Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, April 22, 2008




APRIL 22, 2008



Chair John Stromberg called the meting to order at 7:05 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR.


Commissioners Present:


Council Liaison:

John Stromberg, Chair

Dave Dotterrer


Cate Hartzell, Council Liaison, present

Michael Dawkins


Staff Present:

Mike Morris


Bill Molar, Community Development Director

John Fields, left the meeting at 7:30 p.m.


Maria Harris, Planning Manager

Pam Marsh


Derek Severson, Associate Planner

Melanie Mindlin


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

Absent Member:  Tom Dimitre





Stromberg asked that “Presentations” be included first on the agenda.  Dawkins/Dotterrer m/s to approve the revised agenda.  Voice Vote:  Approved.



Departing Commissioners Olena Black (served since 2003) and John Fields (served for ten years) were recognized and thanked for their extraordinary years of service to the community while on the Planning Commission.  Sue Yates, Executive Secretary for the Planning Department, retiring after 21 years of service was warmly recognized and presented with an engraved set of wind chimes that can be used by her in perpetuity to remember her wonderful friends, past and present, on the Planning Commission.

{Short recess for cake}



Follow the Water Resource Protection Zone presentation with Revised Planning Commission Rules.  Dawkins/Dotterrer m/s to approve the revised agenda.  Voice Vote:  Approved.




PLANNING FILE:  2007-01313

Presentation by Bill Molnar


Molnar stated about 1800 notices were sent to property owners around or adjacent to wetlands and stream areas.  Tonight is an opportunity for the Planning Commission and Staff to listen to citizens’ concerns and questions.  Molnar invited anyone with questions specific to their property and how the ordinance might affect the use of their property to come into the Planning Department or arrange a site visit.


Molnar gave a PowerPoint presentation that will be included in the record.



ROYCE DUNCAN, 1065 Paradise Lane, expressed the following comments:

1.             He will submit technical questions in writing (ordinance redundant in places)

2.                    Look at ordinance through the eyes of the individual homeowner.

3.                    What is justification for the increased buffers?  The mapped areas for the riparian make up only one to two percent of the area of Ashland.  Look at runoff from City as a whole from roofs, yards, gardens, streets, storm sewer, and what could possibly be in the buffer that is more polluting that 99 percent of the rest of the City’s runoff? 

4.                    What are unintended consequences?  Taking away usage of private property.  If the homeowner can’t use it, will they lose interest in maintaining it?  Will blackberries take over in those buffer areas?

5.                    The more we control property owners, the more we alienate ourselves from pulling together as a community.

6.                    What other values are we compromising?  Are we excluding human use?  He would like to see natural drainage areas more heavily used by humans.

7.                    More property will fall under the existing non-conforming use and will be subject to process and fees if they make modifications to their homes.

8.                    Larger lots will be able to split less.  Works against our infill policy.

9.                    He is opposed to “native” plants (not referring to the channel or noxious and invasive plants). 

10.                 Fencing is a standard human right.  Make a provision for open fencing a certain distance from the creek with openings for small animals to pass through.

11.                 Do we really want to exclude the use of mechanical equipment? 


RICK VEZIE, 446 Walker Avenue, said “water feature” is not defined in the ordinance.


HILLARY TIEFER, 565 Wrights Creek Drive, asked for clarification of the following:  Land use process for reduction of the protection zone – Would developers be exempt if they have already bought land for development in the future?  Molnar said it would not be exempt from the ordinance.  The primary purpose for adding the reduction section is an understanding that existing developed lots with single family homes developed previously might not have planned in accordance with the proposed ordinance, therefore, it allows for some opportunity to reduce the requirement, with mitigation required. 


BARRY PECKHAM, 303 Oak Street, asked for clarification of “top of bank.”  What are the natural banks of a stream?  Molnar said they have tried to provide a definition that a lot of communities have used and rely for some flexibility. Staff has discussed this option rather than going to a more objective standard that is very simple for a property owner to figure out (go to center line of creek).  The problem with the objective standard is that more or even less regulation might occur.

Dawkins commented that it seems Ashland Creek is the only creek that has a problem with top of bank.  Most secondary and intermediate streams are clearly way below stream bank.


Peckham stated he would rather have a more concrete definition.


TERRY CLEMENT, 290 Grandview Drive, made the following comments:

1.                    More regulations, more hurdles to cross.  Would like a package of how ordinance is applied.

2.                    Doesn’t trust Staff’s information. – difficult getting to Planning Director and Planning Manager.  Feels forced to hire a professional.

3.                    Would like a written determination from the City giving the go ahead.


Molnar responded there is a pre-application process whereby an applicant is given a package of how the ordinance is applied.


TRENT STOY, 955 Grandview Drive, lives out of the City Limits and in the Urban Growth Boundary.  Molnar said the ordinance would not apply to him unless his property is annexed into the City.  His land would be subject to County regulations.  Story’s other questions and comments follow.

1.                    Who has ownership of the resources?  Molnar said, generally, the property owners have ownership.  The ordinance would not require a property owner to dedicate the property to the public.

