Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

NOVEMBER 9, 2004

Chair Russ Chapman called the Ashland Planning Commission meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. on November 9, 2004 in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street, Ashland, Oregon.
Commissioners Present: Russ Chapman, Chair
Mike Morris
Kerry KenCairn
Marilyn Briggs
Allen Douma
Olena Black
Michael Dawkins
Dave Dotterrer
John Fields
Absent Members: None
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
Staff Present: John McLaughlin, Planning Director
Bill Molnar, Senior Planner
Maria Harris, Senior Planner
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary
There will be a study session on November 23, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. The Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) is tentatively scheduled to give a presentation on the Transportation Land Use Management Plan.

The Planning Commissioners "Chat" will be held on November 23, 2004 from 3:30 to 4:30 at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building. This is an opportunity for the public to drop in and talk with Planning Commissioners about general issues.

Douma/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of the October 12, 2004 Regular Meeting. Voice Vote: Unanimous.

Fields/Chapman m/s to approve the minutes of the October 26, 2004 Regular Meeting (continued). Voice Vote: Unanimous.

The Findings will be approved later in the meeting.

Zach Brombacher, 1370 Tolman Creek Road, said he is bothered by the number of cars parked on public streets in Ashland. Two-way streets are difficult to traverse. He understands the City has an agenda for promoting infill, but he is concerned with the lack of parking that is calculated into new projects. It seems like the problem is getting worse. He encouraged the Commission to consider this problem.

Bryan Holley, 324 Liberty Street, had a list of items for the Planning Commission to consider in addition to doing their quasi-judicial work (processing planning actions).

1. Measure 37 that just passed is a disaster for the land use planning. Be proactive with the City Council.
2. What about the unlimited need for retail mixed use buildings?
3. How many conditions of approval on planning actions are approved? Is there a need for a code compliance person to monitor all the planning actions?
4. Look for a remedy for the 120 day rule.
5. The Commission could be proactive about the 20 year supply of developable land.
6. Finalize the Downtown Plan and move forward with it.
7. Finalize the Railroad District Plan.
8. There is a tremendous opportunity to do something really creative with the Croman property.

Now might be the time to move apart from the regular duties and start looking at the larger issues.

A.     PLANNING ACTION 2004-105

Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts
- Morris lives across the street and feels he has too much knowledge about the neighbors and the neighborhood. He feels it would be a conflict of interest and stepped down.
- KenCairn attended the Tree Commission meeting last week. She will be able to be unbiased in her review.
- Site visits were made by all.

Randall Hopkins, 736 S. Mountain Avenue, called for a Point of Order. He asked Dotterrer to recuse himself because of an undisclosed ex parte contact with an intimidating affect. This request is not meant to suggest any improper motive or intent. Hopkins explained that Dr. Phil Phillips testified at the last meeting. After adjournment, Dotterrer asked Phillips how he would feel about doing a LID on Prospect and described how the LID could be a consideration for solving the problems there. Dotterrer initiated the contact and spoke loudly enough to be heard by Hopkins and in all likelihood by other neighbors of Mountain Pines development. The guidelines provided for the Commission by Barbara Jarvis tells the Commissioners not to entertain ex parte contacts. To suggest a LID may result, is to send a message to the public that they should tread with care in making their views regarding development projects.

Dotterrer confirmed Hopkins' statement as true. Maria Harris approached Dotterrer as he was speaking with Phillips and told him to stop talking to the neighbor. Dotterrer said the purpose of asking if a LID had been suggested was to gain more information. He was not advocating for or against the project, but just asking a question. He was not trying to intimidate anyone. He believes he can act in a fair and unbiased manner with the action.

Fields disclosed he started a conversation with the project engineer at the end of the last meeting. McLaughlin asked him to step away from the conversation.

If the Commission agrees with Hopkins and that Dotterrer cannot make an unbiased decision, they can vote to have Dotterrer step down. Or, they can continue with the hearing, allowing Dotterrer to participate. No motion was made. Dotterrer will participate. Chapman reminded the Commissioners how very careful they have to be in making ex parte contacts.

Harris said this action came before the Commission on October 12th. The following three areas were to be addressed by the applicant.

1. Tree Protection and Removal Plan - The applicants have addressed the issues raised at the last meeting. However, there are three outstanding issues at this time. They are: 1) Location of the sanitary sewer connection for Lot 3, 2) the feasibility of construction the street above the existing grade, and 3) the storm drain facilities on Prospect Street. Add a Condition: That any underground work be coordinated with the Tree Protection Plan and reviewed and approved before the engineering is approved and everything is built.

