Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

These are DRAFT minutes and are pending approval by the Ashland Planning Commission.
FEBRUARY 9, 2016
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
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
Mark Schexnayder, Assistant Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Haywood Norton   Greg Lemhouse, absent
Community Development Bill Molnar distributed the Mayor’s State of the City address and provided an update on upcoming City Council and Planning Commission agenda items, including: a proposal to rezone the lot that abuts the Pioneer parking lot, a discussion of citizen involvement and the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee, and a study session on a proposal to revise the City’s wildfire standards.
Commissioner Thompson provided an update on the Downtown Parking Management and Circulation Committee and provided a summary of the changes the group is discussing, including: removing the “beaver slide” as a car route, infrastructure and streetscape improvements to A Street, additional stop signs on B Street, uniform markings on the streets, and turning East Main St. into two lanes.
Commissioner Dawkins provided an update on the Downtown Beautification Commission and commented on the proposed new entry signs.
  1. Approval of Minutes
    1.  January 12, 2016 Regular Meeting. ​ 2.  January 26, 2016 Special Meeting.
 Commissioners Thompson/Brown m/s to approve the minutes for January 12, 2016. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed unanimously.
Commissioners Thompson/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes for January 26, 2016. Voice Vote: all AYES. Commissioners Brown and Miller abstained.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Highway 99/Stated he wants to become the Ashland Community Development Director and commented on solar energy and changing policies.
  1. Adoption of Findings for PA-2015-02287, 123 Clear Creek.
No ex parte contact was reported.
Commissioners Miller/Pearce m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2015-02287. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed unanimously.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2015-02203
OWNER:  Harriet & Steve Saturen/Linda Millemann
APPLICANT:  Mark Lackey
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review and a Conditional Use Permit to allow for a second story addition to an existing non-conforming cottage at the rear of the property located at 868 A Street. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09AA; TAX LOT: 6800.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Thompson, Miller, Dawkins, Pearce, and Mindlin declared site visits. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Planning Manager Maria Harris and Assistant Planner Mark Schexnayder addressed the commission and Ms. Harris provided an overview of the property. She stated the main residence was constructed in 1906 and is located in the Railroad Historic District and E-1 zone. She explained all of the properties between Seventh and A Street north of the alley are zoned E-1 and the properties to the south of the alley are zoned R-2 Multi-Family Residential. Ms. Harris stated the focus of this application is the second residential unit at the rear of the property. The structure is nonconforming because it does not meet the current setback requirements and this action is subject to a conditional use permit and site design review. Ms. Harris reviewed the approval criteria and provided the definition for nonconforming uses, and stated in this case the house and second residential unit are both legal, nonconforming. Mr. Harris explained residential uses are permitted in the E-1 zone, however under current regulations the use cannot be solely residential.
Ms. Harris reviewed the applicant’s proposal to add an addition to the first floor of the structure and add a second story. This request requires four off street parking spaces and the applicant’s propose to use the two parking spaces off the alley and two on street credits. Ms. Harris reviewed the building elevations and site plan and clarified the Historic Commission has reviewed this action twice. She noted a number of the neighbors have concerns regarding the height, setbacks, and parking impacts; however the Historic Commission approved the request and felt the proposed modifications were more appropriate than adding onto the main structure.
Ms. Harris stated staff’s main concerns are the design of the addition in terms of scale, bulk, and coverage, as well as the off street parking. She commented on the target use of the zone and stated a new structure would be required to be setback farther off the alley, however a new structure would likely be much larger than what is proposed. Regarding the parking, she stated there is question about whether one of the off street spaces crosses over the property line and stated staff is recommending the applicant verify compliance and obtain an easement if necessary. Ms. Harris noted a decision needs to be made tonight in order to comply with the 120-day rule and asked the commission to issue a decision and adopt findings tonight.
Questions of Staff
Ms. Harris clarified the two on-street parking spaces are along the applicant’s frontage and by code they can request parking credits. She added the code says “may” and this is not outright granted. She also clarified Maximum Permitted Floor Area requirements do not apply in the E-1 zone, and also clarified if you discontinue a CUP use for more than 6 months it is considered abandoned.
Applicant’s Presentation
Amy Gunter and Mark Lackey addressed the commission. Ms. Gunter clarified this proposal is not a demolition and stated only in one location will the wall be opened up to allow for the addition. She acknowledged the varied history of the property but stated when the current owners purchased the site it was 100% residential. Ms. Gunter commented on the parking concerns raised by the neighbors and staff and restated their request to have two off street spaces and receive two credits for the on-street spaces. She stated the code also for this and also allows applicants to provide bicycle parking to offset the parking requirements. Ms. Gunter stated while there is high demand for parking on A Street from Oak to Fifth, once you get past Sixth St. the demand decreases dramatically and there is almost always an abundance of on-street parking in the vicinity. She also explained the rear unit could not be relocated to comply with current setback requirements because they are utilizing the existing foundation
Mr. Lackey commented on the height of the structure and stated reducing it further to a half-story would have rendered most of the second floor unusable. He added they have already lowered the roof line and removed the windows to address the neighbors concerns.
