Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

December 8, 2020
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins
Alan Harper
Haywood Norton
Kerry KenCairn
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
    Stef Seffinger, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained Chair Norton provided the annual commission update during the City Council meeting on December 1, 2020.  The presentation went very well, and the Commission would receive a copy of the report.  During the meeting the City Council passed the second reading of the Affordable Housing Standards amendments and approved first reading for the annexation on 1511 Hwy 99.   The Housing Capacity Analysis Advisory Committee met December 7, 2020.  Commissioners Thompson and KenCairn participated.  The group will address Ashland’s existing and future housing needs for the next twenty years.  Mr. Molnar provided the background that resulted in forming the committee.  Both Commissioners KenCairn and Thompson spoke to the thoroughness and importance of the committee.  Mr. Molnar went on to explain the applicants had submitted the building permit for the final phase to the downtown project for Plaza West, South, and North.
Commissioner Pearce asked if it was possible for the Commission to access the reports and planning material from the Housing Capacity Analysis Advisory Committee.  Senior Planner Brandon Goldman would forward the Power Point presentation to the Commission.
A.  Approval of Minutes
1.  November 10, 2020 Regular Meeting
Commissioner Thompson/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of the meeting on November 10, 2020.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed. 
A.  Approval of Findings for PA-T2-2020-00021, Otis Street (39 1E Map 05AD, Tax Lot #200)
The Commission declared no ex parte contact on the matter.
Commissioner Thompson/Pearce m/s to approve the Findings for PA-T2-2020-00021.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed. 
A.  PLANNING ACTION: PA-T2-2020-00023
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 196 & 200 Clear Creek Drive
OWNER/APPLICANT:  Rogue Planning & Development Services, LLC/Bryan & Stephanie Deboer DESCRIPTION: A request for Site Design Review approval to allow the construction of an 11,220 square-foot, two-story mixed-use building for the properties at 196 and 200 Clear Creek Drive.   The proposed building would consist of 1,268 square feet of office space, 8,052 square feet of warehouse space, and a single 1,584 square foot residential unit on the second floor.  The application also includes requests for a property line adjustment to allow the consolidation of the two lots and a Variance/Major Modification of the New Addition subdivision approval (PA-2000-096) to allow a driveway to be installed from Clear Creek Drive where the “Vehicular Access and Circulation Standards” in AMC and the subdivision approval both prohibit driveway access from Clear Creek Drive because alley access is available.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; MAP: 39 1E 09AB; TAX LOT #: 6604 & 6605 
Chair Norton read the rules of the electronic public hearing.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Dawkins declared no ex parte contact but knew the site.  Commissioner Thompson and Pearce had no ex parte contact but had driven by the site.  Commissioner KenCairn had walked the site but had no connection to the project and no ex parte contact.  Commissioner Harper declared no ex parte contact and no site visit.  Chair Norton had no ex parte contact but had visited the site.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson provided a presentation (see attached):
•  Proposal
•  Vicinity Map
•  Clear Creek Frontage
•  New Addition Subdivision
Commissioner Dawkins asked if the bike lane came up to the railroad property.  Mr. Severson explained it went 10-feet into the railroad property towards the tracks.  There was approximately a 70-foot distance from the property line.  The alley was 20-feet wide and another 10-feet for the bike lane that went onto the railroad property.
•  Schematic Parking Lay-Out from Subdivision App.
•  Alley/Bike Path Section Drawing
Commissioner Thompson wanted to know if the bike path was improved and who was responsible for improving it.  The bike path was not improved.  The condition of approval stated the applicant would post a deposit to complete the improvements.  Once that happened, the City would assume the maintenance.
•  New Addition
•  Architect’s Rendering
•  Front Elevation (street-facing)
•  Side Elevations
•  Rear Elevation (alley-facing)
•  Main Floor Plan
•  Upper Floor Plan
•  Site Plan
•  Grading, Utility
•  Preliminary Electric Plan
•  Planting Plan
•  Landscape Site Plan
•  Plaza Space
•  Variance & Subdivision Modification
•  Schematic Parking Lay-Out from Subdivision App.
•  Adopted RR Street Network
•  Parking & Parking Management Strategies
Staff was generally supportive of the application provided the Commission thought the variances were merited and the parking was satisfactorily addressed.
Questions of Staff
Commissioner KenCairn asked about the wall and gate to the alley.  Mr. Severson explained the applicant was proposing having a gate on the railroad property side.  Commissioner KenCairn noted the two lots were originally supposed to share parking.  Mr. Severson responded the conceptual plan showed circulation between the parking areas.  The only condition requirement was that the two lots shared parking.
