Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

These are DRAFT minutes and are pending approval by the Ashland Planning Commission.

November 12, 2014
Chair Richard Kaplan called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Richard Kaplan
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Tracy Peddicord
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Mike Morris, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the December Study Session has been cancelled and the regular meeting on December 9 will include a public hearing for phase two of the First Place project and a discussion on Council’s strategic goals.
Normal Neighborhood Plan Working Group: Commissioner Kaplan provided a brief update on the Normal Plan Working Group. He stated at the group’s next meeting on November 20 they will finalize their vision statement and recommendations to the City Council, which address: land use, housing densities, open space, design issues, and transportation. Kaplan added the vision statement and group’s recommendation will be presented to the City Council on December 2.
Downtown Parking and Multi-Modal Committee: Commissioner Dawkins noted the group has been working with students from the University of Oregon and stated the key issues being reviewed are: 1) assessing the needs of all downtown users, 2) addressing the negative perception of conflicting users, 3) ensuring maximum utilization of existing facilities, and 4) incorporating bike and pedestrian infrastructure improvements in the downtown area. Dawkins stated it appears Ashland does not have a supply problem, but rather a utilization problem, and commented briefly on some of the strategies being discussed.
  1. Approval of Minutes
1.  October 28, 2014 Special Meeting.
Commissioners Miller/Brown m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed. [Commissioner Kaplan abstained]
No one came forward to speak.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  #2014-01837                      
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  95 Winburn Way (Ice Rink parking lot)
OWNER/APPLICANT:  City of Ashland, Ashland Parks & Recreation
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Review approval to place a canopy over the Ice Rink, a recreational facility within Lithia Park, located at 95 Winburn Way.  The application includes requests for Exception to the Site Design and Use Standards (II-C-1-a and IV-C ) and for a Variance to allow the canopy structure to be placed within the required ten-foot side yard setback along Winburn Way.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single Family Residential; ZONING: R-1-7.5; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09; TAX LOTS: Part of Tax Lot #100 (Lithia Park lot)
Commissioner Kaplan read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Mindlin, Miller, Dawkins, Brown, Kaplan, Thompson and Peddicord declared site visits; no ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson presented the staff report. He explained this application involves a portion of the Lithia Park parcel, which is 75.21 acres in size and includes city hall, the Chautauqua walk, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland Creek, both duck ponds, Winburn Way and Pioneer Street. Mr. Severson stated the portion involved in this application is the parking lot at the corner of Winburn Way and Nutley that serves as the location for the Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink during the winter months. He stated the application is seeking site review approval to place a canopy over the ice rink, as well as an exception to the Site Design and Use Standards’ Historic District Development Standards and a variance to allow the canopy structure to be placed within the required ten-foot setback along Winburn Way.
Mr. Severson reviewed the specific approval criteria and stated the primary issues raised by neighboring property owners are the increase in size from the previously used canopy and the glare from the white cover material. He explained the new canopy has increased 20 feet in length, 10 feet in width, and approximately 6 feet in height. Mr. Severson commented on the streetscape along Winburn Way and noted it is not a typical historical residential streetscape and displayed photos of the city buildings, private parking lots, café, and park buildings along this stretch of road. He also recited the recommendation from the Historic Commission to approve the application but limit the ice rinks reason to November through March 15 and provide a perimeter of screening on the lot and/or the neighboring lots to mitigate the concerns regarding glare. 
Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and stated staff believes the applicant has provided sufficient information to justify approval of the request provided that the proposed mitigation is installed. He clarified one of the neighbors has submitted a continuation request and recommended the Commission leave the record open and continue this matter to the November 25 Special Meeting.  
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked whether the Historic Commission made any specific recommendations on the type of screening vegetation. Mr. Severson stated the Commission discussed various screening options, not just vegetative, but did not make a specific recommendation. He added the applicant is aware that the Planning Commission may request a landscape plan prior to making a decision.
Staff was asked to comment on their position that a conditional use permit is not required. Mr. Severson stated parks and recreational facilities (as well as accessory uses to permitted public parks and recreational uses) are outright permitted in this zone and staff does not believe this action requires a separate conditional use permit.
Applicant’s Presentation
Michael Black/Ashland Parks & Recreation Director/Stated he has met with the neighbor who opposes the canopy and have reached a solution to address her issues, and added that he will be meeting with the property owners at 98 and 102 Granite soon. Mr. Black read aloud his proposed mitigation agreement (Exhibit P-16) which recommends 10-12 trees be installed between the park land and 94 Granite and to set a window of use for the canopy of November 1 to March 31. Mr. Black commented on their application and stated that it is difficult to compare this to something else, which is generally what the Site Design & Use Standards do. He asked that the Commission approve their request with the proposed mitigation agreement and stated they could add a condition for the Parks & Recreation Department to work out the vegetative screening with the other two property owners.
Stefani Seffinger/Parks & Recreation Commission Chair/Explained the ice rink cover is very important and the wider width allows spectators and parents to be under the cover while watching their children. Ms. Seffinger stated if the rink is not covered branches and leaves blow into the ice and could cause injury. Additionally, the new cover provides better visual clearance across the rink. She stated if the rink is not covered there is a great deal of time during the season that it is unusable.
