Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

APRIL 12, 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
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, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the commissionís May meeting will include two Type II public hearings. He also stated the City Council has initiated three new items that will come before the commission in the next few months: 1) an amendment to the comprehensive plan to remove the Citizenís Planning Advisory Committee, 2) amending a condition regarding the cleanup of the railroad property, and 3) a proposed zone change for a parcel on Pioneer Street. 
Commissioner Dawkins provided a brief update on the Downtown Parking Management & Circulation Committee and noted the City Council held a study session on the recommendations. He added a recent article in the Daily Tidings has set off a firestorm of comments from downtown business owners.
A.  Approval of Minutes.
      1.  March 8, 2016 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Miller/Brown m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0. Commissioner Thompson abstained.
No one came forward to speak.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2016-00229                                                              
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  87 W. Nevada St., 811 Helman St. & 127 Almeda Dr.           
OWNERS:  Wilma, LLC (Greg & Valri Williams)                               
APPLICANTS:  Verde Village Development, LLC/KDA Homes, LLC
DESCRIPTION:  A request for modification of the Outline Plan approval and Development Agreement, and Final Plan approval for the Verde Village Subdivision located at 87 West Nevada Street, 811 Helman Street and 127 Almeda Dr. The modifications proposed involve changes to the property lines; building envelopes; the number of detached and attached units; the approved landscaping plan; and the approved public/private space plan for Phase II, the single family portion of the Verde Village Subdivision. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Suburban Residential & Single Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-3.5, R-1-5 and R-1-7.5; ASSESSORíS MAP: 39 1E 04B; TAX LOTS: 1100, 1400, 1418 and 1419.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Norton, Thompson, Pearce, and Brown conducted site visits. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson provided the background information on this project. He stated in 2007 the City did a land exchange, annexation, Comprehensive Plan map and zoning map change, and a number of other approvals for this 68-unit residential development. The 15 affordable unit development called Rice Park has been completed and is occupied; Phase 1 is the cottages and the applicants are in the process of installing civil improvements; and the current request is to modify the outline plan approval for Phase 2 which is the single family portion of the development.
Mr. Severson provided an overview to the requested changes, which would modify the existing approval to:
  • Add property lines around 25 of the 28 single family lots.
  • Add building envelopes in the new property lines.
  • Detach 4 of the 6 previously attached units.
  • Set a maximum house size for the proposed homes.
  • Modify the open space treatment.
  • Clarify the solar access for the proposed homes.
Mr. Severson commented on the projectís original approval and asked the commission to consider whether the changes to the open space would alter the fundamental character of the original subdivision approval. He stated staff has some concerns that maximizing the building envelopes and having the potential to move the buildings closer together has the potential to enclose the open space and lose a lot of that character. He added other issues the commission may wish to discuss are: 1) Are the standard setbacks appropriate or is more openness necessary? 2) Are the pathways and open space landscaping treatment acceptable? 3) Is a 4 ft. fence height along the open space appropriate? 4) Is the ďMillpond StandardĒ for solar access acceptable? 5) Does the allocation of coverage from open space keep with the purpose and intent of the Performance Standards?
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Mindlin stated she is unclear on what the applicants are proposing for setbacks. Mr. Severson clarified they are proposing 10 feet, which is the standard requirement, but they have not stated whether this will be 10 feet per story for 2-story homes.
Mr. Molnar commented on the Millpond solar standard which limits shadows to not more than 4 ft. on buildings to the north, but stated if there is no building to the north this could lead to greater shading of yard areas that could otherwise be used for garden space.
Mr. Severson commented on the original approval and explained the initial plan had conceptual footprints and it was understood that these would need to be fine-tuned at final plan. However the area between the structures is changing by more than 10% which is why the applicants are needing a modification. He noted there were a variety of building sizes shown on the original approval and the applicants are seeking flexibility, but questioned the impact if every new home pushes the limit and builds up to the 2,500 sq.ft. proposed max.
Mr. Severson clarified staffís primary concern is that the proposed changes could change the way the open space functions within the development. If the buildings are much closer to it and there is fencing along the back and a pathway down the middle, it changes this from a place to gather to a thoroughfare.
Applicantís Presentation
Greg and Valri Williams/744 Helman/Stated they are proud of this project and believe it is the future of what housing should be. Mr. Williams stated they want to attract a wide variety of residents and have an engaging neighborhood that shares in a vision for sustainability. Mr. Williams commented on the open space that will be provided, but stated they also want people to have private space and the ability to grow their own food or raise chickens. Ms. Williams stated Phase 2 is the single family portion and these have always been envisioned as traditional lots. The homes will be energy efficient and they want to make sure the housing placement will accomplish their goals. Ms. Williams stated this is a great project a long time in the making and asked for the commissionís support.