Ms. Gunter stated the property is employment zoned but it is more in line with the residential uses than the commercial properties to the west. She commented on the similarity in massing and scale to the surrounding properties and noted the structure across the street is significantly greater than the proposed addition. Ms. Gunter commented that they believe with the reduced height and the other modifications they have made the proposed structure is similar to other properties in the impact area and it will not have a negative impact on the livability of the zone. She added the tenants will work from home which supports the intent of the zone.
Questions of the Applicant
The applicants were asked if the addition would impact solar panels. Ms. Lackey clarified the City’s Conservation Analyst visited the site and determined the proposed addition would not affect that at all.
When asked about the foundation, Mr. Lackey stated it will need to be retrofitted and they will be adding load bearing footings for the second floor.
The applicants were asked if they needed 3 ft. of clear space in front of the entryway. Mr. Lackey stated this is only if there is a step and stated this building is at grade.
Public Testimony
Harriet Saturen/868 A St/Stated her two friends are both artists and will work and live in the rear unit. Ms. Saturen stated the cottage will become a beautiful structure and add beauty to the neighborhood. She commented that on-street parking is almost always available and stated they have an e-car that takes up very little space. She explained they have wanted to live next to their friends in their retirement years and hopes the commission will support their application.
Steve Saturen/868 A St/Displayed a sample of the art that will be produced in the structure and stated the business will have no impact on parking. He shared their desire to build out the property as described in the application and stated their only other option is to add onto the existing main house, but that does not make a lot of sense. Mr. Saturen stated they want to contribute to the neighborhood and improve it, and hopes the commission will support their application.
Linda Millemann/256 ½ Sixth St/Stated she hopes to live in the cottage with her partner but the current 500 sq.ft. footprint is not enough space. Ms. Millemann stated there is nowhere to go but up and believes they are proposing a modest addition and have adjusted their design to accommodate neighbor concerns. She added the renovation will be a positive addition to the neighborhood.
Robert Munroe/864 A St/Stated he is the owner to the adjacent cabinet shop and provided some history on the property. He stated Section 18.1.4 does not allow you to change the size of a nonconforming structure and commented that the cottage is slab on grade and there is no foundation. Mr. Munroe expressed his concern that the property owners will tear down the structure and start from scratch, but when you do this it is a brand new building and must meet current code requirements.
He stated the code requires four off street spaces but the applicants only have two, and one of those does not meet the size requirements. He also disagreed with the applicant’s testimony and stated the on-street parking does fill up.
Alan Adleman/886 A St/Stated parking has been an issue in the neighborhood and most of the garages are used for storage with residents parking on the street. Mr. Adleman commented that the applicants have done a great job improving the main house but stated the second story addition to the back unit is too much. He stated his solar access will be compromised and the second story deck will look right into his backyard and intrude on his privacy.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Molnar provided an overview of how the code requirements have been applied historically and stated aside from being nonconforming, the commission must determine whether the proposal complies with the rest of the criteria.
Ms. Harris clarified she spoke with the city’s building official regarding the front door opening. She stated the door may be grandfathered in by building code, but if not the applicant’s would likely remove the door by the parking and just utilize the other one since there are two.
Ms. Harris also clarified the parking requirements and stated the code allows one credit for each on street space, however this is discretionary.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Ms. Gunter stated there is a survey pin on the site that is visible and requested the applicant not be burdened with having to hire a surveyor. She stated when the main home was remodeled the closets were removed and technically this is a one bedroom house that only requires three parking spaces. She added there is ample room on the property to locate additional bicycle parking. Ms. Gunter stated the door is a preexisting situation and as long as they do not demolish the structure this nonconformity can continue. She noted the Historic Commission unanimously approved their request and stated the additional square footage allows for working space for the residents and furthers the intent of the E-1 zone. She added they do not believe this proposal will have a significant negative impact on the zone.
Mr. Lackey commented that the main house is a one bedroom and it cannot legally have any bedrooms downstairs due to the grade and egress.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the public hearing at 9:00 p.m.
Questions of Staff
Comment was made that it seems like they are looking at a moving target and staff was asked whether this is considered a one bedroom home. Mr. Molnar reminded the applicant of the purpose of rebuttal and stated this is not the time to introduce new information. Staff stated there is no way to verify this information and stated in the current and past applications this has never been portrayed as a one bedroom house.
Deliberations and Decision
The commissioners shared their questions and opinions regarding the proposal. Commissioner Pearce commented that if they are retaining three walls this needs to be included in the conditions of approval, and if the cottage is torn down then the new structure will have to meet the current setback requirements. He stated he is willing to support the Historic Commission’s recommendation on the design, but voiced concern with the parking and believes they should provide four off street spaces. Commissioner Dawkins voiced his support for the project and stated he is not worried about parking. He stated the Railroad District is densifying and will continue to do so, however he did express concern with how to adopt findings that will hold up at LUBA. Commissioner Miller voiced support for residential units in the Railroad District and does not believe parking is an issue, but called attention to the neighbor’s concern about privacy. Commissioner Thompson stated she is not worried about the mass, scale, or setbacks and stated the proposal is similar to the structures in the immediate vicinity, however she voiced concern with the absence of an E-1 use. Commissioner Mindlin stated the property is across the street from a park and there is plenty of parking on that block. She also noted the Historic Commission approved the design, but as a residential use she questioned if the proposal should meet the residential standards. Commissioner Thompson commented that if they compare the proposal to the target use of the zone, this will have much less parking demand. Commissioner Brown acknowledged the neighbor’s privacy concerns, but stated he does not believe parking will be a problem and stated a denial of the application would not serve a real purpose. He added, however, that he does not believe they can approve the findings as presented.
