Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

These minutes are preliminary and are pending approved by the Ashland Planning Commission on November 9, 2010.





October 12, 2010



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


Commissioners Present:


Staff Present:

Larry Blake

Michael Dawkins

Dave Dotterrer

Pam Marsh

Debbie Miller

Melanie Mindlin

Mike Morris

John Rinaldi, Jr.


Bill Molnar, Community Development Director

Derek Severson, Associate Planner

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor





Absent Members:


Council Liaison:



Eric Navickas, absent



Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced Council’s deliberations of the AT&T appeal will take place next Tuesday, October 19. He also commented on the Interchange Area Management Plan (IAMP) and noted staff had submitted a letter indicating the IAMP does not comply with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. He stated staff would be meeting with ODOT about this and there may also be a presentation before the City Council.  Mr. Molnar also noted October is National Planning Month and stated staff will be leading a walking tour of downtown projects at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, October 29.



A.      Approval of Minutes

  1. August 10, 2010 Planning Commission Minutes
  2. September 28, 2010 Study Session Minutes


Commissioners Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all Ayes. Motion passed 8-0.



Colin Swales/143 Eight St/Stated he is a member of the Transportation Commission but is only speaking on his own behalf. Mr. Swales commented on the Pedestrian Nodes project and voiced concern with how this is being marketed. He noted the name change from Pedestrian Nodes to Pedestrian Places and stated he does not believe this project is focused on pedestrians and the creation of new plaza spaces. On the contrary, he stated this project is focused on transit oriented development and stated the Commission should be clearer about what this project entails. 


Commissioner Marsh noted the Transportation and Planning Commissions would be meeting for a joint study session on October 26 and this could be discussed by the larger group at that time.



A.      PLANNING ACTION: #2010-00993
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 400 Allison Street
Heiland Hoff, Architect for owner Robin Biermann
A request for a Conditional Use Permit to exceed the Maximum Permitted Floor Area (MPFA) within a Historic District by 17 percent or 315 square feet.  The project consists of demolishing the existing 1,144 square foot non-historic/non-contributing duplex building and constructing a new two-story 2,183 square foot dwelling with a daylight basement and two-car garage. (The Building Division has tentatively approved the demolition proposal subject to this land use approval.)  The application also includes a request for a Tree Removal Permit to remove eight trees six-inches in diameter at breast height (d.b.h.) or greater. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP #: 39 1E 09 BD; TAX LOT: 14200

Commissioner Marsh read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.


Ex Parte Contact

Commissioners Blake, Dawkins, Marsh, Miller, Mindlin, Morris and Rinaldi declared site visits. No ex parte contact was reported by any of the commissioners.


Staff Report

Associate Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report and stated this is a request for a Conditional Use Permit to exceed the Maximum Permitted Floor Area (MPFA) within a historic district by 17% (315 sq ft.). He stated the proposed dwelling is 2,183 sq ft. with a daylight basement and a two-car garage. Mr. Severson reviewed the site location and noted the existing duplex structure on the lot has been tentatively approved for demolition. He provided an overview of the applicant’s site plan and highlighted the applicable Historic District Design Standards, including massing, scale, rhythm of openings, directional expressions, and sense of entry.


Mr. Severson stated there are elements in this project’s design that staff has concerns with, and stated the Historic Commission reviewed this application and they have concerns as well. He noted staff’s recommendations are captured on page 8 of the Staff Report, and the Historic Commission’s Recommendations were handed out at the beginning of the meeting. In summary, the primary concerns focused on the mass and volume of the proposed home, including the height of the turret and interest in de-emphasizing the volume over the garage, and the sense of entry on Gresham St. Mr. Severson clarified both staff and the Historic Commission are recommending this action be continued to the November meeting to allow the applicant to do some additional design work that addresses the concerns raised.


Questions of Staff

Staff was asked to elaborate on how the primary entrance location is determined. Mr. Severson clarified this is typically based on the neighborhood pattern, and in this instance staff feels it is more appropriate to have the primary entrance on Gresham.  Commission Dawkins noted 91 Gresham does not have an entry on that street and instead takes access of the alley; he also voiced concern with visitors to this home parking on Gresham and feels this will exasperate the line of site problems at that location. Mr. Severson stated while the sense of entry on the Gresham frontage is a concern for staff, the Commission can determine this is not an issue for them. Commissioner Miller voiced agreement with staff’s concern and stated the proposed front entry design on Gresham is not adequate.


Mr. Severson comment on the MPFA and clarified how the square footage is calculated. He stated living space and potential living spaces are included, however unenclosed porches, basement areas, and detached garages do not go into this calculation. He added the MPFA does not give a square footage specific to volume, but it does talk about the volume and mass of the building in the Design Standards. Commissioner Marsh suggested this may be something they want to look at in the future.


Mr. Severson clarified the parking requirements and stated a single family home is required to have two off-street parking spaces; however there is no requirement for covered parking, and the off-street requirement can be reduced to one if there are two on-street parking spaces.


