Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

March 9, 2021
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

Commissioners Present:                               
Michael Dawkins
Alan Harper
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
Lisa Verner
Staff Present:
Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Development Services Coordinator
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner

Absent Members:                           
Kerry KenCairn (recused) 

Council Liaison:
Paula Hyatt




Community Development Director Bill Molnar issued the following announcements:
  • City Councilor Paula Hyatt, current liaison to the Planning Commission, was introduced to the group. Ms. Hyatt shared that she will be streaming the live meeting videos but will not be attending virtual meetings when quasi-judicial hearings are scheduled.
  • The March 23, 2021 Planning Commission meeting will include a presentation of the draft Housing Capacity Analysis.
  • The Independence Way planning action for IPCO Development Corporation has requested that the Planning Commission postpone the adoption of findings. They are exploring possible changes to the building footprints and may return to the commission with revisions.
  • Mr. Severson provided a brief update on the LUBA appeal for 1511 Highway 99 North/Kendrick Enterprise.
A.  Approval of Minutes
     1.  February 9, 2021 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Dawkins/Verner m/s to approve the minutes of February 9, 2021. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
A.  PLANNING ACTION:  PA-T2-2020-00026
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  Mountain Meadows Drive & Skylark Place 
APPLICANT/OWNER: Rogue Planning & Development Services, LLC for Hunter & Madeline Hill (owners, TL #234) Mountain Meadows Owners Association (owners, TL.#88000)
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Outline and Final Plan approvals for a ten lot subdivision under the Performance Standards Options Chapter (AMC 18.3.9), and Site Design Review approval for an eight-unit multi-family senior housing development for the vacant parcel (Tax Lot #234) at the southeast corner of Mountain Meadows Drive and Skylark Place.  The application also includes a request for an Exception to the Street Standards to allow the applicant to provide curbside sidewalks on their property, adjacent to the right-of-way, and to provide head-in on-street parking that is partly within the right-of-way and partly on the adjacent private property along Skylark Place; and a request for Solar Access Exceptions to allow the proposed Units #3 & #7 to shade the south walls of Units #2 & #6 greater than the shadow that would be cast by a six-foot fence on the property line.  (An associated request for a Property Line Adjustment between the subject property and the Mountain Meadows Parkside Condominiums property (Tax Lot #88000) on Golden Aspen Place immediately to the south has been approved ministerially.)  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Healthcare; ZONING: HC; MAP: 39 1E 04AD; TAX LOT #: 234 and 88000.

