Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, November 08, 2005



NOVEMBER 8, 2005



CALL TO ORDER – Chair John Fields called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR.


               Commissioners Present:                  John Fields, Chair

                                                                           Russ Chapman

                                                                           Olena Black

                                                                           Michael Dawkins

                                                                           Allen Douma

                                                                           Dave Dotterrer

                                                                           John Stromberg

                                                                           Mike Morris

               Council Liaison:                                Jack Hardesty, present

               Staff Present:                                     Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director

                                                                           Maria Harris, Senior Planner

                                                                           Mike Reeder, Assistant City Attorney

                                                                           Sue Yates, Executive Secretary


ANNOUNCEMENTS – The deadline for applying for the vacancy on the Planning Commission is Friday, November 18th. 



September 27, 2005 – Continuation of Northlight Hearing – Black asked under item 4 where she spoke, to delete “it” and add “the Design Standards.”  Dotterrer/Douma m/s to approve the minutes as corrected.  Voice Vote:  The minutes were approved.

October 11, 2005 – Regular Meeting – Douma/Dotterrer m/s to approve the minutes.  Voice Vote:  The minutes were approved.



COLIN SWALES, 461 Allison Street, showed a color coded map of lots in the downtown and discussed where he felt it appropriate to have 40 foot buildings in the downtown.  He said we should preserve Primary Contributing buildings and those buildings on the National Register. The non-compatible, non-historic, and non-contributing could be remodeled or torn down and rebuilt.  Build smaller buildings on smaller lots, not maximizing at the 40 foot height, leaving the larger lots for larger buildings also recognizing the bulk and scale of the neighboring buildings.  The color coded map is available at the library. 


TOM GIORDANO, 2635 Takelma Way, felt strongly that we need to have an urban design form for the downtown, looking at the downtown in a comprehensive way. Dawkins noted the Commissioners that are working on the Downtown Plan are looking at that.



PLANNING ACTION:           #2005-01674

SUBJECT PROPERTY:        11 First Street

OWNER/APPLICANT:           Ron & Carrie Yamaoka     

DESCRIPTION:  Request for reconsideration of the Planning Commission decision reached at the October 11, 2005 Planning Commission meeting requesting Site Review approval for a three-story, mixed-use building comprised of restaurant space, office space and two residential units for the property located at 11 First St.  The proposed building is approximately 4,500 square feet in size, and is located in the Downtown and Detail Site Review zones.  A Tree Removal Permit is requested to remove four trees sized six inches diameter at breast height and greater.



Fields, as guided by the City Attorney, has concluded this action should be reconsidered and continued at next month’s meeting because of an error in the ordinance interpretation.  A revised plan has been submitted by the applicant addressing the vision clearance issue. This will also give the Historic Commission an opportunity to review any revisions the applicant may make.  He added that the action was approved by the Commission, but due the vision clearance problem, it will undoubtedly be appealed to the Council and they will be forced to deny it. 


Molnar said the action has been noticed and the public hearing can be opened at this meeting.  The Commissioners could discuss some of the concerns that the Historic Commission noted at their November 2nd meeting. 


Stromberg/Dotterrer m/s to take up the reconsideration at the next regular Planning Commission meeting.  Molnar noted they have allocated time at this meeting to flush out any design issues.  There appears to already be a full agenda next month.  Stromberg withdrew his motion and they proceeded with the hearing.


Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts

Douma and Dotterrer had a site visit awhile ago.

Black, Chapman, Stromberg and Dawkins had no additional site visits or ex parte contacts since the last meeting.

Morris read last month’s packet, watched the meeting, and watched last week’s Council meeting and asked if he could be a part this hearing.  He thought he could be fair and objective.  There were no objections from the other Commissioners. 



Harris showed the new site plan that has been submitted showing the vision clearance triangle drawn in.  The building has been angled back to the full height of the building to stay out of the vision clearance area.  She showed the new elevation.  Some of the details have been changed.  The arch is gone from the window, some recessed panels on the columns have been removed and the window type and size has changed because of the new angle of the building.  The planter has been lowered to follow the grade.  She showed the alley elevation.  The archways have been removed and the column panel removed.  The other two elevations haven’t changed.


The Planning Commissioners were given a copy of the November 2, 2005 Historic Commission draft minutes outlining their three-part recommendation.  They said they’d like to see the original design retained, if possible.  They feel a three-story building is appropriate in this area.  They have recommended denial of the angled design, particularly because it wasn’t compatible with the traditional design approach that had been taken.  They suggested five items for the applicant to consider in redesigning the building.


Rob Saladoff, member of the Historic Commission, is at tonight’s meeting to answer questions.  Harris said if the Commission decides to approve this application, there are 26 attached Conditions to the Staff Report Addendum. 


