Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Special Meeting

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

March 23, 2021
I.          CALL TO ORDER:
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins
Haywood Norton
Kerry KenCairn
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
Lisa Verner
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Alan Harper
  Paula Hyatt
Community Development Director Bill Molnar issued the following announcements:
•  The City Council approved moving forward with a zoning evaluation of commercial and employment lands to allow more housing. 
•  Building permits were pulled recently for the Columbia Care Center project at 1661 Ashland Street.
•  There were possibly two public  hearings scheduled for the commission meeting on April 13, 2021.
A.  Approval of Minutes
1.  February 23, 2021 Special Meeting.
Commissioner Dawkins/KenCairn m/s to approve the minutes of February 23, 2021.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed.
IV.       PUBLIC FORUM - None
A.  Approval of Findings for PA-T2-2020-00026, Mountain Meadows Drive & Skylark Place.
Commissioner KenCairn recused herself from the item due to a conflict of interest.  She was part of the project team.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Dawkins, Norton, Pearce, Thompson, and Verner declared no ex parte contact on the matter.
Commissioner Verner/Pearce m/s to approve the Findings for PA-T2-2020-00026.  Commissioner KenCairn abstained due to a conflict of interest.  Voice Vote:  all AYES.  Motion passed.
A.  PLANNING ACTION:  PA-T2-2020-00025   
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  Tax Lot #600 on the newly constructed Independent Way
APPLICANT/OWNER:  Rogue Planning & Development Services/IPCO Development Corporation
DESCRIPTION:  The Planning Commission will re-open the public hearing to consider proposed modifications to a request for Site Design Review approval for the construction of two new commercial/industrial buildings on Tax Lot #600 adjacent to Independent Way, the newly installed public street between Washington Street and Tolman Creek Road. Both buildings would be part of the IPCO Development Corporation service building complex, and would share driveway accesses, parking areas and landscaped areas. The first building is proposed to be 9,919 square feet and would be constructed adjacent to Independent Way. The second proposed building would be 17,859 square feet and would be near the south property line.  The application previously included a request for an Exception to the Site Development and Design Standards (AMC which call for a ten-foot wide landscape buffer between the building and the street. Since the initial public hearing in February, the Exception request has been removed from the proposal and the Commission will revisit the application in light of this change.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 14BA; TAX LOT #: 600.
Chair Norton explained why the Commission was reopening the public hearing. 
Commissioner Dawkins/KenCairn m/s to reopen the public hearing for PA-T2-2020-00025.  DISCUSSION:  Commissioner Pearce asked where the process was at in the 120-day period.  Senior Planner Derek Severson had received a signed request from the applicant requesting a 60-day extension.  Voice Vote:  all AYES.  Motion passed.
Chair Norton reopened the public hearing for PA-T2-2020-00025.  He read aloud the rules for electronic public hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissions Dawkins declared no ex parte contact and no recent site visits.  Commissioner Thompson, KenCairn and Verner had no ex parte contact on the matter.  Commissioner Pearce had driven past the site and had no ex parte contact with the public.  He did exchange emails with Mr. Molnar and Chair Norton regarding the procedural issue of reopening a public hearing.  Chair Norton visited the site and exchanged emails with Commissioner Pearce and Mr. Molnar regarding procedures on reopening the hearing.  He also emailed staff his concerns with parking.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson provided a presentation (see attached).  The applicant had revised their application.  They would retain:
•  Their request for Site Design Review approval to construct two new commercial/industrial buildings on Tax Lot #600 adjacent to Independent Way, the newly installed public street between Washington Street and Tolman Creek Road.
o  ‘Building 6’ proposed at 9,919.5 square feet adjacent to Independent Way.
o  ‘Building 5’ proposed at 17,858.5 square feet behind ‘Building 6’, near the south property line.
The applicant removed the following from their application:
•  The application NO LONGER includes a request for an Exception to the Site Development and Design Standards (AMC which call for a ten-foot wide landscape buffer  between the building and the street.
