ASHLAND PLANNING COMMISSION
JANUARY 13, 2004
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Russ Chapman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Russ Chapman, Chair
Council Liaison: Alex Amarotico (Council Liaison does not attend Planning Commission meetings in order to avoid conflict of interest)
High School Liaison: None
SOU Liaison: None
John McLaughlin, Director, and Community Development
Bill Molnar, Senior Planner
Maria Harris, Associate Planner
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary
Chapman announced the regular Planning Commission "Chat" on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building at 4:00 p.m.
There will be a Study Session on Tuesday, January 27, 2004, at 7:00 p.m. The Conservation Department will give a presentation on Earth Advantage.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
The minutes of the December 9, 2003 Hearings Board were approved. The Findings were accepted as presented. Swales abstained.
The minutes of the December 9, 2003 Regular Meeting were approved. The Findings were approved for PA2003-154 - Ashland Community Hospital and PA2003-151 - 930 Tolman Creek - were approved.
No one came forth to speak.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
PLANNING ACTION 2003-158
REQUEST FOR FINAL PLAN APPROVAL FOR AN 81-LOT SUBDIVISION UNDER THE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS OPTION, LOCATED WITHIN THE NORTH MOUNTAIN NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN AREA WEST OF THE NORTH MOUNTAIN AVENUE, EAST OF BEAR CREEK CHANNEL AND SOUTH OF THE UNIMPROVED SECTION OF NEVADA STREET. THE APPLICATION INCLUDES A REQUEST TO MODIFY A CONDITION OF OUTLINE PLAN APPROVAL TO PERMIT THE REMOVAL OF AN EXISTING WETLAND, WHILE MITIGATING ITS REMOVAL THROUGH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ADDITIONAL WETLANDS ELSEWHERE IN THE PROJECT (1.3 BEAR CEREE FLOODPLAIN).
APPLICANT: NORTH MOUNTAIN LAND COMPANY, LLC
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all.
Molnar said Final Plan approval generally does not come to a hearing because it is a Type I procedure. However, during Outline Plan approval, a small wetland was discovered running parallel to the unimproved section of West Nevada. It is around 5000 square feet in size. The applicant originally proposed removing the wetland to maintain the street plan as proposed in the North Mountain Plan. At the May hearing, the Commission attached a Condition that as much of the remaining wetlands shall be saved, as possible. The Commission approved the street network, but asked whatever portion of the wetland that could be retained in between the streets, be incorporated into the overall plan. The applicant will present tonight their final grading plan for the project. This has raised concerns over their ability to retain any significant area of the natural wetland. It is a result of widening the unimproved section of Nevada, installing sidewalks and parkrows, as well as cut/fill slopes for the north/south sections of streets. The applicants are requesting the Commission to amend the Condition to allow them to carry out the full mitigation of the wetland area in the floodplain as part of their water quality and retention system.
Molnar reviewed the Tree Commission comments and Conditions as found in the record.
If the Commission chooses to approve Final Plan, there are 37 attached Conditions.
Briggs mentioned that the layout of the development looks the same as before and there had been solar concerns then. The Commission spent a great deal of time on it last time and she expected to see some changes. Molnar said the Condition is still included in Final Plan. The solar shadow is reviewed at the time of a building permit. If they request some relaxation in that Condition, the applicants will have to come back to the Commission.
Swales questioned the detention pond. Presumably, the applicant will be putting in the detention pond at their cost. When the next flood comes and all the landscaping is washed away and the detention pond is filled with silt, who will be responsible for it at that stage? What is the long-term liability? Molnar said that will be the decision of the Public Works Department. One Condition requires the applicants obtain a Physical Constraints Permit in order to do site work in the floodplain. The applicant has indicated in their application that they will design their system in accordance with City standards as well as conditions Parks will impose. The homeowners' association will do long-term maintenance. They will contract with a private utility firm to dredge the system. Molnar said it is a public system that is being built for the project, but in the case of catastrophic event where a flood takes out the system, he is not sure who is responsible.
