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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 12, 2017
Chair Roger Pearce called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Troy Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
  Dennis Slattery, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the Open House for the Ashland Infill Transit Triangle occurred  the night before and had approximately 30 attendees.  The stakeholder meeting happened earlier in the day and involved design professionals, contractors, and developers.  The next step was presenting the preliminary findings at the January 16, 2018, City Council meeting.  The Planning Commission Study Session for December 26, 2017, was canceled.  There would be a public hearing at the January 9, 2018, Planning Commission meeting.
  1. Approval of Minutes
1.  November 14, 2017 Regular Meeting.
2.  November 28, 2017 Study Session.
In the minutes of November 14, 2017, Chair Pearce noted on page 7, Questions of Applicant should read Questions of the Appellant
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve the minutes of the November 14, 2017 as amended.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed 7-0.
Commissioner Miller/Mindlin m/s to approve the minutes of the November 28, 2017.   Commissioner Brown abstained.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed 6-0.

A.      PLANNING ACTION:  2017-01911


DESCRIPTION:  A request for a Conditional Use Permit for Marijuana Retail Sales and Site Design Review for Marijuana Production (Indoor Grow) in the existing building located at 181 A St. The marijuana businesses are proposed to be located in the eastern portion of the building and according to the application materials, the Marijuana Retail Sales will be located at 181 A St. and the Marijuana Production (Indoor Grow) will be located at 185, 191 and 195 A St. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP:  39 1E 09BA; TAX LOT #: 14600 & 14900.
Chair Pearce read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Dawkins declared no ex parte and one visit where he ran past the building.  Commissioner Miller declared no ex parte but drove past the building several times a week. Commissioner Brown declared no ex parte but drove past the site twice a day.  Commissioner Thompson declared no ex parte and no special site visit.  Commissioner Norton and Chair Pearce declared no ex parte, one site visit.  Commissioner Mindlin knew the site well and had no ex parte.
The Commission had no cause for bias or financial interest in the matter.    
Staff Report
Planning Manager Maria Harris explained the application was a request to use a portion of the building at A Street and Oak Street for marijuana retail sales, and marijuana production/indoor grow.  The application applied to the eastern side of the building and included 181, 185, 191, and 195 A Street.
  • Both proposed uses are subject to Special Use Standards for Marijuana Related Businesses AMC
  • Marijuana retail sales is subject to a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) AMC
  • Marijuana Production (Indoor Grow) is subject to Site Design Review AMC
The application was noticed originally as a Type I application.  It was an existing building with no additions or exterior changes.  There were no changes to the site regarding circulation and parking.  The City received 30 comments during the comment period.  Due to the concerns raised during the comment period and after staff’s evaluation of potential issues in meeting the approval criteria, it was scheduled for a public hearing.
The property was zoned E-1 Employment.  The closet residential zone was west of Oak Street and zoned R-2 Multi-family.  The property was in three overlays, Historic District Railroad Addition, Historic District Detailed Site Review, and the Residential Overlays.
There were two parcels.  One was where the building was located and the other was the parking lot.  The building was built in 1912 and considered a historic contributing resource.  It was 16,000 square feet (sq. ft.) and 390 feet in length.  Both parcels combined, the property was just under one acre. It started out as Ashland Fruit and Production Association, then Oak Tank and Steel.  In 1999, it was approved to the A Street Market Place that was a mix of retail, food service, light industrial and office uses.  Later a portion was approved for a night club and recently the building was used for an office use.  The parking lot had 43 spaces.  The retail use was proposed at 1,850 sq. ft. and production at 4,180 sq. ft. 
The CUP criteria for the retail portion of the application required analysis of what was proposed compared to the target use of the property and if it created any greater adverse impacts on the impact area and livability.   The notice area included twenty-one property owners.
Issues staff raised regarding the application included the following:
Marijuana Retail Sales (CUP)
  • Traffic generation of proposed use compared to target use of a general office building.  In this case, it was slightly over 20,000 sq. ft.  Comparing it to what was proposed and whether there was a greater adverse material effect on the livability of the impact area.
  • Impact of trips on intersections, pedestrian crossings and safety, and bicycle safety.  The proposal would double the number of trips created by the target use.  Staff wanted to determine the incremental change compared to the target use as well as the performance of the transportation system and whether the increase would affect intersection function, pedestrian crossings and safety, and bicycle safety.
