Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

OCTOBER 12, 2004

Chair Russ Chapman called the Ashland Planning Commission meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. on October 12, 2004 in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.
Mike Morris
Kerry KenCairn
Marilyn Briggs
Allen Douma
Olena Black
Michael Dawkins
Dave Dotterrer
John Fields
COUNCIL LIAISON: Alex Amarotico (Council Liaison does not attend Planning Commission meetings in order to avoid conflict of interest.)
STAFF PRESENT: John McLaughlin, Planning Director
Bill Molnar, Senior Planner
Maria Harris, Associate Planner
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary
II. ANNOUNCEMENTS - There will be a study session on October 26, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss some draft issues regarding the development of an economic strategy for implementing the policies in the Economic Element.

There will be a Planning Commissioner's "Chat" on October 26, 2004 at the Community Development and Engineering Services building from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

John McLaughlin introduced Amy Anderson, Assistant Planner.

Douma/Briggs m/s to approve the minutes of the September 14, 2004 meeting. Voice Vote: Approved unanimously.

Morris/Douma m/s to approve the Findings for PA2004-115, 724 Iowa, Dave and Jamie Kaufman. Voice Vote: Approved unanimously.

IV. PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak.

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts
KenCairn and Fields each had a conflict of interest and stepped down for the hearing. Dotterrer watched the videotape of the meeting, read the materials and had a site visit. Site visits were made by the remaining Commissioners.

Molnar said this hearing is a continuation from last month. The Staff Report addendum identifies the major points of discussion and provides clarification. The primary reason for delaying a decision was to give the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) an opportunity to review the traffic impact analysis submitted by the applicant. ODOT reviewed the traffic impact analysis and two letters from ODOT are included in the packet. The two areas of interest included the impact of the intersection at Clay and Ashland Street and what type of design is needed in the center of Ashland Street in order to manage access in and out of the center median from the project. These issues are reviewed in the Staff Report and ODOT's recommendations have been included in the Conditions of approval.

Recreation space was another item from last month. The revised site plan shows the primary configuration of the buildings has stayed intact. The applicants have identified larger key recreation areas. The minimum for rear yard lawn areas should be a minimum of ten feet. It has been included as a Condition. They have identified almost 18 percent as meeting the definition for outdoor recreation spaces.

The multi-use path was not clearly identified on the first plan. There is an existing concrete public pedestrian walkway cutting through Birchwood subdivision. The applicants have identified a connection in either striping or a different paving material that ultimately leads to the existing connection at the rear of McDonald's.

The buildings have been redesigned to comply with solar access. The 19 foot distance between the buildings will still cast too much of a shadow. The other possibility would be to attach the buildings. A condominium creates individual airspaces, not individual tax lots. The homeowner's association owns all the improvements. That allows for only one north property line and the solar access ordinance is based on how much shadow is at the north property line. The applicants would like to plat the project as a condominium project. One-fourth of each four-plex could be sold independently of each other. They are agreeable that 25 percent of the eight units are affordable in perpetuity. Will the units be for-purchase or rentals?

Last month there were comments from the neighbors about sight and sound barriers. The buildings will be a minimum of 30 feet to the buildings in Birchwood. That seems an adequate setback. The applicants have been willing to make changes to their landscaping plan to address views and the placement of deciduous trees.

With regard to truck traffic, the current A Street Hardware store owner said they anticipate two semi-truck deliveries per week.

The applicants have designed the Clay/Ashland Street intersection to allow for a future right hand turn lane. A Condition is included that the applicants agree to participate in a LID for additional improvements to Clay Street. There is also a Condition that the applicants put up 50 percent of the cost associated with a multi-use path through the ODOT property. The applicants are agreeable to doing the center median improvements as well as the other street improvements along Clay and the access road.

Staff has identified 21 Conditions if the Commission decides to approve the project. Molnar suggested an amendment to Condition 20 to include "as well as bike lanes and the construction of a right turn lane."

Briggs asked for a meeting to discuss condominiums not being subject to the solar access regulations. It seems like it is circumventing the intent of the solar ordinance.

