Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, November 13, 2007





NOVEMBER 13, 2007



Chair John Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR.


Commissioners Present:        


Council Liaison:

John Stromberg, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Mike Morris

Olena Black


Cate Hartzell, Council Liaison, absent due to quasi-judicial agenda

John Fields

Pam Marsh



Dave Dotterrer

Melanie Mindlin

Absent Members:


Staff Present:

Bill Molnar, Community Development Director

Derek Severson, Associate Planner

Tom Dimitre, excused


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary


ANNOUNCEMENTS – There were no announcements.



Marsh/Dotterrer m/s to approve the agenda.  Voice Vote:  Unanimously approved.



Approval of Minutes

               October 4, 2007 – Special Planning Commission Meeting

               October 9, 2007 0 Regular Planning Commission Meeting

               October 23, 2007 – Planning Commission Study Session

Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to approve the Consent Agenda.  Voice Vote:  Approved with Black abstaining. 


PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak.



PLANNING ACTION:           PA-2007-01756

SUBJECT PROPERTY:       705 Helman Street

OWNER/APPLICANT:         OgdenRoemerWilkerson Architecture, AIA

DESCRIPTION:                   Request for Site Review approval to construct an approximately 6,400 square foot gym addition and a 5,010 square foot library addition at Helman School, with related interior modifications and sitework.    


Ex Parte Contact/Bias/Conflict of Interest/Site Visits

Dawkins, Dotterrer and Stromberg had a site visit.  Fields, Black, Mindlin, Morris and Marsh did not have a site visit.  There were no ex parte contacts.  No one came forth to challenge.



Severson explained the application as outlined in the Staff Report.  The application would typically have been subject to an Administrative approval as a Type I action, however, after reviewing the initial submittals, Staff identified three issues they did not feel had been sufficiently addressed to grant Administrative approval.  As such, Staff scheduled this for a hearing, making some modifications and imposing some conditions allowing for approval rather than delaying the application.


Staff concerns include:

1.     Proposed changes to the onsite bus staging – The applicants submitted additional information indicating the buses serving the school will stage on the newly paved lot off Randy Street.  The circulation pattern would not change, just the site staging.  The purpose of the change is that the existing parking lot off Helman currently accommodates school parking, parent drop-off and bus drop-off.  The primary goal of the project was to separate the bus traffic from the parent drop-off area in order to reduce the safety hazard created by children darting between cars.  The applicants felt that relocating the bus staging site to the northwest corner lot would have a significantly lesser impact to the Randy Street neighborhood.  Staff concurs with this assessment and believes the proposed relocation of the bus staging site to Randy Street and the associated changes in bus circulation will improve student safety without significantly altering the bus traffic to surrounding streets.

2.     Signage   Staff believes the proposed large dragon mascot shown on the north wall of the proposed gym building clearly falls under the definition of a sign.  Staff has advised the applicants that a Conditional Use Permit would need to be obtained prior to placement of the signage and a condition has been added. 

3.       Gym has not meet Site Review criteria – The criteria calls for buildings to have their orientation to the street rather than to parking areas, with entrances oriented to the street and access from a public sidewalk.  Without an entrance it will leave a 63 foot unadorned concrete wall facing the street except for the green screen wire mesh paneling.  Staff was concerned the proposed building turned its back on the neighbors.  And, the fact the wall was situated at the bend in Randy Street at the logical terminus of a motorist’s line of sight made the wall an even more prominent feature of the streetscape.  Staff felt strongly that the orientation and relationship to the street were a critical element of the design that needed to be better established to satisfy the standards.  Staff believes the entrance to the southwest corner of the building could be relocated to west side, with appropriate entrance covering and hardscape/landscape treatments to provide a clearer orientation and sense of entry toward Randy Street.  Additionally, a change in materials around the entrance could be further used to identify and emphasize the entrance, and the area between the west side of the building and Randy Street could be landscaped to emphasize a connection to the Randy Street streetscape.  Public space would be extended and defined through hardscape, and a walkway extended to provide a pedestrian connection to the newly defined westerly entrance.  The applicants provided a revised elevation drawing that has been handed out tonight. 