Marijuana Retail Sales and Marijuana Production
  • Measuring the Required 200 feet from Residential.  In this proposal, the retail location was 230 feet away from the residential zone. 
  • The Commission could look at the standard and interpret it differently.  It was not explicitly defined in the code.
 Marijuana Production (Site Design Review)
  • Window and Door Coverings.  Marijuana business standards require applicants to keep all light and glare in the building. 
  • The applicant would use blackout devices on the windows.  However, it was in conflict with the site design use standard that required the doors and windows on A Street to have visibility.
At this point, staff recommended the applicant provide more detailed information on potential impacts to the transportation system associated with the increase in vehicle trips.  The Public Works Department asked the applicant to analyze traffic throughout the day instead of PM Peak Hour from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.  The applicant also needed to address the visibility standards for the windows and doors in the production facility.
There were several written comments concerning odor.  Ashland Municipal Code (AMC) prohibited nuisances that affected public health, specifically offensive odor.  Staff would add a condition to the application to install an air filtration system in the production facility to confine the odor to the premises to the greatest extent possible.  It was a requirement for retail sales and staff used the same standard as a condition for the production facility.
Questions of Staff
Ms. Harris clarified water usage, electric usage, and waste treatment was addressed in the staff report.  Staff consulted with the Public Works Department and the Electric Department.  Both Departments thought there was adequate capacity.  They did raise an issue regarding treatment and rate of sewage released from the indoor grow operation due to agricultural chemicals potentially being in the water.  The Building Division thought the issues could be addressed during the building permit process.
The application was very brief on water, electric use, and waste.  Commissioner Dawkins explained capacity was one thing and aligning with City policies was another.  The report might be too vague to support.  Ms. Harris further clarified staff focused on the CUP and site design review criteria that stated adequate capacity of public facilities.  Community Development Director Bill Molnar added that was generally staff’s position in the past.  The master plans for sewer and water show adequate supply to accommodate future growth.  Staff looked at the capacity of the facilities in the area to serve the proposed use and if upgrades were needed.  They did not look at whether it was a high water user.  Commissioner Miller thought it was something they needed to consider.
Ms. Harris confirmed the AMC required a blank wall within 3-feet of a sidewalk to have visibility.  Blacking out the windows to satisfy the marijuana rules made it conflict with the visibility standard.
Applicant’s Presentation  
Jay Harland/CSA Planning, LTD/4497 Brownridge Terrace/Medford, OR/Represented Plexis Healthcare Systems.  The application was a re-use of a portion of the existing building.  It would use one-third of the building.  The remaining two thirds would not be occupied by these uses. 
There were two different permits, the site design review and the CUP.  Public comments mostly pertained to the livability concerns regarding production and less to the retail piece.   Mr. Harland responded to the following issues:
The applicant’s traffic engineer was based in Eugene and unable to do any additional analysis until later that week.  They planned to request a continuance or keep the record open so they could provide more information.  The applicant did not want to incur additional expense until they had more specifics on what the City wanted. 
Residential Separation Measurement
It made sense to apply the code to the uses and not some other standard. 
Marijuana odor was an issue for the region.  As it related to this application, the odor would be controlled indoors. In addition to the applicant’s request for a continuance, he submitted an odor control memorandum from the project’s operation manager.  The operations manager was confident they could manage it with a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit and eliminate any technical odor at the perimeter of the property.  Any condition needed to take into account the ambient smell that existed in the valley during October.
Water and Effluent
The operation aligned with the City’s objective regarding water and effluent.  They did not want to waste nutrients that could be going to the plants on the production side.  They were paying for the water and wanted the system to be as efficient as possible.  Indoor grows allowed some economy of scale to do that.
Window Coverings
They would talk further with staff and come up with a condition of approval that made sense. 
Retail Use
Mr. Harland visited three marijuana dispensaries in Medford, OR.  Operators were diligent on asking for identification.  He did not detect any odor nor could he hear anything occurring behind the scenes.  He compared it to a convenience store.   He went on to submit documents into the record.