KenCairn is concerned about the preservation of the upper wetland for diversity of forms - diversity of wetland types. From her perspective the applicants could still preserve and enhance the upper wetland by using the same water source that is currently there and not capping it. She would like to see the mitigation on top. Can this project still move that way? Molnar said he believes it can and that the Condition locked in the street pattern, but mitigating the wetland in its current location between the streets is still addressed through the Condition. It obviously could include slightly shifting units, if need be, to get adequate area or to redefine the wetland area and utilize a natural hydrology source.
BOB FOSTER introduced his team: DON GROVE, STEVE DECARLOW, KEN
STARK, KEVIN NERING and JASON PATTERSON.
Foster reviewed the Conditions of approval.
· They can retain the tree on tax lot 401 and keep any fill from spilling over onto the tree.
· Solar - they moved several buildings slightly to satisfy the solar for the multi-family. They feel they can conform to the single family solar.
· Maintenance of the park will be taken care of by the homeowners' association, but they never talked about a catastrophic event. They can discuss that and include it in the CC&R's.
· They met with the Tree Commission last week. They will do what the Tree Commission has requested.
Dr. Martin Schott, ecologist and wetlands specialist, has prepared the application for the Division of State Lands.
PAT HAVIRD, civil engineer, showed the Nevada Street profile. He said they are trying to minimize the cuts and fills. Once that is established, the connector streets have to match that. They are still ending up with cuts and fills over 90 percent of the wetland area. It is next to impossible to build the road without such a negative impact on the wetland. They have plans to put in curtain drains to pick up any seeps, hoping to keep the water source in the wetland area as much as possible.
DR. SCHOTT said the wetlands are pretty beat up with the hydrology of the wetland significantly altered. There is very little water from TID coming down because the area is no longer being irrigated. There are very few species of vegetation. The mitigation was selected to blend into Bear Creek and the cottonwood forest. Part of the mitigation will be to remove the blackberries under the cottonwoods. The wetland area is not a detention facility. It is designed to be a natural system. If a 100 year flood comes in and destroys the whole area, it will probably end up creating a side channel through the area. That is not a bad thing. This is not intended to be a maintained structure, but a natural structure. It is designed to be a backwater channel. They are planting willows and cottonwoods.
KenCairn wondered if the storm water mitigation is required as part of the project. Without it, would there be any wetland? Schott said there is no wetland in the project otherwise. The Division of State Lands is reviewing their application. KenCairn wondered if Schott thought the seeps were groundwater seeps or TID. Schott said he found one groundwater seep on the site that is barely running.
KenCairn asked if Schott looked at using the wetland up on top and doing some mitigation up on top. There are so few existing water sources that are not TID alterations that she hates to lose that water source. Foster said they looked at the little piece with the cattails. They only looked for a short time at mitigating on top, but rejected it because the slope is so steep that it would take a perched area with some kind of berm. KenCairn just wants to see that little piece of hydrology maintained to a certain extent. She knows it is on a hillside. If you look at it as a stream that runs through various geography, it has value. Has he considered creating a series of step pools? Schott agreed it has value.
Swales asked how they are going to maintain the wetland for the long term. Foster said he can take Swales' comments and concerns and work with Molnar and McLaughlin to make sure it is reflected in the CC&R's. Swales would rather not see the taxpayers of Ashland burdened with the responsibility of maintenance. Briggs agreed.
Fields asked if they are going to move the soil in the wetland area. Schott said the wetland area will be lined with a fairly heavy clay to keep the water up on the surface and topsoil will be placed on the surface to get the final elevation.
Chapman said he is also a member of the Conservation Commission. The City's website mentions, in several places, the use of solar. He noticed that the CC&R's for this development state that homeowners are prohibited from using the energy of the sun to dry their clothes. He is asking that be removed. He is going to the Conservation Commission and start the process of making sure that people have the right to use the power of the sun to dry their clothes. McLaughlin said there is a specific goal in the Comprehensive Plan stating the City will strive in every appropriate way to reduce energy consumption in the City, specifically, in all planning actions. He believes the Commission could impose a Condition.
PETE CISLO, 400 E. Nevada Street, said there are two sources of water for the "natural wetland". Both are not natural. There is an irrigation pipe that runs up the hill and a pipe that runs parallel to the street. When Ashland experienced the drought, the irrigation was turned off early. As a result, the cattails were reduced and they haven't come back. If the irrigation pipe was fixed and not used any more, the wetland would dry up much faster. The second source of water is the septic drain field on the Marr property. Cislo believes the mitigation will be so much healthier for the environment. He encouraged the Commission to approve this action.