2. Prospect Street Design - The applicant is showing 24 feet, curb-to-curb width until the turnaround. Parking would be allowed on one side of the street. The street is reduced to 22 feet in width west of the turnaround, curb to curb, allowing for parking on one side of the street. The sidewalk has been changed to a curbside sidewalk or a section that is four feet in width and in another section an at-grade sidewalk (making it part of the 22 foot width). Staff is suggesting a Condition that the sidewalk is at least five feet in width at least the length of the street.

Staff has raised several issues regarding the area west of the turnaround. Staff has suggested a Condition that this proposal move forward if the Fire Department can make the sharp left-hand turn and if there is some kind of turnaround easement granted to allow the cars to somehow move out of the street in a forward manner as opposed to backing out and turning around.

The proposal is to use a porous paving material for Prospect Street and also to construct the street improvement above the existing grade. This was put forth in order to lessen the impact to the trees on either side of the street. The City's Engineering Dept. reviewed the limited information provided and believe this design probably won't work. Staff has suggested a Condition that this part of the proposal is not approved and a standard street improvement be constructed.

3. Size of the accessory residential unit - There is a daylight basement under part of the building. The applicant provided photographs at the last meeting of the unfinished space and it is not habitable. Staff has suggested a Condition that would put a deed agreement on the property if this part of the proposal is approved that would limit the size of the accessory residential unit to 900 square feet. The unfinished basement area shall not be used or converted to habitable living space.

Staff is recommending approval with the 29 Conditions. There is a change to Condition 21. The Tree Mitigation Plan was submitted and reviewed by the Tree Commission and they recommended approval of that item. Harris read the Tree Commission recommendations.

A letter from Julie Stuelpnagel, 1042 Prospect and a letter from Kip Sigetich, 1036 Prospect were received after the packet had been prepared.

Briggs asked why the garages to the lots on Prospect are not counted if a private drive is used to access the garages on the proposed lots. She referenced the correspondence in the packet with Stallman and Harris. Harris said when there is a private drive, if the lots can take legal access from the street, the functional access is off the drive but it is not considered entirely served by the private drive. Access isn't just auto access, but bike and pedestrian access too. McLaughlin said it isn't required that every trip associated with the house (on Prospect) will occur from the private drive. The reason Staff has utilized this in the past is that it forces the garage and access to be away from Prospect.

Harris said the overall number of vehicle trips per day would be approximately 50.

Craig Stone, 708 Cardley Avenue, Medford, OR 97504 representing Cochrane & Roberts, said they have no additional evidence to enter into the record. When asked, Stone said the road could just as easily be 22 feet or 25 feet to accommodate parking on both sides. The sidewalk with the driveable surface on the narrower portion has to do with the existing improvements in the public right-of-way. There is a fairly steep embankment and the wider road could only be done at the expense of cutting into the embankment and that would result in harm to the tree.

Stone said he is willing to consider the suggestion from a neighbor to use the turnaround at the end of the street. KenCairn would rather save the trees than promote a sidewalk that doesn't go anywhere.

Stone said they have sought to preserve an existing planter along Mountain Avenue and that's why there are not street trees after the private drive.

Stone said they have no objections to the Conditions. He asked for a clarification of Condition 14 on page 12 of the Staff Report, second to last sentence. If they cannot meet the three conditions, "the Prospect Street improvement shall be reduced in width," what is width? Harris said normally they would look at 20 feet curb to curb. The Fire Department, Engineering and Planning could come up with an exact width required.

Chapman believes there should be a turnaround at the end of the street that satisfies the requirement to develop the last piece of property there. They might lose a couple of trees. The street should be done right.

With regard to the accessory residential unit, Stone said this property is in Ashland's least dense residential zoning district. They are not seeking to cram a lot of density in. This is a small project and it is not dense.

Stone said they are proposing instead of porous paving, vents to allow moisture and air for the trees along Prospect Street. It is the same way they have proposed venting for the large pine trees located along the private drive.

Andy Stallman, 789 S. Mountain Avenue, noted the recent letter from Cochrane where he states: "The best results occur when (everyone) works together." Cochrane declined meeting with the neighborhood. Stallman does not want the Commission to get the false impression that the plans have been as a result of meeting with the neighbors. Cochrane has only met with two neighbors. He submitted a letter signed by the neighbors. Stallman mentioned light and glare would be a problem for them when the subdivision is built. The lights from cars using the hammerhead turnaround will shine into their house at night. The addition of a residence on Lot 6 will also adversely affect their privacy and add considerable noise and glare. He asked that the applicants be required to build the appropriate fences at the maximum allowable height at their boundaries to reduce the negative impact to the their home. He would ask the Commission to deny the application as it now stands.

Phil Phillips, 1063 Prospect, said he is speaking for his wife Kathy too. Phillips' testimony was entered into the record. He addressed his concerns regarding safety, the design of Prospect, and density. He does not want Prospect narrowed and he does not favor parking on both sides of the street. He would like to see the turnaround offset more toward the east where vehicles are away from his carport entrance. He would suggest keeping the present width.

