Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Joint Study Session

Tuesday, August 25, 2009




AUGUST 25, 2009



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


Planning Commissioners Present:


Staff Present:

Larry Blake

Michael Dawkins
David Dotterrer

Pam Marsh

Debbie Miller

Mike Morris

John Rinaldi, Jr.


Bill Molnar, Community Development Director

Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Assistant




Absent Members:


Council Liaison:

Tom Dimitre
Melanie Mindlin


Eric Navickas




A.         Commissioner Roles related to the Transportation System Plan.

Transportation Commissioners Present:


Public Works Staff Present:

Thomas Burnham

Julia Sommer

Colin Swales

Matt Warshawsky


Mike Faught, Public Works Director




Absent Members:


Council Liaison:

John Gaffey

Eric Heesacker

Brent Thompson

David Young


David Chapman


Following brief introductions by the Planning and Transportation commissioners, Marsh explained the two commissions would be working together on the upcoming Transportation System Plan (TSP) update and the purpose of this joint meeting is to receive input on where they are at in the process and to talk about how the two commissions will work together.


Public Works Director Mike Faught provided an update on the TSP process. He explained the City has been awarded a $150,000 grant (which is less than the $350,000 applied for) to update the City’s Transportation System Plan. He stated the next step is for the City to finalize the Request for Proposals (RFP) with the State, and then the State will issue the RFP and provide the City with a list of consultants to choose from. He stated this is a TGM or Transportation Growth Management grant and the project will span the next two years. Mr. Faught stated the Transportation Commission will be the primary commission to process the TSP update; however, staff has proposed 8 joint meetings with the Transportation Commission, the Planning Commission and the project consultant. Mr. Faught clarified that while the City only received a portion of the grant amount requested, this project is a priority for the City and was funded 100% in the current year’s budget. He stated the remaining $200,000 needed to complete the project will be paid for through the City’s Transportation SDCs.


Mr. Faught reviewed the following elements of the draft RFP and received input from the commissioners:


·         Pedestrian Node Alternatives Analysis
Mr. Faught noted this element was originally prepared as a separate TGM grant proposal by the Planning Staff and was later incorporated into the current grant request. Planning Manager Maria Harris stated the three nodes identified for analysis are: 1) Bridge St. and Siskiyou Blvd., 2) Walker Ave. and Ashland St., and 3) East Main and North Mountain Ave. She explained that in Ashland, the historic sections of the streets tend to be more multimodal and pedestrian oriented, and these three intersections represent where these “complete streets” meet the more auto-oriented streets. She stated the idea is to look at these locations and determine how to make them more pedestrian oriented as a way to set the tone for the rest of the development in the area. She added all three of these intersections were identified because of the large amount of redevelopment potential in the surrounding areas.

Commissioner Marsh requested the Tolman Creek/Ashland Ave. intersection also be addressed in terms of pedestrian access and movement.

·         Access Management and Spacing
Mr. Faught explained the focus on access management will apply primarily to the arterials and arterial collectors, but they will also evaluate the entire City. When asked whether this item would just address the access management of vehicles, Mr. Faught commented that driveways on collector streets create issues for all modes of transportation. He cited the issues on North Main St. and stated the numerous driveways create hazards for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists; and stated he would like to minimize the number of these access points.

Commissioner Sommer noted the intersection of N. Main/Hersey/Wimer is one of the City’s worst intersections for accidents.


Councilor Chapman arrived at 7:30 p.m.

·         Parking Plan
Mr. Faught stated this element will focus primarily on the downtown area and the results will be incorporated into the larger parking plan, which is a separate project.

Commissioner Sommer suggested this element be done towards the end of the update process so that it can incorporate any transportation ideas that come up (mass transit, street cars, etc). She added if the other elements move forward, parking may become less of an issue.

Commissioner Dotterrer noted the issues the Planning Commission has had with parking in the Railroad District and asked that this area be included in the analysis. 

Commissioner Swales questioned why the Park and Ride is not mentioned in the draft RFP. He also cited previous studies that addressed downtown parking that were never adopted by the City. Mr. Faught clarified these documents are referenced in the RFP and the consultants will be required to pull that information together.

·         Passenger Rail System
Mr. Faught stated the City has a rail line that is not currently in use and the idea is to evaluate whether a passenger rail system is a possibility.

