Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, February 11, 2003



FEBRUARY 11, 2003



The meeting was called to order by Chair Russ Chapman at 7:05 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Mike Morris, Marilyn Briggs, Ray Kistler, Kerry KenCairn, John Fields, Colin Swales, and newly appointed Commissioner Cameron Hanson. Dave Dotterrer was absent. Staff present were John McLaughlin, Bill Molnar, Maria Harris, Brandon Goldman, and Sue Yates.


Swales moved to approve the Planning Commission minutes of the January 14, 2003 meeting. Briggs seconded the motion and the minutes were approved.

Planning Action 2002-062 Findings - 631 Clay Street - Kistler moved to approve, the motion was seconded and the Findings were approved.

Planning Action 2002-153 Findings - 648 North Main Street - KenCairn moved to approve, the motion was seconded and the Findings were approved.

PUBLIC FORUM - Non one came forth to speak.






McLaughlin said this ordinance (big box ordinance) was originally developed in 1992. It began with citizensí concerns that new developments could occur in Ashland that would not be in scale with the community. Specifically, Wal-Mart and factory outlet stores were looking at expanding into the Rogue Valley. Prior to 1992, there were no maximum building size limits. The Mayor appointed a committee that did an extensive amount of work and came up with a balanced approach allowing for larger buildings but not excessively large buildings in the community.

The ordinance has worked well since 1992. However, the City Council directed Staff to prepare amendments to the ordinance after their decision on the new Shakespeare theater. The Council asked Staff to clarify how to measure 45,000 square feet and clear up any ambiguity. Secondly, clarify the meaning of contiguous buildings, and thirdly, clarify how the ordinance would apply in the downtown.

The Councilís current interpretation for the maximum area is to apply it to the footprint of the building, not the total floor area. The language does not say interior floor space. In the case of the Shakespeare space, the 45,000 square foot limit only applied to the footprint. With that interpretation, someone could build a 45,000 square foot building on the first floor and also build a second story.

Contained within the Site Design and Use Standards are Large Scale Development Standards. Large scale development is anything with a gross floor area in excess of 10,000 square feet, building frontage in excess of 100 feet in length and developed within the Detailed Site Review Zone. McLaughlin showed several slides showing examples of various building sizes. He noted, for example, that the Plaza block consists of contiguous groups of buildings, each structurally separate. The ground floor area of the Plaza block is 37,000 square feet and the total floor area is 70,000 square feet. Do we want to separate buildings in the downtown when the historic pattern is a connected type of look? The new Shakespeare theater is over 12,000 square feet on the ground floor and the parking structure next door is 15,000 square feet separated by a walkway. The Council found these are two separate buildings.

The proposed amendments addressing contiguous buildings outside the downtown would read: Buildings sharing a common wall or having walls touching, at or above grade, shall be considered as one building. With regard to size limits, the language would read that the footprint wonít exceed 45,000 square feet. All interior floor space and outdoor retail and storage areas that are linked to the use of the building shall not exceed 45,000 square feet. Non-ground level residential does not count so apartments above would be allowed. Auto parking, either rooftop or underneath the footprint of the building would not count toward total square footage.

Staff is trying to look at innovative ways that may address affordable housing and a provision has been made in the proposed amendment. Another 30,000 square feet could be added, but for each 1500 square feet beyond the base 45,000 square feet, an affordable housing unit would have to be provided on-site. The maximum footprint size still applies. If someone wanted to build a 75,000 square foot building, they would have to provide 20 affordable housing units on-site.

An additional amendment concerns orientation of the entrance on a corner lot. The entrance would be toward the higher order street or to the corner. Entrances shall be located close to the street. Buildings shall orient close to both streets (frame the street with the structure). Multiple building sites shall have the majority of the building frontage up on the street.

McLaughlin said the Commission can recommend approval of the amendments, modify the amendments, recommend denial of the amendments, or modify the process to allow a wider scope.


