz Ayala, Cindy Dwyer, and Gary Caperna. He thanked staff for the thorough presentation and stated they have no issues with the recommendations of the Tree Commission. He commented briefly on the parking and stated he would let the project architect comment on the number and placement of windows. Mr. Caperna addressed the commission and stated he understands staff’s concern, but some of the window placement is restricted by what’s happening internally in the building. He stated they could potentially add some high windows and noted some of the window locations suggested by staff are on walls where you would normally place a bed. He stated staff’s suggestion might be more aggressive than what they can feasibly incorporate, and noted engineering issues need to be considered. Regarding the overhang at the entries, Mr. Caperna stated they could address staff’s concerns by recessing the doors a little more and extend the canopy to satisfy whatever conditions the Planning Commission adopts. 
Questions of the Applicant
Mr. Knox clarified there are 10 units proposed and each unit will have its own garage space. Regarding the west elevation, he explained this side of the building faces the undeveloped railroad property and if the commission requires additional windows on this frontage they should serve a purpose. Landscape Architect Laurie Sager addressed the commission and suggested trees or plant materials be considered as part of the solution.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the hearing at 9:45 pm.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioner Brown voiced support for the site plan and parking, but stated if the fenestration requirements are going to be addressed with plantings the applicants need to provide a revised landscape plan that shows this. Commissioner Dawkins voiced support for windows on the east side and questioned covering the walls with plants. Commissioner Mindlin stated this is a small element of the proposal and believes they could condition this and leave it up to staff to make sure it is met. Commissioner Pearce agreed and stated if the applicants can work with staff on the east wall he is fine with moving this forward. Mr. Severson read aloud the proposed staff recommendation to address this issue (Condition #9K) and stated if the commission is not concerned about the west side and the walls adjacent to the plaza space the condition could be revised to just state the east end. Recommendation was made for an additional modification that would change the condition to read “additional windows, or other design treatments so that staff is not limited to approving only windows.  
Commissioners Dawkins/Pearce m/s to approve PA-2015-01284 with the addition of condition #9K as discussed. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Pearce, Miller, Thompson, Norton, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed unanimously.
Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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