The pathway leading to Birchwood is a public pedestrian easement and it is not within the purview of the Planning Commission to keep the fence closed. The whole private street is blanketed with a public pedestrian/bicycle easement in order to allow people to come through the project.

Black and Dotterrer expressed concerns with regard to the 22 foot driveway aisle and do not want to see traffic flowing through the development. Molnar said the applicants have agreed to blanket the two-way driveway aisle with a public access easement. The main street system of the area to the north that will be developed in the future will have connections to Clay and to the north development. The street in the proposed development would be so circuitous for most motorists that they would not use the street. But having a public easement and connecting it to the project would allow pedestrian and cyclists to go between the two projects and for limited auto access. Connectivity to adjoining properties is required under the Performance Standards Option if there is development potential. McLaughlin added that the Transportation Plan calls for alternative routes even though it will be discouraged as a primary route.

Russ Dale, 535 Allison and EVAN ARCHERD, 550 East Main Street

Archerd said the affordable units would probably be one one-bedroom unit in each building. It is their intent to rent the units for a long period of time. Going to condominiums has to do with platting of the entire project. The number of easements, the number of cross easements, setback issues, and building code issues, are more easily solved if this was a condominium where the lot is not being divided. Incidentally, it helps the solar issue.

Briggs would rather see the pedestrian walkway run farther to the east and not pass by private residences. Archerd said it was Staff's feeling that the direct connection to the McDonald's opening was best served by leaving it where it was. Molnar said Staff sees this as more of a neighborhood component. Having it run through the commercial parking lot area felt like an inherent conflict. It did not make it as secure, direct or viable for the residents.

Dawkins said the one bedroom affordable rental would be just for one person or a couple. It is his hope they would have a mix to allow a family to rent a unit. Dale responded that there would be six two-bedroom affordable units in the development down the street (Bud's Dairy).

Douma would rather not see the connection with the Birchwood subdivision. There are already plans to put a sidewalk halfway along the south side. He also does not want to see a path going through the proposed residential area surrounded by garages and two-story buildings. It is not a safe environment.

Black expressed her concern regarding traffic circulation. She believes because of the pressure development is putting on this residential street, there is an onus on the project to improve the street to Ashland Street on both sides.

Archerd assumed that Condition 2 meant to say, "A final design shall be reviewed and approved prior to building permit or final plat." Staff agreed.

Cheryl Wolohan, Board of Directors, Birchwood Homeowner's Association, 2157 Birchwood Lane, said the association has a big concern about a public easement on east side. Kids jump the east side fence and west side fence and are using the raised curbs for skateboarding. They leave their trash. Homeless people are sleeping on the benches. They have had drug dealers who run through the area and knock on their doors. It goes on all the time. Residents are older and feel threatened by this. She saw the plan where the applicants would put the path on the south side of the fence. That would be better for the neighbors.

Art Tetrault, 500 YMCA Way, Apt. 207, Ashland, OR 97520, said he resides at the Don Lewis Retirement Center. He read a letter he submitted for the record explaining how the residents of the retirement center will be peering down on the residences in the development. He wondered how the developers would protect the privacy of the retirement center and the proposed residential structures. He proposed a solution of closely planted evergreen trees along the viewing area.

Staff Response
Molnar said Brandon Goldman is the City's fulltime Housing Coordinator. He has worked with the City Attorney in preparing certain types of legal instruments that are recorded on these projects so when properties are exchanged, we are notified. We are a little concerned if they are going to be affordable rentals or affordable for-purchase. If they were rentals, we would expect the applicants' legal team to assist our legal department to work out appropriate agreements to let us know when a rental might be sold. If they are rentals they need to be available to households that do not exceed 80 percent of the area median income. If they are for-purchase they have to be sold at a price not exceeding 120 percent of the area median. McLaughlin added that the affordable units could be sold to an investor and he/she does not have to qualify, but it would have to rent perpetually to a qualified renter. It is a requirement that the agreements have to be in place before the plat is recorded (Condition 14).

Briggs disagreed with Staff regarding the path through the proposed units. It is not a neighborhood. It is one lot. She believes the public should go around the edge of it rather than through it. The path shouldn't be under residents' windows or adjacent to their garages. Douma strongly agreed with Briggs. McLaughlin said that would put the walkway against the private patio and outdoor space rather than the space where the cars go. Briggs would like it laid out as follows: patio, landscaping, pathway, parking. McLaughlin said Staff would work with that idea.

