Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

August 24, 2021
I.          CALL TO ORDER:
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins
Kerry KenCairn
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
Lisa Verner
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
  Paula Hyatt
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the Community Development building was closed to the public due to the recent surge in covid cases.  There was no change to customer service levels.  Senior Planner Brandon Goldman applied for a grant to produce the Housing Production Strategy, the next phase after the Housing Capacity Analysis.  If the City was awarded the grant, the project would start late September early October.  ScienceWorks would host a temporary modular campus for Walker Elementary School over the next 18 months during construction on Walker Elementary School.
A.  Housing in C-1 and E-1 Zones
Planning Manager Maria Harris introduced Scott Fregonese from Fregonese Associates.  She gave a recap of the Study Session on June 22, 2021.  Mr. Fregonese provided a presentation (see attached):
•  Evaluation of Ground Floor Commercial Space in the C-1 & E-1 Zones
•  Historic permit trends for Ashland over the past 10 years
•  Commercial Permits
•  Permits Pulled for C-1 zones, E-1, C1-D, and Public Zones – Map
Commissioner Thompson asked if the permits were exclusively for commercial development and did not include mixed use development.  Mr. Fregonese explained some were mixed use as well as strict commercial.  Mr. Goldman added it included anything defined as a commercial permit by the building code.
•  Buildable Lands Inventory (2019 BLI)
•  Employment Lands map with acreage per zone
•  Employment Lands map just C1 and E1 zones
•  Buildable Land: Acres by Zone
•  City of Ashland, available acreage in the C1 and E1 zones
•  Buildable parcels and parcel size
•  Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) 2007
•  Conclusion About Available Lands
•  City of Bend 2.7.3245 Commercial-Ready Space
•  The Effect on Existing Mixed-Use Buildings
•  Existing Goals, Strategies, and Plans
•  Project Goals & Objectives – Objective 1
•  Goals that Apply to this Objective
•  Project Goals & Objectives – Objective 2
•  Goals that Apply to this Objective
•  Project Goals & Objectives – Objective 3
•  Goals that Apply to this Objective
•  Zoning Recommendation:  Apply to C-1 & E-1
•  Apply to C1 & E1 - map
•  Parcels that are excluded
•  Zoning Recommendation:  Apply to C-1 & E-1
•  Other Options Considered
•  Recommendation for Future Reevaluation of the Ordinance
•  Example Mixed-Use Buildings
•  Clear Creek Mixed Use example
•  Plaza Mixed-Use example
•  Next Steps
Mr. Molnar added the plan was to have something to present to the City Council late November, early December.
Commissioner Pearce wanted to know where the commercial standards would be applied for temporary residential use if it was allowed at all.  Mr. Fregonese responded it would apply to any building within the designated zone and allow commercial ready residential in 35% of the ground floor.  Commissioner Verner asked for clarification regarding the 100% residential on the ground floor.  Mr. Fregonese clarified there would be a 35% requirement of the ground floor to be commercial space but not commercial use.  There could be 100% residential on the ground floor but that 35% would be built to a commercial ready standard.  If the market switched, it could still be used as a commercial space.  However, once it was built to a residential standard, it would never switch back to commercial.  Commissioner Thompson asked how the City would be able to change it back to commercial if there was a demand.  Mr. Fregonese responded it was market driven and the City would not have control over it.  The City could change the standards if necessary.  Periodic reevaluations might be helpful.  Another alternative was using incentives to convert space back to commercial.
Commissioner KenCairn thought reevaluating and changing zoning regulations after a set time was problematic.  Mr. Fregonese explained reevaluation was optional and may not end up in the final draft.  Chair Norton added if there were issues, Council could hear the issues and take appropriate action without a set reevaluation.
There was some confusion regarding the 100% commercial ready residential space and where it would be allowed.
Ms. Harris explained the Transit Triangle would be allowed to have 100% of the ground floor commercial ready residential.  For the rest of the C-1 and E-1 zones, instead of 65% non-residential, it would change to 35%.  The design standard still needed to be refined. The concept of using the entire ground floor as residential was being recommended for just the Transit Triangle.  They were proposing to shift what was currently in place for the Transit Triangle to the C-1 and E-1 Zones. 
Commissioner Pearce was concerned about what would be allowed regarding the 100% residential in commercial space.  He agreed with Chair Norton and Commissioner KenCairn that a sunset clause was not needed.  Mr. Molnar explained they would look at objectives in the next phase.  In the Transit Triangle Overlay, some things could be handled with minimum density, and no maximums.  Also, facades along the street were still in the detailed site review zone.  There would be clear and objective standards for the floor space. 
Mr. Fregonese added the Transit Triangle was requiring rental units only, no condominiums were allowed.  Mr. Goldman further added in the Transit Triangle, the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) allowed for smaller units.  The minimum density requirement for C-1 at 30 units per acre and 15 units per acre for E-1 precluded large single-family structures on multiple stories.  Ms. Harris noted they would also use a minimum FAR.  It was currently in place in the detail site review.