2.                    Wants to maintain his property rights.

3.             Who pays for implementation of the proposed ordinance?  Molnar said this ordinance would not require the City to increase Planning Staff.  Individual applications for some of the activities or reductions would trigger a land use application and our fees are based on approximately 75 percent of the time it takes to Staff to process it and go through a decision-making process. 


RICHARD LUCAS, 1621 Peachey, said his properties border Paradise Creek.  Lucas expressed the following concerns:

1.                    Why are changes necessary if there are going to be unintended consequences?  Property owners with established pieces of property should not fall under the new ordinance.

2.                    By requiring 30 foot center stream, 20 foot top of bank could make his property unbuildable.

3.             He has a conservation easement on his property.  Molnar said a conservation easement is used over an area to            manage a certain area of the creek.  The conservation easement does not necessarily line up with the parameters of this               ordinance.

4.             If a neighbor on the other side of the creek likes to play with hydrology and ends up moving the creek a little,               Lucas doesn’t have a problem with that, but if it impacts his setback, then he would have a problem with it. 

5.             He does not agree with the requirement for specific plantings within the buffer zone.  He and others have cleaned up their properties and they take pride in it.  If              they have too many regulations and restrictions, the buffer areas will      become blackberries again.  Encourage and educate property owners to plant local varieties, but don’t tell them they        can’t plant certain things.


GRAHAM SHELDON, 70 Water Street, owner of Ashland Creek Inn, stated he is generally in favor of the ordinance.  What happens if there is a flood and a structure such as a deck is removed?  Would they be allowed to put the deck back in the same place again?  Molnar said the bigger question is under those circumstances, we do have situations in town where historic development, whether appropriate or note, extended structures far too close to the stream.  Should they be allowed to do that again or should there be some review and an opportunity to back it off and bring back the creek environment.  Molnar will do more work on this. 


FRED  WALTER, 770  Walker Avenue, had an application that required him to build 65 feet from the creek.  His waterway is a five foot culvert.  With the new ordinance would he have an opportunity to reduce his setback to 20 feet?  Molnar asked Walter to set up an appointment to come see him.


RICK LANDT, 468 Helman Street, was a member of the Technical Advisory Committee a few years ago when this ordinance process began.  He expressed his concerns as follows:

1.             The proposed ordinance is lengthy and in places tries to be a one-size-fits-all. Oftentimes we won’t be protectinglower top of bank on one side of the creek while protecting a lot more on the higher top of bank side.  That is not addressed in the ordinance.  He has an alternative approach. 

2.             Incorporate the way protection for the floodplain occurs.  The riparian zone follows closely to the floodplain. 

3.             Non-conforming uses.  Some are problematic for the long-term.  What are we trying to get for our future?  He gave      examples.

4.             Don’t hurry the ordinance.  It is better to do it right than get it off the checklist.

5.             Definition of the protected area.  It should be clear so anyone is able to make the measurement.  Use the center of        creek and throw out the other language.  Subtract distance for elevation gain.  We already have a well-defined                floodplain and it may be that would be another way of defining it.

6.             Is there evidence that using local native plants are an advantage?  He challenged                 that requirement.  It isn’t always easy                 to obtain local plants.         

7.             He would favor taking a look at “use of machinery” section.


RICHARD DAVIS, 1335 Seena Lane, said the properties in his neighborhood (lower Roca Creek) have ten foot setbacks from top of bank.  Perhaps up the hill would need a different standard.  By increasing his setback another ten feet, he’ll lose 3600 square feet of buildable area.  He encouraged the Planning Commissioners to visit the affected neighborhoods.


BILL RICHEY, 675 Carol Street, said he has a ten foot easement and had questions.  Molnar said he would meet with Richey.


OLENA BLACK, 2110Creek Drive, had the following comments and questions:

1.             TID ditches use the riparian corridors to return water to Break Creek.

2.             Delineate TID leakage.

3.             Are we allowing storm drainage to create high water events for downstream users?

4.             No safe place for kids to play by increasing the setback.



Stromberg stated that Staff will take into account what has been heard this evening.  The Planning Commission will need to review the rationale for why we are doing this.  Dotterrer said he would like to know what is dictated by state and federal regulations.  Marsh plans to walk a lot of properties before the next meeting, and asked for a map.



Stromberg noted the Planning Commissioners have all been provided with a copy of the proposed Planning Commission Rules.  They are not discussing tonight.  It is required to have the Rules presented at a public meeting 14 days prior to making a decision.  Stromberg noted three changes:

1.             The existing Rules call for an election of officers the first meeting in May.  We have two new commissioners coming on and he would like to consider moving that to the first meeting in June.

2.             Quorum.  There is a conflict with the Powers and Duties Section of Chapter 2 of the AMC.  In order to pass a recommendation on an ordinance change, the Commission has to have five affirmative votes.  That language will be incorporated into the Rules.

3.             They will formally adopt the ability to extend public hearings to 10:30 p.m.

The Rules will be discussed at the next meeting.


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by,

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary




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