Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission

Tuesday, November 09, 2010




November 9, 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



Commissioner Marsh noted the vacancy on the Planning Commission and encouraged interested citizens to submit applications to the Mayor’s office. Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the second workshop for the Pedestrian Places Project will be held on December 8, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Ashland Middle School.



A.      Approval of Minutes

  1. October 12, 2010 Planning Commission Minutes.

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



Colin Swales/143 Eight Street/Shared his concerns regarding the guest opinion written by Commissioner Marsh that was published in the Daily Tidings regarding the AT&T action. Mr. Swales stated this article indicates prejudgment and believes such strong opinions should have been declared before the Planning Commission’s deliberations as part of the ex parte and bias disclosures. He added he was disappointed to see such a strongly worded statement from the Planning Commission chair.


Commissioner Marsh clarified she does not have an iPhone, and stated she was speaking on her own behalf and nowhere in the article did it mention that she is a member of the Planning Commission.



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 8 percent or 155 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 2,023 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

No ex parte contact was reported by any of the commissioners.


Staff Report

Associate Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report and provided a brief recap of this action. He noted both staff and the Historic Commission had recommended this action be continued in order to allow the applicant time to address concerns that were raised. Mr. Severson briefly reviewed the changes that were made to the design. He stated staff believes the applicant has done a good job of addressing the issues that were raised and are recommending approval with the conditions outlined in the staff report.


Applicant’s Presentation

Heiland Hoff/Applicant’s Architect/Mr. Hoff thanked the Commission for allowing him to come back and provided a review of the design elements that were changed. He stated their proposal has been modified as follows:

  • Decreased foyer size by 175 sq. ft. and added 179 sq. ft of porch space.
  • Decreased the size of the stairs and landing.
  • Removed the hexagon tower.
  • Large gables were replaced by smaller gables, and forms were broken into smaller, varied masses.
  • Moved the kitchen to the back of the house and moved the pantry to allow windows along Gresham St.
  • Created traditional front and back porches, and added a door to the back porch.
  • Eliminated the door facing Gresham and moved the primary entry to Allison St.

Commissioner Rinaldi requested clarification about the Maple trees proposed for removal, and stated he does not see how these would be impacted by construction. Mr. Hoff stated originally the only trees proposed for removal were those that abutted the foundation, but when this action went before the Tree Commission, the Commission asked the applicant to consider removing the Maple trees because they are unhealthy.


Commissioner Marsh noted the Historic Commission’s recommendation for the windows in the garage to be squared off and Mr. Hoff clarified he is fine with this. She also asked about the use of alternative pavers for the garage driveway and Mr. Hoff stated they have discussed this possibility and would welcome a recommendation from the Commission.


Public Testimony

Colin Swales/143 Eight Street/Stated the applicant did a good job addressing the concerns that were raised, but stated there are still a couple things that should be looked at. Mr. Swales questioned how the grade change and gables would affect compliance with the solar ordinance, and also questioned if the garage could be modified. He stated there are no other garages or driveways on that street and recommended a reduction to the garage frontage.


Mr. Severson clarified the proposal does confirm with the City’s Solar Ordinance.


Rebuttal by the Applicant

Mr. Hoff stated the house is set 20 ft. back from the property line, so even in the longest day in June, a shadow will not be cast on the neighboring properties.


Commissioner Marsh closed the public hearing and the record at 7:45 p.m.



Commissioners Dotterrer/Rinaldi m/s to approve PA-2010-00993, including the Historic Commission’s recommendation on the windows. DISCUSSION: The architect and owner were commended for the changes that were made to their proposal. Dawkins stated the plan is considerably better, but still voiced concern with the garage and stated he is saddened that the existing duplex will be taken out of use. Dotterrer stated this proposal meets the criteria, but this is not the house the owner wanted and stated the new design is mediocre. Marsh echoed the praise shared for the architect’s changes and voiced her hope that they will look at other alternative materials for the driveway.

Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Morris, Miller, Blake, Dawkins, Mindlin, Rinaldi, Dotterrer and Marsh, YES. Motion passed 8-0.


Commissioners Morris/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings with the typographical change to the square footage. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 8-0.



A.      PLANNING ACTION: #2010-01239
SUBJECT PROPERTY: 59-85 Winburn Way
Urban Development Services, LLC agents for Jonathan & Esther Phelps
A request for a Comprehensive Plan Map Amendment and Zone Change from Single Family Residential (R-1-7.5) to Commercial Downtown (C-1-D), Physical & Environmental Constraints Review Permit, Tree Removal Permit to remove five trees, Site Review approval to construct a new 10,632 square foot café/restaurant, and a Development Agreement for the four properties located at 59-85 Winburn Way.


