Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Commission Chair John Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.

Commissioners Present: -- Staff Present:
John Stromberg, Chair Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Michael Dawkins Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Mike Morris April Lucas, Administrative Assistant
Debbie Miller
Pam Marsh
Melanie Mindlin
Tom Dimitre
Dave Dotterrer
Absent Members: Council Liaison:
Michael Church, excused Cate Hartzell

A.  Approval of Minutes
      1.   August 12, 2008 Planning Commission Minutes

Commissioners Morris/Dawkins m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.


No one came forward to speak.


A. Water Resource Protection Zones Ordinance
Stromberg commented briefly on the site visits held on September 3 and September 6. He noted the scientist (Jeannine Rossa) who joined them on the visits and suggested she be invited to the next Planning Commission meeting to present a report. Stromberg suggested they proceed with the discussion tonight by making a list of the items they wish to discuss further, begin those discussions, and then plan on making a final decision at the next meeting. Marsh indicated she is ready to take action on this ordinance tonight and suggested they have the staff report and public hearing before making a decision on the process. Morris stated he is also ready to move forward and noted they have been working on this off and on for 5 years. Mindlin commented that if they do wait until the next meeting to make a decision, perhaps the Parks Department could be invited so their comments are made part of the record. Miller suggested they hear the staff report and take public input before deciding how to proceed. Council Liaison Hartzell voiced support for the Commission waiting and obtaining a report from Ms. Rossa before making a final decision.

Planning Manager Maria Harris and Community Development Director Bill Molnar addressed the group. Ms. Harris provided a presentation and explained the ordinance package before them includes the following components: 1) adoption of the Local Wetlands Inventory as a technical study that supports the Comprehensive Plan, 2) adoption of the Water Resources Map, 3) revision of the Floodplain Corridor Lands Map, 4) revision of Chapter 18.62, and 5) addition of Chapter 18.63, Water Resource Protection Zones.

Ms. Harris reviewed the most recent changes made to the ordinance and listed the July 22nd edits as the following: 1) broadened the definition of hand-held equipment, 2) removed the non-native planting section, 3) added language regarding pervious paving for outdoor use area, 4) added an exemption for nonconforming structures, and 5) added an exemption for previously approved building envelopes and driveways and included a timeline of 36 months. Ms. Harris commented on the top of bank definition and stated almost every other jurisdiction in the State uses this definition. She noted the physical characteristics you look for in identifying top of bank and suggested a diagram be included in the ordinance. She stated the ordinance has been updated to indicate the top of bank definition will be used for riparian corridors, and the remaining streams would use the center line definition. She stated the protection zone for local streams would be 40 ft. from the center line, and the protection zone for intermittent and ephemeral streams would be 30 ft. from the center line. Ms. Harris stated additional edits include an exemption for the installation of unpaved trails, exempting paving and reconstructing streets and driveways, and reorganization of the land use approval section.

Ms. Harris noted the ordinance addresses the concerns expressed by the Parks & Recreation Department and the Public Works Department. She stated the Parks Department requested the exemption for unpaved trails and the Public Works Department had concerns about being able to remove growth that affects the flow of drainage facilities.

Ms. Harris stated this ordinance package would provide for the systematic protection of wetlands, it would increase the size of the stream buffer (except for the 6 streams with delineated floodplains), and it would manage the activities in the protection zone to protect the wetland and riparian functions. She stated staff's recommendation is for the Planning Commission to recommend approval of the proposed ordinance to the City Council.

Royce Duncan/1065 Paradise Lane/Voiced his concerns with the proposed ordinance. Mr. Duncan commented on the definition of "significant" and does feel they should be using the 1987 determination of assets. He referred to the "Oregon Procedures and Requirements for Complying with Goal 5" and the "Report by the Riparian Management Work Group." He stated the State is clear that fish bearing streams should be protected, and the City should follow their standards for this. However, the State does not address intermittent and local streams and this is something the City has added on. He stated the current draft is too restrictive and the issues being raised are not regarding the State's requirements, but rather are being caused by the City's additions.