Questions of the Applicant
Commissioner Thompson asked if Mr. Harland would accept a condition that agreed to provide no detectable odor as opposed to containing the odor to the greatest extent possible.  Mr. Harland agreed and noted the memorandum submitted into the record stated minimally detectable odor at the property line and not detectable at the adjacent properties. 
Commissioner Norton asked about noise control for the air filtration systems.  Alternately, there was no information on the type of system, noise control, or heat cooling systems for the lights. 
Operations Manager Drew Morrison explained the majority of the infiltration systems would use charcoal filter systems inside the building.  It would alleviate the noise outside the building.  The HVAC system would not operate longer than normal use for the building.  Room design included a heat bubble to capture most of the heat above the lights.  The plants required twelve hours of lighting and 12 hours off.  Lights would be on during normal operating hours.
Commission Miller asked about water usage and volume.  Mr.  Morrison had looked at how much water would be used and would submit that information with the continuance and additional information for electricity and sewer usage. 
Commissioner Norton noted marijuana regulations required everything to do with the grow had to be stored inside the building.  He wanted to know the waste volume and collection frequency.   Mr. Morrison explained plant waste needed to be contained for 3 days under the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) regulations.  The volume would be minimal.  The majority of the plant was used for processing.  The waste would be transferred to a partner wholesale facility once a month.
Chair Pearce addressed Exhibit 10-B and asked about circulation.  Mr. Harland explained there was an existing entry in the west of the building that went into the public area.  They could close that entrance.  It would be unfortunate to close it but they would to meet the standard.  They could still provide an emergency exit with it closed.
Public Testimony
Brent Thompson/P.O. Box 201/Owned 310 Oak Street across from the subject property.  His tenants were not in favor of the application.  The smell of marijuana could exacerbate asthma symptoms.  He thought policing the air filtration system would be a nightmare.  There were run off concerns regarding the roof.  Just on enforcement and permeating smell, the Planning Commission should deny the application.
Eileen Piker/625 B Street/Reiterated written comments she provided earlier.  She had a strong objection to the application for two reasons.  One, Ashland had more than enough retail marijuana.  Two, the location was too close to residential and prime downtown business districts.
Allen Carlson/1248 Vawter Road/Medford, OR 97501/Owned property across the street.  He had three concerns that he had submitted in writing.  The one on odor was addressed.  Another was groups of children that toured the glass blower facility and if that activity would be affected by the proximity of the operation.  He was concerned about the residential overlay.  The properties he owned were designed to have residences above the production facilities.  He was concerned he might lose that use of the property by having the marijuana grow as a neighbor.  
Dianne Cooper/183 E Hersey Street/Opposed granting the business.  It would cause more traffic issues.  Having a large business that contributed nothing to that area was an error.  This particular industry would increase traffic and create problems for businesses.  She shared her personal experience living next to a house growing marijuana plants outdoors.  The smell was horrendous.  Another concern was pesticide or fertilizer use.  This business did not belong in the Railroad District.
Will Volpert/2917 Camp Baker Rd/Medford, OR 97501/His business, Indigo Creek Outfitters, was located at 130 A Street. The main entrance to the rafting center was approximately 300-feet from where the applying business would be located.  He was concerned about air quality and emissions from the proposed business.  The application did not address emissions from the grow operation.  He encouraged the City to consider whether this was an appropriate location for a grow operation given the thousands of locals and visitors combined who walk in its vicinity.  He was concerned about vehicle traffic and parking.  A Street had some turns that created blind corners.  The subject parking lot was in a dangerous location.  He had witnessed a bicyclist get hit there and cars tended to speed around the turn.  He thought the applicant should consider adding a second entrance to the parking that was not on a turn.  Lastly, how could the City justify approving a grow operation that would use clean drinking water while encouraging water conservation?  The City spent time and money educating the public on conserving drinking water.  There was some irony making this scarce resource available to a marijuana grow operation in town.  He opposed the application and asked the Commission to do the same.
Barry Peckham/315 Oak Street/Opposed the application and agreed with Mr. Volpert’s testimony.  He was sorry to see Plexis Healthcare Systems leave.  They were good jobs in the community.  His main concern was a neighbor that suffered from asthma and used a nebulizer up to three times a day.  The proposed use had the potential of ruining her life and causing her to move from the area.  The smell of marijuana was pervasive, especially if smoked.  He questioned why the City would set this precedent.  This was an agricultural crop.  In California, the electric use for indoor grows was huge.  Utility bills would skyrocket.  During the summer Oak Street experienced a few blackouts during hot weather.  He also wondered how many comments received were for and against the application.