Overall, Staff is supportive of this request, and the proposal represents a significant enhancement to the overall campus both in separating the bus staging area from parent drop-off and developing a courtyard space between existing buildings and the new.  Staff believes the revised west elevation could be found to satisfy the standards for a sense of entry and orientation to the street, however, the changes to the elevation have not been carried through to landscape plans to illustrate a walkway connection to the sidewalk or the landscape and hardscape elements Staff requested to better define a relationship to the street.  There are six attached conditions and Staff is requesting a slight modification to Condition 4A:  The applicants shall provide…material changes, “and a revised landscape plan, incorporating a walkway connecting to the sidewalk, the addition of columnar trees and conifers, as recommended by the Tree Commission, and hardscape and landscape treatments to provide a small courtyard area and clear orientation and sense of entry toward Randy Street for the review and approval of the Staff Advisor.”


Questions of Staff

Black wondered if the entrance was revised so the area could be better monitored by an adult.  By moving the entry around the corner, does that leave the entryway more vulnerable to monitoring?  Severson said the applicants expressed those concerns.  Staff was not looking for a primary entrance so it might be locked at times.  Molnar said the entrance on the west side is a secondary entrance. 


Dotterrer asked the purpose of the walkway from Randy to the west entrance.  Severson said it would be to provide a connection to the street, for appearance, and it could function as an entry or ventilation during a game.  


Molnar explained that in looking at the bigger picture, there has been a discussion of community buildings and their impact on the community.  The neighborhood schools are focal points of the neighborhoods, demonstrating the pride this community has in academics.  Staff felt the western side of the gym and its prominence on Randy Street, especially coming up from Laurel Street, that there could be some changes to have a greater respect for the street and how the residential buildings on the opposite side of the street relate.  After meeting with the applicant, Molnar said they believed that with some minor changes to the site plan and entrance features, that they could create a better architectural and physical connection to the neighborhood across the street.



JULI DICHIRO, Superintendent of Ashland Schools, Ashland School District #5, 885 Siskiyou Boulevard, expressed her enthusiasm in coming to the Commission with the first of many projects that are funded with their bond revenue.  This represents a partnership they have with the community.  The plan is a result of a 22 member community committee that met for 18 months to study all the school district facilities, ultimately making a recommendation to the school board. Helman School was designed at a time when there were some assumptions of school design that we do not hold today.  Helman School has more of a campus approach to an elementary school with four different quads all disconnected from each other and with entrances on all sides of the campus.  With the proposed plan they hope to encourage the use of the main entrance of the school on Helman Street and discourage use of the other entrances.  They currently have a hard time monitoring adults that come on campus even for legitimate purposes because there is no real guide to the main entry.  The gym is proposed in order to separate the functions of the current gym/cafeteria.  The library is too small to meet today’s needs for a media center.  By separating the bus and parent parking pick-up and drop-off areas for students, DiChiro emphasized that safety and security should improve.  She noted all the school buses have been retrofitted to use green diesel that emit no fumes.  She said they would discourage use of the door on the west side of the building because of safety and security issues.


DAVID WILKERSON, OgdenRoemerWilkerson Architecture, 2950 East Barnett Road, Medford, OR  97504, said they have tried with their proposal to provide a safe and secure learning environment while trying to ease the conflicts between cars and buses.  With regard to the dragon mural, Wilkerson was hoping they could use the governmental sign allowance in the ordinance for their mural, but he is happy to apply for a Conditional Use Permit for the mural. 


Wilkerson said it is their preference not to put an entry door on the west side.  They have tried to orient the entry on Helman Street.  It seemed to make the most sense to orient the entrance to the gym toward the new courtyard and reinforce that Helman Street is really the front of the school.  They tried to address Randy Street to the north even though it is from a distance. 


Marsh would like to hear more about how the landscaping could be used on the west side of the gym.


