Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

FEBRUARY 14, 2017
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
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Debbie Miller   Greg Lemhouse, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the City Council has directed staff to move forward with the Transit Triangle Infill Strategy; that revisions to the proposed cottage housing ordinance will be presented at the February study session; and stated an alternate date for the Commission’s annual retreat will need to be selected due to scheduling conflicts.
  1. Approval of Minutes.
  1. January 10, 2017 Regular Meeting.
  2. January 24, 2017 Special Meeting.
Commissioners Brown/Thompson m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Highway 99/Expressed his concerns regarding climate change. Mr. Gutcheon stated it is impossible to keep everything the same and make progress, there will be a lot of problems in the future, and there are no easy solutions to address this.
  1. Adoption of Findings for PA-2016-01894, 1651 Ashland Street.
No ex parte contact was reported.
Commissioners Thompson and Mindlin presented changes to the Findings (see Attachment #1) and support was voiced for the amendments.
Commissioners Brown/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2016-01894 with the modifications submitted. Voice Vote: Commissioners Pearce, Thompson, Dawkins, Brown, and Mindlin, YES. Commissioner Norton, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2016-02103   
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  133 Alida Street
OWNER/APPLICANT:  Mike and Karen Mallory, trustees for the Mallory Revocable Trust
DESCRIPTION: The Planning Commission will consider an appeal of the Staff Advisor’s approval of a Site Design Review permit to construct a 417 square foot Accessory Residential Unit for the property located at 133 Alida Street. The application includes requests for Exception to the Site Development and Design Standards for the placement and screening of parking relative to the Accessory Residential Unit. (The appeal request focuses on the determination of Alida Street as the front lot line, the effect this determination had upon required setbacks, and the resultant impact to the neighboring property at 145 Alida Street.) COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09DA; TAX LOT #: 3300.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Norton, Pearce, Thompson, Mindlin, Dawkins, and Brown declared site visits. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson explained this is an appeal of staff’s approval of a 417 sq.ft. Accessory Residential Unit (ARU) at 133 Alida Street. He reviewed the project details and stated staff’s approval was based on the designation of Alida Street as the property’s front lot line; however subsequent to that approval the neighboring property owners appealed that decision and their appeal request focused on the determination of Alida as the front lot line, the effect this has on the required setbacks, and the resulting impact to their property.
Mr. Severson reviewed the existing conditions and the applicant’s proposed site plan, tree protection plan, floor plan, and landscape plan. He stated both the Historic Commission and Tree Commission reviewed this proposal and have recommended approval.
Mr. Severson recited the definition of a front lot line, which states “In the case of an interior lot, the lot line separating the lot from the street other than an alley. A corner lot has one street line considered the front lot line. The narrower street frontage must be the front lot line except when the Staff Advisor determines topographical or access problems make such a designation impractical.” In this case, staff determined access constraints on Blaine St. support Alida St. being the front lot line for this property. Mr. Severson went on to say the front lot line question was answered in 1942 when the home was built and you can clearly see the front door, pedestrian connection to the street, architectural details, and addressing of the property all support Alida as the front. Mr. Severson explained the code provides for legal, non-conforming situations like this one and it states “structures that do not comply with current requirements such as height and setbacks, noting that if the structure was lawful when constructed, may remain on site so long as it remains otherwise lawful and that additions and alterations are permitted if the improvement, evaluated separately from the existing structure, conforms to the ordinance.” He added the proposed ARU complies with the standard R-2 setbacks based on the historic treatment of Alida Street as the front property line. Mr. Severson noted the appellant’s property is also non-conforming in that it does not meet the current 6 ft. side yard setback requirement and is located 2 ft. from the property line. He added the decision on which frontage is the front lot line makes a 4 ft. difference on where the ARU can be placed.
Mr. Severson commented on the window placement of the ARU in relation to the neighboring property and clarified no windows look directly into neighbors home.  He concluded his presentation and stated staff’s recommendation is to confirm the front lot line determination, deny the appeal, and approve the application with the recommended conditions of approval.
Joe McMonagle/145 Alida/Stated he and his wife are not against development that creates affordable housing in the community, however they have serious concerns about the City flexing building rules that impact existing property owners. Mr. McMonagle stated this proposal is unreasonably invasive. He stated changing the front lot line to accommodate this proposal puts the ARU 4 ft. closer to their house and they do not believe there is sufficient justification for this determination. Mr. McMonagle stated the front lot line is defined as the narrower street frontage unless there is topographical issues, which in this case there are none. He stated this site is already unusually challenging and this proposal would only make the problems worse. He stated the lot is small and this ARU is being shoehorned in. Mr. McMonagle stated the ARU would be very close to their house and will be taller and closer than the existing garage. He added a viable alternative is to attach the ARU to the existing house. Mr. McMonagle requested a careful consideration of their concerns and asked that the record remain open so they can submit additional information before a decision is made.
Applicant’s Presentation
Mike Mallory and Karen Mallory/Mr. Mallory stated they purchased this property in 2014 with plans to add an ARU, and they believe this is a good plan that is mindful of the neighboring properties and the impact on the neighborhood. He explained their first plan was to convert the garage however that was protested by neighbors so they went back to the drawing board and looked at different scenarios. What they came up with was removing the garage and building a second unit. This allows them to have an attractive building and will be a great addition to the neighborhood and will look a lot better than the garage. Mr. Mallory stated they have been in contact with the neighbors the whole time and have tried to accommodate them.
Kerry KenCairn/Commented on the original orientation of this historic house and stated the house clearly faces Alida Street. She explained access off Blaine would require tree removals on the applicant’s property as well as the neighbor’s property and stated if the City supports ARUs this is the only way this site will work. She noted this is not a large structure and they worked hard to make sure the windows between the buildings did not line up. She stated the appellant’s house does not meet legal setbacks and that is not the fault of this owner.
Questions of the Applicant
The applicants were asked if they considered placing the ARU in the same location as the garage. Mr. Mallory responded that this would have created issues with building separation and they wanted to keep the pass through between the two buildings functional. Ms. KenCairn acknowledged they have a small amount of room to shift (about 1.5 ft.) but they wanted to maintain a good relationship between the two buildings and noted the applicants have offered to build and pay for a fence along the property line.
Appellant’s Rebuttal
Joe McMonagle/Stated when they started down this road they did not understand the process and were unaware of their rights. He explained they have since sought professional help, which has cost them significant money, and believe this site is not ideal for an ARU and the applicant’s constraints are self-imposed. Mr. McMonagle stated they are asking for a reasonable consideration for the impact this proposal will have on their home. He stated there is room for interpretation, and while there is a suitable alternative, the way the ARU is designed will have a significant impact.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Molnar clarified the appellant has asked to leave the record open, which means the Commission is unable to deliberate or make a decision. He reviewed the process and stated this item could come back at the February 28 or March 14 meeting, depending on whether the applicants would like the full 7 days allotted to them to respond.
Commissioner Mindlin asked the applicant how they would like to proceed and they agreed to waive some of their response time so that the Commission could bring this back to their February 28 meeting.
Commissioner Mindlin asked for clarification about the original decision and staff stated it was based on the finding that the front lot line has already been decided and was established in 1942 when the house was built.
Staff announced the record will remain open for 7 days and the Commission’s decision will be continued to February 28, 2017.
Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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