The applicant withdrew the Exception request and proposed the following modifications to their original request:
•  The depth of Building #6 has been reduced by seven feet, with a commensurate reduction in building floor area of 1,000 square feet.
•  The requisite ten-foot landscape buffer is now proposed between the building and the street.
Staff supported the changes to the application and recommended approval.
Questions of Staff - None
Applicant’s Presentation
Amy Gunter/Rogue Planning and Development Services/Following the last commission meeting, the building was reduced in size to accommodate the ten-foot landscape buffer.  The proposal addressed parking for the new construction and retained required parking for associated development owned by the same property owners.  It met landscaping and lot coverage requirements with adequate buffers for the riparian areas.
Questions of the Applicant - None
Public Testimony
Chair Norton noted written testimony submitted by Craig Anderson.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Ms. Gunter commented the revisions to the application spoke for themselves and the criteria was addressed.  There was nothing to rebut in the letter submitted by Craig Anderson.
Chair Norton closed the public hearing and the record.
Deliberation and Decision
Commissioner Thompson/Dawkins m/s to approve PA-T2-2020-00025 with the conditions noted.  DISCUSSION:  Commissioner KenCairn appreciated the applicants making the modifications to the application.  Mr. Molnar addressed the written testimony received from Mr. Anderson.  If the Commission approved the application, he wanted to ensure the findings reflected that the Commission did not find the points made by Mr. Anderson were not relevant because the reconsideration was not timely at this point.  The reconsideration would need to be made seven days after the notice of decision was mailed.  Commissioner Pearce added the decision was not final until the Commission officially passed the findings and the Chair signed them.  In this situation, the Commission had not reached the final decision.
Chair Norton would not support the motion.  He did not have the evidence needed to decide on the three required findings.  He read from the minutes from the Commission meeting February 23, 2021, “Commissioner Norton voiced his discomfort with the parking layout between the two lots, even if it were done with easements, and requested this element be addressed if the applicants choose to bring a modified proposal back for reconsideration”.  He further expressed his discomfort regarding the shared parking and thought it could only be addressed with easements.  The staff report and modified proposal from the applicant did not address parking concerns.  Commissioner Pearce explained the applicant had satisfied parking on the site.  He agreed with Chair Norton’s concern on how to track parking in the future.  He thought it could be done with a recorded covenant and did not think the Commission could require a permanent easement.  Commissioner Thompson explained they would have to retain the eight parking spaces because they were needed.  Mr. Severson confirmed that and showed a slide from the meeting on February 23, 2021 (see attached) that detailed the parking for the adjacent site.  Commissioner Pearce suggested a condition that if the eight parking spaces required for the property next door were never used or might go away, the property owner must notify the City.  Commissioner Pearce and Thompson provided examples where notifying the City would be required.
Commissioner Pearce motioned to amend the motion and add a condition that if the parking spaces were not used, the owner was required to notify the City.  Commissioner Thompson and Dawkins accepted the amendment.  DISCUSSION:  Chair Norton would have been more comfortable had there been on-street parking. Commissioner Pearce explained Seattle allowed parking covenants that involved an easement and the owner notifying the City of changes.  Roll Call Vote on the Amended Motion:  Commissioner Verner, Dawkins, Pearce, Thompson, and KenCairn, YES; Chair Norton, NO.  Motion passed 5-1.
Roll Call Vote on the Main Motion as Amended:  Commissioner Thompson, Pearce, Verner, KenCairn, and Dawkins, YES; Chair Norton, NO.  Motion passed 5-1.
B.  Approval of Findings for PA-T2-2020-00025, Tax Lot #600 on Independent Way.
The Commission decided to move the item to the meeting on April 13, 2021. 