Commissioner Mindlin asked the applicants to come forward and Mr. Lackey agreed to grant the City a 60-day extension so that revised findings can be brought back for approval.
Ms. Harris commented on the recommended conditions of approval and suggested the following modifications: 1) delete condition #2, 2) delete condition #3, and 3) include a condition that the building permit submittals shall demonstrate that the construction does not include a demolition as defined in 15.04.210.A.1, if the proposal does include a demolition the conditional use permit and site review approval is not valid. Commissioners Brown and Thompson recommended that the findings include that aside from the setbacks, the applicant must comply with the requirements of Ms. Harris clarified the application meets all of the E-1 requirements except for the rear yard setback. Commissioner Mindlin asked that it be made clear that they are confirming a residential use as a conditional use. Ms. Harris stated staff would make it clear in the findings that these are legal, nonconforming structures and the conditional use permit is to adjust the nonconformity aspects of the structure. Commissioner Pearce stated the conditional use permit also grants an increase in the volume of the use.
Commissioners Thompson/Brown m/s to approve PA-2015-02203 with conditions as set forth on pages 40-42 modified to delete condition #2, modify condition #3 to refer to the demolition permit to require the applicant to demonstrate that the construction does not include demolition as defined in the applicable section of the code, and further to clarify that they are approving a conditional use permit recognizing an enlargement of the residential use as set forth in the applicable code sections. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Pearce, Miller, Brown, Thompson, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed unanimously.
Commissioners Dawkins/Pearce m/s to extend meeting to 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: All AYES.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA #2016-00041
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  1465 Webster Street (on the Southern Oregon University campus)
APPLICANT:  Southern Oregon University 
DESCRIPTION:  A request to modify PA #2015-00418 which granted Site Design Review and Conditional Use Permit approval for the renovation of McNeal Pavilion and construction of a new Student Recreation Center on the Southern Oregon University Campus 1465 Webster Street. The previous approval included a Conditional Use Permit to allow the buildings to exceed the 40-foot height allowed in the SO zoning district, and Tree Removal Permits to remove nine trees 18-inches in diameter-at-breast-height (d.b.h.) or greater.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Southern Oregon University; ZONING: SO; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 10 CD; TAX LOT: 100.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Pearce declared a site visit. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson reviewed the 11 changes to the original approval as described in the staff report. He commented on the building entries and stated the commission will need to determine whether the modified entry and the roundabout is still consistent with the building entry standard in the SOU Master Plan. He commented that the pedestrian circulation changes are a significant improvement to what was originally approved, and noted staff is recommending a condition of approval requiring the rooftop mechanical equipment to be screened. Mr. Severson commented on the alterations to the Wightman parking lot and also reviewed the modifications to the tree protection plan. He explained the applicants are proposing to preserve a number of trees that were originally going to be removed and stated the Tree Commission has evaluated the request and were supportive of the application as submitted.
Commissioners Dawkins/Miller m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES.
Applicant’s Presentation
Drew Gilliland with SOU and Beverly Thurston of CSA Planning addressed the commission. Ms. Thurston commented on the entry and explained there is a slope that impacts the design and stated rather than relocating the doors it makes more sense to have a beautiful plaza with a strongly articulated entrance. Mr. Gilliland commented on the mechanical screening requirement and suggested that this may be unnecessary because of the building’s location. He stated it is a very small section of roof that will be visible to someone driving past and stated someone would really need to look for it. Ms. Thurston noted their request to remove tree #7 and explained the tree has been evaluated by an arborist and is diseased. Rather than letting it die on its own and impact the other trees they believe it is prudent to remove it as part of this process.
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked to address the screening condition and it was explained that the City received a number of complaints regarding the lack of screening in another location on campus. Mr. Molnar added there is not enough information to determine that screening is not needed, and noted unless you know all the different vantage points you cannot determine how others will be impacted.
Public Testimony
No one came forward to speak.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mr. Gilliland stated the screening is not something they feel strongly about but is an expense they would rather not have. He stated they do not want a repeat of the other scenario but do not believe the mechanical equipment will be an issue for people.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and public hearing at 10:10 p.m.
Deliberations and Decision
Commissioner Pearce commented that he does not believe screening is optional and recommended they require this.
Commissioners Pearce/Thompson m/s to approve PA-2016-00041 with the conditions of approval recommended by staff. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Thompson, Dawkins, Pearce, Brown, Miller, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed unanimously.  .
Meeting adjourned at 10:15p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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