Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

MAY 10, 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 Planning Commission’s annual retreat is scheduled for Saturday, May 14. He noted the City Council’s recent approval of the airport code amendments and commented briefly on the proposed Calle Guanajuato mural.
Commissioner Thompson gave a brief update on the Downtown Parking & Multimodal Circulation Committee. She stated the group has approved the parking plan and it will now go to the City Council for approval. Thompson commented on the transportation component and explained the group has discussed changing East Main Street through downtown from three lanes to two but they have not reached a consensus. She stated there will be a meeting at the Community Center on Wednesday, June 1 where the Public Works Director will present the topic and hold a public discussion.
A.  Approval of Minutes.
      1.  April 12, 2016 Regular Meeting.
      2.  April 26, 2016 Study Session.
Commissioners Brown/Thompson m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0. Commissioner Miller abstained from the approval of the April 26 minutes.
No one came forward to speak.
  1. Adoption of Findings for PA-2016-00229, 87 W. Nevada St.
 No ex parte contact was declared.
Commissioner Pearce questioned the language in Finding 2.8. He stated it was appropriate for staff to express their concerns regarding the amendment to the development agreement but stated this language does not reflect the actions of the Planning Commission. Commissioner Mindlin stated it is not uncommon for findings to include extensive information about what was presented at the hearing and what they are finding is that this was presented and discussed. Commissioner Brown stated he had some of the same concerns but believes it is appropriate to include this language in the findings. Pearce stated he is comfortable with leaving it in and noted it does specify that these are staff’s concerns. He recommended they modify the last sentence to read “… the Council should look at whether the changes requested are an appropriate amendment to the Verde Village development agreement.” Brown recommended they leave this alone; he stated the finding is not inaccurate and does not need to be changed. Mr. Molnar stated either way is fine. He explained this is hybrid set of findings because the Planning Commission and the City Council each have a role in the approval. Commissioner Thompson stated it needs to be clear that the Planning Commission dealt with the issues before them and did not make a decision on the development agreement. She added there are policy issues outside the portion they dealt with that only the City Council can decide. Commissioner Pearce recommended they keep the existing language in Finding 2.8 but add the following statement to the end “The Planning Commission did not make any decisions on those issues regarding the development agreement because they felt it was a policy issue more than a code compliance decision.”
Commissioners Brown/Dawkins m/s to amend Finding 2.8 as described. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 7-0.
Commissioner Mindlin requested the first sentence of Condition #7 be deleted. She explained her understanding is that their approval was for Solar Standard A. 
Commissioners Pearce/Dawkins m/s to strike the first sentence of Condition #7. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 7-0.
Commissioners Thompson/Brown m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2016-00229 as amended. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 7-0.
  1. Adoption of Findings for PA-2016-00410, 475 University Way.
No ex parte contact was reported.
Commissioners Miller/Pearce m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2016-00410. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 7-0.
  1. PLANNING ACTION #:  PA-2016-00230
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  188 Garfield Street                      
OWNER/APPLICANT:  Rivergate Assembly of God Church of Ashland                    
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review and Conditional Use Permit approval to construct a new church for the property located at 188 Garfield Street. The application involves demolition of the existing Rivergate Assembly of God church building and the construction of a new approximately 4,978 square foot/100-seat church building near the corner of Garfield and Iowa Streets. The application also involves: a Solar Setback Exception to allow the proposed church to cast a greater shadow on the lot to its north (also under church ownership) than would be cast by a six-foot fence on the north property line; an Exception to Street Standards to retain the existing curbside sidewalk and street trees; a Tree Removal Permit to remove one tree greater than six-inches in diameter at breast height, and a Property Line Adjustment. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: High Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-3; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 10CB; TAX LOTS: 2100, 2101.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Norton, Miller, Pearce, Mindlin, and Dawkins declared site visits. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson reviewed the project and explained the request has a number of components, including: 1) site design review and conditional use permit approval to construct a new church, 2) demolition of the existing church building and construction of a new 4,978 sq.ft., 100-seat church near the corner of Garfield and Iowa Streets, 3) a solar setback exception to allow the proposed church to cast a greater shadow on the lot to its north (also under the church’s ownership) than would be cast by a six foot fence, 4) an exception to the street standards to retain the existing curbside sidewalk and street trees rather than widening sidewalks and adding parkrow planters, 5) a tree removal permit to remove one tree greater than six-inches diameter, and 6) a property line adjustment. Mr. Severson explained the new church building would be oriented towards the corner of Garfield and Iowa with parking spaces at the rear (accessed off Iowa) and an open space play area to the north. He reviewed the floor plans and landscape plan and noted the Tree Commission was supported of the application as submitted but asked that a tree be planted on the playground to mitigate the one being removed. Mr. Severson commented on the property line adjustment and stated this would free up the remainder of the site for future development.