Chair Norton read aloud the rules for electronic public hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Dawkins, Verner, and Norton conducted site visits. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report and explained the application is for:
  • Outline and Final Plan approvals for a 10-lot subdivision under the Performance Standards Options chapter;
  • Site Design Review of an 8-unit multi-family senior housing development;
  • An exception to the Street Standards to allow the applicant to provide curbside sidewalks on their property, adjacent to the right of way, and to provide head-in on-street parking that is partly within the right of way and partly on the adjacent private property along Skylark Place; and
  • Solar Access Exceptions to allow proposed units #3 and #7 to shade the south walls of units #2 and #6 greater than the shadow that would be cast by a 6 ft. fence on the property line.
Mr. Severson reviewed the aerial map of the site and noted the location of the clubhouse and head-in parking occurring on the site. He also reviewed the 1995 Mountain Meadows Community Master Plan; the proposed site plan for the new units; the proposed lot configuration; the planting plan; the grading and utility plans; the unit elevations; and the floor plans. Mr. Severson elaborated on the parking for the area and stated the proposed site has been used for head-in parking due to its proximity to the clubhouse. He stated Mountain Meadows is a 55+ retirement community and some residents have mobility challenges and need to drive to the clubhouse. He explained the clubhouse does have parking, but the demand is high and additional parking is needed. He stated the applicants are requesting an exception to the parking standards to provide head-in parking to residents that are unable to walk to the clubhouse. Mr. Severson noted this is the final phase in this development and is the last opportunity for them to provide centralized parking.  
Mr. Severson reviewed the solar access exception request and explained due to the grade changes and narrow north-south lot configurations, it would be difficult to shift the unit footprints to comply with the solar requirements. He noted rooftop solar access will be maintained for all units.
Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and stated staff is supportive of approving the application.
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Harper questioned the parking layout and stated it seems unusual to have parking that is partially in the right of way and partially on private property. Mr. Severson stated the Public Works Department has reviewed this request and did not raise any issues. He added the Mountain Meadows Owners Association would be responsible for maintaining the parking, sidewalk, and landscaping proposed on their property.
Commissioner Norton noted that Skylark Drive dead-ends and asked if the road would ever be extended. Mr. Severson stated it is doubtful that it would be extended since it butts ups to the city limits and confirmed that the only traffic on this section of roadway would be associated with this development.
Commissioner Harper requested clarification on the street design exception. Mr. Severson stated the applicants are requesting to not have a standard parkrow and to install head-in parking. Typically, you would have parallel parking in street bays, or in some cases angled parking. Mr. Molnar noted the street design standards can be found in AMC
Applicant’s Presentation:
Amy Gunter/Rogue Planning & Development Services/Introduced the project team: Madeline Hill, Mountain Hill Estates Owner; project architect Bruce Richey, Oregon Architecture; project manager Steve Ennis; and civil engineer Mark Dew.
Ms. Gunter provided a presentation and explained Mountain Meadows is a planned senior living community within the city’s Healthcare Services Overlay. In June 1995, the City Council approved the community plan which provides a variety of uses and development types, including attached, detached, and multi-unit residential dwellings, mixed use structures, activity centers, a large community park, and smaller pocket parks all within a senior resident oriented development. She added all of the units are designed with universal housing standards in mind. Ms. Gunter stated the property is a vacant parcel bound by Skylark Place and Mountain Meadows Dr. She noted the city limits and Urban Growth Boundary are along the east property line, there is 7 ft. of elevation change from west to east, and the property has a 12 ft. rise from the intersection of Mountain Meadows Dr. along Skylark Place. Ms. Gunter explained the proposal is to develop the approximately .8-acre parcel with an 8-unit, 10-lot single family residences using the Performance Standards Option. The units would be sold individually as owner occupied residences and each unit will be a member of the Mountain Meadows Owners Association.
Ms. Gunter commented on the street development pattern and stated this phase of development would be consistent with the pattern found throughout the Mountain Meadows Community. She explained both Mountain Meadows Dr. and Skylark Pl. have a 41 ft. right of ways. She stated the proposed improvements would add a landscaped park row, 5 ft. sidewalks, and a parking bay for the on-street parallel parking spaces along Mountain Meadows. She stated Skylark Pl. is a dedicated public street that terminates into the adjacent property to the east and serves as the access to the parking garage for the Golden Aspen condo building. She stated Skylark Pl. is proposed to be improved with 16 head-in parking spaces, including one ADA space and a 5’6” sidewalk. The only improvements within the public right-of-way would be the landscape islands and a portion of the head-in parking spaces. She added the street pattern within this community was designed specifically for mobility challenged individuals, with accessible parking in close proximity to the uses it is intended to serve. Ms. Gunter stated there are four parallel parking spaces along the Mountain Meadows Dr. frontage, and under the Performance Standards Subdivision there could be four parallel spaces along the Skylark frontage, however this would not provide what is needed by the community or provide excess parking for users who live further away from the community buildings and park areas. Ms. Gunter stated the standards allow for exceptions due to unique and unusual circumstances and believes the use, coupled with the grading issues of the site, meets the requirements to grant the exception.
Ms. Gunter commented on the solar setbacks and stated the exception requested will impact the passive solar on one exterior wall of two of the eight residences, however the rooftop solar access will not be affected. She explained the alternative to requesting the exception would be to step the structures, sidewalks, or steepen driveways and sidewalks to reduce the height of the structure for solar purposes, but retaining finished grades at no more than 2.5%-3% is critical for senior housing development and this is a unique component to this development.
Ms. Gunter concluded her presentation and stated the proposal and requested exceptions meet the standards. They  believe the commission can support the exception requests with findings based on the Housing Element of the Comprehensive Plan and within the purpose and intent of the Site Development Standards.
Bruce Richey/Oregon Architecture/Addressed the commission and stated the design of this lot was impacted by the existing street elevations as well as the 12 ft. elevation change across the property. He stated getting the drainage to work property and providing easy access to the units steered how they ended up with this design configuration. He added providing a design that worked well for senior living was a top criteria.
Madeline Hill/Mountain Hill Estates Owner/Stated they did not want to ask for the exceptions but believes this is the best thing to do. She added the head-in parking along Skylark is already there and is working well.