BRYAN HOLLEY, 324 Liberty Street, thanked Staff for bringing forward their Tree Commission recommendations. As a matter of record, due to a miscommunication, the applicant did not come before the Tree Commission during Outline Plan. There were some Ashland landscape specific recommendations about species along the parkrow and throughout the development. He believes it would be important for the Planning Commission to follow the Tree Commission's recommendations.
Holley said it is hard to speak about wetlands after having been dismissed. He doesn't want to disregard the possibility of a wetland if there is a possibility that there might be a natural springs and a natural wetland at this spot that has, over time, been supplemented by these so-called outside sources of water. He wonders if suggestions of preserving wetlands and building homes around a wetland ever get to applicants. His translation: Because the density needed to be high to make the whole project pencil out and removing even two or three houses might have endangered the net profitability of the development, that the idea of doing that is just too foreign. Streets could have been changed and redesigned. The open space requirement has already been met by the transparent "giving away" of the unbuildable ground, aka, the 100 year floodplain.
Holley noted this plan calls for using chemicals on the blackberries. The blackberries may have some wildlife value to them.
He is concerned about the development of the retail portion. Ashland has a lot of empty commercial spaces and he is concerned we don't need more commercial.
Holley has a sense of incompleteness about this project.
TOM MARR, 955 North Mountain Avenue, asked that the road improvement go before the construction. He is concerned about dust. He hoped the existing trees could be incorporated into the street tree plan. With regard to the wetlands, he agreed there are two sources of water - a spring and a drainage. The drainage occurs anywhere there is a slope and there is TID involved. They have not had the septic for ten years now. He is opposed to the future LID for the construction of a bridge. He would like to see a walking and biking bridge. Marr feels there is a better way to deal with the blackberries than with herbicides. He noticed that the applicants might want to move the sewer line. It might be good if they can relocate theirs as well. In looking at Camelot Drive, he wants to make sure the grading won't go onto his property. The spring is a wonderful natural feature. He thinks a spring in someone's backyard would be nice.
MAT MARR, 955 North Mountain Avenue, passed around photos showing where the spring is located. He wondered about the large tree on the property. Condition 27 states that the applicant needs approval from DSL before coming before the Commission for final plan approval. And, the Condition further stated that any part of the wetlands that can be saved, will be. The applicants have not received approval from DSL and it will not come for about 30 more days. And, they are not preserving the wetlands. This isn't an either/or. The Commission specifically said both mitigate below and save what you can. Do both. He believes there are some things that can be done to save the wetland. The parkrows next to Nevada Street and other streets could be inclined, There is also grading happening for eight feet of parkrow and five feet of sidewalks on each side. He can see no reason to get rid of the natural features just to put in some street trees. The street trees could be terraced and incorporated into the natural features. Also, it has not been addressed the affect the seeps will have on the roads and buildings on top of them.
Marr said there is no septic tank on the property. A sewer line was installed about eight years ago. Marr's TID was cut off for two years about five years ago. The riparian area did not disappear. The real riparian area is below the two springs. The most important part is right in the middle and he believes some part of that needs to be saved.
The Tree Commission made a number recommendations and those stipulations have not yet been met.
Marr is concerned with the floodplain and the potential for future neighbors being washed out.
Marr does not believe the application is complete enough to approve.
Foster said the tree on Cislo's s property is a willow and if the Tree Commission wishes them to save it, he will. With regard to street trees, Foster is willing to comply with what the City wishes. The solar issue is on-going. It would be a good idea to cover maintenance of the wetland during the Physical Constraints Permit process. They are willing to add wording about maintenance in the CC&R's.
Schott said DSL will require irradication of all the blackberries (invasive exotic). The only way to get rid of blackberries is with chemicals. He is proposing a specific application of herbicide to remove the blackberries.
Foster said the whole North Mountain Plan has a retail element. They have done significant studies and have found a small retail center would be viable in this location. This should reduce traffic impacts in the neighborhood.
