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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 25, 2014
Chair Melanie Mindlin called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Melanie Mindlin
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Richard Kaplan
Debbie Miller
Tracy Peddicord
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Mike Morris
Commissioner Brown noted his participation on the Building Appeals Board meeting. Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the third meeting of the Downtown Parking Management and Circulation Ad Hoc Advisory Committee is Wednesday, March 5.
No one came forward to speak.
  1. Normal Neighborhood Final Plan.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the goal of the Normal Neighborhood plan is to provide guidance for future development in this area, and stated the plan focuses on transportation, identifying and integrating natural areas (wetlands/creeks), and accommodating future housing needs for the City. He noted the Planning Commission is charged with making a recommendation to the City Council, and the Council will make the final decision on the plan. He added this is a fairly detailed conceptual plan and noted the importance of including some flexibility for potential future amendments. Mr. Molnar clarified this area is not yet within the city limits and all the properties will need to be annexed. He noted the question has come up about how quickly this area will develop, and stated the short answer is we donít know. However, historically properties in Ashland do not annex or get developed quickly, and in the last 26 years only six residential annexations have occurred.
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman provided a presentation on the Normal Neighborhood Plan that outlined the four key components:  
  • A Comprehensive Plan Map change.
  • The creation of four new land use zones: NN-01 Single Family Residential (5 units per acre), NN-02 Mixed Housing Types (10 units per acre), NN-03 Multiple Dwelling Residential (15 units per acre), and NN-03C Multiple Dwellings/Neighborhood Serving Commercial.
  • A planned street network that identifies neighborhood collector streets, neighborhood streets, shared streets, alleys and multi-use paths.

    Mr. Goldman commented on the existing Transportation System Plan (TSP) and explained this is a general guidance document that looks at north, south, east and west connections in a general sense and does not account for typography of the site. He stated the Normal Plan lays out a local network of streets and explained there are several TSP amendments that will be needed, including: relocate and reclassify Normal Avenue as a neighborhood collector, add East Main Street to the Planning Roadway Projects, add the Normal Plan Street Network to the Cityís Street Dedication Map, add the multi-use paths to the Planned Bikeway Network Map, and adopt the Shared Streets standards.​
Public Works Director Mike Faught addressed the Commission and explained the Transportation Commission reviewed the proposed plan and voted to recommend a singular access point onto East Main, however he does not support this recommendation. He stated a single access would force too much traffic onto a single entry point and the neighborhood collector would need to be classified as a higher designation street. Mr. Faught stated in general, street systems are designed to provide as many access points as possible, as long as they are not closer than 300 feet. Because of this, Mr. Faught clarified his recommendation is for three access points onto East Main.
Mr. Faught was asked who will be responsible for paying for the East Main improvements. Mr. Faught responded that it could be a combination of both city funding and private development. He elaborated that this project will be added to the Cityís Systems Development Charges Plan, and noted the possibility of creating an advanced financing district (AFD). He provided an explanation of AFDís and stated they are similar to local improvement districts; the City would fund the project up front, and then as lots are annexed and developed they would be charged their fair portion.
Mr. Faught was asked to comment on the status of the Normal railroad crossing. Mr. Faught explained ODOT Rail has indicated it will not be a problem to switch the private railroad crossing to a public crossing. He added this will be development driven and based on the number of vehicle trips.
Comment was made questioning when property owners will find out what their portion of the costs are. Mr. Faught explained the City would need to go through a public hearing process to form an AFD; and Mr. Molnar clarified only properties that have annexed into the City limits can be assessed.
Mr. Molnar provided an overview of the annexation requirements. He clarified properties have to be contiguous to the city limits to be eligible for annexation and they must establish that there is less than a 5 year supply of vacant and redevelopable land in the proposed land use classification. He noted these requirements moderate how much and how quickly land comes into the City. Staff was asked if there are any land use types that are in immediate need and Mr. Molnar stated multi-family housing is most in need, and the lowest need is detached single family homes.
  • Adoption of code amendments to Chapter 18.