A.  Presentation and review of the draft Housing Capacity Analysis including Buildable Lands Inventory, Housing Forecasts, and Housing Strategies as presented by EcoNorthwest
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman provided background on the Housing Capacity Analysis and introduced Beth Goodman from ECONorthwest.  Ms. Goodman provided a presentation (see attached):
•  Actions to Address Ashland’s Strategic Priorities
•  Agenda
•  Project Schedule
•  Residential Land Needs Analysis Results
•  Land Sufficiency Results 2021-2041 (Scenario 2)
Mr. Goldman responded to a question about housing capacity in the Normal Neighborhood.  It was listed in the presentation because Normal Neighborhood was a specific comprehensive plan designation.  It was in several sub zones that when annexed into the city, would come in as suburban residential, multi-family residential and low-density residential.  For the housing capacity analysis, they did not take into consideration the 10 acres of R-2 zoned land and left them in the Normal Neighborhood.  Alternately, there was not R-3 zoning in the Normal Neighborhood.  Density was 13.5 units per acre, not 20 units per acre. 
The Railroad property was zoned E-1 in the Building Lands Inventory (BLI).  It was included in commercial and employment in terms of capacity.  Even though a commercial area in the E-1 Zone could accommodate 15 residential units per acre, the BLI deflated residential units to only 50% of commercial lands that could have housing.  Ms. Goodman added the city had only a 15-dwelling surplus in high density residential.  There were 49 acres of surplus in the Croman Mill Site and 389 dwelling units of surplus in commercial and employment areas. 
•  Actions to Address Ashland’s Strategic Priorities
•  Components of this Project
•  Factors that Influence Housing Development
•  Housing Market Dynamics
•  Strategic Priorities
•  Next Steps
•  Factors that Influence Housing Development
•  Housing Market Dynamics – Affordability M
•  Strategic Priorities
•  ECONorthwest Memorandum Summary of Options
Ms. Goodman reviewed the strategic priorities and actions with the Commission.
Strategy 1: Ensure an adequate supply of land is available and serviced.
1.4  Evaluate decreasing multi-family parking requirements.
Chair Norton commented on adequate parking spaces for units with more than three bedrooms.  It was explained that parking requirements were decreased for multi-family during the Transit Triangle modeling.  Both the Commission and the City Council approved reducing parking to one space for units less than 800 sq. ft.  It increased the number of units and added to affordable units as well.  Higher levels of parking made housing less affordable for multi-family.  The Commission could add a caveat in areas where this may be appropriate and where there is transit service.  It could become easier if transit service increased in the future.
Commissioner Thompson inquired whether the action list adequately addressed rezoning commercial zones for a higher residential component rather than residential in commercial.  Ms. Goodman explained there was not a strategy for that at this time, but the Commission could discuss adding it.
Currently, there was no development occurring in the Transit Triangle.  Commissioner Pearce commented it would take time.  Staff suggested increasing incentives. 
Commissioner Thompson noted the emphasis on developing smaller units and how people wanting second homes might hinder the intended outcome.  Ms. Goodman responded that could occur.  However, allowing smaller units may free up existing family housing.  The City did not have a barrier to building single family homes but did for smaller units.
1.8 Evaluate changes to Ashland’s zoning code to disallow single-family detached housing in the High-Density Residential Plan Designation (R-3 zone).
Commissioner Verner thought this was an action they could do right away.  Mr. Goldman explained there was a requirement in multi-family zones that had to be built out 80% base density for the zone, but it did not distinguish type.  Historic District neighborhoods had single family lots in multi-family zones.
1.2 Evaluate increasing allowed height in the R-2 and R-3 multi-family residential zones, outside of designated historic districts.
Chair Norton supported increasing building height and thought selectively allowed height increases would work better than a blanket increase.  Ms. Goodman clarified the increase would be going from two story buildings to three stories.  She agreed on removing the half story requirement.  This action item was the minimum for increasing building height.
Strategy 2:  Provide opportunities for housing development to meet the City’s identified housing needs
2.1 Broaden the definition of dwelling unit to include other types of units such as shared housing and co-housing, single-room occupancies, and other dwelling units.
