Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022
I.  CALL TO ORDER: 7:00 PM, via Zoom
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:     Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins  
Haywood Norton   
Kerry KenCairn   
Lynn Thompson
Lisa Verner
Doug Knauer
Eric Herron  
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Brandon Goldman, Planning Manager
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Michael Sullivan, Administrative Assistant
Absent Members:     Council Liaison:    
    Paula Hyatt

Chair Norton began by welcoming Eric Herron to the Planning Commission
Community Development Director Bill Molnar informed the Commission that agenda item C, a presentation on Ashland’s Characteristics, Demographics and Urban Form, had been removed from the agenda and would be discussed at the June 28, 2022 meeting.
Mr. Molnar made the following announcements:
  • He confirmed that the Commission’s annual retreat will be held on June 16, 2022. The Commission will meet at 8:30 a.m. at Moxie Café & Market before conducting site visits. The sites visited will be 329 Granite Street, the West Village Subdivision, and Clear Creek Drive. They will then reconvene at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building located at 51 Winburn Way.
  • Staff was informed that the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) had affirmed the City’s decision to approve a Wireless Communication Facility at 351 Walker Ave. The appellants had identified four assignments of error on the part of the City which were ultimately dismissed by LUBA.
Approval of Minutes
1.  May 10, 2022 Regular Meeting

Commissioners Verner/Knauer m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Herron abstained due to the meeting taking place before his appointment to the Commission. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed. 6-0.
A. Housing in E1/C1 Zones