Ms. Harris responded the City received 30 comments all against the planning action.
Kim Locklin/262 B Street/Did not support the application.  As a realtor, every day she sold Ashland culture.  She was not against cannabis growers.  The growers she found property for had their own wells, solar systems, and were not drawing off public power and water.  She was concerned the Commission was considering a proposal that would negatively impact businesses and residents.  This was in the Historic District.  It was downtown preservation that brought tourists and money to the town.  She urged the Commission to consider that and the usage.
Mike Lisk/5717 Fishers Ferry Rd/Gold Hill, OR/Opposed the development.  The traffic and parking in the Railroad District were terrible.  The proposal would add to those issues.  He was surprised there were not more people present to speak against the planning action.  He did not think Ashland smelled like marijuana nor did he think this was a small subject.  If people outside the 200-foot area knew of the proposal, there would be more complaints.  He assumed this was on one tax lot. He believed the OLCC made growing and selling marijuana on the same property illegal.  Different addresses did not create different tax lots. 
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mr. Harland talked to Mr. Carlson regarding his testimony and clarified it was regulatory based.  There was nothing in the regulations that would affect his ability to conduct school tours of the glass blower facility.  They would provide more information on some of the other issues soon.

Ms. Harris addressed the Continuance and thought they would need to request a 30-day extension of the 120-days.  That would make it early March 2018.  The matter could be appealed to the City Council.  If the Planning Commission granted a continuance and it came up in January, they would need the extra time in case it was appealed. 
Mr. Harland granted a 30-day extension of the 120-days.  Chair Pearce closed the hearing and continued it to the January 23, 2018 Planning Commission.  The meeting would start at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers.  Commissioner Norton requested the applicant provide information addressing the issues to staff sooner to include it in the packet.
Ms. Harris explained OLCC regulated growing and selling on the same premises.  The City ordinance required the applicant to get a license from OLCC and meet their requirements.  The assumption was the state was reviewing that information.  City rules would allow production and retail at the same site as long as they met all the other requirements.
Commissioner Brown wanted the applicant to provide more information on sewer, water, and electricity.  He wanted the volumes and frequency of water and electricity per month.  For sewer, how much was put out as chemicals, quantities, recovery, and recycling.  For air pollution, what type of system, volumes, outgassing from the plants, and retail operations during the day and night.  He wanted real volume numbers, the type of systems being used, how much did they recover, and how long did each take to recover.  The applicant needed to provide more information on traffic as well.  Staff also needed to find out if the state allowed both facilities on the same site.
Commissioner Dawkins added there was a policy in the City on energy independence.  It was common knowledge that marijuana grows took a tremendous amount of energy and water.  How would water volume effect drought cycles?  He thought the Conservation Commission and City Administrator should review the application. The use was contrary to City policies.
Chair Pearce wanted more information on real capacity issues if there were any.  Commission Thompson added there may be adequate capacity for electricity but it could bump the City into another rate tier.  Mr. Molnar clarified the approval standard under a CUP for adequate capacity was the same as if it were outright permitted.  It was difficult to differentiate. 
Commissioner Miller supported having the Conservation Commission review these types of planning actions.  In addition to the technical discussion there needed to be one on livability.
Commissioner Dawkins went on record that he was not prejudiced against the project itself.  He disagreed with several public comments in the packet.  Commissioner Mindlin noted the Economic Development Commission that met several years ago recommended against high water use activities in the city.  She was interested in the rules for manufacturing in an employment zone. 