MORT SMITH, 129 Fifth Street, wondered if a the Commission has figured out how to keep affordable housing affordable. He believes the affordable housing should be kept separate from large scale development. What advantage is it to Ashland to have 45,000 square foot buildings? He is concerned the larger buildings would change the character of the community. He is concerned about "contiguous" buildings. It sounds like you could have a very large building and as long as there is a walkway between it, there could end up being a 90,000 square foot building.

McLaughlin clarified that outside the downtown, buildings have to be separated based on the height of the structure.

FRED CARUSO, 102 Garfield, #15, believes quality is more important than quantity. He does not see a need for a 45,000 square foot building, however, in a particular situation if it is necessary and important for the health of the community, perhaps it is something we should have. He favors affordable housing. However, would the proposed housing option mean that we are going to start putting housing in between taverns? He believes each neighborhood should be looked at individually.

SUSAN MARSDEN, 1617 Parker Street, said there is another Ashland--out Ashland Street with the mall, the cinema and Albertson's. To shift this so buildings as big as 75,000 square feet can be built out there, we are creating "the burbs". The buildings now are built in the context of neighborhood housing and buildings of smaller scale. She doesnít want to ruin the balance. She believes that 45,000 square feet should be the limit. She appreciates that creative ways being looked at for affordable housing, but sees this as a separate issue. It is dangerous to use affordable housing as a wedge issue to create buildings as large as 75,000 square feet.

BRYAN HOLLEY, 324 Liberty Street, said he recommended thinking outside the box and taking this to a wider group through outreach and education.

MARY-KAY MICHELSEN, 2810 Diane Street, believes 45,000 square feet is excessive and out of scale with the community. She likes the clarification of Section I B. She is assuming Section I C 2 is consistent with the rest of the City. In Section I C 3, the 75,000 square feet is much too large for a small town. Low cost housing is unrelated to this ordinance. She said removing Section I C 3 would negate the necessity for Section I C 4.

ERIC NAVICKAS, 711 Faith Avenue, asked how far Staff is taking this away from the initial request from the Council. If Shakespeare were to go forward with another project, it could still be appealed under this ordinance. The proposed amendment is not addressing the issues that began these changes. This exemption makes the ordinance completely ambiguous. It states under the first exemption that gross floor area associated with on-ground level residential uses do not count toward the total gross floor area. We are already saying a building can be 75,000 square but residential above the ground floor doesnít count towards that anyway so that could be extended indefinitely with no limit. The second exemption relating to automobile parking means a parking garage could become indefinitely large. The affordable housing exemption seems to be an after-thought. The changes are completely unnecessary. The ordinance originally was perfectly clear, strictly limiting a gross square footage of 45,000 square feet. He believes the 45,000 square foot limit should be reduced in the downtown. If anything, we need to send the Council a decision that the original ordinance is well-written.

Chapman noted that outside the downtown there are parking requirements and height requirements.

Swales said the only areas we are discussing are the areas of high visibility.

McLaughlin said there are some areas that are excluded.

Chapman read a letter from Stan Druben, 125 Brooks Lane.

BILL STREET, 180 Mead Street, said the Council made the interpretation that would allow a 45,000 square foot footprint plus a second floor of 45,000 square feet, plus a third floor of 45,000 square feet in the downtown. That would be a total of 135,000 square feet in the downtown. Everyone here tonight agrees that is too big. Street said it confuses the matter when the Plaza is talked about as one building. People are not drawn to that area thinking it is one building. They see lots of little buildings with very short fronts. That is much different than the 300 foot limit.

Street referred to the Addendum I Staff Report, page 1, stating 300 feet is the length limit. That is 100 yards. How could that be a limit? It sounds more like an invitation to a builder. He asked the Commissioners to reconsider that limit. With reference to page 3, #4 (no building should exceed 75,000 square feet), most people feel that is too big. Outside the downtown, you can have a 75,000 square foot building consisting of commercial space and then you could add up to four stories with a 45,000 square foot footprint with residential units. This would be 180,000 square feet.