Mr. Severson stated staff has two primary concerns with the proposal. The first is the parking area accessed from Iowa Street, which is a major collector. The City’s comprehensive plan includes three separate policies that discourage this. Staff believes the proposed driveway location should be modified and access taken from Garfield Street instead, and the Public Works Department concurs. The second concern is the on-street parking credit. Mr. Severson explained 25 parking spaces are required and the applicant’s propose 17 spaces on site and 8 credits. He stated staff believes this would have a greater adverse impact than the target use of the zone and recommended the applicant’s reconfigure their plan to show no more than 4 on-street credits. Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and stated the staff report includes recommended conditions of approval to address these concerns.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Severson commented further on the parking area access. He clarified this access could be located on the adjacent parcel with an easement agreement or the applicants could relocate the property line. He added staff’s suggestion was to access the parking off Garfield and line it up with the alley across the street to avoid conflicting turning movements. In terms of recommending an alternate driveway location, Mr. Severson clarified contiguous properties under single ownership can be looked at as a single property for planning purposes.
Staff was asked about the purpose of the open space on the adjacent parcel since this is not a requirement. Mr. Severson stated the church would like to have a playground for the children during or after service; however when the adjacent property redevelops it will likely have open space requirements. Commissioner Mindlin noted the applicants said they do not want children crossing a road access to get to the playground, which is a reasonable argument. Mr. Severson agreed but stated the applicants could locate the play area adjacent to the building and put the driveway on the opposite side. Staff was asked if there is a criteria for providing for future development. Mr. Severson explained there is an access requirement for boundary line adjustments that states if the adjustment does not allow for meeting the access requirements in 18.4.3 it can be denied.
Applicant’s Presentation
Leslie Gore and Ray Kistler/66 Water St/Mr. Kistler explained the new building will be 25% smaller and will need less parking than what is there now. He stated the playground is key to the church and not having kids crossing the driveway is important. Mr. Kistler added modifying the parking access would take away from the future residential development on the remaining parcel. He stated the church will be primarily used Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings and there will not be cars pulling in and out during the busy school hours. He stressed that it would be more dangerous to put the playground on the other side of the driveway than it would be to have cars pulling out onto Iowa Street. He stated the rest of the property is slated for R-3 multi-family development and they would lose at least three units if they changed the driveway. Regarding the other components of the application, Mr. Kistler stated the solar waiver is for a portion of the property that will not be built on, and stated they have not heard from anyone that the larger trees should be removed in order to make the sidewalk wider. Ms. Gore commented on the parking requirements and stated more parking on the site would not benefit the community.
Questions for the Applicant
Commissioner Miller raised concern with the architectural compatibility of the design. Mr. Kistler responded that the scale of the building is very low and noted the proposed gable. He stated his belief is that compatible does not mean too imitative.  
