Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Joint Study Session

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

AUGUST 27, 2008

The meeting came to order at 7:10 p.m. in the Bellview Grange, 1050 Tolman Creek Road.

Planning Commissioners Present: City Council Present:
John Stromberg, Chair
Michael Dawkins
Debbie Miller
Michael Church
Pam Marsh
Melanie Mindlin
Dave Dotterrer
Cate Hartzell
Eric Navickas
Alice Hardesty
Kate Jackson
David Chapman
Staff Present: Absent Members:
Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Martha Bennett, City Administrator
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant
Mike Morris, Planning Commissioner
Tom Dimitre, Planning Commissioner
John Morrison, Mayor
Russ Silbiger, Councilor

Community Development Director Bill Molnar provided a recap of the meetings held to date on this issue. He noted Option D had received the most votes; however Option C also received support. He explained following the last meeting, the Consultants continued to receive feedback and have incorporated the best of the two proposals. Mr. Molnar commented on the next steps in this process, which include creating the final plan that meets the requirements of the grant and bringing it before the City Council for adoption. He noted staff had received a preliminary application request from the property owner for a light industrial use and is hopeful the property owner will be patient and continue to work with staff as they move through these final steps.

Consultants George Crandall, Don Arambula and Jason Graf with Crandall Arambula PC introduced themselves to the group.

Mr. Crandall reviewed the study area, project scope, and timeline for this project. He noted that housing was not selected for this site and spoke on the issue of sustainability, which included an outline of the following elements: 1) strict conservation standards, 2) high density housing, 3) improved transit service, 4) protected bike paths, 5) employment next to high density housing, 6) neighborhood grocery stores, 7) compact development, 8) energy efficient industries, and 9) reuse waste heat. Mr. Crandall elaborated on the benefits of protected bike lanes and presented several photos to the group. He commented on the elements of a great bicycle system and stated Ashland is nicely positioned for this type of system.

Mr. Arambula provided a presentation on the following elements of the Croman Mill Redevelopment Plan:

Permitted Uses
Location for Primary Road Alignment
Local Street Grid
Location of Light Industrial and Office Uses
Open Space Possibilities
Pedestrian and Bike Circulation
Development Requirements

Permitted Uses
Mr. Arambula reviewed the zones and proposed uses for this site, including potential code language modifications.

M1 Industrial - Remove the following uses:
1) Railroad yards and freight stations, trucking and motor freight stations and facilities.
2) Junkyard and auto wrecking yards.
3) Concrete or asphalt batch or mixing plants.
E1 Employment - Remove the following uses:
1) Building material sales yards.
2) Wholesale storage and distribution establishments.
3) Recycling depots.
4) Residential uses.
5) Cold storage plants.
6) Automobile and truck repair facilities.
7) Mini-warehouses and similar storage areas.
8) Contractor equipment storage yards.
9) Automobile fuel sales.
10) New and used car sales, boat, trailer and recreational vehicles sales and storage areas.
11) Any use which involves outside storage of merchandise, raw materials, or other material associated with the primary use on the site.
12) Automotive body repair and painting.
Additionally, Mr. Arambula recommended the code identify maximum allowable sizes for:
1) Stores, shops and offices supplying commodities or performing services.
2) Bakeries.
C1 Retail Commercial - Remove the following uses:
1) Commercial laundry, cleaning and dyeing establishments.
2) Bowling alleys, auditoriums, skating rinks, and miniature golf courses.
3) Automobile fuel stations and automobile and truck repair facilities.
4) Drive-up uses.
5) Kennel and veterinary clinics
6) New and used car sales, boat, trailer, and recreational vehicles sales and storage areas.
7) Outdoor storage of commodities.
8) Building material sales yards.
9) Churches or similar religious institutions.
10) Wireless communication facilities not permitted outright and authorized.
Mr. Arambula recommended the code identify maximum allowable sizes for:
1) Department stores, antique shops, artists supply stores, and regional shopping centers.

Location for Primary Road Alignment
Illustrations were provided of the proposed primary road alignment and 3-lane street design, which would accommodate sidewalks, travel lanes, and parallel parking on both sides, as well as a protected bike path on one side. Mr. Arambula noted there are some existing businesses that would need to be relocated in order to accomplish this and reviewed the suggested street phasing plan.

Local Street Grid
Mr. Arambula provided an explanation of the proposed street grid and noted the grid itself would be built by the developer. He clarified these streets would not include the protected bike paths and the streets should be constructed in a way that makes the bicyclist feel comfortable traveling with the auto traffic (slow traveling speeds, etc.)

Location of Light Industrial and Office Uses
An illustration of the proposed employment, commercial and industrial areas was presented to the group. Mr. Arambula clarified this layout was developed in response to the issues raised at the previous meeting.