B.      PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2017-02134

SUBJECT PROPERTY:  1068 E. Main Street

OWNER/APPLICANT:  Marcel Verzeano Trust (Paulena E.C. Verzeano, trustee)
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Outline Plan Modification, Final Plan and Site Design Review approvals for a 33-unit, 28-lot Performance Standards Option subdivision, and Tree Removal Permit for the property located at 1068 East Main Street and the vacant parcel directly to the east.  As originally approved, the project consisted of 29-units.  The requested modification would add four additional apartments (all less than 500 square feet) to the original proposal, for a total of six small rental units.  The application also proposes to remove one additional tree which the applicants had originally proposed to preserve.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: High Density, Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-3/Pedestrian Places Overlay; ASSESSOR’S MAP:  39 1E 09AD; TAX LOT #: 6800 and 6801.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Dawkins, Miller, Brown, Pearce, Norton, and Mindlin declared no new ex parte or site visits.  Commissioner Thompson declared no ex parte and that she drove past the site.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson explained this was a request for Outline Plan Modification, Final Plan, and Site Design Review approvals for a 33-unit, 28-lot Performance Standards Option subdivision.  It also included tree removal.  The request before the Commission would add 4 additional small apartments for a total of 33 units.  The four units were each less than 500 square feet.  They would be added to the upper level of the south units along the high school fields.   It would remove trees #14 and #24.  They were trees the applicant was going to attempt to preserve but could not.
An average of 18% would be rental units under 500 square feet.  Parking for the additional units would come from surplus service parking.  The application included solar cross sections with shadows falling largely on the garage face opposite the driveways and window sills.
The proposal included a children’s play area and a revised landscape plan.  There were two primary concerns noted previously regarding the open spaces not landscaped in a way that facilitated recreational use. The application had counted private porches and patios that had pedestrian circulation through them and dimensions to the point they were not very functional.  The applicants added grass and improved recreational space.  The porches were now detailed showing areas of circulation, recreational use, and a community garden area.
The last change was the tree removal request.  The Tree Commission asked that the applicants attempted to preserve the trees. The applicant’s arborist did not think either tree would survive the proposed construction.  Upon further analysis, the applicant agreed and this modification would remove both. 
Staff generally supported the proposal and recommended some conditions.  
Questions of Staff
Mr. Severson clarified the applicants looked into swinging the sidewalk out and reducing the park row to accommodate the Oak tree.  With ADA grades at the corner treatment, and the park row already narrowed for bus circulation, he doubted they could swing it further.  The extra parking came from a number of surplus parking spaces.  There was nothing substantially different in the Findings. 
Applicant’s Presentation  
Mark Knox and Laz Ayala/KDA Homes/604 Fair Oaks Court/Mr. Knox explained the project was approved in July 2017.  Due to the housing situation in Ashland, they decided to add four more units.  They also moved some open space, added grass, and a community garden. 
Questions of the Applicant
Mr. Knox had told the Tree Commission they would try and save tree #14 but the arborist thought it was unlikely.  They met several times and the arborist noted the tree was already stressed and would not survive further construction.  The modification would remove tree #14 and #24.  They were planning on planting 34 trees on the property.
The community garden would belong to everyone at the property.  The idea, if space permitted, was each unit would have their own garden bed.  Handicap parking was located in the center.  As they refined the plan, they decided to replace handicap parking and install mailboxes in that location to create a community common space.
The vertical accessory unit would be owned by unit directly below.  The ground floor would have a two car garage and a single car garage.  A 700 square foot two-bedroom unit would be above with the 499 square foot accessory on top.  Mr. Ayala added the intention was using them as rentals.
Mr. Knox clarified this type of proposal did not require handicap parking spaces.  They would look into the 6-foot retaining wall/sign possibly blocking vision at the corner of East Main Street and South Mountain.
Public Testimony
Rick Harris/190 Oak Street/Appreciated the developers attempting to meet a need in Ashland for small units available for purchase or rental.  It was worth the flexibility to add the additional units.  Even though it took four parking spaces, it provided the off-street parking space required.  This was a reasonable way to use a lot that was zoned for this to create the level of density required without further expansion of the urban growth boundary.
Applicant’s Rebuttal - None
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve Planning Action 2017-02134.  DISCUSSION:  Commissioner Dawkins appreciated the developers finding four more rental units.  He had said at the last meeting that tree #14 should be removed.  Commissioner Brown thought they addressed comments made at the last meeting regarding open spaces and use.  Along with the additional units, it fit the good criteria.  Commissioner Miller explained she was not normally in favor of smaller units but this was so close to Southern Oregon University (SOU), it made sense.  Roll Call Vote:  Commissioner Thompson, Pearce, Dawkins, Miller, Brown, Mindlin, and Norton, YES.  Motion passed 7-0.
Meeting adjourned at 9:06 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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