Mark Knox/604 Fair Oaks/Reviewed some of the elements of the project and stated any reference to this project losing its creativity is incorrect. Mr. Knox stated they are proposing to improve on Phase 2 and commented on the orientation of the proposed houses. He stated it is preferred to orient them to the public realm, and not just the front but the back as well. He clarified they are proposing property lines and building envelopes that will give them the flexibility to work with a buyer who may wish to alter the footprint slightly. He noted because of the original agreement any minor modification such as a one or two foot adjustment from one side to the other would require hearings in front of the Planning Commission and City Council. He stated the building envelopes proposed serve as a placeholder and allow for that flexibility. Mr. Knox clarified the setbacks will be 10 feet per story, and commented on the landscaping plan for the open space. Mr. Knox stated this development will have a solar reserve area, all homes will be photovoltaic ready, and there will be vehicle charging stations in every garage. He noted they are committed to Earth Advantage Platinum and believes their proposal improves on an application that was already impressive to start with. He stated they meet all the criteria and asked for the commissionís approval.
Questions of the Applicant
Commissioner Brown commented that the original concept was undoable and unrealistic and asked why that was originally presented. Mr. Williams stated it is not that is was unfeasible, but rather this is a big project and there were items that were not taken into account at that stage.
Mr. Williams commented on the building envelopes and stated they would like the flexibility to put a smaller home there, but they will never be bigger than shown. He stated they were surprised to find out a lot of people wish to downsize and they would like to provide this flexibility.
Commissioner Mindlin asked what will be included in the developmentís CC&Rs. Mr. Knox stated the treatment of fences, the responsibility of the open space, as well as any conditions of approval placed by the City will be included. Mindlin also asked what the applicants are proposing for the garage size. Mr. Knox acknowledged that this had not been clarified and stated a 540 sq.ft. limit would be appropriate.
Mr. Knox clarified the proposed building envelopes provide flexibility to make the houses smaller or shift them from one side to another. Mr. Knox was asked if it would be possible to place a 2,500 sq.ft. house with a 540 sq.ft garage on each of the lots and he responded that a number of the lots are smaller and while it might be possible to have a 2,500 sq.ft. house it would have to be two-stories and they would still have to meet the solar requirements.

Public Testimony
Fred Gant/715 Sunrise/Stated he is a state licensed energy assessor and certifies Earth Advantage Homes and stated he is in full support of this project. Mr. Gant stated it is very exciting to see what has been put together and stated this would be the first Earth Advantage subdivision in southern Oregon. He stated the applicants are bringing a lot of environmental and sustainable benefits by going from gold to platinum and stated this project is a great design and will be good for the people and good for the city.
Shawn Schreiner/330 E Hersey/Stated he is the owner of True South Solar and gave his support for the project. Mr. Schreiner stated it is very unique to have solar readiness and this is the exactly the sort of thing Ashland needs. He noted that his company does a lot of retrofits and many clients arenít able to accomplish their goals, and stated this development wonít have any of those problems.
Applicantís Rebuttal
Mr. Knox stated this is a unique project and there has never before been a residential development in Ashland that meets this level of effort. He stated they meet all the approval criteria and asked for the commissionís support.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioner Brown commented that the modifications are a large change from what was originally anticipated; the changes are not right or wrong but they do change how this project was originally laid out. Commissioner Miller stated this plan makes more sense than the previous one. Commissioner Pearce agreed and stated while this is a big change he believes it meets the standards and criteria. Commissioner Norton commented that the houses will be significantly bigger and have fences and stated the flow and feel that was originally approved is not there anymore. Commissioner Thompson stated it does not fail to comply with the standards, but questioned if there was a quid pro quo earlier in the process that it would be done differently. Commissioner Dawkins stated there is nothing undetailed about this project and commented on the overall concept. He stated he does not have a problem realigning it but there was a land trade, annexation, and a number of amendments that were made and believes this is a policy decision that needs to be made by the City Council. Staff clarified the Planning Commissionís role is to make a land use decision based on the performance standards criteria with a recommendation on whether the City Council should incorporate it into their final decision. The City Council will have to decide if the proposal is still true to the overall annexation and development agreement. Commissioner Thompson stated they could find the proposal meets the performance standards but they question whether it meets the implied or expressed assumptions and understandings that were part of the development agreement; that is the purview of the City Council and they encourage them to take a close look at this decide from a policy perspective if they are comfortable allowing these changes. Commissioner Mindlin stated she does not recall the open space being a big part of the original decision, it was more about energy efficiency, green building standards, solar capacity, green streets, etc. She stated it is appropriate to highlight this change to the City Council, but does not believe it destroys the whole sense of the project. Mindlin added she is not in favor of the allocation of open space coverage requested by the applicant and stated this limitation will keep the home sizes down and reduce impervious surface.