Open Space Possibilities
Mr. Arambula commented on parks and squares and the difference between the two. He displayed examples of each type and recommended a central square or park be located next to the proposed Plexis site.

Mr. Arambula presented the proposed locations for the parking structure and potential park and ride. He reviewed the costs associated with parking structures and noted below grade structures can cost almost double that of above grade structures.

Pedestrian and Bike Circulation
Mr. Arambula noted the locations of the proposed protected bike paths and the existing and planned bike lanes. He also commented on how the bicycle and pedestrian traffic would circulate the site.

Mr. Arambula commented on possible transit options for this site, which include a fixed rail system. He noted the difference between street cars and light rails and recommended the City begin planning for this type of system, even if it cannot be built right away.

Development Requirements
Mr. Arambula stated the last element is the development requirements, and stated the following three elements were essential: 1) build to lines, 2) required active edges, and 3) required on street parking. He suggested a maximum building height of 11 floors in the middle of the site, and 5 floors at the north end. He clarified the intent is to go bigger in this area in order to obtain more density and noted they would not be considering these heights if they didn't have the commuter rail system.

Mr. Crandall requested the Planning Commission, City Council and public members in attendance share their concerns and comments. The following are some of the statements that were made:

Are you aware of the Airport Overlay? This may restrict the building heights in this area.
The Plexis site has a substantial amount of field area that is unbuildable, have they considered this?
How many people are needed to support a commuter rail system?
Some residents move to Ashland for the views of the mountains, how will tall buildings impact this?
Too much emphasis has been placed on transportation.
Regarding scale, bulk and density, they need to make sure this area retains Ashland's small town character and looks like it belongs.
They need something that will look pleasant from the interstate.
What other incentives can they provide to developers for creating the street grid aside from higher building heights?
We do not want to create "signature towers."
Why isn't the industrial area closer to the railroad?

City Administrator Martha Bennett recommended the Consultants revisit each of the plan's elements and solicit final feedback from the Planning Commission and Council.

 Permitted Uses
Mr. Crandall reviewed the proposed amendments to the current zoning code for this site and gave examples of what this would allow and disallow.

M1 Industrial. Suggestion was made to include a docking station or staging area as an incentive.

E1 Employment. Suggestion was made to remove mortuaries and crematoriums from permitted uses in this area. Comment was made questioning the removal of large bakeries. Mr. Crandall clarified this would be allowed in one of the other zones and stated bakeries do not have high density. Comment was made questioning the retention of hotels and motels. Mr. Crandall stated extended stay hotels are often attractive amenities for contract employees and suggested they could consider restricting certain types of lodging accommodations.

C1 Retail/Commercial. Mr. Crandall commented on their reasoning for removing some of the uses and described this zone as neighborhood commercial. He noted the recommendation to set a maximum permitted size for department stores and supply stores and suggested they set a minimum residential density in the code, rather than a maximum. Comment was made regarding the removal of churches. Mr. Arambula clarified the intent is to have high uses in this area.

It was noted that the Consultant's would provide a hard copy of the proposed land use code changes to the group. They were asked to mark up their edits and suggestions and submit them to staff.

Location of Primary Road Alignment

Local Street Grid
Comment was made questioning the inclusion of a local street grid since it is unable to extend to the surrounding area. Comment was made that the grid may limit the flexibility of a developer and perhaps they should include the option for an alternative. Comment was made that they may be working backwards by outlining the transportation plan first and then forcing buildings to fit within that concept.

Location of Light Industrial

Open Space Possibilities
Comment was made questioning if 2 acres is too much space. Opposing comment was made that they should be preserving more open space, not less. Mr. Arambula clarified the appropriate size depends on whether they want a park or a square. He stated a 1-acre square is ample, however if they want a park it should be at least 1-acre. He added he has a sense this should be an informal park with lots of green plantings and grass and it would be a place for employees and the surrounding residents to enjoy.

Mr. Arambula noted that Plexis would likely provide parking on site in the beginning, but as they expand the parking structure would provide a good option for them. Suggestion was made to switch the locations of the parking structure and the park. Mr. Crandall recommended the park be placed front and center for security reasons. He added parking structures tend to be unsightly unless you spend a lot of money on them, and stated if the structure was kept behind the park, they could choose to enhance just the one side facing the park.

Pedestrian and Bike Circulation
Comment was made questioning why they did not propose protected bike lanes on both sides of the road. Comment was made that they should extend this to the rest of the City.


Development Requirements
Concerns were expressed regarding the proposed 11 story building height. Mr. Arambula acknowledged the groups concerns and stated they would check into how the Airport Overlay will affect this and they will revisit this issue.

Meeting adjourned at 10:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant


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