Molnar explained that Staff focused on the setbacks in the Downtown Design Standards.  Rather than the design showing any entryway features through the use of recesses or alcoves, this is more a tapering of the building and this could be found to be in conflict with the Downtown Design Standards. 


Does the vision clearance have to go all the way up the building?  A section of the ordinance allows trees in the vision clearance area, but they have to have a canopy height of eight feet. 



TOM GIORDANO, 2635 Takelma Way, said some of the suggestions from the Historic Commission such as pushing back the entire front façade do not work.  Every square foot of the building counts.  Switching the front door to the north does not work because of floor heights.  His hope is that the Commission could approve the project tonight subject to conforming to the vision clearance standard and let the applicant work out the design with the Historic Commission.  They are prepared to show some options and how they can mitigate some of the pedestrian safety concerns.  He reminded the Commissioners that the Historic Commission recommended retaining the Planning Commission’s approval. 


BILL EMERSON, 90 Fifth Street, showed the original design but he moved the tree planter down extending it down another two feet, and moved the ramp over creating a needed buffer for pedestrians.  Emerson explained the drawback to cantilevering the building is in conflict with the Design Standards in this style; pushing back the front façade would not allow for  any restaurant seating.  He showed some alternate designs.


Reeder said other jurisdictions define the vision clearance from lot line to lot line just as the City does.   


COLIN SWALES, 461 Allison Street, said he is using Mr. Neely’s five minutes, if needed.   The rules of the Planning Commission have not been made available to the general public, therefore, the decision-making process is skewed because the applicants as ex-planning commissioners have inside knowledge regarding the process of reconsideration.  He does not believe reconsideration is appropriate for a quasi-judicial process because of the way the rules are written.  In his view, the only way to reconsider is if a mistake is made at this level, then the application can be appealed to the Council. 


With regard to the application, Swales said there is nothing in the Land Use Ordinance that says the building has to be next to the street.  The ordinance states it should be adjacent to the sidewalk.  He showed examples of buildings that are set back from the street (Soundpeace and Starbucks).  There is no reason this building cannot be set back 16 feet with a front outdoor area for tables and chairs.


ERIC NAVICKAS, 711 Faith Avenue, believes this is a well-scaled building, showing it is economically feasible to do small buildings in our downtown.  He hopes the designers don’t do a “kitsch” historic façade.  Wrapping the corner is appealing to him.


ROB SALADOFF, 1290 Munson Drive, liaison and member of the Historic Commission, reported there was unanimous rejection by the Historic Commission of the alternative design and they came up with five alternatives.  They had no preference of one over another.  They looked at the design and how it fit into the downtown.  They liked the original design.  The Historic Commission had problems with angling the building.  It left a narrow façade, pushing one bay back and weakening the presentation of the façade to the street.  Saladoff believes the building should have square corners.  He feels the Commission can take on the design decision, if the Planning Commission so chooses. 


Staff Response – Though Molnar is confident if this is continued the applicants will be able to work it out with the Historic Commission, he would like it to come back to the Planning Commission. 


Reeder recommended continuing this meeting to a date certain, with the understanding that the applicant can take it back to the Historic Commission with a modification. The hearing would be continued with the record remaining open.


Rebuttal – Giordano does not agree with setting this particular building back.  Emerson passed out design options that showed outdoor seating. 



Molnar suggested requesting an extension to the 120 days from the applicant if the Commission decides on a continuance.  On January 22, 2006, the 120 days is up. 


Morris/Dawkins m/s to continue this hearing.


Fields recommend the applicant work with the Historic Commission and come back to the Planning Commission with the Historic Commission’s support for their design.


Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to amend the motion guiding the applicant to return to the Historic Commission for advice and return with a design supported by the Historic Commission that will satisfy the vision clearance as well as the Downtown Standards.


The next meeting might be changed to Monday, December 12h.  The action will be re-noticed.  Giordano said he will give approval for the 60 day extension. 


Roll Call:  Douma, Stromberg, Dawkins, Dotterrer, Fields and Morris voted “yes” and Chapman and Black voted “no.”