Kip Sigetich, 1036 Prospect, mentioned there has been no discussion with the applicants regarding this project. Granting the Exception to the street Standards would impact the parking situation on Prospect significantly, negatively increasing fire danger in the area within the wildfire interface, and increasing substantially the risks to his child and his child's playmates due the additional traffic on Prospect and Mountain. Reducing the number of units by two, resulting in a development that fit into the existing neighborhood more harmoniously could significantly ameliorate these four items. He suggested they look at Quail Haven to see the type of development that would be consistent with the incredible beauty of the area and the neighbors living there. With regard to parking, it seems everyone has concluded it would not be possible to access his lot if there is parking allowed on the north side of Prospect in the last one-third section.

Rebecca Reid, 1036 Prospect Street, stated her main concerns are:
1. Traffic and pedestrian safety on Prospect and Mountain
2. Inadequate provision of parking in and around the development
3. Access of emergency vehicles to reach homes or fight fires given the parking problems
4. Tree protection

There are too many houses being proposed and by not being able to park on the private drive, that will exacerbate the parking problem on the streets. She would urge the Commission not to grant approval of the Exception to the Street Standards as currently proposed.

Harris said the Exception for the street design is for the Prospect Street improvement and the Mountain Avenue sidewalk improvement.

Rick Browne, 822 S. Mountain, said he has the same concerns as the rest of his neighbors.

Bob Gordon, 1025 Wildwood Way, said they have four houses and one exit on Wildwood. To exit, they have to go onto each other's driveway. The wildfire issue bothers him greatly. They have guests in the summer that drive to their homes. Once you get four or five cars in his area, there is no way a fire truck can get there. Visitors never use Mountain Avenue for parking because of the incline. Everyone tries to crowd on Wildwood Street.

When it snows, it takes awhile for the snow to melt. One day he drove down Mountain very slowly and when he hit the dogleg, he hit ice and his car went out of control, sliding sideways and hitting the curb. If he had not hit it sideways and bounced, he would have gone right off the edge and ended up in his neighbor's yard. It is an extremely dangerous corner where water can accumulate and freeze.

Ed Beutner, 843 S. Mountain, noted there is not enough parking to serve six dwellings on the private drive. It sets up an incredibly dangerous situation, especially on Mountain in the winter. The private drive will be blind for cars coming down Mountain. The private drive will not have public services in the winter. He would like to see fewer homes in this project.

Judy Little, 807 S. Mountain, objects to the number of homes being proposed. The private drive and overflow parking are major concerns for her. It will be especially dangerous in the winter. She would like to see a safer proposal. Her comments were entered in the record. .

Chris Cotton, 780 S. Mountain Avenue, said fire safety is the biggest issue for him because it has the biggest potential for a negative impact on all of them. He also sees excess parking on Mountain as a problem. His family car was totaled when hit by another car on a clear, dry, sunny day.

His family has over 50 years in the community and during those years they have championed for the community, focusing on quality and livability. What would be sad is not to continue the diligence. Less would be more appropriate.

Jeanne Stallman, 789 S. Mountain Avenue, talked about the Exception to Street Standards for Improvements to South Mountain. She showed photographs. She is concerned with the safety of her children. A curbside sidewalk does not satisfy the criteria for an Exception. She believes Lot 7 must be re-verified for lot size. As cars approach the corner of Mountain and Prospect coming up the street, they glance up the street and to the left, but don't look right to see what cars are coming out off Prospect. One photograph showed tire marks on the curb. Pedestrians need to be safely away from the curb. She is concerned because the off-street parking won't be met on the lot for the accessory residential unit. The house on Lot 2 does not have to be demolished. It can be the house on that lot. She is requesting the applicant withdraw the flawed application until the problems are worked out. If not, she would ask the Commission to deny the application. Stallman entered her comments into the record.

Staff Response
Harris noted there has been a lot of discussion about Prospect and Mountain not being able to accommodate vehicle trips. This application is subject to the Subdivision Chapter standards and street capacity is not a criteria.

Margueritte Hickman, Ashland Fire Department, 455 Siskiyou Boulevard, said the Fire Department would allow a 20 foot wide minimum width on the private drive. The fire truck would drive on the sidewalk to get to a fire and make every effort to get through.

The applicants are required to submit a Wildfire Hazard Plan. They are required to mitigate wildfire hazard in the entire project prior to construction. They are concerned about the turnaround at the far eastern end. They thought it would be more practical to drive it once the turnaround is in to see how much parking can be allowed.

Harris said the discussion under Condition 14 refers to vehicle turnaround, not fire truck turnaround.