Commissioner Brown commented that once approved they have no control over when the church operates and it does not make sense to use the current hours as a basis. He stated he is not convinced that pulling out onto Iowa won’t cause problems and stated relocating the driveway to the other side makes sense. Mr. Kistler responded that unless something significant happens with the church doctrine their operation hours will not change.
Commissions Dawkins asked about moving the playground to the parking area and Mr. Kistler responded that this would locate the parking on a different parcel. Comment was made that it is difficult to make a decision on this without seeing how it integrates with the overall development plan. Dawkins commented that he is more inclined to follow the code than to make an exception.
Commissioner Brown asked how the applicant’s propose to treat a left hand turn off Iowa into the parking lot and stated this could create traffic problems. Mr. Kistler responded that their proposal does not address this.
Commissioner Norton questioned if the open space is for the church or the future residential development. He stated if it is for the church he does not understand why the applicant’s did not draw the property line to include it on the church property. Mr. Kistler confirmed that the open space will be shared in the future.
Public Testimony
Mary Scott/1274 Iowa/Stated she lives directly across from the church and it is difficult to pull out onto Iowa at all times of the day. Ms. Scott stated it is very rare when there are not cars parked on both sides of her driveway and stated she is pleased to hear the commission also has concerns about the driveway. She expressed concern that this is an end run around a much bigger development and recommended a public discussion on the full development plan.
John Fields/845 Oak/Disclosed that he could potentially be the builder for this project. Mr. Fields stated the church’s attendance is in decline and they typically have 30 members attend most Sundays except for holidays. He stated the parking proposed is more than generous for the actual use. He stated the open space would be an area for kids to play and would serve as the church’s playground and in the future would be highly used by the neighborhood and the new units that get built. Mr. Fields stated the structure would be highly energy efficient and does not believe it is architecturally incompatible.
Michael Gutman/1269 Quincy/Stated he is in support of the project however he would like see access taken off Garfield. Mr. Gutman stated it is important to look at the whole redevelopment and not just the church piece.
Shana Huselby/177 Garfield/Stated she lives directly across from the vacant parking lot and stated the traffic on Garfield is very fast. Ms. Huselby expressed concern with another driveway on Garfield Street and stated in her 7 years living in this location she has never seen more than 5 cars parked at the church’s lot. She stated the church does not need that much off street parking and they have allotted for more than is needed. She also voiced her support for the proposed design and the greenspace.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Molnar confirmed that the code would allow for the parking lot to be shared with the future R-3 development.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Ms. Gore stated they appreciate the neighbor’s support. She stated the building was designed per their client’s request and stated this is the type of potential development that Ashland really needs. Ms. Gore added it is necessary for the church to move forward with this piece in order to bring the other proposal forward.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the hearing at 8:40 p.m.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Severson clarified comments made about the parking requirements and the target use of the zone. He explained the intent is for the proposed use to not generate any more parking demand than the target use, and in this case, the church’s demand is in excess of the target use requirement.
