Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

AUGUST 23, 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
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Greg Lemhouse, arrived at 7:15 p.m.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the upcoming Southern Oregon Planners Network conference and asked commissioners to notify staff if they would like to attend any of the sessions. He also announced Volunteer Appreciation Day at Oak Knoll Golf Course scheduled for Sunday, August 28.
Commissioner Mindlin noted she would be absent for the September 13 meeting and Vice Chair Pearce will be chairing.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Highway 99/Comment on climate warming, zero net energy, and recommended solar panels be overseen by the Community Development Department.
  1. Cottage Housing Ordinance.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar provided the introduction. He stated the severity of Ashlandís housing issues is quite extreme and construction costs continue to increase. He explained the city is continuing to look at opportunities to create incentives for different types of housing and staff has researched a number of different cottage housing ordinances from other municipalities. Mr. Molnar stated the ordinances have a lot in common but the primary issue each community must decide is what works best for maintaining the character of their existing single family neighborhoods.
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman provided a presentation on cottage housing that addressed housing development trends, land availability, potential cottage housing standards, and examples from Oregon and Washington. He recommended the commission consider how many cottage housing units per development would be appropriate, and stated the draft ordinance lists a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 16. The other draft standards include: 1) a requirement for 75% of cottages to be less than 800 sq.ft. 2) a maximum height of 18 ft. and a 1.5 story limitation, 3) setbacks and lot coverage that match the standards of the existing underlying residential zone, 4) private yards for each unit of at least 200 ft, and  5) 20% of the total lot area to be a usable central open space.
The commissioners shared following comments regarding the draft proposal:
  • Comment was made that under unit garages may work well.
  • Commission received clarification that a lot would need to be 1.75 acres in size to accommodate 16 units under the draft ordinance. If the lot was annexed and received density bonuses, 16 units could be accommodated on 1.25 acres.
  • Comment was made that the intimacy of these types of developments might be lost if too many units are allowed.
  • Staff clarified the draft language allows a higher number of units, but the size of the units would have to be smaller.
  • Support was voiced for using a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) that allows flexibility on the bottom end and encourages more flexibility for smaller units.
  • Comment was made suggesting a minimum of 800 sq.ft. and a maximum of 1,000 sq.ft.
  • Statement was made that the minimum and maximum ratios for R-1-7.5 and R-1-5 should be the same, and for staff to reach out to developers to get an idea of what the ratio needs to be in order for these to be feasible.  
  • Staff commented that some communities have made these a Type I action and eased the land use approval process to encourage this type of development.
  • Comment was made that one of the main policy concerns is the expectation people have living or purchasing property in a single family zone and recommending these developments not have too much impact on the character of the environment.
  • Staff clarified there is not much remaining inventory in R-2 and R-3 multi-family zones and the land use ordinance already allows for these types of developments in those areas.
  • Comment was made that under this proposal the density would not increase dramatically and it was noted you can already build a main house and an accessory dwelling unit on single family lots.
  • Opinion was given that these types of developments should be a Type II action, at least at first, and then perhaps change to a Type I after a few years.
  • Comment was made that the ordinance should set a maximum size limit.
  • Opposition was voiced to a 800 sq.ft. minimum and comment was made that there are plenty of people who would like a 500 or 600 sq.ft. home and the city should make this possible.
  • Comment was made that there is substantial inventory available for people who want larger homes, but they do not presently have an option for people who desire smaller homes.
Council Liaison Greg Lemhouse addressed the commission and explained the city council has been interested in different housing types for a long time. He recommended the commission provide the council with a solid starting point, along with their reasoning, and stated it is easier to take something out than add on to it later.
Gil Livni/Commented that 500-600 sq.ft. is sufficient for a very nice one-bedroom unit, and 800 sq.ft. could accommodate a two-bedroom unit. He voiced his support for developing cottage housing standards and stated R-2 properties are expensive and you could not build and sell these types of units in that zone. Mr. Livni stated 16 units in a neighborhood might be shocking to some and suggested smaller units in smaller amounts. He stated people are very creative here and a cottage housing ordinance could allow people to develop properties that you canít do anything with right now. He added the prices in Ashland are continuing to rise due to the desirability of the area and the increasing cost of labor.
Final Comments
Commissioner Norton recommended the commission conduct site visits to gain a better perspective of the draft ordinance requirements. Commissioner Mindlin voiced her interested in a FAR approach and requested some examples of what this might look like. Commissioner Thompson agreed, and stated she would like to see the pros and cons of this approach. Commissioner Mindlin recommended they revisit the 20% open space requirement and questioned if this is the right number. She added the open space should not be too small, but this requirement needs to be viable. Commissioner Brown commented that this will not solve Ashlandís housing problems, but it is another type of housing that should be added to the community as another choice.
Councilor Lemhouse updated the commission on councilís recent activities. He stated second reading of the CPAC amendment was passed, and the council also passed second reading of an ordinance to shift food and beverage tax money to repave roads and maintain open space.
Meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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