Archerd said if they create a paved path in the area suggested by Briggs, it will increase the impervious surface and will likely put them over the maximum impervious surface they are allowed. The units at the south end face onto about a ten foot landscaped yard with a row of trees protecting them from the parking area of the commercial building, giving those units a sense of space. As another alternative, they could put the path down the middle of the commercial parking lot giving a direct route.

Archerd asked that language be added to Condition 20 taking into account the improvements they are currently making. They will have incurred significant costs to make the half-street improvement. There should be a sentence included so they don't forget five years from now that they already contributed.

Modify Condition 2 to read, "A final design shall be reviewed and approved prior to building permit or final plat." Also, Changes to Condition 20, "improvements to include bike lane, right-hand turn lane, taking into account the half-street improvements the applicants are building along Clay Street as part of this project."

Dotterrer/Douma m/s to approve PA2004-116 with the changes made to Conditions 2 and 20.

Black continued to express her concerns regarding traffic circulation, that it is inadequate, particularly from east to west. She does not believe transportation has not been adequately met.

Add to Condition 8 that the location of the pedestrian pathway be redesigned to go through the commercial parking area. Molnar suggested wording for a Condition 22, that the location of the pedestrian pathway be redesigned to go through the commercial parking area.

In response to Black's concerns, Molnar referred the Commissioners to Exhibit S-1 in the last Staff Report. The access drive is proposed to be a public street with the installation of the public sidewalk along the north side of the new street. Right before the bend, cross the street and install a sidewalk all the way to the intersection of Ashland Street. They are proposing it on one side. Ashland Street Standards are two sides. Dotterrer does not believe they need it on both sides and suggested adding in parenthesis to Condition 9 "(parking and sidewalk on one side)."

Roll Call: Morris, Douma, Chapman, Briggs, Dawkins and Dotterrer voted "yes" and Black voted "no".

KenCairn and Fields re-joined the meeting.


Site visits and Ex Parte Contacts - Site visits were made by all. Chapman lives one block from the property but he assured the applicant and his colleagues that he will be able to hear the application fairly and impartially. Morris lives almost across the street from the property but will not have a problem being impartial.

Harris reviewed the application and described the site as outlined in the Staff Report in the packet. She showed photos of the property. In general, Staff is supportive of the direction the project has gone. It is a complex site. Prospect is relatively narrow with steep slopes on the north side and the west end necks down to about 24 feet. The right-of-way on S. Mountain is about 53 to 54 feet wide and it has shifted. Staff would recommend continuing the hearing because more information is required before the application meets the approval criteria, specifically for the Tree Removal Permit, Conditional Use Permit and the Variance.

Harris said usually the Commission reviews applications under the Performance Standards using Outline Plan (conceptual phase) and Staff reviews the final engineering at Final Plan approval. The Subdivision Chapter approaches the review all in one process. Staff's main concerns are highlighted in the boxed areas of the Staff Report. Harris reviewed each of these items.

The Tree Commission reviewed the application at their meeting last week and they made eight recommendations that are included in the packet.

There are letters in the packet from neighbors. An e-mail was handed out from Phil Philips received on October 11, 2004 and a memo from Chris and Nikki Cotton.

There are still some important details in the application that need to be addressed to show the application meets the findings for a Tree Removal Permit, a Tree Protection Plan, the Conditional Use Permit and Variance. There are 20 suggested Conditions.

The Commissioners had several questions of Staff and the following information came from those questions.