Mr. Molnar commented on the applicant’s request to access the parking area from Iowa instead of Garfield. He stated Iowa is a higher order street and traffic is expected to increase over time. He explained the City’s objective is to maintain the flow, reduce the number of conflicts, and look long term at what is the best set up for this block. He added this is not just about cars, but removing extra points of conflicts for bike riders and pedestrians as well.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve PA-2016-00230 with the conditions of approval recommended by staff. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Dawkins stated he does not support the driveway on Iowa and believes in the code to reduce conflicts. He stated the applicant’s are creative and he believes they can find a way to create an access on Garfield and not locate the open space across from the driveway. He added the whole parcel is owned by the same person and recommended they go back and look at the overall concept. Commissioner Norton expressed concern with whether the applicants could realistically accommodate the conditions of approval. Commissioner Miller commented that it would be nice to have a play area that is protected like it is now. Commissioner Pearce commented that as a standalone project, this is the right decision. Commissioner Mindlin commented that this is a large, flat property under the same ownership and believes they can meet the conditions of approval. She noted there are a lot of churches that are used for other activities and stated this could occur here as well, and voiced her support for requiring access of Garfield and aligning with the alley. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Pearce, Miller, Thompson, Brown, Dawkins, and Mindlin, YES. Commissioner Norton, NO. Motion passed 6-1.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2016-00209
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  25 North Main Street                  
OWNERS:  Ashland Holdings, LLC                                                   
APPLICANT:  Allan Sandler
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review approval for a balcony addition for the property located at 25 North Main Street.  The application includes a request for two Exceptions to the Site Development and Design Standards: 1) to allow a balcony on the front of the building extending into the North Main Street right-of-way where the Downtown Design Standards in AMC prohibit projecting balconies in a street facing elevation; and 2) to allow an addition on a primary façade or elevation that is visually prominent from a public right-of-way or that obscures character defining features where the Historic District Design Standards in AMC direct that such additions are to be avoided.  The application also proposes to remove and replace the two street trees in front of the building. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Commercial Downtown; ZONING: C-1-D; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09 BB; TAX LOT: 70000.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Norton, Miller, Dawkins, and Mindlin declared site visits. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson explained the application is a request to add a balcony in the airspace over the right-of-way in front of the Granite Tap house. He stated the proposed moment frame structure is an independent structure (not mounted to the building) that would support the building in the event of an earthquake. The frame would be welded off site and construction in the right-of-way would be relatively minimal. Mr. Severson stated the City Council has already issued their approval and the Historic Commission also recommended approval. The Historic Commission felt the balcony was well designed and kept with the design of the building’s original architect. The only issue they raised was whether the corbel design was too ornate and asked the applicant to come back with a revised option for this one design feature. The Tree Commission also reviewed the application and asked the applicant to make an attempt to preserve the street trees out front and recommended an arborist be on site during the sidewalk excavation.  
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Mindlin raised concern with setting a precedence. She stated projecting balconies are discouraged and if all of the historic buildings on the Plaza require seismic retrofits how will they handle the next proposal? Mr. Molnar stated the Historic Commission made clear findings that balconies were a common feature on buildings designed by this specific architect. He noted the City Council’s goal to develop a seismic ordinance and stated at some point this may be a standard that the Historic Commission needs to reevaluate.
Applicant’s Presentation
Allan Sandler/1260 Prospect/Stated he owns five buildings downtown and wants to see them maintained. He stated if there is a large earthquake this modification will not save the building, but it will prevent some fatalities. Mr. Sandler stated they will have an arborist on site and will return to the Historic Commission as requested. He stated the columns will not extend into the city sidewalk and the only thing the balcony encroaches is the airspace. Mr. Sandler stated this application meets the exception criteria and asked for the commission’s support.
Questions of the Applicant
Commissioner Brown asked if the moment frame is intended to keep the building from falling forward. Mr. Sandler responded Yes. He stated they have reinforced the interior as best they could and this modification would help prevent the building from falling into the street.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the hearing at 9:20 p.m.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioners Brown/Pearce m/s to approve PA-2016-00209. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Brown commented that this is great solution to a difficult problem. Commissioner Pearce cautioned them to make sure the findings are clear in how this approval is justified. He stated you do not get a balcony just because you are doing a seismic retrofit, but in this case it is approved because it results in a design that equally or better achieves the stated purpose of the Site Development and Design Standards ( Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Norton, Pearce, Miller, Thompson, Brown, Dawkins, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 7-0.
  1. Election of Officers.
Commissioners Norton/Pearce m/s to elect Melanie Mindlin as chair. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Pearce, Brown, Norton, Miller, Thompson, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 7-0.
Commissioners Thompson/Dawkins m/s to elect Roger Pearce as vice chair. Commissioners Thompson, Miller, Norton, Brown, Dawkins, Pearce, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 7-0.
  1. Planning Commission Attendance Report.
Item for information only; no action necessary.
Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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