Street believes we need to modify this process and open it up wider. The numbers are incredibly large for this town. There is some urgency. By the Councilís interpretation, we are allowing 135,000 square feet. What does the Commission want this town to look liked in 20 to 40 years? He proposed 150 foot length for downtown and a total maximum gross floor area of 30,000 square feet and a 10,000 square foot footprint. The Elks building has a 7,000 square foot footprint.

Chapman read an e-mail from WENDY EPPINGER

CHUCK LAURENSON, 607 Forest Street, thought we needed to spend more time talking about the way we think about our community values. A key value he hears people talking about is aesthetic value.


Swales said following closely on the heels of this proposed amendment is the proposed changes to the floor-area-ratio (FAR). The floor area of the building cannot be more than half the square footage it sits on. The proposal would be to eliminate that. He feels the FAR ratio should be part of the discussion, not separate. Swales is also concerned that the public was involved in two charrettes, the downtown design charrette and the railroad property charrette. Weíve had the draft plans but they have never been discussed. Both of these plans included large pieces of property that could potentially be developed. It seems all of these issues need to be brought in when discussing the "big box".

Fields said he was involved in the original push to get the first ordinance passed. It took many hours of committee meetings with the committee taking a lot of input and a lot discussion and then ending up with 45,000 square feet. He sees how this is a much larger scale than there is today. He sees the parking structure and the theater as two separate structures. The actual size of the tax lot and its coverage determines the pattern. He noted that at one time, the block from First to Second Streets was all interconnected. It used to be a mall. We try to create an ordinance that captures all our concerns and the community may want something that wonít fit and it has to be denied because the ordinance wonít allow it or a loophole is found and something is built that no one likes. Fields said the thought is that maybe we can use commercial and large scale development to leverage us into affordability. It is an urban affordability. He has been to places with a very dynamic commercial area and there are open space and parks within multiple buildings. He would like to try and craft this ordinance in a bigger way. He doesnít see it as fixing a mistake we made before. It was a reasonable interpretation and the political will was there regarding Shakespeare.

KenCairn said there is a discontinuity in the draft Railroad Plan and the FAR. Under the current planning ordinances, buildings canít be built in the Railroad District that were conceptualized. There arenít any lots in the downtown that would allow for 45,000 square feet ground floor. Can we come up with a different number for the downtown? With regard to affordable housing, it seems like 45,000 limit on the ground floor and commercial should be set and if anything is over 45,000, it needs to be residential with a certain percentage affordable.

Kistler agrees that he does not want to see "big box" stores coming into Ashland. However, he is not as fearful of what might happen as he is of what we might lose. He uses the YMCA a few times a week. It seems the community uses the larger projects the most. He sees his neighbors and friends at Bi-Mart and Shop ĎN Kart. What is the harm to the community with these projects?

Morris probably disagrees with the affordable housing piece. He would like to see affordable housing, but doubts from an economic standpoint that it would be built. With regard to square footage, 75,000 seems excessive. Forty-five thousand does not sound like that much. Three hundred feet is a long distance, but he believes the Design Standards would require breaking up of that length.

Hanson did not see any reason to change the ordinance in the first place. He said "footprint" was thrown in to the get the project approved. Seventy-five thousand square feet of building is atrocious. He believes the proposed ordinance is a waste of time. He does not see anything in the range of 45,000 square feet happening in the downtown. There are places on Ashland Street and in that area where larger buildings can be placed. He doesnít see having to regulate a 45,000 square foot footprint downtown or in anyplace in the Site Review Zone. He believes it should be what the original ordinance said--45,000 square feet gross.

Briggs liked what Swales said about tying it into the FAR. She never agreed that gross square footage meant footprint. She is willing to stay with that. As much as she wants affordable housing, she would not want to see anything get any bigger than 45,000 square feet. She can see where parking doesnít necessarily have to count if it is underground. If it is on the roof there would have to be parapet walls, etc. and that could change it a lot.

Hanson asked McLaughlin why we are put in the position of having to change the ordinance. Is it because those on the Council (Hanson included) made that definition of square footage? McLaughlin said the only reason it is before the Commission is because the Council has said they want the ordinance clarified explicitly so there wouldnít just be an interpretation.