Questions of the Applicant
Commissioner Thompson asked if the solar exception for Unit 7 would be needed if it were not 2 stories. Mr. Richey responded that they would still need the exception if it were a single story. Ms. Hill noted the second story serves like an ARU for adult children who are assisting their aging parents. 
Steve Ennis commented that due to adult care givers, there is a tremendous need for additional parking at this development. He added this lot has been used for nearly 20 years as an unofficial parking lot and there is a strong need for additional parking in the development.
Public Testimony:
Lee Bowman/Stated the parking demand is high and since this is the final phase in this development, they know what the demand is, and this is not a hypothetical situation. He stated parallel parking along Skylark Place would make it difficult for cars to get out of there. He stated right angle parking is strongly preferred by senior drivers and they will not have to go down to the end of the road and turn around in order to exit the area like they would with parallel spaces. 
Richard Kinsinger/Stated he has participated in the task force appointed by the homeowner’s association to work with Madeline Hill and Steve Ennis on the design. He stated the task force is in full support of what has been presented.
Robert Tower/Stated he has served as president of the Mountain Meadows Owners Association for the last 4 years and the topic he routinely hears is parking and the lack of parking availability in the evenings, especially when going to the clubhouse for meals. He stated he wholeheartedly endorses the application as presented.
Chair Norton closed the record and public hearing at 8:15 p.m.
Deliberations & Decision:
Commissioner Harper requested clarification from staff regarding the dead-end street, and stated the standards require a turnaround at the end. Mr. Severson clarified there is a driveway into the parking structure at the southeast of the site that functions as a turnaround, however it is a 3-point turn. He added this an existing configuration, so this standard does not apply to this proposal.
Commissioner Thompson stated she is sympathetic for need for additional parking and this is a very practical thing to be considering, however she is struggling with the language for the exception which requires demonstrable difficulty. Commissioner Pearce commented that the difficulty is the use itself, which is unique. He stated they have a lot of caretakers coming in and out and there is a lot of traffic than an ordinary residential development probably wouldn’t have. Mr. Severson agreed and stated the difficultly is in meeting the needs of the use, which is unique. Commissioner Pearce noted this is the final part of their master plan and installing parallel parking along here does not serve the intent of the master plan and the parking will work better as proposed. He added he is encouraged that the Public Works Dept. is fine with this as well. Commissioner Harper added the dead-end configuration would make parallel parking more difficult.
Regarding the solar issue, Commissioner Pearce stated he was persuaded by the existing grade argument and noted the need for the site to be level for wheelchair accessibility. Commissioner Verner stated the homeowners would still be able to install solar panels on the roofs and they are not obstructed.
Commissioners Pearce/Dawkins m/s to approve PA-T2-2020-00026 with the conditions proposed in the staff report. In particular, the commission believes the transportation exceptions are warranted because of the proposed use of the entire facility and the fact that it is on a dead-end street which would make parallel parking very difficult. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Dawkins voiced his support for the motion and believes the motion and discussion clarified the unique components of this application. Voice Vote: Commissioners Pearce, Dawkins, Verner, Thompson, Harper, and Norton, YES. Motion passed 6-0.
B.  PLANNING ACTION:  PA-T2-2021-00028
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  364 Walker Avenue (Walker Elementary School)
APPLICANT/OWNER:  HMK Company for the Ashland School District
DESCRIPTION:  The Planning Commission will conduct an initial public hearing to review details of the proposal and take public comments on a request for Site Design Review approval for a 22,450 square foot, single-story addition to Walker Elementary School at 364 Walker Avenue.  As part of the proposal, the parking lot and drop-off lane would be relocated and expanded, with access to be taken via Hunter Court (the driveway serving Hunter Park) and a new courtyard would be created. The application also includes requests for a Conditional Use Permit to modify the School District’s Master Sign Permit Program (PA#2012-00899) to allow new signage for Walker Elementary School in conjunction with the proposed addition, and Tree Removal Permits to remove 20 trees.  An existing 9,700 square foot classroom will be demolished in conjunction with the proposal. No final decision will be made at this initial public hearing; the item will come back to the Planning Commission for a decision at the April 13, 2021 meeting.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-5; MAP: 39 1E 10; TAX LOT #: 3600.