Commissioner Thompson asked if the whole parking area was paved.  Mr. Severson responded it was.  Commissioner Thompson confirmed that circulation would be available only to the owner.  Mr. Severson replied it would and explained the driveway at Clear Creek Drive could be used as a hammerhead to pull in then back out.  Commissioner KenCairn observed it would remain a dead end alley for any other development.  Mr. Severson responded the applicants had explained the driveway and the handicap parking place might combine to provide somewhat of a hammerhead for circulation back out.  Commissioner KenCairn commented the dead end driveway would work for the applicant but would not help the rest of the development.  Mr. Severson explained the original subdivision did not include any easement to support this and did not change the situation.  Additionally, the conditions did not require it to be provided.
Commissioner Thompson asked if the trucks could pull in from either direction to access the loading area.  Commissioner Pearce noted there were two loading areas.  Commissioner Thompson added the only way to access the front was through a separate loading dock. 
Commissioner Pearce commented that a 20-foot alley was large and used in urban settings.  He disagreed that if a delivery was happening, another vehicle would not be able to pass the truck.  Mr. Severson responded the paved area would be 16.5 feet wide.  Commissioner Pearce clarified it could also be 20-feet wide.  The alley would be the primary access for trucks.  The other was intended to support circulation without using a turnaround. Commissioner Pearce asked if vehicles parked in the alley would have to back out.  Mr. Severson confirmed they would.  Commissioner Pearce asked what the code allowed.  Mr. Severson explained the code did allow backing to an alley.
Commissioner Pearce wanted the Commission to consider the correct standards during deliberation because practical difficulties were not a variance standard.
Commissioner Dawkins did not think the paved portion of the alley was anywhere close to 20-feet.  The parking spaces for buildings 1 and 2 went up to the alley.  There did not appear to be enough space to add width on the north side of the alley.  Adding four more feet would encroach on the bike path.  Mr. Severson explained the paved portion of the alley was 16.5-feet, but the right of way was 20-feet.  Commissioner Pearce added the right of way was planned at 20-feet and the bike path was separate.
Commissioner Harper asked if the applicant provided staff with turning radius diagrams to show it would not interfere with the handicap parking space.  Mr. Severson confirmed they had not, but the Commission could ask for that.  Commissioner Harper asked about the prohibition for driveways onto Clear Creek Drive.  Mr. Severson explained the standard had been in place for a long time.  If there was alley access, a driveway from the street was not allowed.  It was also supported in the Comprehensive Land Plan.  Commissioner Harper asked why it was included as a condition when it was already in the code.  Mr. Severson explained it was done so a buyer purchasing property and not aware of the code clearly understood they would not be able to have a driveway. 
Commissioner Thompson asked why the applicants wanted the Commission to grant them modifications to the parking standards.  There was enough room on the site to satisfy the entire standard.  Mr. Severson thought the applicants themselves could respond better to the question.   He thought they could have a few more parking spaces, but the backup dimension and circulation pattern did not allow enough room.
Commissioner KenCairn commented having large trucks move through the site without the driveway would make it prohibitive.  They did design it to themselves but in this instance, the original approval was not a good solution to the problem.
Applicant’s Presentation
Amy Gunter/Rogue Development Services/Carlos Delgado/Carlos Delgado Architects/Ms. Gunter explained the parking reduction was not an exception or a variance.  It was an allowed joint use or mixed-use credit per the code.  The code allowed for onsite reduction in parking by using the joint use of facility credits and mixed-use credits to allow reduction in pavement.  It would also allow for uses that did not generate traffic and reduce parking on the site.  It was a discretionary decision for staff or the Planning Commission.  The requested number of spaces was based on the joint use or mixed use.  It was sometimes predicated on what other developments or future developments were occurring in the vicinity.  They wanted the driveway curb cut because the functionality of the site was challenging due to the size, shape, and the 8%-12% slope along the frontage of the property.  The building was set at the grade of the alley. 
The distance and curve of the alley inhibited visibility and it was not gridded.  It did not work well for employment properties seeking to have .50 floor area ratio uses that increased employment numbers.  The applicants were trying to accommodate the four types of uses that were potential for the site.  There was 32-feet between the sidewalk and the gate. 
Ms. Gunter addressed the driveway coming off the street.  That area was not intended to be used as a parking space.  It was for trucks to pull in and back into the gate.  The condition spoke to a standard-length semi-truck.  It would not be functional to move the gate back to accommodate a 53-foot semi-truck. The space was intended as a hammerhead and to access the site.