Fields said there are times when we want buildings more than 45,000 square feet. How do you create a conditional use permit based on who you like and what you need? You canít hold the YMCA or Shakespeare to a different standard than Wal-Mart. There may be a time when 30,000 square feet of affordable housing would work. Hanson agreed there is a place for it.

KenCairn believes that in some cases the larger buildings with affordable housing are appropriate in the Detailed Site Review Zone. You want that density of housing to be among those uses. Allowing it to be outside does set up the suburbia issue.

Chapman said he does not believe there is an emergency to this issue. Our ordinance has done a good job of protecting us from the danger to locally owned businesses. He would like to get the opinion of those in commercial/retail businesses. He is leaning towards going to the Council and say we need to focus this discussion on what we want to do with the downtown and what we want to do with the Detailed Site Review Zone. Form a focus group for each area, meet again with the Council and Planning Commission, and have more discussion before making a decision.

Swales suggested making a motion for Council to interpret the ordinance to say that gross square footage means gross floor area, not footprint. At least that gives us a placeholder until we can hash out the details.

McLaughlin said he would check with the City Attorney and he will forward the recommendation.

Swales moved that the Planning Commission recommend that the Council interpret the existing "big box" ordinance with the 45,000 square foot gross square footage to mean gross floor area of all spaces. KenCairn seconded the motion.










Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts

Site Visits were made by all.

KenCairn stepped down because she worked on landscape drawings.


Harris said there are two parts to this process. The Planning Commission makes a recommendation on whether the property should be annexed. The Planning Commission makes a decision on the Site Review portion of the proposal.

The property is presently in the County. It is surrounded by E-1 property and the airport property. Neil Creek is a natural feature to the rear of the property.

Annexation request

Harris stated the criteria for annexation is relatively straight-forward. The property is within the Urban Growth Boundary, contiguous to the city limits, and coming in as E-1 (Employment) with a permitted use.

Are there adequate public facilities? There is a water main in the East Main right-of-way that will be extended. A sewer line is in place. Electric is available. There is not a storm drain system. The proposal is to drain in a rip rap area. Staff is recommending a Condition requiring the Public Works Dept. to approve the system. The applicant needs to get a discharge permit from DEQ to directly discharge storm drainage into Neil Creek.

Is there adequate transportation? The proposal is to do a half-street improvement along the East Main Street frontage. The bike lane will be expanding to six feet. They will install curb gutter, planting strip, and sidewalk. Given the location, it seemed reasonable to require only a six foot sidewalk. There are bike lanes on East Main towards town that are four to five feet wide. There is a bike lane on Ashland Street from East Main that is substandard in places. There are sidewalks near the Oaks Subdivision. There is a transit stop at East Main and Highway 66 with no sign.

In terms of serving the interior site, there is a private drive. The applicant has obtained a verbal agreement to use a mutual access easement. Verification needs to be submitted prior to issuance of a building permit. Staff has recommended they use the existing drive rather than putting in another drive. The applicant is going to install sidewalks to provide pedestrian access to the rear of the parcel. A Condition has been added that a mutual access easement be provided for future development.

Is the lot in conformance with the Ashland Land Use Ordinance? The lot is vacant. There appears to have been some grading on the front of the property. There are piles of rocks and fill material scattered throughout the back of the site. There is a driveway that has been constructed that branches off with a circle turnaround. Staff is suggesting before the annexation is finalized, that an engineer would look at the area of fill and grading and determine where it is (in the floodplain or not), the type of fill and the amount. Staff can then determine if a Physical and Environmental Constraints Permit is required. There is a suggested Condition that the raw material on the back of the lot be removed prior to the annexation being finalized. They are also suggesting a conservation easement as another way of enforcing the floodplain regulations.

Site Review

The proposal is to do two 4,000 square foot buildings, both one-story. The parking is behind the building with 14 off-street parking spaces. There are four roll up doors in the rear and this is a light manufacturing use. In the past, we have not considered parking spots in front of the doors as viable parking spaces. Staff has added a Condition that this be adjusted and they submit a revised parking lot layout before a building permit is issued. The bike parking is provided in the courtyard area. The landscaping requirement has been exceeded. There is a screened trash/recycling area provided.