Ms. Goodman explained there were few places in Oregon where single room occupancies or ‘adult dorms’ would work.  This action item could extend to co-housing of 5-6 non-related adults living together or repurposing cargo containers as housing.  It would be the City’s choice of what other types to use to broaden the definition. 
2.2  Evaluate opportunities incentivize smaller units through amendments to allowable densities.
Ms. Goodman explained tiny houses could be used to house the homeless.  However, in other places, there was a market for tiny homes that were being sold for $250,000.  Mr. Goldman added through current development code, units less than 500 sq. ft. were considered .5 of a unit for calculating density in the Transit Triangle.  It was a way to incentivize smaller units. Chair Norton commented that while units decreased in size, automobiles did not.  Cottage housing had parking issues.  Ms. Goodman clarified tiny homes in Ashland was not something they were suggesting at this time.
Strategy 3:  Provide opportunities for development affordable to all income levels
3.5  Evaluate whether the City or other public agencies have vacant or re-developable publicly owned property could be used for development of affordable housing
Commissioner Verner suggested an inventory of public owned property to evaluate those properties for development.  The property could be gifted or given for free.  Ms. Goodman responded that was the intention of the action and what the housing production strategy would grow into.
3.6  Identify opportunities to purchase land in Ashland’s urbanizing area (within the Ashland UGB and outside of the City limits) as part of a land banking strategy
Commissioner Verner asked who would purchase the land.  Ms. Goodman responded it could be the City or a land bank.  It was unclear who would purchase that land at this time. The City could purchase the land, aggregate then sell it at cost for affordable housing.
Strategy 4:  Identify funding sources to support development of infrastructure and housing affordability programs
4.1  Evaluate establishing a Construction Excise Tax.
Commissioner Pearce voiced concerned about imposing a construction tax.  New construction in Ashland was very expensive.  Ms. Goodman clarified the City would not need to have a CET that was a full percentage of the permit price.  It could be a fraction of the percentage.  It could also be that a CET was not appropriate for Ashland.  She thought it was worth evaluating.  There were very few sources for funding affordable housing.  CET was one way that allowed flexibility.
4.3 Coordinate Capital Improvements Program and Transportation System Plan infrastructure investments.
Commissioner Verner supported this action.
4.2  Evaluate using Urban Renewal to support development of infrastructure necessary to support housing development.
The Commission discussed urban renewal and the Railroad property.  Adding an action for redevelopment of the Railroad property was suggested.
Strategy 5:  Align housing planning with the Climate and Energy Action Plan
5.1 Evaluate opportunities to decrease dependence on automotive transportation in areas planned for housing.
Commissioner Dawkins suggested tying this action to the Railroad property.  Commissioner Pearce agreed.  Ms. Goodman would add an action about re-developing the Railroad property under Strategy 1 or 2.  She went on to ask the Commission if anything was missing from the Strategies and actions.
Commissioner Thompson thought there was a need to create more incentives for families to live in Ashland.  Ms. Goodman did not think the City was looking at developing larger, more expensive units.  However, it could be they were lacking a tie to multi-bedroom, multi-family units or market rate multi-family units.  The City could look at tax abatements.  The Commission could decide to add an action on evaluating property tax abatements for different purposes.  It would apply to rental property.  Mr. Goldman added that one of the issues over the last decade was the increasing difficulty for families with children who made a median income to purchase median priced homes on the market.  There were non-profits that specifically targeted housing for families with children.  Ms. Goodman suggested land trust models for affordable housing.
The Commission discussed using smaller lots and possibly regulating zones by bulk instead of density.  Mr. Goldman explained they allowed performance standards subdivisions that created smaller lots. 
Chair Norton asked about looking at additional areas in Ashland for development.  Mr. Goldman explained that development of areas for further consideration would require extensive due diligence to determine where development was appropriate.  How much additional capacity was needed would also have to be taken into consideration.
Meeting adjourned at 9:26 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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