Commissioner Burnham asked the consultant to determine whether this is a viable option for a community of our size. He added he does not support the consultant spending time on this item if it is not viable. Sommer stated this element, as well as the freight element, are regional issues and it would be a waste of the consultant’s time to look into this if the scope is limited to Ashland. Mr. Faught clarified the City’s TSP will have to fit in with the regional plan, and if the City truly wants to be multimodal they need to evaluate all modes of transportation. Swales commented that researching these items provides the possibility for them in the future, and urged the commissioners to not foreclose on these options now. Dotterrer agreed and stated even if the consultant determines these are not viable, the study will tell them what needs to happen for them to become viable. He added this is good information to have. Community Development Director Bill Molnar commented that as land use planners, they have the opportunity to create placeholders for these types of systems, even if they don’t occur until well into the future.

·         Bike Routes/Boulevards
Mr. Faught stated they want the consultant to look system wide and would like to see a comprehensive bike system for Ashland.

Commissioner Burnham noted the need to provide bicycle access to important places within the City.

Commissioner Sommer questioned if this plan would include ODOT territory (North Main Street and Siskiyou). Mr. Faught clarified that it would, and stated the City will need to partner with ODOT and share the input that is gathered.

Commissioner Dawkins questioned whether skateboards are allowed on bikepaths. Warshawsky stated skateboarders are allowed on the bikepaths if they are wearing helmets, but they do not have to wear helmets if they are on the sidewalk. Councilor Chapman stated the bigger problem is downtown because skateboarders are not allowed anywhere. Warshawsky added they are also not allowed on streets with speed limits over 25 mph. Dawkins stated it is counterproductive for the City to have laws that discourage skateboarders from using the bikepaths. Mr. Faught stated the City will ask the consultant to read through the Municipal Code and look for these types of conflicts.

·         Multi-Use Trails
Mr. Faught clarified this item will evaluate multi-use trails for the entire City, not just Parks property. He added he believes this plan should include the Parks Trail Master Plan. Mr. Molnar voiced his support for incorporating the Parks Trail Master Plan. Councilor Chapman noted they may need to address equestrian if they incorporate the Parks Trail plan because it allows for this.

Commissioner Marsh noted the importance of having connections through developments to the existing paths for pedestrians and bicyclists.

·         Green Street Standard Specifications
Mr. Faught stated this is an important component of the TSP and explained this is a storm water design that treats the water through the use of bioswales. Mr. Molnar noted the housing project on Clay Street that incorporates a bioswale and voiced his support for the City to have a standard that can be applied to developments.

·         Freight
Commissioner Burnham questioned how involved they want to get into freight rail if there is no benefit to the City. Warshawsky commented that Ashland has an obligation to their neighbors to not block this off. Council Chapman added the freight study will not just evaluate trains.

·         Safe Routes to Schools
Commissioner Burnham suggested the consultant meet with RVTD on this element, since they are already working on this. Sommer commented that if they accomplish some of the other elements already mentioned this will create safer routes to schools.

·         Capital Improvement Project List
Mr. Faught clarified the final product will include a capital improvement project list with all the costs identified and separated out.

·         Shared Roads
Commissioner Swales shared his experience with shared roads in the UK. He stated this concept has been proven to reduce the amount of conflicts and accidents and stated there are parts of Ashland where he thinks this could be very useful, including the downtown core and some of the more rural streets. He encouraged any of the commissioners to contact him if they are interested in obtaining more information. Dawkins voiced his support for this concept.


Tom Burnham left the meeting at 8:10 p.m.


·         Road Diet
Mr. Faught clarified this concept involves reducing the number of lanes. Marsh questioned if this concept is broad enough to include general arterial design. Sommer questioned if street landscaping comes into play in this element. Mr. Faught clarified ultimately the street design will include a landscaping element.

·         Off-Set Intersection Realignment Plan
Mr. Faught stated there are several of these intersections in town and the goal is to come up with a plan so when development proposals come forward these areas can be fixed. He cited Hersey/Laurel, Hersey/Wimer, and Orange/Laurel as examples of off-set intersection. He stated the final plan will identify the realignment issues and protect the right of ways.

Mr. Faught concluded his presentation and asked if the commissioners had any final questions or comments.


Commissioner Dotterrer stated he did not see land use coordination listed in the RFP and urged them to select a consultant team that has this experience.


Commissioner Marsh commented on how the two commissions will work together throughout this process and suggested each commission select a formal liaison in order to keep each group aware of what the other is doing. She suggested the liaisons receive the other Commission’s agendas and minutes, and attend meetings as needed.


Councilor Navickas voiced concern that the draft RFP does not have enough integration with planning, and stated he would like to see one of the main points listed in the document focused on land use planning.


Mr. Faught thanked the group for their comments and stated if they have further input to email it to him within the next few days so it can be incorporated into the RFP narrative.