There is a courtyard area and a covered breezeway that connects the two buildings. The proposed buildings are metal with some brick siding and an overhead feature. There is an entry feature. Staff believes they need to pick up a couple of architectural features on

the courtyard entrance and incorporate them into the East Main side to strengthen that entrance.

Staff has recommended the Planning Commission recommend approval of the annexation to the Council with the five attached Conditions. Staff has recommended approval of the Site Review with the 21 attached Conditions. There was an adjustment on Condition 7. It should delete "...and storm drain system".

Briggs wondered where the applicant would find room for the extra six parking spaces located in front of the roll-up garage doors. Harris said they could extend the parking away from the roll-up doors.

Briggs is not sure why we have to insist they have to gussie up the front door. Harris thought the front needed a stronger sense of entry. Chapman said the front door at the golf course building is never used.

Briggs said Conditions 17 and 3 are confusing and asked Harris to add a couple of words to make them clearer.

Briggs asked about the drainage. Harris said there are different methodologies to treat the water before it goes into the creek. . This will probably come up in the direct discharge permit. Molnar said the Cityís Storm Water Master Plan suggests some different types of dry basins and water quality basins. Briggs asked for strengthening the language in Condition 8. Fields thinks this can be resolved pretty easily because there will be very little water and two acres.

Hanson wondered if it is confusing to make the front entry doors like the main entry doors. Harris said they are required to have a front entrance on East Main. How strong a sense of entry do you give that front entrance?

Fields wondered if the entry should be the breezeway and the doors picture windows. Harris said in the past, the Planning Commission has always interpreted "front entrance" to mean a "door".


JEROME WHITE, 253 Third Street, project architect, said the Buildable Lands Inventory states there is a need for E-1 land. The findings show all utilities will be provided and that adequate facilities do exist. Transportation is provided to and through the development. They will be applying to DEQ for the permit to discharge and they will comply with DEQís recommendation. The area of fill will be soil tested.

White said it will be easy to locate additional parking and still stay out of the floodplain. He would like to deal with that at the time of building permit.

With regard to the front entrances, his concern is that we donít end up with residential frontages. He agrees with Fields. The buildings are very adaptable. If this becomes more pedestrian oriented in the future, the buildings could be adapted to accommodate a store front. The whole courtyard is the entry and the primary entrance to this is the breezeway. It is a more beneficial use because most people are going to be coming from the parking lot so he is providing access from the parking lot and the street. The courtyard is drawing people and that is the entry. He would ask they not be held to the Condition of adding more to that entry.

White and Schless accepted the Conditions, with the exception of Condition 3 on page 11. They have some concern about the granting of the mutual access easement. If they grant the easement, there might be a restriction by an owner of that property. Also, they really donít want to change the design of the entrances.

ELY SCHLESS, 1348 Prospect Street, stated he hasnít encroached into the riparian area with the fill at all. Any material within the floodplain is intended to be removed.

Swales asked if there is any specific height for the hedge on Condition 17. Are these intended to be tall evergreens or a low screening hedge? White said the purpose is to screen the parking. Fields recommended talking to the neighbors to see what they want. Schless said he has and the neighbor seems open to trees or a fence, as long as they do something.

Briggs believes the East Main Street entrance looks all right the way it is. The plaza serves as a streetside entry. She would like to eliminate Condition 14.

Fields believes Condition 3 (mutual access easement) is unfair the way it is open-ended. It should be reciprocal where they share maintenance and liability. It doesnít seem fair to give up rights to access. Molnar said the Condition could be worded that the easement only comes into play when the adjacent property to the northwest is developed commercially.


Molnar said as part of the Findings, they will re-word Condition 3 so it is clear that there is a mutual benefit to both parties when the property to the northwest annexes.

It was agreed to remove Condition 14 (entry).