Chair Norton clarified this is the initial evidentiary hearing and no decision will be made tonight. 
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Harper, Verner, and Norton conducted site visits. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report. He explained the request is for site design approval for a 22,450 sq.ft. single story addition and demolishing a 9,700 sq.ft. classroom building. As part of the proposal, the existing drop-off lane at the corner of Walker and Homes, and the parking lot off Homes Ave., are to be relocated and expanded with parent pick-up and drop-off access taken from Homes Ave. and Hunter Court. Mr. Severson stated the use of Hunter Court is key issue since this is not a dedicated street and is on Park’s property. The applicants are in discussions with the Parks Department, but permission to use Hunter Court has not yet been obtained. Mr. Severson stated no decision will be made on this application until the issues regarding the use of Hunter Court have been resolved. 
Mr. Severson reviewed the vicinity map, demolition plan, site plan, tree protection and removal plan, planting plan, and elevations. He also shared images of Homes Ave. and Hunter Court, and the applicant’s renderings of the proposed construction.
Mr. Severson noted the packet materials include a memo from the Parks & Recreation Commission which details the issues surrounding the use of Hunter Court. He stated this application will likely come back to the commission in a different form at their April meeting once the outstanding issues have been resolved.
Applicant’s Presentation:
Amy Gunter/Rogue Planning & Development Services/Introduced the project team: Mike Freeman, HMK Company; Steve Mitzel, Ashland School District; Matthew Guthrie, BBT Architects; and Todd Powell, Powell Engineering Consulting.
Ms. Gunter provided a presentation and explained the proposed changes to Walker Elementary School are in response to the outlined goals of the 2018 school improvement bond, which include: comprehensive renovations, the replacement of a classroom wing with new classrooms, climate resiliency, seismic retrofit, improved campus security including a new secure entrance, and respect for the historic character of the structure. Ms. Gunter stated the proposal is a result of many months of community collaboration and the proposed design, layout, and construction are consistent with the city’s Climate & Energy Action Plan.
Ms. Gunter reviewed the site plan and stated the largest improvement proposed is a new 22,450 sq.ft. single-story classroom building. The new classroom wing will have general classrooms, a sensory classroom, a SPED dedicated classroom area, new kindergarten classrooms with kinder-sized restrooms, and general activity spaces for small group breakout areas. She added an existing 9,700 sq.ft. classroom wing will be demolished as part of this proposal.
Ms. Gunter commented on the removal and reconfiguration of the existing non-conforming parking area and explained the site plan included in the packet materials proposed to create a new vehicular access and proposed parking area off Hunter Court. Hunter Court is a private driveway that provides access to Hunter Park and the Daniel Meyer Pool, and the original proposal was to add a longer parent drop-off lane, on street parking bays, and a right turn lane from Hunter onto Homes. Following the meeting with the Parks Commission, the site plan has been modified to better address the driveway alignment issues, provide more tree protection in the parkrow, and address the Parks Commission’s concerns regarding bicycle and pedestrian circulation. Ms. Gunter stated the modified proposal retains the existing site access from Homes Avenue as the vehicular access to the Walker Elementary School campus. The two existing driveway approaches on Homes will be relocated to the east, away from the Walker/Homes intersection, and the driveways will provide access to a 66-vehicle parking lot. The driveway curb cut on Walker at the intersection will be removed. Ms. Gunter stated the proposal does not include sidewalks or dedicated bicycle lanes connected to the Ashland Central Bike Path. She commented on the financial concerns these improvements would cause and stated these improvements are beyond the scope of the project area and beyond the scope of the citizen approved bond.
