Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

AUGUST 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
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 a housing forum sponsored by the Ashland Housing & Human Services Commission and the Interfaith Community will take place August 10 at 6 p.m. He also noted the space needs study being conducted by the city to evaluate potential opportunities to reconstruct or relocate city hall. He stated an open house will be scheduled for September and the findings will be presented to the city council in October.
Commissioner Mindlin announced she will be absent from the September 13 regular meeting.
A.  Approval of Minutes.
      1.  July 12, 2016 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Brown/Thompson m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0. Commissioner Mindlin abstained.
No one came forward to speak.
  1. Adoption of Findings for PA-2016-01029, 1365 Tolman Creek Rd.
No ex parte contact was reported.
Commissioners Miller/Pearce m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2016-01029. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0. Commissioner Mindlin abstained.
  1. PLANNING ACTION #:  PA-2016-00309                                                           
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  150 N. Pioneer St. 
PROPTERY OWNERS:  Stan Potocki                   
APPLICANT:  City of Ashland
DESCRIPTION:  A request for a Comprehensive Plan Map Amendment and Zone Change for the properties located at 150 and 162 North Pioneer Street. The current Comprehensive Plan Map designation is Low Density Multi-Family Residential and the Zoning is R-2. With the current request, the Comprehensive Plan Map designation would be changed to Commercial and the Zoning to C-1.COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Existing: Low Density Multi-Family Residential, Proposed: Commercial; ZONING: Existing: R-2, Proposed: C-1; ASSESSORíS MAP: 39 1E 09BA; TAX LOT: 11800.
Staff Report
Community Development Director Bill Molnar provided some background information on the request. He explained in 1988 the city adopted a downtown plan that identified options for additional parking supply. The Pioneer/Lithia property was one of the options and the city acquired it and began construction on the parking lot in 1989. The neighboring property owner, Stan Potocki, has been in discussion with the city since that time and has been documenting the impacts of the parking lot. Mr. Potocki presented his data to the mayor and city council and they directed staff to initiate an evaluation of the zone change and prepare the Type III land use application. Mr. Molnar stated the commission is directed to forward a recommendation and the city council will make the final decision. He noted the Historic Commission has already reviewed the request and recommended denial of the zone change.
Mr. Molnar explained the main difference between the C-1 and R-2 zones are the uses that are permitted outright, which includes office, retail, restaurants, and hotels. This property is also on the edge of Ashlandís Downtown Historic District and the Railroad Historic District. Mr. Molnar stated the question of adequate supply does not apply in this case as the city is meeting its 20 year requirement for both employment and residential lands;  the main question is whether the zone change is necessary to meet the changes that have happened to the area. Mr. Molnar stated the city parking lot will ultimately connect to the parking for the Plaza West buildings and noted all of the other city parking lots are either adjacent to commercial property or separated from residential properties by a right of way. He commented that there has been a lot of development in the area and the most recent traffic generation counts show a 50% increase from 1992.
Mr. Molnar explained the current use of Mr. Potokiís property is office use on the ground floor with an apartment above and a separate residence at the back of the lot. He suggested the commission consider the adjacent property in their deliberations since the two lots share a driveway. He explained the R-2 zone does allows for a 100% commercial use with a conditional use permit (CUP), however this has never been approved in the past. He stated a commercial zoning designation would provide some flexibility from having a residential use on the property.
Associate Planner Derek Severson displayed several slides of the site and surrounding area. He pointed out the Lithia/Pioneer parking lot has 64 spaces however when the Plaza West development is built out it will add an additional 89 spaces bringing the total to 153. He also displayed images of the shared driveway that straddles the property line and stated the commission may want to consider whether any change in zoning should expand to the property at 162 Pioneer as well.
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked why the Historic Commission was unsupportive. Mr. Molnar explained the commission was concerned about the impacts described by Mr. Potoki but did not see how changing the zone would alleviate those problems. They felt the city should be doing a better job to mitigate the impacts and were concerned a commercial zoning designation would intensify the use and result in potential changes to the historic structure.

Commissioner Pearce commented that changing the zone would require a comprehensive plan amendment and questioned how the city would address the applicable statewide planning goals, specifically Goal 2, and justify that there is a public need for this change.
Commissioner Thompson stated there are a lot of similar areas in town where two zones butt up next to each other and asked if the parking lot was the compelling feature in this case. She voiced concern with the impacts described by the property owner but stated those impacts will continue even with a rezone. Mr. Molnar commented that when Mr. Potoki purchased the property he expected some type of commercial development, but did not anticipate one of the cityís largest parking lots being placed there. He has asserted that a residential use is undesirable at this location.