Commissioners Pearce/Thompson m/s to approve the application for the modification of the outline approval with the follow conditions: 1) to not approve the allocation of open space coverage to individual lots, 2) to add a condition that they include in their CC&Rs for no solar blocking, 3) add a condition for a 540 sq.ft. limit for garage space for each lot, 4) add a condition that the streetscapes be maintained by the homeowners association, 5) add a condition that the applicant maintain solar standard A, and 6) all other conditions recommended by staff. The Commission also recommends the City Council consider whether this meets the Councilís understanding and intent of the development agreement. DISCUSSION: Commissioners Thompson, Brown, Dawkins, Pearce, Miller, and Mindlin, YES. Commissioner Norton, NO. Motion passed 6-1.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2016-00410  
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  475 University Way
OWNER/APPLICANT:  State of Oregon/Southern Oregon University
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review, Conditional Use Permit and Tree Removal Permit approvals to allow the renovation of 15,147 square feet of the existing Southern Oregon University (SOU) Theater Building; a 13,238 square foot addition to the Theater Building to accommodate new teaching facilities; and a 6,468 square foot addition to accommodate relocation of the Jefferson Public Radio (JPR) program for the property located at 475 University Way on the SOU campus.  A Conditional Use Permit is required because the adopted SOU Master Plan currently identifies a different location on campus for the JPR program, and a Tree Removal Permit is required because the request includes the removal of 25 trees, including eight significant trees which are over 18-inches in diameter at breast height (d.b.h.) and therefore require Tree Removal Permits. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Southern Oregon University; ZONING: SO; ASSESSORíS MAP& TAX LOT: 39 1E 10CC Tax Lot #5700 and 39 1E 09DD Tax Lot #7900.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Dawkins, Miller, Brown, Mindlin, Pearce, Thompson, and Norton declared site visits. No ex parte contact was reported.
Commissioners Dawkins/Pearce m/s to extend meeting to 10 p.m.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson reviewed the proposal to add a 13,238 sq.ft. addition to accommodate new teaching facilities for the university and add a 6,468 addition to accommodate the relocation of Jefferson Public Radio. He stated the application includes substantial regarding of the parking area to address ADA and displayed the applicantís renderings and drawings. Mr. Severson reviewed the tree removal and planting plan and stated both staff and the Tree Commission are recommending against the removal of the redwood tree located in the parking lot island, and staff would like to see the cedar tree retained as well. He stated staff is recommending approval with the conditions as listed, which includes the recommendation from the Tree Commission.
Applicantís Presentation
Mandy Butler, TVA Architects/Kerry KenCairn, KenCairn Landscaping/Ms. Butler stated this project increases the capacity for theater education on SOUís campus and she is very happy to be a part of this project. Ms. KenCairn stated the main issue seems to be the trees and explained the intent is to have visual connectivity from Mountain Street to the new building and the three evergreens blocked that. She stated they will retain one redwood, but the other redwood with the split trunk will only last 5-10 more years and the cedar must be removed because it is located in the path of the driveway. Ms. Butler explained that changing the island creates a gateway and invokes the public into that space. She added the buildingís design allows activity on the inside to be visible outside and will engage the public in a way that does not currently exist. Ms. Butler clarified the renderings in the application did not include the trees because it blocked the view of the building, however the large evergreen will still be there as well as the other trees listed on the planting plan. She clarified their proposal is to remove one evergreen and one cedar and keep the other redwood. The redwood with the split trunk will be removed and this will allow the other tree room to grow. 
Commissioner Mindlin closed the hearing and the public record at 9:50 p.m.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Severson commented on the recent visit from James Urban who provided a presentation on Urban Trees in Ashland and concurred with the applicantís statement. Mr. Urban found that Ashland has too many trees planted close together and we should be giving them more room to grow.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioners Dawkins/Thompson m/s to approve PA-2016-00410 and remove condition #4 which accepts the Tree Commissionís recommendation. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Miller, Dawkins, Thompson, Brown, Norton, Pearce, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 7-0.
Meeting adjourned at 9:55 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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