Harris suggested revising Condition 17 that the revised landscaping plan shall include an evergreen hedge screen between the parking area and the adjacent residential property to the northwest. Leave the language in 16 as it is.

Briggs moved to approve the annexation portion of Planning Action 2002-089. Chapman seconded the motion and it was seconded. The motion was approved unanimously. Briggs moved to approve the Site Review portion of Planning Action 2002-089 with the amendments. Kistler seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved.

KenCairn rejoined the meeting.





Briggs moved to extend the meeting to 11:00 p.m. The motion was seconded and carried.

Site Visit and Ex Parte Contacts

Site visits were made by all.

Morris saw Steve Sachs. He advised Sachs to write a letter to the Planning Commission.


Goldman gave a brief history of the project as outlined in the Staff Report. The Planning Commission approved a Conditional Use Permit recently but had some reservations about noise, light, and event sizes. At that point in time, the facility was not proposed to be enclosed. The applicant will address how the noise will be contained within a facility. Staff concurs that internal noise and light can be mitigated to some extent, however, the application does not adequately address the external noise impact of the conditional uses.

The applicant is proposing to have events with no more than 200 people both in the exterior portion and the interior portion of the building. The proposal is merely to extend the hours of operation. A Condition of approval of PA2002-113 was added that no conditional use of the pavilion space shall be permitted past 10:00 p.m. and no amplified music or drumming shall be permitted past 7:00 p.m.

Staff has concerns with the external impacts of extending the hours, particularly with the number of patrons leaving the site after an event ends. The vehicles and pedestrians would traverse some of the residential districts in the neighborhood. It would have more impact during the late hours than during the earlier evening. The Planning Department has received complaints from other conditional uses that are within residential zones, mainly bed and breakfasts, concerning people coming and going at late hours. Doors opening and closing create noise. Even considerate conversations can carry a long way when it is otherwise quiet outside. The applicants will have no control over the noise produced after patrons leave the venue; Staff has not proposed any condition of approval to address this potential adverse impact. Should the Planning Commission wish to approve the application, there are three Conditions attached. Condition 3 notes that this would only be an approval for a period of one year and then it would be reviewed again as a Type I.

It is the applicantís assertion that the types of uses in the facility will be those uses that cater to a more socially conscience clientele so characterizing the nightclub as a youth oriented disco is not appropriate, however the application doesnít explicitly limit the type of use. In fact, it looks for flexibility in use that would allow for a nightclub use. Staffís comments are based on the more intense impact.

Swales noted the Conditions donít seem to be tied to the pavilion being enclosed. Goldman said in looking over the past planning actions, they state the extension of hours beyond 10:00 p.m. is contingent upon soundproofing the building, providing a double entry and some other specifics that would be conditions of approval.


ALAN SANDLER, 1260 Prospect, read a letter that is in the record from Philip Lang. He refuted much of the content of that letter.

He read his own comments, which were made part of the record. He said they only want the extension of hours if the building is enclosed. He has agreed to the noise, lighting and soundproofing standards. The pavilion is surrounded by non-residential uses. He said when cars leave the site, they will depart in fairly even distribution, going in different directions. There is more than enough parking to keep patrons parked in the lot.

Fields asked if this would be non-smoking with smoking outside? Sandler said they would prefer non-smoking but it depends on the venue. Fields asked if alcohol would be served. Sandler said maybe.

Fields asked if there would be any stopping time.

McLaughlin said the public hearing could be continued in two weeks. Chapman said the public hearing would remain open until the Study Session in two weeks.

CHRIS DEKKER said 2:00 a.m. is not the best time to put people out on the street if they serve liquor until 2:00 a.m. Sandler agree to 2:00 a.m.


The inclusionary zoning will be discussed at the Study Session.

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.















Online City Services

Pay Your Utility Bill
Connect to
Ashland Fiber Network
Request Conservation
Proposals, Bids
& Notifications
Request Building
Building Permit
Apply for Other
Permits & Licenses
Register for
Recreation Programs

©2023 City of Ashland, OR | Site Handcrafted in Ashland, Oregon by Project A




twitter facebook Email Share
back to top