1. Reconfigure Prospect to get 22 feet of width, curb-to-curb for the majority of the street. Probably the most obvious solution would be to alter the sidewalk.
2. The finished grade of the driveway that turns into a hammerhead is 15 percent, the maximum under City standards. The applicant is showing fill slopes on either side.
3. Prospect Street will have curb, gutter, sidewalk, and a planting strip except where it transitions to a curbside sidewalk. More parking could be gained by removing the planting strip in the narrower area.
4. Tree Commission's recommendation 8 - Concerned about impact of new paving of Prospect Street on trees to the north and south of the street - can alternate method be used? The Tree Commission was looking at the cluster of trees identified for preservation and looking for an evaluation of what the street improvements and paving would do to that cluster of trees. There are also some large oak trees. The natural flow of storm drainage will stop with the installation of curb and gutter. Can something be done to address this situation?
5. Tree Protection Plan - It is required to show grading within the driplines or tree protection zones of trees to be preserved as well as utility work. Staff is looking for more information, particularly, looking for grading information that shows how far beyond the edge of the street that work will impact. If the water line runs down the private drive, what is the impact on the trees?
6. The Tree Protection Plan states chain link fencing has to be installed around the dripline of the tree or the tree protection zone, whichever is greater. The tree protection zone is the area around the tree that is necessary to preserve the health of the tree over the long term. There are irregularly shaped driplines. In no case is the tree protection zone smaller than the dripline.
7. The existing house on Lot 2 is proposed to be converted to an accessory residential unit and then a new primary residence built (requires CUP). They would need a total of four off-street parking spaces. There is garage shown at the building envelope that would provide two spaces. The applicants are showing a parking bay at the rear of Lot 1 that would provide two off-street parking spaces for the accessory residential unit (reason for Variance).

Craig Stone, 708 Cardley Avenue, Medford, OR, said he is representing Charles Andrew Cochrane and Bruce and Pokii Roberts. John Galbraith, landscape architect and Steve Ward, civil engineer are present tonight.

Stone said this project has undergone at least three re-designs. They sought to eliminate accesses to the extent possible on to Prospect Street, taking access by way of the private drive in so doing, preserving the travel and parking capacities along Prospect Street.

Twenty-five trees are slated for removal. The applicants looked at all trees over six inches diameter at breast height (dbh) and developed their Tree Preservation Plan around that. They have tried to preserve the best trees on the property, preserving even the smaller trees.

Stone said they did a utility plan. The civil engineer will introduce it. They are willing to prepare a plan showing locations for fire hydrants and street lights.

The topographic survey covered the entire property. They choose points on site and use a computer program that connects the dots. At the upper area, the dots ended and the computer program crams the line together. The slopes in that area are fairly mild. Stone entered a photograph as evidence. He read a letter from Jim Hibbs, surveyor, into the record as evidence of the slopes.

The applicants are fairly flexible on the building footprint revisions with the exception of one envelope.

The accessory residential unit is calculated at 900 square feet. He was unaware there was a basement but believes the basement is not habitable.

Steve Ward, Westech Engineering, 3841 Fairview Industrial Drive, Salem, OR, showed a cross-section of Prospect Street. They are trying to balance encroachments into the right-of-way, topographic constraints, saving trees, landscape strips, sidewalks and parking. There is an existing carport that encroaches significantly into the right-of-way, along with existing planter strips, stairs and fences. Currently, parking is allowed from the carport to the east, on one side of the street. They have shown a 22 foot wide curb-to-curb improvement with a planting strip and sidewalk. The sidewalk would be required to be on private property within an easement. They can construct the improvements in the right-of-way and not enter into the steep slopes or the existing improvements the neighbors have on their properties. The roadway will have to narrow down as it approaches the carport. They will have to get rid of the planting strip. They can build a twelve to fifteen foot wide roadway from the carport, encroach into the landscape strip, still maintain access to the houses and from the carport to the east, maintain parking for the 22 foot wide improvement. They are looking for guidance.

Stone said it is his understanding the functional classification of the street is a Residential Neighborhood Street, calling for a 22 foot paved section.

Questions and Concerns from Commissioners
Dawkins wondered how a car or construction truck could turn around at the end of Prospect. Backing out to Mountain isn't safe. People will have to have some way to turn around. Briggs noted there is an existing utility easement coming up between the trees about 16 to 18 feet which would allow backup room. The applicants agreed. Or, Stone said if they put in a turnaround, a large cluster of trees would be lost. KenCairn questioned directing the applicants to create a turnaround that will potentially endanger more trees that are trying to be saved. It is a concern if we are trying to preserve the driplines. Briggs wondered if they could consider a teardrop shaped turnaround. Stone did not know if the City had an approved design and if the Fire Department would allow it.