PLANNING ACTION:           #2005-00084

SUBJECT PROPERTY:        165 Lithia Way & 123 N. First Street

OWNER/APPLICANT:           Archerd & Dresner, LLC, and Redco, LLC   

DESCRIPTION:  Request for reconsideration of the Planning Commission decision reached at the September 27, 2005 Planning Commission meeting requesting Site Review approval of a mixed-use commercial and residential development to be located at 165 Lithia Way and 123 N. First St.  The proposal includes two 3-story mixed-use commercial and residential buildings.   In addition, six row houses are proposed.  A total of approximately 14,700 square feet of retail and office space and a total of 41 residential units are included in the proposed development.  The site is located in the Detail Site Review Zone, and is subject to the Detail Site Review Standards and to the Downtown Design Standards.  In addition, the proposal is subject to the Large Scale Development Standards because it exceeds 10,000 square feet in size and includes buildings greater than 100 feet in length.  An Administrative Variance from the Site Design and Use Standards is requested for the distance between the buildings.  A Tree Removal Permit is requested to remove four trees on site. The applicant has applied for a lot line adjustment, changing the configuration of the lot lines of the two parcels.



Fields decided not to exercise his power to ask for a reconsideration of this action because he does not believe any new information has emerged.  Fields would like the Commission to instruct Staff as to what standards and what issues should be included in the denial. 


Douma/Dotterrer m/s to reconsider.  Roll Call:  Dotterrer, Morris, Douma voted “yes” and Dawkins, Black, Fields, Chapman and Stromberg voted “no” to reconsider.  The motion failed and the action will not be reconsidered. 


The Commissioners discussed at length whether or not they should give Staff guidance for the findings.  During deliberation of this action at the September 27, 2005 Planning Commission meeting, there was no clear consensus on each separate issue.  Fields asked each member to voice any reasons they might have had for denial that were not part of the motion at the meeting on the 27th. 


Chapman voted for denial because the project was represented as two lots and it failed to meet the commercial requirement on the back lot.


Black voted to deny because it did not meet four of the criteria of the Downtown Design Standards.  The setback issue was not clear. She had problems with the height, stepping back and staggering of the buildings as well as the 80 foot building width and lots greater than 80 feet in width.  She had concerns with the setback on the corner, the sense of entry at the corner of First and Lithia Way as well as not maintaining the rhythm of buildings.  She did not have enough information about the future of Lithia Way.


Dawkins did not like the bulk and scale of the building.  There were no real differences in the height of the buildings.  He objected to the building being three stories high and as long as the buildings on the Plaza.  An approval would have overturned the setback already established on Lithia Way.  The setback should be protected for the future.


Fields said he would like to see a good sized sidewalk and the building built to the street.  His reasons for denial were keeping the entire ground floor commercial and bulk and scale of the buildings (articulation, building height and size).  It would make sense to have six residential live/work units.  The buildings have more glass than building and that much glass does not complement the downtown.  The public needs to be able to see into the commercial areas.


Douma denied the project because there are two lots and one did not meet the requirement of the zoning district.  He had concerns about bulk and scale.


Dotterrer concurred with Chapman and Douma.


Stromberg voted for denial because the balance between residential and commercial went too far and it was difficult to determine if the project was considered one or two lots.  There were several aspects of the Design Standards that were not met, including bulk and scale.  He did not like the sense of entry.  If the front yard setback is along First Street, then the setback should be 20 feet, if the plain language of the ordinance is applied.  Though minor, the project doesn’t satisfy the vision clearance.  He does not believe the case was made that the transition from the townhouses to the adjoining neighborhood was made.  He felt the purpose of the separation between buildings was not met as it was intended to reduce the mass, not making the separation wide at the front and narrow at the back.  He did not like the height of the tower.  The variation in heights did not meet the burden of proof.


Morris agreed with Chapman, Douma and Dotterrer with regard to the commercial versus residential after the lot split.  There was not adequate discussion of the bulk and scale during the Commissioners’ discussion.


PLANNING ACTION:           2005-01476

SUBJECT PROPERTY:        290 Skycrest Drive

OWNER/APPLICANT:           Brian & Diane Smith         

DESCRIPTION:   Land Partition to divide one existing parcel into two parcels including one flag lot for the property located at 290 Skycrest Dr.  The application includes a proposal to vacate the existing public alley right-of-way to the north of the property.  A Variance is requested to minimum lot width requirement and the minimum lot size.  The minimum lot width required is 100 feet, and the proposed lots are irregularly shape with portions under 100 feet in width.  The minimum lot size in the RR-.5 zone is .50 of an acre, and the proposed lots are .36 of an acre.  The eastern portion of the property, approximately .38 of an acre, is proposed as dedicated open space.  A Physical Constraints Review Permit is requested to create a parcel with slopes 25% and greater and remove three Black Oak trees greater than 12 inches diameter at breast height in Hillside lands.


Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts

Chapman walked the site a couple of months ago and a gentleman on site identified himself to Chapman.  Today he walked the site down the back slope. 

Black walked the site a couple of months ago.  He met the owner and they talked about how to identify a white and black oak tree.  She has since had communication with the owner on Comprehensive Plan issues.  She believes she can be unbiased. 