Questions of the Applicant
The applicant was asked why the height of the canopy increased. Mr. Black explained the cover came pre-engineered and that height was necessary to withstand the loads. In regards to the canopy materials, he acknowledged that there may be glare issue and stated they are more than willing to take care of this, and believes the proposed mitigation measures will resolve this. Mr. Black was asked if a shade cloth could be placed over the top and he responded that this would impact the warranty of the structure and would look worse. He added snow load is another issue.
The applicant was asked how much land at the top of the slope is owned by the City. Mr. Black clarified this area has been surveyed and there is plenty of room to plant the trees. He stated it varies, but the City owns 6-10 ft at the top of the slope. Mr. Black commented that they would be able to provide a detailed landscape plan before the next meeting.
Public Input
Lynn Spillman/98 Granite/Stated he is supportive of the ice rink, but the concerns and rights of the neighbors need to be respected. Mr. Spillman voiced his concern that they were not provided the opportunity to comment when the new cover went up last season. He thanked the Parks & Recreation Director for trying to provide some screening, but stated he does not believe that the canopy needs to be wider. He stated his preference would be for the canopy to not go up and for a more suitable one to be used instead. However, if approved, he asked that landscaping be provided (not just screening) and shared his concerns about erosion.
Ruth Kennedy/94 Granite/Expressed her concerns with the process and stated a mistake was made when the Parks & Recreation Dept. failed to go through a process last year to allow the new canopy to go up. Ms. Kennedy stated the canopy’s footprint is 75% larger than the old cover and when she expressed her concerns she was told that it was the same size. She stated the Planning Division informed the applicant in May that they would need to go through this hearing, however they waited to submit their application until the season was upon them. She stated the burden should not be on the neighbors to force the proper process and to flush out the intent of the applicant. Ms. Kennedy recommended the application be denied.
Brandon Nelson/627 Oak/Stated he plays recreational ice hockey and serves as a hockey instructor at the rink. Mr. Nelson stated the canopy greatly improves the condition of the ice and there were no closures last season unlike the previous years. He stated they need to keep the canopy up so the kids who enjoy their winter programs can count on the facility being open and usable.
John Joynt/1949 Crestview/Shared his experience with the ice rink and stated the canopy has been very helpful in preserving the ice. He added the extra width allows him to enjoy watching his children skate even when it is raining out.
JW Lyon/128 S Pioneer/Stated the ice rink is directly across the park from his home, and while they are used to hearing the noises in the park, and canopy is inconsistent with the park’s visual integrity. Mr. Lyon stated the park is beautiful to look at while the skating tent is huge, bright and ugly, and does not fit. He stated it has no historical reference even though it is located in a designated historic district. He asked the Commission to deny this application or require that they install a tent that is the same size as the one previously used. He also asked that the season be limited to mid-November to February.
Richard Hobbins/553 Suncrest, Talent/Stated he is the president of the Southern Oregon Adult Hockey Association and commented on the importance of this facility to the community. He stated there are a limited number of ice skating facilities in the valley and the use of this rink is very important to his organization. Mr. Hobbins stated without the canopy, the ice can be dangerous and added it was very difficult to keep the ice usable with the old cover. He stated the new canopy also allows them to keep their skating gear dry and warm.
Edward Zobel/29 Granite/Stated his home is one block away from the ice rink and has skated at the rink under all the various conditions. Mr. Zobel stated a functional ice rink is a terrific asset to the community and the Commission should do whatever they can to appease the neighbor’s complaints. He explained rain ruins the condition of the ice and without a canopy leaves and branches fall on the ice and make for really bad skating. He stated the new cover is substantially better and protects the ice at the far end of the rink that is exposed to the sun. Mr. Zobel stated last year the condition of the ice was the best he has ever seen and without the cover the rink was unusable 25% of the season. 
Doug Smith/60 Granite/Agrees with the objections raised regarding the process and stated the neighborhood concerns should be considered. Mr. Smith voiced his support for the application and stated this is not a commercial activity, but rather a park-like activity and is appropriate at this location. He stated the reason for the larger cover is because the sun’s angle in the winter comes in from the side and melts the ice at certain times of the day, and because of those angles questioned the complaints about the glare. He added the length of the season should not be extended.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Molnar stated if there is any information the Commission would like provided before the continued hearing this is the time to request it. Commissioner Kaplan requested a landscaping plan be provided and information on whether it is supported by the neighbors; and Commissioner Brown requested a sun chart projection to ascertain whether glare is a valid issue. 
Commissioner Kaplan announced that the record will remain open and the public hearing on this matter will be continued to the November 25, 2014 Planning Commission Special Meeting.
  1. Review of Report on Master Planning Approach.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar provided a short review of the Planning Commission’s Report on the City’s master planning approach, and noted that this item will likely be presented to the City Council when the Commission provides their annual presentation in December.
Commissioner Mindlin stated staff did a good job capturing their discussion and comments, but noted one small typographical error on page three; the last sentence of the bullet list should read “If densities are proposed that are different…” She also recommended that a sentence on page two be reworded to make it easier to understand.
Commissioner Thompson questioned the section titles in the report and Mr. Molnar clarified the format was taken from the City Council’s standard council communication document. He added staff could create a separate cover memo and attach the report to resolve this issue. Commissioner Thompson also asked that “explained” be replaced with “examined” in the last sentence on page one.
Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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