Applicant’s Presentation

Heiland Hoff/Applicant’s Architect/Mr. Hoff addressed the Commission and provided a presentation. He explained the driving force behind this project has been the odd shape of the lot and explained how this has impacted the design. He noted this is a corner lot and there are setback requirements on all four sides. He also explained in 1950 the back piece of this lot was pieced off and as result they do not have access to the alley (which is where most of their neighbors park), and they are also lacking the square footage of the surrounding lots. Mr. Hoff noted the square footage, lot sizes, and bulk and scale of the surrounding homes, and noted there are three-story homes on either side of this lot. He commented that the other homes on Allison have a garage off of the alley, but because they do not have similar access the only valid location for the parking was under the house. He noted this is a common design in Ashland and displayed several photos of homes with garages located under the main structure. Mr. Hoff stated he is willing to take another look at some of the design elements, but noted some of these concerns came as a surprise to him given the amount of time he has spent working with the Historic Review Board.


Commissioner Marsh asked if he considered a single car garage. Mr. Hoff stated this home was designed for the way most people live and the owner who is building the home would like a place to park his two vehicles. Marsh also expressed concern with the 24 ft. ceilings and questioned the historic compatibility. Commissioner Miller asked about the 6 ft. ceiling clearance on the upper level and questioned the compatibility of a one-bedroom home. Commissioner Rinaldi asked about the public entrance off Gresham and stated he is confused by this since there is a door and a garage on the Allison frontage. Commissioner Mindlin asked about porches and questioned why this was not a stronger element in the design. Commissioner Marsh expressed concern with the main entry on Gresham and felt this was done in order to have the expansive garage space off Allison and does not know if this is justifiable. 


Public Testimony

Colin Swales/143 Eight St/Stated he was a member of the Planning Commission when they adopted the maximum house size ordinance and stated larger lots were given a smaller multiplier, and the smaller lots get a fairly generous multiplier. Mr. Swales stated when you compare this house to its neighbors, which sit on lots that are substantially larger, this house is massive and out of proportion with the neighborhood for a lot that size. He noted the maximum house size ordinance only deals with square footage of the actual floor area and thinks this is a flaw in the ordinance, and commented that the high ceilings in this house really exaggerate its size.  


Rebuttal by the Applicant

Mr. Hoff agreed that this is a large house for the lot, but noted they are allowed exceed the MPFA by up to 25% and they are only requesting to go over by 17%. He stated this house has less square footage than the homes on three sides and is shorter than the houses to the left and right of it.


Advice from Legal Counsel/Staff

Mr. Severson commented that while the ordinance does not have a numerical figure for permitted volume, it does explicitly refer to massing as one of the design standards that should be looked at. He added the ordinance process it set up specifically to look at this issue in terms of the compatibility of the house with the neighborhood and surrounding historic district. 


Comment was made that it would have been helpful for the applicant to provide an elevation that shows what the house will look like from the street level with the two houses on either side. Mr. Severson clarified if this action is continued the Commission could request that the applicant provide this. 


Commissioner Marsh closed the record and public hearing at 8:10 p.m.



Commissioner Marsh noted both staff and the Historic Commission are recommending this action be continued to the November meeting in order to allow the applicant to make modifications. Recommendation was made for the commissioners to share any final comments or direction to the applicant. The following is an outline of the key comments and suggestions that were shared:

  • Request was made for the applicant to address the front of the home on Gresham St., and to have an Allison presence that does not conflict as severely as what is proposed.
  • Suggestion was made to perhaps change the orientation and/or height of the gable in order to improve the Allison façade.
  • Comment was made that while the owner wishes to have views from his second floor mezzanine, the architect should consider the use of dormers or some other mechanism to provide these views.
  • Comment was made that the Allison frontage is awfully tall.
  • Comment was made questioning why the octagon shaped kitchen needs to be so tall, and opinion was given this hexagon form on the corner will look out of place.
  • Comment was made that the biggest problems with this house is lack of a historically compatible porch and the bulk of the façade facing Allison.  
  • Suggestion was made for the main entry issue to be corrected.
  • Comment was made that the big double garage on Allison totally overwhelms that frontage.

 Staff commented on why they are recommending this application be postponed, rather than denied. It was noted that the applicant’s architect has continually worked with staff to address concerns, and staff believes they should be given the opportunity to modify the design. 


Commissioners Morris/Dotterrer  m/s to continue this to their November meeting. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Blake, Rinaldi, Mindlin, Morris, Miller, Dotterrer, Dawkins and Marsh. Motion passed 8-0.


Before adjourning Commissioner Marsh noted not everyone is able to attend the January Retreat and suggested they consider holding this during a regular meeting where there are no planning actions scheduled. Commissioner Dawkins recommended in the future they pick the same weekend every year to hold the retreat. Marsh recommended the group email her their input on this.


Meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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