GREG COVEY, Covey Pardee Landscape Architecture, 295 E. Main Street, #8, asked Severson to read the Tree Commission recommendations.  Each Commissioner received a copy of the recommendations and Severson read them aloud.  Covey said their goal is to provide additional coniferous and deciduous trees on the west side and more screening in the form of larger broadleaf deciduous and evergreen shrubs for color accent on the west side.  The question would be if the Commission would require the sidewalk connection directly out to Randy Street versus going due north to the bus drop-off sidewalk.  It is higher in elevation to go to the bus drop-off sidewalk.


Severson read an e-mail from Ann Bodin, a neighbor of Helman School, outlining her concerns.



DiChiro said she believes their school population has stabilized and they do not foresee any additional school closures.  Helman School needs a bigger library space to address the needs of the 21st Century.  The gym space is very appropriate for elementary schools.  The community will have access to the buildings just as they do now.  However, the high school and middle school are used most frequently by the community. 


Wilkerson said the gym at Helman is exactly the same size as the new gym at Bellview School because they are serving similar populations.  The library will accommodate all the books that Helman has, it will include a media center, a classroom, a computer lab, study areas and reading areas.  DiChiro said the library will be handicap accessible. 

Wilkerson passed around a photograph showing the viewshed.  The building height will be a little higher that it is currently, but the street trees will impact the view of the building. 


Stromberg closed the public hearing and the record.



Dotterrer wondered if it is Staff’s position that the entrance on the west side and the sidewalk be included in order to meet the criteria. 


Molnar explained that while there has been a focus on the entrance, there is roughly 45 feet between the blank wall and Randy (a no man’s land).  Is there something to create focus and relationship to the neighborhood?  While there is a real internal focus to the campus that we respect, there is an opportunity as you look around town to see other campuses and how they relate to the street.  Molnar’s fondest memory with having a child at Lincoln School is the end of the year party that was held on the front lawn of the school, with neighbors dropping by.  Our public schools are in neighborhoods not be insulated, but to be a part of the neighborhood.


Molnar said some of the Commissioners might remember when the Mountain Avenue Theater and the Oak Knoll Golf Course maintenance buildings came before the Commission. There was a lot of concern in holding public projects to the same standard as private development.  A committee was formed by the Council to look at civic design standards.  Instead of developing new standards, the committee decided it was in the community’s best interest to work with the public institutions to compel them think about what type of impact they will have on the fabric of the community. 


As a point of information, Molnar said the relationship of the west side of the gym to the street is an issue that was raised during the pre-application conference in July.  We should look at the package, not just the door.


Marsh asked if there are any amendments to the landscaping plan that could better respond to the neighborhood.  Molnar said the landscape plan is primarily turf and screening.  Is there still a way to bring a walkway down to the northwest corner entrance through landscaping?  The applicants have a very qualified design team and they looked to the applicants to present some options.


Fields would look for an architectural solution on the west side instead of a door. 


Black does not see a reason for the west entrance, however, she can envision large broadleaf trees covering the west wall and over time, the trees will get larger and will eventually provide a shaded area.  She said there will be a defacto trail coming from the southwest corner towards the south side of the building where there is a porch cover.  The parking design creates almost a pocket park. 


Marsh said they want to accomplish landscaping to block and soften the blank wall.  It seems a path from the back door to Randy Street that is planned might be a way to create an identity and connection to the community.   


Molnar understands they want the applicants to provide a sense of entry and connection to the westerly portion of the campus to Randy Street primarily through landscaping and some simple architectural treatment to the west side of the building, but not including an entrance.


Appicello explained if the Commission wants Molnar to make a clear decision, a new notice is not needed, but if it is too wide open, then a notice will be required. 


Molnar said based on the testimony, the primary entrance to the gym is facing Randy Street and connected by a walkway so it can be found to have an orientation toward the street.  The placement of the gym works like a corner lot.  The condition can be flexible because it isn’t so much to comply with the orientation standard, but recognition that it has a second face that faces Randy.  A condition is still needed. 


Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to approve PA2007-01756 with a modification of Condition 4A to read as follows:  The applicant shall provide revised elevation drawings addressing the west elevation of the new gymnasium building to include a walkway from Randy to the southwest corner of the building and landscape and architectural treatments to provide a clear orientation and sense of entry toward Randy Street.    


Fields/Black m/s to call for the question.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous. 


Roll Call:  The motion was unanimously approved.


PLANNING ACTION:           PA-2007-01398

SUBJECT PROPERTY:       167, 185 and 203 N Mountain Avenue

OWNER/APPLICANT:         Havurah Friends Investment Group LLC

DESCRIPTION:                   Request for Outline Plan Approval to allow a 12-lot, 15-unit subdivision for the properties located at 167, 185 and 203 North Mountain Avenue.  Also included are requests for: the modification of a previously approved Site Review and Conditional Use Permit (#2001-0039) for the Havurah Jewish Synagogue; Site Review approval to construct a two-story, six-unit residential building; a Tree Removal Permit for the removal of one nine-inch diameter pine tree from Tax Lot #1701; and a boundary line adjustment with Tax Lots 1600, 1701, 1800 and 1700.  (This request supersedes the previous Outline Plan approval for a 14-lot, 13-unit subdivision granted under Planning Action #2006-01091.) 


Ex Parte Contact/Bias/Conflict of Interest/Site Visits

Marsh stepped down from the hearing and left the room.  Her husband is working on a project with Larry Medinger.  Dawkins, Dotterrer, Stromberg, Morris, Mindlin and Black had site visits.  Fields had no site visit.  There were no ex parte contacts.  There were no challenges. 



Severson described, in detail, the five components of this project as outlined in the Staff Report. 

  1. Boundary Line Adjustment – Because the existing lots are triangular, creating significant narrow areas that make efficient land use difficult, the applicant has proposed to adjust boundary lines in order to square off the lots to make a more logical and efficient configuration.  (See Staff report for more details.)
  2. Outline Plan – The applicant is requesting Outline Plan approval to subdivide the property into 12 lots accommodating 15 residential units.  Eight lots are proposed to be developed as single family residential units, with six of these as attached, zero lot line units and two detached residences along the flag drive. The remaining lot is proposed to contain a six-unit, two story condominium building.  The proposal supersedes the previously approved 14-lot subdivision approved under PA2006-01091.  

The following topics were discussed in the Staff Report:

        Access                                                               Page 3

        Open Space                                                       Page 3 and 4

        Existing and proposed facilities      Page 4    and 5

        Base and Bonus Density Standards              Page 10 and 11


Staff believes the application appears to meet the criteria for Outline Plan under the Performance Standards which allows for more flexible lot layout and design, approaching an effort to preserve natural features, encourage innovation and energy efficient building design.


  1. Modification of a previously approved Site Review and Conditional Use Permit for the Havurah Jewish Temple – See Page 5 and 6 of Staff Report.
  2. Tree Removal – See Page 6 of Staff Report.
  3. Site Review Approval – See page 5 and 6 of Staff Report.


The Performance Standards Option requires that a private drive serving four or more units located in an R-1 zoning district, be improved to street standards and dedicated as a public street.  The application proposes a 20 foot wide flag drive for Lot 10 for a six-unit residential condominium building.  The applicant is proposing to split the vehicular impacts of the building so the vehicles will enter from Mountain Avenue and exit toward Clear Creek.  Half the vehicle trips are incoming and half are outgoing trips so neither of these driveways would have more than three vehicle trips.  Since the packets were prepared, Staff believes this should have been noticed as an Exception to Street Standards and it was not addressed that way in the Staff Report.  Staff believes the information provided supports an Exception to Street Standards and, as such, Staff would recommend the hearing be continued to next month to allow re-noticing of the application as an Exception to Street Standards.  Staff will bring Findings to that meeting to avoid creating any further delay to the applicant. 


Dotterrer asked if there is an issue with a multi-unit building in an R-1 zone.  Molnar said a Planned Community Development is an acceptable permitted use in an R-1 zone. They have to look at the overall density of the project and how the buildings and uses are situated.   The Commission has broad discretion.  It still needs to be found that it is appropriate and to the cumulative density. 