Havird said they are complying with the FEMA and City floodplain lines. There is no intention of developing anything on Marr's property.
Swales wondered about a Condition so none of the neighbors lose their TID. McLaughlin said a Condition would be appropriate.
Molnar suggested reviewing the modifications. Condition 38 - That they remove the prohibition of drying clothes outside. Condition 39 - That the existing TID distribution system for surrounding property owners remain in tact. If it is modified, it has to be approved by TID. Condition 35 regarding the fill around the tree on the Cislo property. Staff noticed that the finished grade would be elevated. KenCairn said someone needs to verify what type of tree it is. If it's an oak, you can't fill on top of it.
Briggs mentioned the wetland (non-wetland). The way the houses are set now, there is not enough yard space to save any of the wetland. KenCairn asked the applicant if the grade could work so the parkrow could be depressed rather than at grade with the sidewalk and street and then carry the storm water underground. Foster felt it could be done. KenCairn suggested pulling the sidewalk further away from the street and create some kind of enlarged parkway. Foster said they could do a feature piece but not let it be a part of the mitigation plan. KenCairn said this would be a way to maintain some of the value of the seep. The sidewalk moves away from Nevada to within six feet of units 64 and 65 and between the sidewalk and E. Nevada, creating a swale that has some current characteristics of what is there. Schott said this is a huge effort for a potential wet spot that might dry up. KenCairn said it can be watered with TID or the seep. It will be fed by TID overflow from Marr's property and the natural irrigation system as well as the supplemental irrigation and tail water from Marr's plus any seep. Plant it in native and native-like plant materials.
Molnar said the Condition would read: That Final Plan be modified to pull back a sidewalk within six feet of units 64 and 65, creating a swale between the sidewalk and Nevada Street. It would be fed by TID overflow and irrigation water from the adjoining landscaping. The swale should be planted with native or native-like plant materials.
COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Briggs added a Condition (add to Condition 29) that the road is built prior to construction.
Morris took a look at how we got here tonight with regard to the North Mountain Neighborhood Plan. We have a wetland and we aren't sure if it is a wetland. If it is a wetland, he is surprised we didn't look at realigning some roads and taking out some units. McLaughlin said the wetland was not identified until after the initial hearing. He said this issue has to be balanced with all the other things that go into the North Mountain Neighborhood Plan.
Chapman moved to approve PA2003-158 with the existing and added Conditions. Hanson seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
PLANNING ACTION 2004-001
REQUEST FOR OUTLINE PLAN APPROVAL AND A TREE REMOVAL PERMIT FOR A TEN-UNIT RESIDENTIAL SUBDIVISION UNDER THE PERFORMANCE STANDARDS OPTION FOR THE 2.4 ACRE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 940 CLAY STREET (EAST SIDE OF CLAY STREET, SOUTH OF SISKIYOU BOULEVARD).
APPLICANT: COTA HOMES, LLC
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by everyone except Hanson. Morris talked with a lady on the site.
Harris reported this is about 2.5 acres off Clay Street. There is an existing house on the property that will be on one of ten lots. A new street will connect to Clay Street. Open space areas are located at the bend in the street. The applicant is providing a street plug. The street improvement will stop short of the property line and the right-of-way dedication will extend in the event the street will be extended in the future.
There are eleven trees over six inches diameter at breast height (dbh). The trees are situated around the perimeter of the property. The proposal is to remove all the tree, saving only the silver maple and walnut trees. This application also includes a Tree Removal Permit for two of the trees because they are over 18 inches diameter dbh. The Tree Commission reviewed the application and their comments are included.
A neighbor, Carol Bonney, e-mailed comments. There is a berm that looks like someone has excavated, creating a depression where the poplars have sprung up. She thinks the neighbor's concern is with the flood irrigation done to the pasture. When the property is subdivided, TID will ask the applicants to relinquish their water rights.
Staff has recommended approval of the application with 20 Conditions.
Briggs asked how long the road can be for a cul-de-sac. There is no room to come out on Bellview. McLaughlin said that will need to be checked to make sure we don't landlock that vacant parcel.
Briggs mentioned the driveway aprons. Harris said the requirement is that the driveway aprons have to be at least 24 feet apart. Condition 4 has been added.
