Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

April 10, 2018
Chair Roger Pearce called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Troy Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Debbie Miller
  Dennis Slattery, absent  
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained City Council had a public hearing March 20, 2018 for PA-2017-02129, East Nevada Street.  The discussion focused around the affordable housing provision.  The council had some issues they wanted the applicant to come back and address.  Between the time it went from the Planning Commission to Council, the application had changed slightly.  It was continued to the April 17, 2018 meeting but most likely would go to the Council at their meeting May 1, 2018.  During that meeting, Council will hear PA-2018-00154, 601 Washington Street. 
Mr. Molnar announced on May 9 and 10, the annual Southern Oregon Planners Network meeting.  Commissioners interested needed to let him know in order to register them for the event.   
He went on to address the new format for staff reports.  It was a work in progress and he wanted feedback from the Commission for improvements.  The format would make it easier for the public to read.  It would increase efficiency for staff and save time.  The new report would include draft findings detailing the planning action.  There was a suggestion to leave an area available in the draft findings for anything disputed.  The Commission would email Mr. Molnar their suggestions. 
Mr. Molnar noted the System Development Charges Committee was running slightly behind after the orientation. 
  1. Approval of Minutes
  1. March 13, 2018 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Thompson/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of March 13, 2018.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed 6-0.
Huelz Gutcheon/Ashland/Spoke to climate change, reducing the speed limit to 20 miles per hour in Ashland and ways to measure carbons.
  1.    Approval of Findings for PA-2017-00154, 601 Washington Street.
The Commission had no ex parte contacts regarding the matter.  Commissioner Thompson suggested an edit on page 19, the first sentence of the first full paragraph adding, “…the requested zone change and associated development of the property implements a public need for industrial development and is consistent…”
Commissioners Thompson/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2018-00154, 601 Washington Street as amended.  Chair Pearce amended the motion and suggested on page 25, the paragraph following 2.9, changing “The Commission conditionally approves the requested Zone Change…” to “The Commission recommends that City Council approve the proposed annexation and that the Council approve the Zone Change and that the Planning Commission recommended the Site Design Review approval, Conditional Use Permit…”  Commissioner Brown suggested an alternate amendment changing, “…subject to City Council approval of the requested Annexation,” to “…subject to City Council approval of the requested Annexation and Zone Change,” instead.  The Commission agreed on adding “…and Zone Change,” to the sentence.  Voice Vote:  all AYES.  Motion passed 6-0.
  1.    PLANNING ACTION: PA-2018-00429
      SUBJECT PROPERTY: 469 Russell Street
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review approval to construct a new 11,296 square foot, two-story mixed-use building at 469 Russell Street.  The 5,648 ground floor space is to be used for corporate offices while the second floor will consist of seven residential condominiums ranging in size from 482 to 834 square feet per unit. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09AA; TAX LOTS: 2802  
Chair Pearce read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Dawkins and Brown knew the site but had no ex parte.Commissioner Norton declared no ex parte and drove past the site.Commissioner Thompson had no exparte and no new site visit.Chair Pearce declared no ex parte and one site visit.
Commissioner Mindlin declared a potential conflict of interest.The prospective buyer, NatureWise was a primary donor to an organization she worked for as a contracted administrator.It would not bias or prohibit her from making an unbiased objective decision in the matter.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson explained the proposal was a Site Design Review approval to construct a new 11,296 square foot (sq. ft.), two-story mixed-use building at 469 Russell Street.It was Lot #3 of the Falcon Heights Subdivision.The 5,648 sq. ft. ground floor space would be corporate offices for NatureWise.The second floor will consist of seven residential condominiums ranging in size from 482 to 834 square feet per unit.
The subject property was adjacent to 479 Russell Street.The pedestrian path, bio swale, landscaping and public plaza space along the street would relate well to the proposed building.The separation between the buildings would be 30 feet.Parking was located to the side and rear.
The proposed building would complete the sidewalk to current standards with street trees along the frontage.The building would be placed in the approved envelope with the primary entrance off of the sidewalk near 479 Russell Street.Existing parking consisted of eleven spaces at the rear of the property.The applicants would install seven more adjacent to the building.Utility and drainage plans, elevation drawings were included in the packet.