LAURA ROBIN, 1090 Elkader Street, past President of the the Havurah, gave some background on the project.  When the land came up for sale, it became a shared vision and an opportunity for the Havurah to help the community, the elderly and the elderly and children get together while supporting diverse housing needs.  Everything fell into place. Of the 14 units to be built, nine have already been reserved to the extent possible.


MARK KNOX, Urban Development Services, LLC, 700 Mistletoe Road, Suite 204, said he thinks they will be able to have a sidewalk along the alley.  They anticipate no more than 30 vehicle trips per day.  Units in the R-1 zone, as they did in the Billings Ranch Subdivision, were designed in order to create open space.  He noted the path (next to the wetlands) as a pretty important connection.  The connection is 200 feet from the new street to the beginning of the Railroad Park on 8th Street.  The walk takes approximately one minute. 


Knox said this section of town has no storm drains at all.  This subdivision will take care of storm water with a device where a small portion of the water will continue to flow towards the wetland and a large portion will be collected and run down a whole new system that will go down Mountain to Ashland Village Drive. 


With regard to the wetlands, the City has tried to address the issue of re-routing water.  The Public Works Dept. is looking forward to making certain connections occur, but at the same time, maintaining some wetlands that are there.  The applicants are proposing to some mitigation by adding approximately 2000 square feet of additional wetland.  They did that to expedite their review process through the Division of State Lands and the Corps of Engineers.   They plan to pipe water from the ditch, disperse a portion of it into the wetlands to create a bioswale. 


Knox agreed with Staff’s direction about holding off and noticing for the Exception to Street Standards next month.  He agreed to move forward with it at next month’s meeting.


LARRY MEDINGER, 115 Fork Street, said this is the oddest collection of properties.  He has a respect for the specific needs of the seniors.  The condominium building came about because they had some “grandmas” that needed a place to live. 


Black/Dawkins m/s to extend the meeting to 10:00 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved unanimously.


Molnar said with there is a maximum number of dwelling units the flag drive can serve before you start looking at a public street in order to avoid creating private neighborhoods not connected to adjacent neighborhoods.  It’s an extended standard of a flag drive to allow a certain number of units to be served off a driveway coming off a public street, but with limits so we are not creating segregated, private enclaves. In the past, in order to encourage joint use, they have been able to make a finding that the units fronting a public street have not been included in the unit count.


SHARON JAVNA, 219 Almond, expressed her excitement with the proposal and the idea that this religious place is very interfaith and open to the whole community.  She wants to see more diversity – they want multi-age, multi-class to create community. 


STEPHANIE PHILLIPS, Havurah Council member, 184 Faith Circle, Talent, said she is involved as a Havurah member.  Many of their events are supported by the community.  They took this project to a full member vote and there were two abstentions and one “no” vote; the rest were in favor.  She noted all the benefits of the project.


JUDY NEWTON, 205 Granite Street, agreed with the others.  She described the positive aspects of the proposal.  It takes the neighbors into consideration. 


EMILY ZOOK, 308 Patterson, is a strong supporter of communities that will eliminate cars.  She has worked with the Havurah and is very supportive of the project. 


FRAN ORROCK, 1030 Ivy Lane, is a member of Havurah and an investor in Havurah Financial Investment Group (HFIG).  She and her husband have a reservation on Lot 9, and she is an Ashland resident.  They went through the 1997 flood and they are very aware of the impact of impervious surfaces.  They are looking for a design for themselves that is intergenerational, that provides for community and caring, that maximizes southern exposure, and allows green spaces.


STAN SCHULSTER, 165 Pilot View Drive, joined HFIG to fulfill a dream.  He talked about love, respect and sharing.  He wants to integrate the kids at the Havurah School with their adopted grandparents in the residential units.  He asked for approval.


DANIEL MILAN, 460 Wilson Road, said he likes to be close to a multi-age population.  He likes being able to walk, bike and use other alternative means of transportation.  He supports this proposal.