Stone said the principle comments went to "There is not enough parking on Prospect and it is too narrow." Their engineer said they can do a 25 foot wide street with parking on both sides up to the location of the proposed turnaround and build a 22 foot wide section from there west.

Stone said with regard to Lot 1 (S. Mountain and Prospect), Ashland has a Vision Clearance ordinance and the setbacks will be met.

The wildfire hazard seems to have more to do with the street standards than anything else. The Commission has heard testimony from the Fire Department that they can make it work. The dwellings will have interior sprinkler systems. There will be a maintenance association to cause the private drive to be graded or sanded in inclement weather. It is below the 15 percent maximum grade for streets of this nature.

Stone mentioned the junipers planted along Mountain. The junipers are not unique or unusual. It is the concrete planter that is unique or unusual. They will remove it if they have to.

It is Stone's understanding that when the City requires a dedication, the land to be dedicated does not reduce the size of the parcel.

With regard to the Exception to the Street Standards, Stone said they'd stand on their written proposed findings of fact and conclusions.

Dotterrer/Chapman m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m. Everyone approved. It was agreed to move the last two items on the agenda (PA2004-129 and PA2004-135) to the study session on November 23, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers. No new notices will not be sent out.

KenCairn moved to continue PA2004-105 based on the applicant coming back with no Conditional Use Permit for an accessory residential unit, no Exception to the Street Standards and full access for Lots 1, 2 and 3 off Prospect Street and that Prospect Street would get full improvements. Her motion died for lack of a second.

Fields suggested by not allowing the accessory unit, two parking spaces are picked up. A sidewalk lifted up six inches would raise the sidewalk. If the applicants come back, he would like to see a 22 foot wide street improvement on the last 90 feet with a mountable four or five foot wide sidewalk, probably with a retaining wall. Provide a turnaround. Provide 25 feet of street width at the east end to Prospect with parking on both sides. McLaughlin said in Fields' proposal it will not change the basic engineering and design. The Commission would be conditioning the street width for Prospect, denying the CUP for the accessory unit and everything else would go as is.

Briggs suggested the house could be totally renovated. She would like to see one to two parking spaces on the north end of Prospect at the narrow end. She does not think the junipers and planter should be a Variance but instead she would favor planting trees. Keep the sidewalk going. At the corner of Mountain and Prospect, don't plant trees right at the corner for vision clearance. Add a Condition for a solid fence to protect the property at the hammerhead from lights and glare. Don't allow any exceptions to the sidewalk standards on Mountain.

Is there any reason for a sidewalk in the 22 foot section? KenCairn said even if it is doing concrete next to asphalt, it identifies where pedestrians go.

Briggs/Chapman m/s to continue the meeting until 11 p.m. Everyone favored.

Dawkins felt the neighborhood concerns have been lost in the discussion. He is hoping to find a way for one or two lots to go away. The one place was the road coming into the development with six houses on it. Just making an access off Prospect isn't that much better. By taking away the accessory unit, it does eliminate one house. Chapman agreed.

Harris read back the Conditions. Eliminate Condition 14 and replace with "That the proposed Prospect Street improvement east of the turnaround shall be revised to increase the curb to curb width to 25 feet to accommodate on-street parking on both sides of the street. Eliminate Condition 21 (mitigation plan). Add Condition 29 "That a fence shall be installed on the east end of the private drive turnaround. Condition 30 "That the proposed Conditional Use Permit for the accessory residential unit is not approved. Add Condition 31 "That the Mountain Avenue street improvement shall be revised to include a parkrow in accordance with Ashland Street Standards. Add Condition 32 "That the street trees at the intersection of Mountain and Prospect shall be placed to provide vision clearance. Ken Cairn added "That the sidewalk be installed on one side of the 25 foot improvement section at back of curb on the south side.

Chapman/Briggs m/s to deny the CUP for the accessory residential unit. Roll Call: Unanimous.

KenCairn/Dotterrer m/s to deny the Variance for the two parking places being put on Lot 1 instead of Lot 2. Roll Call: Unanimous.

Chapman/Fields m/s to deny the Exception to the Street Standards for S. Mountain as the applicant proposed. Roll Call: Unanimous.

Dotterrer/KenCairn m/s to approve the Subdivision with the Conditions as outlined, Tree Removal, and the Exception to the City Design Standards to Prospect. Briggs asked Harris to put (erosion control) in parentheses to explain the 1200C permit from DEQ. Roll Call: Chapman, Briggs, Dawkins, Dotterrer, Douma, Fields and KenCairn voted "yes" and Black voted "no."

Douma/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings for PA2004-116, 2205 Siskiyou Boulevard, Archerd & Dresner. Voice Vote: Unanimous
VII. ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 10:45 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

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