Staff Presentation
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman gave a presentation regarding an amendment regarding housing in E-1 and C-1 Zones. City Council had sent the proposed amendment back to the Commission with suggested changes. One of the suggested changes would be to allow mixed-use commercial buildings to convert up 100% rental housing on the ground floor with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), and with the condition that they would return to commercial use at a later date (see attachment #1).
  • Project Goals and Objectives
  • Ordinance Development Timeline
  • Ordinance Provisions
  • Ordinance Applicability
  • Employment Lands Need
  • Council Hearing - Direction
  • Considerations
  • Next Steps
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Thompson voiced approval for the City Council’s recommendations. She noted that one of the main obstacles to approving up to 100% rental housing in mixed-use buildings was the 2007 Economic Opportunity Analysis (EOA) issue of removing employment lands without conducting a new EOA beforehand. Commissioner Thompson asked if the City’s Chamber of Commerce study would make a new EOA unnecessary. Mr. Goldman responded that it may be premature to consider whether the study conducted by the Chamber of Commerce would be sufficient to eliminate the need for another EOA. Mr. Molnar stated that staff had been in contact with the state regarding the ordinance, but it was unclear if a new EOA would be required. He noted that the state was supportive of the proposed amendment. Mr. Molnar added that mixed-use property owners would still have a great deal of flexibility in determining the percentage of employment housing on the ground floor, and that the new amendment would only apply if they passed the 65% mark. Commissioner Thompson inquired if the City Council would be able to adopt an ordinance if uncertainty remained around this issue. Mr. Molnar responded that the review period should provide sufficient time to determine if a new EOA is necessary.
Commissioner Dawkins inquired if the ordinance would only apply to new buildings, or if it would also include existing vacant commercial properties. Mr. Goldman responded that the ordinance would apply to any development wishing to utilize this provision, provided that the development not be more than ten acres or only one-story tall. However, an existing two-story building on a lot that is less than ten acres could utilize the provisions in the ordinance as previously recommended by the Commission. Commissioners Dawkins and Verner commended the presentation as a good summary of the work done by the Commission on this topic, and while also providing a good blueprint moving forward.  
Mr. Molnar pointed out that 40% of the City’s Employment and Commercial Zones do not allow for residential developments, so their uses would be unchanged. He added that not all developments, particularly those in commercial zones, choose to operate as mixed-use buildings. Commissioner KenCairn expressed concern over the difficulty of mixed-use buildings transitioning back to commercial once the time-frame had lapsed, and inquired if this ordinance would be driven by market-driven factors. Mr. Goldman responded that it would give developments far more flexibility in their use, but that there is no guarantee that these developments will expand their residential use as a result of the ordinance. Mr. Molnar added that staff is considering some flexibility in the ordinance, particularly by not imposing a term of affordability, and that the target is instead based on household income. This is due to some developers raising concerns over the financial feasibility of developments under deed restrictions that require specific terms.
Chair Norton commented that a CUP will be much easier to implement, which could appeal to potential developers. He added that a CUP could influence how future commercial buildings are developed in order to accommodate residential use. Chair Norton stressed the important of affordable housing in a community, and was encouraged by the City Council’s approach to creating the necessary housing.
B.  Middle Housing Lot Division & Expedited Land Division Code Changes
Staff Presentation
Senior Planner Derek Severson provided a presentation regarding Senate Bill 458, which include changes to Middle Housing Lot Divisions (MHLD) and Expedited Land Division codes. He gave a brief background on House Bill 2001 and Senate Bill 458 on MHLDs and their implementation. Under SB 458 Expedited Land Divisions would not be considered land use actions, and as such could not be appealed to the Planning Commission. Instead, an initial administrative decision could be appealed to a referee/hearings officer, and would not be subject to appeal to LUBA. The noticing area for Expedited Land Divisions will be reduced to 100ft, with a final decision needing to be made by the City within 63 days, unless extended by the City Council. This is in contrast to the current 120 day decision period for land use actions (see attachment #2).
Questions of Staff
Commissioner KenCairn inquired if staff’s decision to not include existing Accessory Residential Units (ARUs) and duplexes in the code change was a strategy to keep them as rentals. Mr. Severson responded that it should be considered, and that parking should also be taken into account in those discussions. Commissioner KenCairn voiced support for retaining their rental status, but commented that whether an ARU or duplex can be rented or sold should not be based on when it was developed. Mr. Molnar stated that this discussion has been ongoing since the City adopted its first Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance, and that the state seems to be offering flexibility in how to adopt the new code changes.
Commissioner Knauer asked how much of the City’s housing stock would be affected by the code changes and if staff has a targeted number of rental units in the City that they are attempting to reach. Mr. Goldman responded that the City contains 47% rental and 53% ownership units, but that many rentals are detached single-family dwellings that could be converted into ownership units. He commented that some of those rental units would not be able to be converted and sold because they would not be able to separate its utilities from the main dwelling, or because they would not comply with fire safety requirements.
Commissioner Thompson noted that, when the duplex ordinance was first considered, it was decided that detached and attached structures could be defined as duplexes. She asked what would be required for an ARU to be converted into a duplex in order to be sold, and also what the new code said about vertical duplexes. Mr. Severson stated that they will likely see applications to convert an ARU into a duplex as long as the building meets the requisite criteria. He stated that cities would not be required to allow vertical duplexes, but that they could be discussed by the Commission. Mr. Molnar added that vertical duplexes would likely not be permitted because they would share the same lot space. 
Chair Norton inquired if staff had received any applications for dwellings to be converted into a duplex since the provision for duplexes had been passed. Mr. Severson stated that he was not aware of any. Chair Norton speculated on the number of buyers who would purchase a Single Family Residence (SFR) with the purpose of selling part of it as a duplex, and asked staff what the parking requirements would be for an SFR. Mr. Severson responded that parking could take up no more than a 25ft wide paved area, or 25% of the front yard, whichever is greater. He added that no cover for parking would be required.
D.  Election of Officers
Chair Norton stated that both offices of the Commission, Chair and Vice-Chair, are up for election. He added that he had been Chair for the past two years, and that no member can be Chair for more than three. Chair Norton also informed the Commission that a significant amount of support and insight from staff would be imparted to whomever is Chair of the Commission.
Commissioner Thompson/Dawkins m/s to elect Commissioner Norton as Chair. Voice Vote: ALL AYES. Motion passed. 7-0.
Commissioner Thompson/Dawkins m/s to nominate Commissioner Verner as Vice-Chair.  Voice Vote:  ALL AYES.  Motion passed. 7-0.
Meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.
Submitted by,
Michael Sullivan, Administrative Assistant

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