Due to these issues with the site, this was their best effort to make it functional.  When the subdivision was originally approved, they had not gone through the block standards.  They could not dedicate an easement for the general public.  The alley functioned as a dead end.  The driveway would allow vehicles to turnaround and exit.  The surface space of the alley would provide 22-feet of back up space.  For adaptive reuse, when and if the uses intensified, there was potential to add additional parking to the site.  Mr. Delgado concurred with Ms. Gunter’s comments on the back up space and parking.  The alley was 18-feet or less paved.
Ms. Gunter thought the design enhanced the neighborhood and area.  There had not been development on this section of road in fourteen years.  The application gave the ability of an E-1 zoned site to develop to E-1 level intensities.  The variance request was merited because the subdivision did not meet subdivision spacing standards and the gridded street system.
Questions of the Applicant
Commissioner Pearce read from the parking management strategy for mixed uses.  The parking requirement was the sum for the several uses unless it could be shown by the applicant that the peak parking demands were offset.  He asked if there was anything in the applicant’s submittals that showed peak parking demands were offset.  Ms. Gunter responded the only joint use they were requesting was for the residential to offset the business use  on the ground floor.  The other ones were the on-street parking credits.  The residential use was considered an evening use versus the daytime use of the office on the ground floor.
Commissioner Thompson asked why additional parking spaces on the property would not work.  Ms. Gunter explained the way the site was set up, additional parking spaces would be along the east side in the travel lane of the driveway.  If the site intensified and modified, they would make accommodations for the tenants and add the additional parking spaces.  The backup dimensions of the head in parking spaces in the covered parking area was 22-feet, almost to the door of the warehouse space.  There was conflict in the different travel patterns that would happen on the site.
Commissioner Harper asked what the applicant’s position would be if the Commission found no basis for the variance.  There was not a compelling reason to support a variance.  Ms. Gunter responded it would not be developable as an E-1 property with large vehicle deliveries due to the lack of visibility in the alley. 
Mr. Delgado explained the reason both properties were purchased was to make it feasible.  The subdivision approval made the lot practically unworkable due to the set up.  The drive through made it workable.
Public Testimony -None
Chair Norton closed the public hearing and the record.
Applicant’s Rebuttal - None
Deliberation and Decision
Commissioner KenCairn thought the difficulty of the site was not created by the client and the variance was warranted even though she thought the parking could be better designed.  Originally, the alley should have been designed to come back around to Clear Creek Drive and connect.  It was not a workable site with the long alley.  She did not fully agree to the visibility issue.  However, the alley was too long of a stretch to not be able to get back to the street.  Commissioner Dawkins agreed.  There was a conflict in the code previously pointed out.
Commissioner Pearce agreed with Commissioner Harper.  It did not qualify for a variance.  The alley width was 20-feet.  There was plenty of space to unload and have vehicles get past.  It was currently 16.5-feet but could be built out.  The difficulty with the turnaround was the applicant did not design for it.  The site was basically flat and not difficult in terms of the topography.  The standard for a variance was having a unique, physical circumstance of the site.  The final criteria for a variance was that it was not self-imposed.  An applicant could not request a variance because a previous land use approval was granted.  The conflicting uses was due to the applicants putting conflicting uses on the site.  There was plenty of possible access from the alley, yet they were asking for access from the front.  He would not support a variance approval and did not have a strong opinion regarding the amount of parking. 
Commissioner Harper/Pearce m/s to deny application for PA-T2-2020-00023.  It did not meet the standards as outlined in the code and did not meet the criteria for a variance.  DISCUSSION:  Commissioner Harper reiterated Commissioner Pearce’s comments.  The variance statue was manmade and not the reason the Commission should grant a variance.  There was no basis for undermining the condition in the original approval that would justify the major modification.  He thought they wanted to do more with the site than merited.  That was not a reason for a variance.  Commissioner KenCairn noted the subdivision was designed incorrectly and approved.  What would have to happen to fix that.  Commissioner Harper thought the applicants could dedicate the alley as a public alley way.  They could wait for the adjacent property to be developed.  Or, they could build a smaller E-1 building on Clear Creek Drive and create the circulation that fit the design.  Commissioner Thompson had the same concerns about the variance standard.  She would not go as far to say the subdivision was incorrectly designed.  She thought the design did not easily accommodate the use the applicant wanted to apply to the site.  The variance requirements were not satisfied.  Chair Norton thought one of the things driving this was that the two lots were put together.  It created a much larger warehouse but did not achieve the physical hardship necessary for a variance.  Roll Call Vote:  Commissioner Norton, Harper, Thompson, and Pearce, YES; Commissioner KenCairn and Dawkins, NO.  Motion passed 4-2.
Meeting adjourned 8:27 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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