Ex Parte Contact

Commissioners Mindlin, Rinaldi, Dawkins, Dotterrer, Morris and Marsh declared site visits. Commissioner Morris noted he is working on a project with this project’s architect, but does not believe he has a conflict of interest. Commissioner Marsh noted she had participated last spring in two charrettes for this site, but this was prior to a submittal being developed and she believes she is able to judge this application on its merits. Commissioner Dawkins requested the Sneak Preview article written on this project be included in the planning action record.


Staff Report

Associate Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report and provided an overview of the proposal. He explained the properties involved in the zone change request are the vacant lot adjacent to the City’s Community Development building, Pioneer Hall, the Community Center, the existing building at 85 Winburn Way, and the City parking lot that houses the ice skating rink. He explained the proposal before the Commission is to rezone these properties from R-1.75 zoning (Single Family Residential) to C-1-D (Commercial Downtown); demolish the existing building and accessory structures at 85 Winburn Way; and construct a new 10,632 sq. ft. café/restaurant in its place. He stated along with the new café/restaurant building, the proposal includes developing public plaza spaces, reconfiguring the City parking lot to gain additional parking spaces, plaza space improvements to Pioneer Hall, and constructing a small building for the City’s Parks Department that would house office space, staking equipment, public restrooms, and the Zamboni machine.


Mr. Severson reviewed the three criteria for a Type III application and explained the Commission will need to compare the benefits this application provides with its impacts. He stated two items in particular that staff recommends they consider are: 1) the design of the structure, including the impacts to the Winburn Way streetscape and the Granite Street properties, and 2) the impact on area parking. In regards to the parking element, Mr. Severson suggested they consider an in-lieu of parking fee and provided some additional information on this concept. He stated it is also important for the Commission to remember they are dealing with historic properties and recommended they consider the potential for a transition of use and what might be inappropriate uses for this site.


In terms of staff recommendations, Mr. Severson stated staff is recommending the zone change be limited to 85 Winburn Way, and that the Commission determine if in-lieu of parking fees are needed, and if so to what degree. In terms of site review, the physical and environmental constraints permit, and tree removal; staff is recommending this application be continued to next month to allow the applicant’s time to prepare the physical and environmental constraints submittals for severe constraints lands, and bring forward any other information the Commission feels is necessary to make a decision. In regards to the development agreement, staff suggests the Commission’s recommendation to Council include limiting the site development to the building that is proposed, limiting the uses to those they find to be compatible, and addressing the construction timing and staging.   


Questions of Staff

Staff was asked to clarify the public improvements that would be provided by the applicant. Mr. Severson clarified the following items are listed in the applicant’s proposal: 1) improvements to the Pioneer Hall courtyard with a new seating wall, 2) a new skating rink facility to house the Zamboni machine, public restrooms, Parks offices, and skate storage, and 3) widening the sidewalks and creating an unloading zone on Winburn Way. Mr. Severson confirmed there is adequate lot area to accommodate the proposed skating rink structure and stated if this proposal is approved, this element would come back as a separate application.  


Mr. Severson clarified the uses that are permitted in the C-1-D zone and recommended the Commission discuss what uses they believe would be appropriate for this site, and stated these could be forwarded to the Council and included in the development agreement.


Comment was made questioning if it is possible to postpone the applicant’s submittal of the physical constraints reports. Mr. Severson clarified it is a requirement of the application that they demonstrate the hillside slope is appropriate for development; however, the conditions are currently worded to allow this to be deferred to when the development agreement goes before the City Council.


Mr. Severson commented further on the in-lieu of parking fees and clarified there is opportunity to deal with this in the development agreement. He stated if a parking fee is established, this funding could go towards parking improvements, transportation improvements, or means of reducing congestion downtown.


Comment was made questioning the lack of bicycle parking in this proposal. Mr. Severson clarified the applicant is proposing to provide four spaces in front of the building, and noted there is no requirement for vehicle or bicycle parking in the C-1-D zone. He added if the Commission feels more bicycle parking is needed, they could recommend that the applicant add more.


Comment was made questioning how this building might impact the homes on Granite Street. Mr. Severson stated it appears the roof’ is at the same level as the top of the slope; however, it is difficult to tell exactly how this building might impact those homes. He suggested the Commission request this information from the applicant.  