Matthew Guthrie/Commented that this is a demolition project and addition that would replace the existing classrooms in the east wing and relocate programs that are currently being held in the school’s basement to the main floor.
Commissioner Harper questioned how the proposal will impact traffic on the surrounding neighborhood. Commissioner Pearce requested additional information on how access and student pick-ups/drop-offs will work.
Public Input:
Michael Black/Parks & Recreation Director/Thanked the applicants for looking at alternatives and proposing a modified design to address their concerns but requested clarification if the plan displayed tonight is what is now being considered. Mr. Black stated most of their issues go away if the school is no longer proposing access from Hunter Court and not using the storm drain, but stated it is still necessary to look at Hunter Court and how it functions currently. He explained parents often use Hunter Court to drop off their children and will park on the west side of the street next to the playing fields. He added this is not a public street but it does function as one. Mr. Black commented on the pedestrian safety issues and stated Hunter Court should be addressed. He stated sidewalks should go all the way down and there should be a connection to the bikepath without users having to cross driveways. Mr. Black encouraged the Planning Commission to look at the pedestrian accessibility and safety issues. He stated there is a lot of pedestrian traffic that is generated by the school and hopes this will be addressed. 
Mike Gardiner, Ashland Parks & Recreation Commissioner/Voiced his concurrence with the issues outlined by Mr. Black.
Questions of the Applicant:
Commissioner Norton asked the applicant if the plan displayed tonight is the plan they intend to move forward with. Mr. Gunter stated “yes”. She added access from Homes will be the final plan due to the street improvements that would be needed if access was taken from Hunter Court. She added because Hunter Court is not a public right of way this would cause future maintenance issues for the school district.
Commissioner Harper questioned if the Parks Commission would consider limiting vehicular traffic on Hunter Court. Mr. Black responded that this would negatively impact the city’s Senior Center, which provides programs and services throughout the day. He stated a better solution would be to improve the cross section of the road to meet the criteria of the people who use it. He noted the bicycle and pedestrian traffic in area, as well as kids getting in and out of cars to go over to the school, and stated it makes sense to put a sidewalk along the school’s frontage on the west side of the street.
Commission Discussion:
Commissioner Thompson noted the issues regarding pick-up and drop-off circulation. She stated in the current submission there is a lane that goes along the side of the parking area, and it is not clear whether this circulation path will be practical. She added they need a workable circulation pattern that minimizes the use of Hunter Court.
Commissioner Harper agreed and stated he shares the same concerns. He stated he would be interested to hear some expertise on the pedestrian safety issue of students being dropped off in the parking lot.
Commissioner Pearce commented that the school district had planned to utilize Hunter Court but due to the additional improvements that would need to be installed they have modified their plan. He stated it is not clear how the circulation, transportation, and curb cuts will work from the brief conceptual drawing the applicants shared tonight and they need clarify on how this will work and the utilities as well.
Commissioner Verner requested the applicant’s provide additional details on the proposed signage.
Mr. Molnar commented that this is the first time staff has seen the revised site plan and noted the need to route the proposal through the other city departments, including the Public Works Department and Fire Department.
Commissioner Norton encouraged the school district to recontact the surrounding neighborhood and inform them of the changes.
Commissioners Harper/Dawkins m/s to continue this hearing to the April 13, 2021 Planning Commission Meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 6-0.
Meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Development Services Coordinator


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