Commissioner Marsh stated she would like to add the following items to the meeting agenda: 1) Selection of Transportation Commission liaison, and 2) Update on the Mayor’s Brown Bag Meetings with Commission Chairs.


A.    Selection of Transportation Commission Liaison

It was noted that Commissioner Blake has been attending the Transportation Commission meetings as an ex officio member for Southern Oregon University. The Planning Commission voiced approval for Blake to serve as the Planning Commission Liaison to the Transportation Commission.



A.           Croman Mill Site Redevelopment Plan

Commissioner Marsh noted this item was presented at the last meeting, but the group did not have time for discussion. She noted the September 29th Study Session will be devoted to discussing the Croman Mill Site Redevelopment Plan and asked the commissioners to share what items they want discussed at that meeting.


Mr. Molnar provided a brief overview of the draft AMC 18.53 language that was included in the meeting packet. He commented on how the Croman Master Plan would be added to the City’s Site Design and Use Standards, and explained the AMC language would be more succinct, while the Site Design and Use Standards would be a more user-friendly guide with graphics, maps, etc.

Planning Manager Maria Harris commented on the draft Land Uses matrix and explained this was developed from the draft Plan prepared by Crandall and Arambula. She stated there were some uses identified in the consultant’s draft that staff did not include in the matrix, including: theaters, nightclubs and bars, and hotels and motels. Mr. Harris stated staff did not believe these uses were appropriate for this end of town, and noted the concerns raised previously by Dawkins about uses that compete with the downtown core. Ms. Harris continued that crematoriums, public utility yards, churches, and broadcasting and radio stations were also left off the permitted uses list. Dotterrer questioned the reasoning behind leaving radio stations off and stated a production studio could be compatible in an area like this. Ms. Harris added the manufacture of food products in the office zone was not included, since this is allowed in the industrial zone. She stated building material sale yards were also not included, and recycling centers/sorting yards were also omitted. Senior Planner Brandon Goldman explained that he had conducted some research into sorting yards and contacted six other recycling centers throughout the state to determine approximate job densities. He stated there was a mix of both indoor and outdoor facilities and explained the average number of employees per acre was 4, and the majority of the facilities had outdoor storage of materials which is avoided in the current plan. Ms. Harris added because of the low employment densities, this use is not included in the Plan at this point. She noted the target in the Plan is 25 jobs per acre for the industrial area. Marsh requested staff provide a brief review of available industrial lands within the City at the September meeting.


Commissioner Marsh asked the commissioners to share the issues they would like discussed at the September Study Session.

Commissioner Rinaldi stated the Plan will need to be flexible, adaptable, and seem friendly to developers and potential buyers in terms of conveying some certainty. He asked that the issue of how the amendment procedure is laid out be added to their list of discussion items.

Commissioner Miller voiced her concerns with the road layout where the new road meets Tolman Creek Rd. She stated this is not a smooth flow and in order to continue on Tolman Creek you will have to turn in and then turn back out. She added the current layout seems to isolate the subdivisions and asked that this be added to their discussion list.


Commissioner Marsh requested the issue of street orientation for solar, and the balance of uses be discussed. Miller questioned if the existing trailer park could be maintained as rural and not annexed. Rinaldi commented on possibly including uses that would utilize this area in the evenings, but not detract from the downtown. Marsh asked the commissioners to email staff if any other issues come up that they would like discussed at the Study Session.



B.    Update on Mayor’s Brown Bag Meetings with Commission Chairs

Commissioner Marsh explained Mayor Stromberg has been holding monthly brown bag meetings with the various commission chairs. She stated this is an opportunity for the chairs to get together and hear what the other commissions are working on. Marsh noted some of the information shared at the last meeting, including the Airport Commission’s concerns with the Croman Master Plan and the FAA approvals of development on that site, and that the Conservation Commission is looking at green buildings. Marsh noted they may want to talk during their retreat about possibly having formal liaisons to some of these commissions since there is a lot of overlap on what the groups are working on. She stated if the Commission has any issues they want shared during these meeting to let her know, and added if she is not able to attend one of these meetings she may call on one of them to serve in her absence.


In response to a concern expressed by Councilor Navickas, Mr. Molnar commented briefly on the purpose of the Croman Advisory Committee. He stated the idea is to keep the other advisory commissions apprised of what is happening, to be open to their input, and to provide a mechanism for those who were interested in the beginning to stay involved. Overall, he hopes this will lead to a better plan. Ms. Harris noted the first meeting of the Croman Advisory Committee was more of a briefing. She stated the group is scheduled to meet again before the Planning Commission’s September Study Session, so the Commission will be able to hear their input when they discuss this issue next.



Meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant

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