Dawkins suggested they approve the maps, since they are pretty straightforward, and then begin deliberations on the ordinance language. Stromberg suggested they begin discussions by having each member list which areas they would like to discuss further. Mindlin stated she would like to discuss storm water, exemptions, structures and pervious surfaces, and whether to include an ongoing review process in the ordinance. Dotterrer stated he would like to discuss outdoor use areas, establishing a water quality baseline, whether the buffer areas are too wide, different levels of protection for different sections of the streams, exempting Lithia Park and the downtown area, and the use of the term "stringent" in 18.62. Miller stated she would like to discuss the reduction of the protection zone up to 50%, outdoor use, nonconforming structures, permeable pavers, and applying this language to the parcels they visited on their site tours. Dimitre stated he would like to discuss outdoor uses, the legal nonconforming uses, canopy covers and how that plays into this, Section 18.63.080, hardship variances, enforcement, incentives for homeowners, and what role Ms. Rossa might play in this. Stromberg stated he would like to discuss the relationship of the ordinance to the flood control regulations, preparing a user's guide, having some kind of evolving process for this ordinance, how the sewer system along Ashland Creek will be affected, the relationship between this ordinance and the TID, what to do about the Calle and Water Street properties, positive plants lists, how to deal with chemicals, demonstrations sites, and responding to the proposals from the Ashland Watershed Council.

The Commission took a brief recess to organize the discussion points listed. It was agreed the Commission would hold discussion until 9:30 p.m. and then continue this item to their next meeting.

Stromberg explained the issues have been separated into three main categories: setbacks, activities, and enforcement. He added the few remaining issues that did not fit within one of the categories would be dealt with at the end.

Hardship Variance
Dimitre questioned the language in 18.63.090.C, which reads "The proposed activity or use of land would have been permitted prior to the effective date of this ordinance." He stated it sounds as if this language exempts the ordinance. Ms. Harris explained this language is trying to establish that what someone wants to do could have been done prior to this ordinance taking affect. She added all 8 criteria listed need to be satisfied in order to qualify for the variance. Dimitre suggested the ordinance include the word "all" so that this is clear.

Protection Zone Reductions
Miller questioned 18.63.080 and stated 50% seems like a lot for a residential lot, especially the smaller ones. Mr. Molnar clarified the language reads "up to a 50% reduction" and this is the maximum, not an automatic amount. He added an applicant would need to have a very robust mitigation plan in order for a 50% reduction to be considered. Dimitre stated the language does not speak to what activities could be exempted and stated he would rather remove this section from the ordinance, and if that is not possible, make it a 25% maximum or a Type II approval to make it more difficult for people to do. Suggestion was made to possibly include more stringent criteria for this section. Mr. Molnar stated if the Commission wishes to change this provision, they need to provide specific direction to staff. Stromberg restated his suggestion to hear Jeannine Rossa's input on this. Marsh voiced concern that this person has now become an authority on this process. Morris agreed and stated it seems as if they are going back to the beginning. He noted they have already determined that it is not possible to map out every lot along the streams and feels this is where some of the members are heading. Mindlin suggested those that have issues provide specific suggestions at their next meeting.

Stromberg commented on the notion of having different setbacks for the various sections of a watercourse and asked for the Commission's input on this. Dotterrer stated the functions of a stream change along the course of the stream and voiced support for looking into this. Stromberg also voiced support for flushing out this idea. Dimitre noted this ordinance is designed to protect the entire riparian habitat and not just the fish. He added that he has concerns about reducing the buffer area and how this might harm the other wildlife.

Dimitre left the meeting at 9:25 p.m.

Dotterrer questioned the buffer sizes and asked where the 30 ft. and 40 ft. figures came from. Mr. Molnar clarified these figures are based on existing knowledge of the community and how the current standards have been applied. He stated staff felt the current standards were inadequate and this is why it was increased.

Stromberg noted they have reached the time they decided they would conclude and announced this hearing would be continued to the October 16, 2008 Planning Commission meeting. Morris expressed his concerns with the process and does not feel they are moving towards as outcome. Stromberg clarified it is his intention to take a vote on this ordinance at their next hearing.



A. Overview of City Employment Lands Inventory
Mr. Molnar noted there have been a lot of questions regarding the City's E1 and M1 zoning throughout the Croman Mills redevelopment process, and provided a brief presentation on the City's employment lands inventory. He displayed maps that outlined the City's commercial, employment and industrial zones and noted the City's total net buildable acreage is approximately 117 acres, and the gross vacant or partially vacant acreage is 167 acres. Mr. Molnar commented on the types of buildings you normally see in these areas and displayed several pictures of various industrial buildings in Ashland.

Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant


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