CRAIG STONE, 708 Cardley Avenue, Medford, OR 97504, is representing the applicant. DAVE RICHARDSON, 105 Siskiyou Boulevard, is also present.
Stone asked that the Findings, Facts and Conclusions of Law and the Exhibits appeneded be made part of the record.
There is an e-mail from a nearby property owner suggesting there is flooding on the north end of this property. He understands this has been flood-irrigated pastureland. That problem will probably disappear when this property no longer is flood irrigated.
There is also a letter from Talent Irrigation District (TID) suggesting the water rights be relinquished. Stone said that is customary.
The two trees requested for removal are Lombardi poplars. The Tree Commission and others agree these are undesirable trees.
Stone said they find no objections to the Conditions of approval.
The street is not intended to be a cul-de-sac. It is a street that is intended to be extended. McLaughlin said the street is about 470 feet. The length of a cul-de-sac is 500 feet, excluding the turnaround.
Briggs noted Condition 13 talks about planting two trees in place of the two significant Lomardi poplars. Can we ask the applicant plant four trees?
Stone does not object to planting four trees. Stone said the landscape/irrigation plan will be submitted as part of Final Plan.
JIM SWARTS, 1010 Clay Street, said he has several issues of concern. The present owners of the property on the south side adjacent to Lots 7, 8 and 9 is concerned about the potential loss of privacy and loss of view. He would like the applicant to install at least a six foot high fence. That would help dampen the noise. He is also requesting that Lots 7, 8, and 9 be single story in order to not obliterate their view.
There has been no mention of underground surface water. A number of homes on Clay Street have had to build curtain drains around their homes. There is a sinkhole at 940 Clay filled with ground water. He is concerned about additional traffic and parking problems. There has been no mention of garages. Since there is only parking on one side of the street, where will everyone park? He is also concerned that the applicant has been allowed to plan for ten homes instead of eight.
KenCairn explained there are not ordinances that will protect views. Swarts hoped there could be a compromise on the part of the developer.
Chapman told Swarts the water issues are handled by Engineering.
CRAIG GORSON, 1000 Clay Street, showed the layout of homes in the area. He spoke about density. He gets a lot of water on his property from Canyon Park Drive. He would like to see plans for what the homes will look like.
Stone responded to the testimony by the neighbors. Stone said the views are not considered an approval standard under the Performance Standards Option development. There should not be much obstruction of views. They plan to fence the property, but would not object to a Condition, however, they do not want to be limited to single story homes. There will be an underground storm drain created to channel it to the underground system on Clay Street. That should eliminate the problem. Each dwelling will have a garage. They don't expect to see any overflow parking into the adjacent neighborhoods unless there is a special occasion. The Performance Standards Option allows for a base density and density bonus. His client is providing energy conservation, making the project eligible for a 15 percent density bonus.
Stone said the land to the east could be developed with more homes. The land is privately held. It has been earmarked for acquisition by the City for future parks purposes. It may require some form of relief from the cul-de-sac standard. The streets are adequate. There are 24 dwellings that take access on Clay Street. This development will add ten more. Clay Street probably has a capacity of 3,000 to 5,000 vehicle trips per day. According to the Trip Generation Manual, a single family dwelling produces slightly less than ten trips per day per dwelling adding up to 440 trips per day.
Richardson said the parking will alternate from one side of the street to the other.
Add a Condition 21 that a six foot high fence shall be installed along the rear property line of Lots 7, 8, and 9 made of wood.
Harris said the utility plan does show a curtain drain along lots 7 through 10. They are showing a private storm drain. She believes they are aware of the water issue. A grading plan will be required at Final Plan. The limitation is on the streets that are 500 feet in length. It is not limited to the number of units.
COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Morris moved to approve PA2004-001 with the added Conditions. Hanson seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
McLaughlin said he is looking at the fourth Saturday in April to hold the Planning Commissioners' annual retreat. The Commissioners said they like looking at projects they have approved. McLaughlin asked them to think about any topics or training. The retreat will run from about 9:00 a.m. (topic in the morning), lunch and the tour. It would end at about 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.
ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 10:20 p.m.
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