Mr. Molnar explained it was important to have three objectives as they looked at geographic areas.  Allowing 100% residential in the Transit Triangle recognized the difficulty of redevelopment in that area.  Not allowing it on a parcel of 10 acres or greater was in recognition that businesses wanted to relocate to the downtown and employees wanted to take advantage of working downtown. They also wanted larger parcels that could accommodate different types of local business in the future.
Commissioner Thompson asked what flexibility the City had for larger parcels in the urban growth boundary (UGB) in terms of annexation that will and will not apply.  Ms. Harris explained there was a comprehensive plan designation for all the land in the UGB.  One of the annexation criteria is that when it comes into the City, the proposed zoning is consistent with that comprehensive plan designation.   
Public Comment
Mark Knox/KDA Homes/Ashland/Agreed with Mr. Fregonese on all points.  He asked the Commission to consider allowing 100% residential on the ground floor in certain areas outside of the Transit Triangle.  He wanted the ability to propose 100% residential on the ground floor through a conditional use permit for apartment housing that could not be converted to condominiums.  Currently, finance issues were extreme for commercial lending. 
Chair Norton wanted Mr. Knox’s comment on not allowing rental units to convert to condominiums, noted. 
B.  Discussion of Amendments to Chapter 18.5.8 Annexations
Community Director Bill Molnar and Planning Manager Maria Harris provided a presentation (see attached):
•  Annexation Code Amendments
•  Project Objectives
•  Annexation Criteria – Prior to 1995
•  Focus Areas for Code Amendments
•  Residential Annexation Example – Verde Village
•  Photo of curbside sidewalk
•  Residential Annexation Example – Bud’s Dairy
•  Photo of sidewalk
•  Residential Annexation Example – Snowberry Brook
•  Next Steps
Public Comment
Robert Kendrick/Ashland/Was present to answer questions and respond to comments.  They were waiting to submit their site plan and review the draft ordinance.  He was still on board with the project at 1511 Highway 99.
Mark Knox/KDA Homes/Ashland/Clarified the date of the next Planning Commission Study Session was September 28, 2021, not September 24, 2021.
Commissioner Pearce disagreed with staff’s interpretation of  LUBA’s decision that you cannot approve an exception without a development.  He interpreted it that you can approve an exception to the annexation standards unless there was an exception process in the annexation ordinance.  Having a development would not change the situation, the annexation ordinance needed to change.  The annexation standards had developed over the years with good intentions but now seemed excessive and made it difficult for small parcels to annex.  Smaller annexations would encounter difficulties with the Street Standards or meeting the 25% affordable housing requirements.  They should fix the ordinance and not add an exception process.  At the least, simplify the Transportation Standards.  They could require a site plan in connection with the annexation.  Commissioner KenCairn agreed with Commissioner Pearce.  However, that approach reversed the goal of not having a larger urban growth boundary.  It would be a shift in community goals. 
Commissioner Thompson agreed on simplifying the annexation standards and supported requiring a site plan.  It would address how to apply or not apply the other goals and objectives within a project. 
Commissioner KenCairn thought simplifying the ordinance made it “squishier” and more difficult to negotiate.  She clarified her earlier statement that the current annexation ordinance intentionally spoke to infill and no growth.
Commissioner Pearce clarified affordable housing could be required in an annexation ordinance but not in a site plan.  Simplifying transportation and requiring a site plan at the same time would give an applicant an idea on potential exceptions to the standard might be needed.  Commissioner KenCairn thought goals needed to be included to ensure they happened.
Chair Norton Haywood agreed that properties outside the city did not have exceptions and had to meet the standards to annex into the city.  If they wanted to allow the exceptions, the code had to change.  Until that happened, exceptions should not be allowed.  Requiring a site plan with an annexation request and including an exemption clause would eliminate problems.  He suggested any form of subdivision ten units or more, had to provide 15% affordable housing.  Commissioner Pearce commented they could also add no affordable housing required for smaller projects.
Mr. Goldman addressed the affordability standard.  The total number of affordable housing units required for annexation was 4 residential units because it triggered the 25% affordability.  If there were three units, the standard would not apply.  He went on to address the site plan requirement.  The annexation ordinance was updated with a provision for residential annexation that was residentially zoned.  Under the Comprehensive Plan, it required planning action approval for an outright permitted use, special permitted use, or conditional use in conformance with the annexation request.  At that time the ordinance was changed to require site review. 
Chair Norton preferred not making any changes to the affordable housing requirement.  If requiring a site plan worked, exemptions could be considered.
Mr. Molnar clarified the annexation ordinance in 1995 was a complicated process and not simple.  Typically, City Councils were not experienced in land use.  When an annexation came before a City Council, the key issues for the community were safety and the transportation system, areas the Council was unfamiliar with.  Another issue during that time was real estate values were expanding and the community wanted annexations that would deal with affordability.  Council directed staff to give them more guidance to annexations with respect to transportation improvements and affordability.  Removing the transportation and affordability components from the Annexation ordinance would revert to what was in place in 1995.  Currently, the affordable housing standards were solid, and it would be a challenge to change them.  However, they could make transportation and requiring concurrent development clearer. 
Meeting adjourned at 9:09 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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