AL SILVERWITZ, 1600 E. Nevada Street, repeated that this project sets the table in terms of master planning that is going on in the City and begins the connection between this section where the project is and the Railroad District and Downtown.   It’s a development space with some complication and problems, but problems that any development will have to deal with.  He believes the way the planning has happened on this project, that probably 200 people have had a say during the process.  This is a good beginning to make those connections.


KATHERYN MCELRATH, 165 Pilot View Drive, believes the proposed project will be a great improvement in the neighborhood and is hopeful the project will be approved.


Dotterrer/Fields m/s to continue this action to the regular Planning Commission meeting to be held on December 11, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers.  Roll Call:  Unanimously approved.


Fields/Dawkins m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m.  Voice Vote:  Approved.



Stromberg said the value of having goals is that it helps us focus on where we are going to spend our energy and time in the months to come.  Secondly, it enables us to start to communicating and coordinating with the City Council.  He would like to start distinguishing what are our goals and what are our tasks.


Marsh said the list looks more like a work plan for the next one to two years.  A goal is some broad aesthetic thing that we aim for. 


Dotterrer believes Priority 1 is a goal, but needs to be divided up.


Morris said we have put so much time into the items under Priority 2 that he would like to see accomplishing the Priority 2 items as a goal.  He didn’t know why they weren’t Priority 1. 


Stromberg said Priority 1 was more global.  Council has been looking at all four parts of Priority 1.  He believes visioning is crucial and has to address the items in Priority 1, and that the four areas depend on each other.


Morris asked if we are going to stop everything to do visioning.  He would like to see Priority 2 items move ahead of visioning.  Stromberg said the items can be worked on simultaneously.  He agreed that all the Priority 2 items need to be done.


Mindlin agreed with Morris that the Priority 2 items are things we have been working on for a while.  The goal is to complete projects in which we have already invested a great deal of time and energy.


Marsh suggested taking the list and the items that are underlined and passing it to the Council.  She is happy with the list and there are probably more things we can add, but not yet.


Fields said we have a work plan and we will spend the next year finishing Priority 2, Items A-D.  Every vision that is created is usually only done by about a 100 people.  Visioning is a constant renewal process to see where we’ve been and where we are going.  Though the Planning Commission can serve a role, the Council has to get it together and figure out where they want to go.


Marsh added that the Council needs to define our role and what they want from us.  Mindlin said we need to tell the Council we want visioning, etc.  We are just waiting to do it.  Dotterrer said community visioning is not necessarily ours to do, but it is important to do – all the Council needs to do is tell us what they want us to do.  He wouldn’t mention any of the pieces of the Comprehensive Plan – just say the whole Comprehensive Plan. He thinks CPAC is a different issue.


Fields said more important than the Comp Plan as a goal is for the Council to provide leadership.  We need to decide on how to communicate with the Council and what we expect of them and what they expect of us. 


Black would like to see Stromberg’s community dialogue continued.  You look at the Comp Plan and look to see where there are changes in the underlying assumptions, and then ask if there are policy changes that need to be made.


Dawkins referred to rising gas prices.  No one wants to talk about oil depletion.  He would like to be some things that look toward that crisis.  He is looking at something preventative.    


Marsh has been reflecting on when Molnar and Harris came to them to talk about then what they wanted to do with a major re-do of the Comprehensive Plan.  They specified the first year they would have undergo a values clarification process.  It seems we can use the visioning process to be the values clarification.  However, the Planning Commission can’t take it any further than to say to the Council this is a really important process to the Planning Commission until the Council starts to clarify what they want their role to be.  She believes they need to tell the Council that community visioning is integral to the work that we need to do to go forward, and please tell us what we can do to help with this process to get us moving rapidly.


Stromberg feels that having the conversation face-to-face with the Council is important.  He will put together a list of items and distinguish on-going items they are committed to getting done as soon as possible, and the goal and question to them about visioning.  He will try to set up a time as soon as possible to talk to the Council.


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by,

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

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