    Mr. Goldman explained the code amendments implement the Normal Neighborhood Plan and establish the zoning types, allowable uses, site development and design standards, and provides for the preservation of water quality, site hydrology, and natural areas. He also described the major and minor amendment process.​
Public Input
Jonathan Seidler/357 Meadow/Stated the property at the end of Creek Drive is blocking the storm drain from entering Cemetery Creek and creating the potential for Creek Drive to flood. Mr. Seidler stated the Normal plan shows a road going through this location and asked how the City will address owners doing construction prior to annexation. 
Sue DeMarinis/145 Normal/Voiced appreciation for the work staff has done and stated it looks like the majority of development will occur where there is currently nothing. Ms. DeMarinis stated Normal Avenue still appears to be straight road and asked whether traffic calming measures will be used to slow speeds. She also questioned if people will travel at higher speeds on the shared streets. She voiced her opposition for paved alleyways and streets going through the wetlands and questioned if owners will be able to mitigate their wetlands and increase the density on their lots.
Gil Livni/240 Normal/Stated there is an 18 inch storm drain dumping directly onto his property and he blocked it to protect his property. Mr. Livni stated the developer of the adjacent development improperly directed the drain onto his property. He added Creek Drive also slopes onto his property which is four feet lower and he is protecting his property by directing the runoff to the side of his property and in the proper direction. He added he has been working with the Cityís Public Works Department on remedying these issues.  
Randy Jones/815 Alder Creek, Medford/Stated he represents six property owners (30 acres) and their area encompasses all of the new Normal Street. Mr. Jones stated they want to be a part of this process and for this area to be annexed. He noted they are in the process of delineating the wetland and stated the bulk of Wetland 12 is caused by irrigation. He explained they stopped the irrigation flow years ago and this area is now drying up because it is not a natural wetland. Mr. Jones stated the proposed plan includes some positive items, however there are others that are non-starters for them. He added they wonít be part of this plan if the property owners have to bear the full cost of the improvements and stated he is pleased to hear about the potential for an advanced financing district.
Julie Matthews/2090 Creek/Hopes the wetland delineations take into account that this is a draught year.
Commission Discussion
Staff was asked to explain the basis for the wetlands as they are currently shown. Mr. Goldman explained in 2007 a local wetlands inventory was completed for the entire City, and that inventory was recognized and adopted into the state wetland inventory with the recognition that the boundaries were not surveyed and future development in these areas would require a wetland delineation. He stated the wetlands are then expanded by 50 ft. around their perimeter pursuant to the water resources ordinance. The Commission discussed the wetland locations and conservation area. Comment was made that the key issue isnít whether it is or isnít a natural wetland, but preserving the riparian corridor and the existing character of the neighborhood. Additional comments were made about preserving the contiguous nature of the open area and wetlands.
Mr. Goldman provided clarification of the density transfer language and noted a property owner could take advantage of this provision to offset the conservation area requirement and increase their density by 50%.
Mr. Goldman clarified the open space land would likely be developed privately and would not become public park land unless the Parks Department purchased it from the property owner.
Comment was made that it is important to express to the Council that the transportation network was designed in such a fashion that these streets will not be desirable for people to use as a cut through.
Opinion was given that the East Main Street improvements should be completed before the City allows any development to occur, and suggesting it would be irresponsible for them to promote development of this area without a public railroad crossing. It was noted that the Public Works Department has assured them that the private to public conversion will not be problem, but they have not received any legally binding guarantees from ODOT Rail that this crossing can be opened without closing another one somewhere else in town.
Comment was made expressing concern about the use of alleys and questioning whether they want to include the two alleys on the street network map.
Suggestion was made to reduce the base densities, however the Commission did not support this idea.
Mr. Goldman clarified one quarter of the project area is open space and this was largely determined by looking at the existing natural constraints. He stated throughout the process there has been contention that the wetland areas should be bigger or smaller, but the City started with the state wetlands inventory and used that as the framework. Mr. Goldman clarified there is one property that is 80% covered in open space; this property is owned by the school district and they are aware this land is largely undevelopable. He added this area has been identified as a possible acquisition by the Parks Department.
Comment was made that they are not using the term wetland, and instead are calling these conservation areas and open space, and the locations of these are based on where the original wetland delineations were located. If the wetland area is found to be smaller than the state delineation, they still want to keep this area as open space to further the character of the neighborhood.
  1. Unified Land Use Ordinance: Part Three of Section 18-4, Site Development and Design Standards.
Planning Manager Maria Harris explained this is the last piece of Section 18-4, which is the longest section of the ordinance because it includes all of the design standards. She noted the bulk of the work has been reformatting and removing repetitive language, and stated the only substantive amendment is to the solar orientation standards.
Ms. Harris provided an overview of the proposed amendments to this section of the Unified Land Use Code:
  • Street Lights:  Street lights must be installed in a location where they will not obstruct public walkways or driveways and maintain an unobstructed through zone per the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. 
  • On-Street Parking on Boulevards and Avenues:  On-street parking may be provided in bays or on a continuous on-street lane.
  • Alleys:  Alleys can provide access to the rear or side of properties.
  • Nonconformities Created by Street Dedications:  A sentence was added that clarifies this provision shall not apply to situations where the property owner is compensated for the land to be used for right-of-way.
  • Sanitary Sewer and Water Facilities:  Language was added clarifying that new development may be required to size water and sewer lines to accommodate future development as outlined in facility master plans.        
  • Sign Code Enforcement:  This section has been deleted from the sign code section and moved to Part 1 Ė Enforcement.       
  • Solar Setback Exception Approval Criteria:  New language distinguishes between exceptions and variances. The proposed language also clarifies that passive and active solar energy implications are evaluated on neighboring properties.
  • Solar Orientation Standards:  This language applies to land divisions in residential zones and states new streets shall be laid out so that lots have south facing sides for maximum solar access, buildings are oriented so that the long sides face north and south, design habitable structures so the primary living space is located on the south sides of the building, and have at least 30% of the roof area facing within 15 degrees of south in order to provide surface area for solar collection.
Comment was made questioning why the City would adopt solar orientation standards and asking what if the property owner is not interested in solar. Several commissioners commented on the Cityís goal to develop more green standards and this was one that was agreed upon. It was noted that while technology may change over time, the sun will always shine in the same direction.
Meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.

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