The primary entrance would be on the east side with residential entrances on the west and rear.The application included a Solar Shadow Study subject to a Class A Solar Standard.A landscape plan, plaza space, and pedestrian walkways was also included in the application.
Tree Commission reviewed the proposal and suggested the following:
  • The tree grates should not be used.
  • The applicants should look at ways to provide more soil volume with larger tree wells.
  • The tree trunks should be wrapped to provide protection from sun damage.
  • The street trees should be watered regularly for two to three years to ensure they can establish themselves.
The Tree Commission was interested in a broader discussion on using tree grates in general. It related to 479 Russell that recently removed trees that had grown into the grates and cracked the sidewalk.
The staff report identified three key issues:
  • Parking Management Strategies
Twenty-two spaces were required.  The applicant proposed 18 off-street spaces, two on-street credits and two mixed-uses parking credits.  It created a 15.48% reduction.  Staff thought it was appropriate and consistent with what had been approved at the other sites.
  • Building & Site Design
Staff thought the building and site design were well thought out and addressed the standards.
  • Falcon Heights Parking & Landscaping
Prior to plat, all of the parking was treated as subdivision infrastructure.  It was required to be installed before plat.
The public streets went in before the sidewalks along with parking areas and associated parking lot landscaping prior to plat.They were on private lots but easements were granted so all of the lots had the right to circulate through the parking area.
The original applicant developed a fence and landscaping layout.Lot #3 had six different sections of fencing types that were approved.The intention of the condition at the time was there be at least a 42-inch screen to prevent headlights from shining into the neighboring lots.Currently, the fencing appeared taller at 46-51 inches.In several sections lattice extended above the fence 30 inches.The neighbors had adequate screening and light.The subdivision included this fence plan as a requirement of the overall subdivision and the applicants were required to maintain that as part of the subdivision approval.There was a five to six-foot screening requirement in between property and adjacent residential properties that could be reduced in a setback area to 30 inches or in an area closer to the street.The screening in the application was not 5-6 feet tall.Staff did not think an exception was necessary.
Other requirements that applied in terms of parking was the 7% parking lot landscaping and one tree per seven parking spaces in landscaping on site was not maintained well and needed to be restored and maintained properly.The applicant recognized that and included a condition to that effect.
Two new standards had gone into effect since the approval.Dividing parking in, when parking was more than fifty spaces or 150 feet in length did not apply to the application.Minimizing adverse microclimatic impacts through design and materials in did apply.There was a swale but the existing parking surface did not meet the standard and would be expanded for seven additional spaces.The Commission could make an exception to that standard to complete the parking without meeting the standards.Staff would add it as a condition.
The raised plaza on the east side and rear of the building related well to the adjacent properties.It also agreed with the pedestrian path and the storm water drainage.It was a good layout.
A condition was added requiring the trash enclosure to be thirty feet from the north property line.The application had it at twelve feet.The original condition was added during 479 Russell Street.The developer at the time agreed to have it imposed on the full development.To comply with that, the trash enclosure would have to move closer to the building.Staff thought it was ok to leave it at twelve feet.It would create the same impacts whether it was twelve or 30 feet.
Staff recommended approval with the conditions in the draft Findings.
Questions of Staff
The trash enclosure was approximately 20-22 feet from the neighbor’s home. The new parking area would not runoff into the swale.There was a catch basin and storm drain line right through the back of the parking lot. The easements for parking was written as a reciprocal access agreement.The assumption was the parking on each lot would count towards the parking requirement of that parcel as it developed. It was for the use of that lot and not the use of other lots.
Applicant’s Presentation  
Mark Knox/604 Fair Oaks Court/KDA Homes and Mark McKechnie/Oregon Architecture/Medford, OR/Spoke to the application.  Mr. Knox explained the Ashland business going into the building wanted to be good neighbors and would not argue about the landscaping or fencing.  He limited the fencing for the site barrier to four feet so the neighbor had the opportunity for solar and views.    