Dawkins, Dotterrer and Fields had a site visit.

Douma and Stromberg had nothing to report.

Morris had a site visit.  He reported that he just completed a job that Kerry KenCairn was working on at the same time.  He did not believe he had a conflict of interest.



Harris said there are two pieces to the application.  The bulk of it is a land use application.  The second piece is a request for a vacation of an alley. 


The land use application has three components.  The first is a request to create a new flag lot.  Secondly, there is a request for two Variances – 1) the middle lot width of 100 feet and 2) for the minimum lot size.  Third, there is a request for a Physical Constraints Review permit to remove three trees greater than 12 inches diameter at breast height in Hillside Lands and to create a new lot that is in Hillside Lands.


Harris gave the property description and location.  The Tree Plan identifies 118 trees with three black oak trees slated for removal.  All of the land is considered Hillside because it slopes 25 percent and greater.  There is an existing single family home in the southwest corner of the property.  She described the proposed partition by way of the site plan.  The partition relies on the vacation of the alley.  The alley right of way width is 20 feet. 


The main discussion point is granting of the two Variances. The Staff Report discusses them in further detail.  The lot width is calculated by averaging the different areas.  Each lot size is a minimum one-half acre.  Staff has taken a conservative approach.  The applicant has argued the site is unique or unusual because it is surrounded by lots that are smaller than one-half acre.  It is unique because it is a large lot but one of the only ones in the area that could have possibly two home sites.  Staff may not agree with the applicant’s argument that this application is a benefit because it is using the property to its intended density.  Goals and policies in the Comprehensive Plan talk about looking at lower densities in areas that have physical constraints.  There is always the balancing of what makes the most sense.  However, the obvious benefit is the public open space and use of the property in a trail dedication whether it is through an easement or a lot. 


Harris showed the alternative scenario as discussed in the Staff Report.  This scenario assumes the alley vacation would not happen, leaving a relatively small area to build on.  Would that be an adequate area upon which to build? 



LARRY MEDINGER, 115 Fork, said he is the technical person, builder and friend of the applicant.  He outlined the buildable area on the site plan.  There is a sewer line easement across the slope going over to the alley and down to Ditch Road. 


Dotterrer/Black m/s to extend the meeting to 11:00 p.m.  Everyone approved.


Medinger said he believes the plan they are presenting is the best planning for the site.  They are proposing two lots at .36 acres and one at .4 acres.  They are proposing to set aside a significant amount of open space at the bottom of the property.  They are trying to relate to the other lots in the neighborhood.  The distance from the south property line to the north property line is 68 feet, making for a nice sized lot.  The solar access is governed by a 16 foot solar fence, allowing for a substantial house.  He showed the proposed dedicated open space and trail.  Their map says “easement” but the idea is to dedicate that area, including the applicant’s one-half of the vacated alley to the City. 


BRIAN SMITH, 290 Skycrest, stated they are proposing the partition so they can ultimately build a small, modest house and dedicate the lower portion to the City.  He noted that by dedicating the lower portion of the lot, a hiker, jogger, trail user can traverse the slope and at some point tie into the Hald trail system.  It gives more options to walkers and joggers.  There is another neighbor who is not willing to dedicate the property that would be the connecting piece. 


Smith mentioned a letter from David Chapman endorsing the vacation of the alley only if the Smith’s offered a trail easement to the City.  There is also a letter from Don Robertson, Parks and Recreation Dept., favoring the alley vacation as long as they can have the trail option.  There was a letter from Jim Olson, City Engineer.  There was a letter from Rob Cain, President of the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association giving support of the alley vacation in exchange for a trail easement.


Medinger said the Variances are minor and the sizes are well within the mid-range lots in the Skycrest subdivision.  This lot is unique because it is the only lot over one acre that has two building sites that can be developed. 


Staff Response - Harris said looking at the alternate scenario, the dimensions average 67 feet.  The assertion by Medinger that this proposal could come forward and not require Variances is probably not accurate.


Rebuttal - Medinger said you don’t average the flag drive in the lot width.



Douma/Black m/s to approve PA2005-01476 with the attached 19 Conditions of approval. Roll Call:  Unanimous.


Douma/Stromberg m/s to recommend to the Council vacation of the alley right of way to the north of 290 Skycrest.  Roll Call:  Unanimous.



Meeting Date Change – The December Planning Commission meeting will be held, Monday, December 12th at 7:00 p.m.  The Hearings Board will be held on the same date at 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers.  Dotterrer will be absent.


The Commissioners were asked to keep their packets from this month for the next meeting.


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


Respectfully submitted by

Susan Yates

Executive Secretary





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