Mr. Molnar commented on resident concerns of changing neighborhood character by removing residential uses through the CUP process and stated as part of the cityís discretionary review on neighborhood impacts and evaluating the target use of the zone, they have not approved a 100% commercial use in the R-2 zone. He added there were a few that tried, but they were all denied and the city has only approved commercial uses in the R-2 zone in conjunction with a residential use.
Public Testimony
Joseph Lusa/135 B Street/Voiced support for the Historic Commissionís recommendation. Mr. Lusa stated changing the zone will exacerbate the existing parking, noise, and traffic problems and requested the city not change the zone.
Dorothy Brooks/136 B Street/Stated the historic character of the neighborhood is important and voiced concern with commercial creep changing the character of the historic area. Ms. Brooks cited a petition they circulated and received 40 signatures opposing the change. She stated Rubyís and Gilís have radically increased the traffic and noise in the area and urged them to vote no on this zone change.
Stan Potoki/150 N Pioneer/Stated he has operated a business at this location since 1989 and stated the two prior planning directors informed him that his property would be rezoned but moved on to other positions before following through. Mr. Potoki stated no one in their right mind would want to live on this property. He stated Pioneer Street is a commercial corridor and there is drug and alcohol use in the parking lot, as well as profanity and public urination. He stated people sleep in the lot and there are barking dogs, car alarms, and loud music being played. Additionally, the driveway is continually blocked due to the restaurant across the street and it is not safe to park or pull out. Mr. Potoki stated you do not want kids or families living here and it would be a better use of the property if it were not residential.
Joe Collouge/111 B Street/Stated he does not understand how changing the zone on a map will have an impact on whatís happening in the area. Mr. Collouge stated he is concerned a zone change will increase the number of vehicles parked on B and Pioneer Streets and questioned the property ownerís motivation for this request.
Jerry Brooks/136 N Street/Cited a petition they circulated and stated none of the people they approached were in favor of the rezone. Mr. Brooks stated rezoning the property is not a solution to the problem and voiced concern with chipping away at the character of the neighborhood. He stated he does not want a commercial use behind his house and stated this is not the only place in the city that is impacted by the types of people coming here.
Marilyn Stewart/142 B Street/Voiced her support for the Historic Commissionís recommendation and stated the zone should not be changed. Ms. Stewart stated zone changes should be based on need and there is no basis for this change. She stated there is enough commercially zoned property to meet Ashlandís needs and the change would take away from the neighborhood feel. Ms. Stewart stated changing the zone could be devastating to their property values and she would not have purchased her house if she knew this was a possibility. She stated the homeless go to commercial properties at night because no one is there and making this change would just move those people further into the neighborhood.
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Thompson asked staff if the unusual circumstances of this site would be justification for a conditional use permit that allows an exclusive commercial use on this property. Mr. Molnar responded that he believes there are grounds for this and Thompson commented that this would be a remedy that does not require amending the comprehensive plan.
Deliberations and Decision
Commissioner Norton commented on the driveway easement and stated if the property is zoned commercial they might have to modify the house in order to install a wide enough driveway. Commissioner Miller sympathized with Mr. Potoki but stated a zone change will not address the issues. She voiced support for the residential character of the neighborhood and stated commercial encroachment into the historic district is a concern. Commissioner Pearce agreed with Norton and Miller. He stated under the land use goals you need to have a public need to justify a zone change. He added if this property is rezoned to commercial at some point there will be pressure to redevelop the lot and intensify the use. Commissioner Thompson stated she can see how the impacts might be more tolerable to a commercially zoned property, but has a problem with the public need versus private need. She stated changing the comprehensive plan on a property by property basis is not something she is comfortable with and stated there is a workable solution through the CUP process. Mindlin agreed with the other commissioners and stated she is not seeing the public need in this situation. She stated it is very unfortunate that Mr. Potoki is having to deal with this situation but it has nothing to do with the zoning. She added there is a good background established for a 100% commercial use approved through the CUP process. Commissioner Brown agreed and stated there are other options to get this done. He stated the problems wonít be solved by a zone change and this would just kick the can down the road. He stated the city has been a terrible property manager and recommended the city step up its efforts to address the problems occurring at this location.
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to recommend denial of PA-2016-00309. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Miller, Norton, Pearce, Thompson, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 7-0.
Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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