He was open to moving the trash enclosure.  It was a question of who would receive the negative impacts of a trash enclosure, two houses or several units.  The neighbors present in 2002 played a significant role in the subdivision’s design.  In 2007, when the 479 Russell Street building went in, they added conditions to the site review that were imposed on the rest of the subdivision.  He was not sure how they were able to do that without modifying the application.  He thought there was some flexibility on either points.  They could modify the application.  It might mean losing one parking space.  It appeared the applicants were requesting parking exceptions or on street parking credits.  Their intention was minimizing the “paving paradise” strategy and optimizing competing uses.  He encouraged the Commission to push applicants in general to request more credits.  He clarified that parking within a subdivision was shared.
He had not had the opportunity to look at the addition of the seven parking spaces and how they would treat those to meet the new standards.  He was open to suggestions and willing to work with the architect and civil engineer.
Questions of the Applicant
The applicants had placed the trash enclosure where they did to protect the tenants of the building unaware of the condition imposed on 479 Russell Street.  The landscaping between the parking lot and the fence existed but was not cared for properly.  In the applicant’s findings, the landscaping needed updating and restoration.  They would plant using the city standard of 50% the first year and 90% after five years.  They would not replant the tree in that location. 
There was room on either side of the trash enclosure to plant fragrant shrubs or vines.  Two transformers behind the enclosure precluded planting.
Public Testimony - None
Rebuttal by Applicant
Laz Ayala/KDA Homes/604 Fair Oaks Court/Spoke to the trash enclosure and explained there was a five to seven-foot drop in elevation between the parking lot and the backyards of the neighboring homes.  Heat, fumes and smells rose upward.  Having the enclosure under the patios of the units would have a negative effect.  
Mr. Knox agreed with the recommendations from the Tree Commission.Tree grates were expensive.They were open to using pavers or alternative measures.He went on to confirm there was one single family residence behind the proposed trash enclosure.
Commission comment expressed concern regarding the location of the trash enclosure in proximity to the single family residence.
Deliberations & Decision
Mr. Severson clarified the fencing standard was in considered fencing an existing condition of the subdivision.The site had not developed, the standard was in place, and they were modifying the parking. At the subdivision level, the screening was addressed and the same standard was in place.They thought the fencing adequately addressed the standards.With the grade change and as long as there was a site obscuring fence or landscaping material 42-inches about the parking surface.Mr. Molnar added to increase the fence height would have a negative impact on the residential property owner.Commission comment thought there should be findings indicating the City was comfortable with the compromise made at the subdivision level and it was still appropriate.
Mr. Molnar explained the Tree Commission’s recommendation to remove tree grates was a Public Works Department standard.Once improvements were in the City took over liability.The removal of the trees on the adjacent property had little to do with tree grates.There were other issues involved.It was an ordinance or standard amendment.
Commission comments supported something more progressive regarding tree health and the use of tree grates. Another comment was interested in seeing the standards changed.Mr. Severson explained the five-foot commercial tree park row was in the Land Use Code and the Street Standards.The actual five by five tree grate was in the Public Works standards for streets.
The 30-inch allowance in the standard for fencing was unique because abutting a residential, any commercial will have a 10-foot per story setback.Chair Pearce supported the exception.
The Commission discussed the trash enclosure and decided to leave it in its proposed location. They suggested adding mitigation measures to screen and landscape the location.
Commissioners Dawkins/Thompson m/s to approve PA-2018-00429 with all of the conditions and an amendment to incorporate an exception to the fencing.  DISCUSSION:  Commissioner Dawkins had participated in the initial planning actions for the subdivision and commented on how difficult and contentious the process had been.  There were conditions in this proposal to upgrade and maintain the landscape along the fences.  He hoped the trash enclosure was large enough to diminish Commission concerns.  Commissioner Thompson added that since the trash enclosure was an issue it was best to leave it alone instead of imposing further requirements.  Roll Call Vote:  Commissioners Mindlin, Norton, Thompson, Brown, Pearce, and Dawkins, YES.   Motion passed 6-0.
  1. Planning Commissioner Representative for Transportation Expansion Feasibility Study Project Advisory Committee
Mr. Molnar explained the Public Works Department wanted a representative from the Planning Commission to serve on the technical advisory committee for the Transportation Expansion Feasibility Study.  The committee would work with Nelson\Nygaard, a consultant firm hired by the Public Works Department.  Commissioner Dawkins volunteered to participate in the committee.
Meeting adjourned at 8:28 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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