Mr. Severson clarified the development agreement is the appropriate devise to restrict the uses of the building, and if an in-lieu of parking fee is establish, the development agreement would need to outline what those funds would be used for.


Applicant’s Presentation

Mark Knox/Applicant’s Representative/Mr. Knox addressed the Commission and provided several exhibits, including a model of the proposed building and surrounding structures. Mr. Knox reviewed the model and commented on how this entire project is geared toward public pedestrian places. He noted the stepped walls that are proposed for Pioneer Hall, the widened sidewalks, and the public plaza areas. He commented on the building that would accommodate the public restrooms, skate rental equipment, and the Zamboni machine; and clarified they do not yet have plans for this, but they are committed to building this facility. Mr. Knox stated the Historic Commission unanimously approved this application and noted they have also met with the neighbors and they are supportive.


Carlos Delgado/Project Architect/Addressed the Commission and noted the plaza space requirement is roughly 1062 sq. ft., but they have proposed 2300 sq. ft. of plaza space, of which 1,200 is on the ground floor and is covered. He stated he does not know of any other space in Ashland that has this kind of protection for the public. Mr. Delgado noted the additional public space on the upper levels of the building, and commented on the transparency of the building.


Don Sever/Project Designer/Stated the term ‘lodge’ was one that came up early in the process and his feeling was this building had to feel like it was part of Lithia Park. He noted the stucco material that will allow vines to grow up it, and noted the inclusion of the green roof. Mr. Sever commented on the craftsman’s lodge feel of the building and noted the use of stone, river rock and timbers. He stated the top canopy would be made of rusted steel and noted the light shaft that will penetrate the entire building.


Mr. Knox concluded his presentation and stated this whole project was designed around creating public space. He stated this building is the opposite of most commercial buildings in Ashland and stated 65% of this building would be common area/corridor area, and only 35% is retail/restaurant space.


Questions of the Applicant

Comment was made questioning why the application includes the zone change for the other lots. Mr. Knox stated as a planner you want to look at things comprehensively and noted the challenges shared by the lots. However, if the Commission wants to remove those lots from the application, he stated they are fine with that.


Comment was made questioning to what extend the building is private versus public. Mr. Knox stated like any other commercial building in the downtown, the interior spaces would only be accessible during business hours; however the exterior plaza spaces would be open to the public year round. He also clarified the proposed use for this building is a restaurant/coffee shop.


Comment was made voicing concern with the parking needed to accommodate people coming for dinner. Mr. Knox stated they believe most people who visit this site would be coming to the downtown anyway, and in general the parking demand is not going to be greatly increased by this proposal. He stated their goal is to create an environment where most people are walking, and noted they are directly across from the biggest parking lot in town.


Mr. Knox was asked to comment on the bicycle parking and he explained they do have bike racks proposed for the front of the building. He added they are willing to explore adding additional parking and possibly doing something more unique as to not disruptive the streetscape.


Public Testimony

Ronald Doyle/945 Hill view Dr/Stated he has seen many projects come to town, but this is one of the most exciting. Mr. Doyle stated he does not believe all of the parcels should be included in proposed C-1-D zoning, but voiced his support to applying this zone to the project site and extending it up to Nutley. He also commented on restricting the uses on this property and stated the development agreement is the appropriate vehicle to do that.


Lisa Beam/400 Liberty St/Stated she and her husband operate two businesses in the downtown and stated this is an impressive project, but they do have concerns with the parking. Ms. Beam stated in order to operate a service business people need to be able to access the property and requested the Commission request a traffic study prior to their final decision. She stated their second concern pertains to the timing of the construction and questioned how this would negatively impact the downtown merchants and anyone using Winburn Way.


Commissioners Miller/Dotterrer m/s to extend the public hearing to 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed



Dick & Mary Mastain/227 Granite St/Stated they own two homes on Granite Street and one is directly behind the dirt parking lot. Mr. Mastain stated the addition of this project would be very advantageous to the City, but voiced concern with the height of the buildings that would be allowed under the rezone. He stated the downtown zoning allows for building up to 40 ft. high, and although the applicant is proposing less, he requested the applicant provide elevation drawings that show how the rezone would impact the lots above on Granite St.


