Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31, 2015
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
Melanie Mindlin
Tracy Peddicord
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Debbie Miller   Greg Lemhouse, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar updated the commission on the City Council public hearing on the accessory travelerís accommodation ordinance and explained second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for April 7. He also noted the commissionís annual retreat is May 9 and asked the group to start thinking about agenda topics.
Commissioner Brown announced the SDC Review Committee has concluded their work.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Highway 99/Read aloud a written statement sharing his vision for an Ashland Renewable Energy Acquisition Department. (See Exhibit #1, attached)
Joseph Kauth/1 Coral Lane, #13/Shared his concerns regarding poison hemlock, urban sprawl, and the removal of small trees in the watershed.
  1. Normal Neighborhood Plan Update
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman updated the commission on the progress of the Normal Neighborhood Plan. He explained the Planning Commission reviewed the plan and issued a recommendation to the City Council a year ago, and since that time the Council considered the plan and formed a working group to further analyze the document. Mr. Goldman stated the working group is comprised of two Planning Commissioners, two City Councilors, and Mayor Stromberg, and provided a presentation on the working groupís recommendations (see Exhibit #2, attached). Mr. Goldman explained the next steps in the process are for the Transportation Commission and Parks Commission to issues their recommendations, and then the Planning Commission will hold a formal public hearing on the revised plan on April 28.
The commissioners shared their comments and asked questions of staff as follows:
  • Will the open space areas become parks? Mr. Goldman stated not necessarily; this would have to be negotiated between the property owner and the Parks Department.
  • Could the open space areas be moved to make them isolated from one another? Mr. Goldman stated the proposed code language indicates the open space needs to remain contiguous.
  • Will be neighborhood collector street be installed before construction begins? Mr. Goldman stated this has not been discussed; however the East Main St. improvements and a financing plan for the railroad crossing will be done before (or in tandem) with construction.
  • Could the neighborhood collector street be modified to match the original proposal? Mr. Goldman stated all of the street locations are provided as a gridded concept plan and clarified the location of the streets can be modified by 50 ft. without an amendment process.
  • Staff was asked to clarify the affordable housing component. Mr. Goldman explained staff received a letter from ACCESS, who develops affordable housing, expressing their concerns about the higher density zone being located close to the railroad tracks. The letter indicated the location near the tracks would prevent them from obtaining federal funding to develop housing in that area. Mr. Goldman went on to explain that affordable housing is a requirement with any annexation, and while ACCESS may prefer to develop housing in multi-family zones, the affordable housing would likely be distributed equally throughout the site and could be subsidized by the market rate units.
  • Comment was made expressing concern about the reduction in overall housing units planned for the area and staff was asked if this would negatively impact the Regional Problem Solving (RPS) plan. Mr. Goldman explained because the reduction in density is to offset the provision of natural areas, the Normal Plan still complies with RPS; however the larger question of where to make up this lost density remains.
  • Mr. Goldman clarified the density for the neighborhood commercial area is 7.5 units per acre. He also clarified the Public Works Department has hired Hardey Engineering to develop a cost analysis for the East Main St. improvements and the railroad crossing improvements and this will be completed in time for the April 28 Planning Commission meeting.
Public Testimony
Bryce Anderson/2092 Creek Drive/Stated the Baptist Church property will likely be the first parcel to develop, and while the four homeowners associations support a responsible development of this area, they are concerned about the traffic impacts. Mr. Anderson stated East Main is inadequate and hazardous for bicycles and pedestrians, and asked the commission to recommend for East Main St. to be fully improved from Walker Avenue to Clay Street before any development goes through. He also asked that the commercial component be optional.
Jan Vidmar/320 Meadow/Commented on the impact of the recent flooding on this area and stated it is important to have proper placement for the waterflow. Ms. Vidmar expressed concern regarding the gridded street pattern and stated this will increase the potential for vehicles to drive fast. She also commented on vehicles parked on the street and the difficultly in turning right or left off Clay and onto East Main Street. She added vehicles have to position themselves onto East Main Street before they can see clearly in either direction.
Final Commissioner Comments
Comment was made expressing concern with the small, high density area in the southeast corner of the plan that is surrounded by wetlands, and it was questioned if that area were to flood would there be a liability risk to the City. Mr. Goldman explained this area is outside the FEMA 500 year floodplain and outside the Ashland floodplain corridor as well, which is the most restrictive. He added this parcel is owned by the same group that owns other areas in the plan area and it would be possible to transfer some of that density to their other parcels.
Comment was made that the Public Works Director has proposed to fund 50% of the East Main St. improvements with SDC funds.
Comment was made that if the large stakeholders who own property in the plan area do not support this, they could decide to develop their areas under the County standards.
Suggestion was made to allow property owners to donate land to the Parks Department and still be allowed to transfer density.
Mr. Goldman stated when this comes back before the commission in April the feedback from the Transportation Commission, Working Group, and Parks Commission will be presented, and the commission will hold a formal public hearing and issue a final recommendation to the City Council.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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