Has the applicant considered a pedestrian walkway through the property and/or on the west side of Prospect up to the ditch road? It is not required unless the Commission finds there is inadequate pedestrian transportation for the project.

Ward said they are trying to achieve a five percent grade at the hammerhead.

John Galbraith talked about the tree preservation zones. They looked at the critical root zone of the trees, the age and size of the trees and type of trees. That is how they decide how much of an impact they can create on the root system of the trees. The root system is what will carry the canopy of the tree. The pine trees are much larger than the canopied trees. By determining the critical root zone of a tree, cutting into the roots will have minimal impact on the tree. He concurred with the Tree Commission's recommendations.

Galbraith said they are willing to work with the Tree Commission on the mitigation plan. They will probably be planting about 25 trees.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Chapman said the public hearings for Minimum Density for R-2 and R-3 zones and the Heritage Tree List will be heard at a meeting on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 at 7:00 pm at the Council Chambers. Fields/Black m/s to hold the hearing on October 26, 2004. Voice Vote: Unanimous. McLaughlin noted that the Economic Strategy study session might be postponed.

Randall Hopkins, 735 S. Mountain Avenue, voiced the concerns of many of the neighbors.

1. Trees - They do not want anyone to think the Tree Commission has granted approval for the three Tree Removal Permits. Neither the applicant nor the representatives showed up at the Tree Commission meeting. The applicant has a track record of not following the Tree Protection Plan. A Tree Protection Plan is only as good to the extent it is carried out and enforced.
2. Parking - Even if Prospect is expanded to 22 feet, it still doesn't solve the severe traffic and safety problems on Prospect. Most of the area is taken up by the residents that park there. If you have just one construction truck parking on the south side, the access to the residences will be blocked. The Staff Report states that the Prospect Street design will create a situation where cars will be parked on the street regardless of whether it is posted No Parking. Did the Commissioners notice a large SUV parked inches from a No Parking sign? It belongs to the developer. If the parking problem in that area is not on his radar during a site visit by the Planners and Commissioners, what is going to happen when this is approved and the residents are going to have to deal with the consequences?

Fields/Black m/s to extend the meeting to 11:00 pm.

Margueritte Hickman, 455 Siskiyou Boulevard, said the Fire Department would like to see at least a 22 foot wide street with parking on one side. The Fire Department will go along with Staff's recommendation. They were able, with the help of the Traffic Safety Commission, to put in No Parking signs. They would like to see the street meet the minimum street standards, if at all possible.

Harris noted that some of the neighbors have expressed an interest in asking for vacation of Prospect Street. McLaughlin said they could ask for an encroachment permit for what is currently in the right-of-way.

At this point, Briggs is not willing to grant any variances the applicants are requesting tonight.

Fields is hearing there are parking, access issues around Prospect and the tree plan are the major issues.

McLaughlin asked if the Commissioners are willing to remove trees (grouping at the end) in order to get the street width on Prospect? Fields said if they opened up parking on the south side and give up the parkrow, it might work. Dotterrer agreed.

KenCairn suggested parking on both sides of Prospect (22 feet wide), stop six feet shy of the fenceline, and create a turnaround that backs to the south side. Fields added making a mountable sidewalk for a backup on the uphill side. Don't look at the last piece as public street, but as access to those houses. The trees would stay. Staff will work on this idea.

Briggs would like to deny the Variance for the accessory residential unit parking off-site because it sets a precedent for drawing very large building envelopes and saying there is no room to park on their own lot.

Briggs said even though the basement of the accessory residential unit is not habitable, it doesn't take much imagination to turn a basement into a finished space.

Phil Phillips, neighborhood resident, said there is a problem with parking and getting out of Prospect. People either back up or turn around in his carport. If Prospect is widened, consider leaving the parking on one side. Then there would be room to turn around. His carport sits on a pile of dirt that is about 30 feet high. On one side is a fairly precipitous drop. There is an oak between his property and his neighbors and the oak is a consideration. A wider street would make it easier as long as parking is only on one side of the street.

The hearing will be continued on November 9, 2004 at 7:00 pm at the Council Chambers.

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

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