Claudia McAllister/395 Strawberry Ln/Stated she owns a downtown business and voiced her concerns with this project.  She questioned if any of the hillside would be disturbed during construction and also voiced concern with the buildings height and the potential impacts to the Granite St residents. Ms. McAllister stated there are lots of restaurants and coffee shops in Ashland and questioned if this town could support another venue of this sort. She voiced concern with potential road closures during the building’s construction and also noted the ice rink is only in use for four months out of the year. Ms. McAllister voiced support for having something at this site, but feels the size of this project is too large.


Jack Deckwar/343 Neil Creek Rd/Stated he and his wife owned this property in the late 1990s and thinks this proposal is a gift that the City would be silly to pass on. Mr. Deckwar stated when they owned this building the conditional use permit and zoning designation made it more than difficult for them to make a profit. He stated the current building and zoning does not lend itself to a successful business and voiced his full support for this proposal. He added that there are no restaurants in the downtown that have adequate parking and stated customer parking at this location was never a problem for them.


Maye Viknius/254 Wilson Rd/Stated she is the current owner of this site and noted this has always been used as a commercial property. Ms. Viknius stated businesses have had trouble succeeding at this location because of the zoning and stated she does not believe parking is a concern because this site has always been used as a business. She stated it would be unfair to pass the burden of public parking onto a single business owner and believes this is a great project that Ashland would really benefit from.


Colin Swales/143 Eight Street/Voiced his concern with this project’s emphasis on the ice skating rink and noted most of the year this is a parking lot. He commented on the development agreement and stated the City needs to ensure they get back some of the value they are giving to the owners by granting the zone change. Mr. Swales also noted the flood of 1997 and voiced his surprise that the applicant has located all of their mechanical equipment in the basement.


Doug Irvine/2113 Emigrant Creek Rd/Voiced his support of the project and stated this is a fantastic opportunity for the City. He stated this is a chance to show the entrepreneurism world that Ashland is open for business and noted that he and his wife drive into Ashland twice a week and never have any parking issues. He added they understand they might not be able to park directly in front of their location and might need to walk a little, but this is a good thing and means business is good.


Letters submitted by Mike & Lisa Walker and Alex Krach were read aloud and Commissioner Marsh clarified these have been added to the record.


Commissioners Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to extend the public hearing to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 8-0.


Rebuttal by the Applicant

Mark Knox/Stated they have no issues with pulling out the other properties from the zone change, but requested they not remove the ice rink lot. He explained due to different setback requirements, excluding the adjacent ice rink property would require them to redesign the entire building. Mr. Knox clarified the appropriate uses for this site would be addressed in the development agreement, and in regards to parking encouraged them to think outside the box and not require surface parking or parking structures. He noted other business in the downtown are not required to provide vehicle or bicycle parking, and this proposal includes bike parking as well as many public amenities. He suggested the City develop a universal mechanism to address the downtown parking issue, and stated the applicant believes it is unfair to be singled out. He also clarified the flood of 1997 did not affect this property at all, and noted the FEMA maps show it outside of the 100-year floodplain.


Commissioner Marsh closed the public hearing at 10:15 p.m.


Commissioner Marsh noted staff’s recommendation to continue this hearing to their next meeting and asked the commissioners to share any final questions they have. Commissioner Dotterrer asked for staff’s opinion about including the ice rink/parking lot in the zone change. Mr. Molnar stated of all the properties this is the least problematic because public parking is a permitted use in the downtown zone. He also concurred with Mr. Knox and stated there would be setback issues if the adjacent parking lot is not rezoned. Commissioner Mindlin voiced interest with in-lieu of parking fees that are proportionate to what other downtown properties have made through the sunseted tax mechanism. Mr. Severson clarified the mechanism referred to by Commissioner Mindlin was a parking surcharge that was added to monthly utility bills at a rate of $1.00 per space based on parking demand. In this case, it would be $48 a month over the course of 10 years, which would result in approximately $6000.  


Commissioner Marsh closed the record at 10:20 p.m.


Commissioner Dawkins requested staff provide language for the development agreement that would limit the uses of the building should the restaurant/coffee shop fail, and provide some assurance that this would not turn into an indoor mall. Mr. Severson noted the applicant’s have provided an initial draft of their proposed limitation on the uses and stated this might be a good starting point. Commissioner Miller requested additional information on how this proposal might impact the hillside and asked if they applicant could answer this without having to go through the costly process of the P&E report.  Commissioner Mindlin requested elevation drawings that show how this building might impact the Granite Street homes.


Commissioner Dawkins/Mindlin m/s to continue this hearing to the December 14, 2010 Planning Commission Meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 8-0.


Meeting adjourned at 10:25 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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