Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

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:
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Haywood Norton   Greg Lemhouse
Community Development Director Bill Molnar stated over 125 people attended the Normal Neighborhood Plan public hearing last week, and 50 of them signed up to speak. He stated there was not enough time to get through the action and the hearing will be continued on September 15. Mr. Molnar also noted the local training opportunity available next week in Medford and encouraged interested members to contact staff.
Commissioner Mindlin announced she will be absent from the next meeting and Commissioner Dawkins will chair.
Commissioner Dawkins provided an update on the Downtown Parking and Circulation Committee. He stated the emphasis is currently on parking and the group is looking into satellite parking lots. Commissioner Thompson added they have adopted guiding principles and are now working on strategies. She also commented on the creation of a permanent city committee that will liaise with a new parking manager position. Mr. Molnar noted the new position will be in the public works department and will be a half time position.
Joseph Kauth/482 Walker/Commented on the urban heat index, climate change, the forest resiliency project, and expressed his concerns with removing trees.
  1. Approval of Minutes
    1.  August 11, 2015 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Brown/Pearce m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed 5-0. [Commissioner Thompson abstained]
  1. Approval of Findings for PA-2015-00422, IPCO/City of Ashland, Tolman Creek Rd.
No ex parte contact was reported.
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve the Findings for PA-2015-00422. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Pearce questioned if page one of the Findings should list IPCO as the co-applicant and noted tax lot 1000 is not part of the project and should be removed from the description. Staff concurred that these need to be corrected. Roll Call Vote on Findings as amended: Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Miller, Pearce, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 5-0. [Commissioner Thompson abstained]
Councilor Lemhouse provided a brief update of recent council activities, including: proposals from the Downtown Beautification Committee, updating parking fines, review of Ashland Fiber Network, and an ordinance requiring dog licensing.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2015-01370                 
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  210-220 East Hersey St.
OWNER:  The Bernard Family Trust
APPLICANT:  Adroit Construction, as agent for the owners
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review approval to allow the construction of a 24,621 square foot addition behind the existing 39,962 square foot Darex factory located at 210-220 East Hersey Street. (A second phase consisting of an 11,107 square foot stand-alone building along Clear Creek Drive will be reviewed separately at a later date.)  Also included is a request for Tree Removal Permits to remove two trees six-inches or more in diameter at breast height: a six-inch Maple tree and a six-inch Pear tree. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Employment; ZONING: E-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 04CD; TAX LOTS: 2000.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Dawkins, Thompson, Pearce, and Miller performed site visits. Commissioner Miller stated she spoke with one of the Darex employees who pointed out that the parking area is usually crowded.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson provided a summary of the application. He explained the request is for a 24,621 sq.ft. addition to the Darex building on Hersey Street. The application includes the removal of 3 trees, with 2 protected, and the landscape plan includes the addition of 57 new trees. The parking will be reconfigured to create two parking areas, and the curb cuts and sidewalk fronting Clear Creek Drive will be improved to city standards.
Mr. Severson commented on the parking requirements and stated provides for three options:
  1. Standard Ratios for Automobile Parking.
  2. Unspecified Uses – Where a use is not specifically addressed in the standard ratios, parking required may be determined based upon the “most comparable use… and other available data”.
  3. A Parking Demand Analysis Provided by the Applicant.
Additionally, sets a Maximum Number of Off-Street Automobile Parking Spaces which “shall not exceed the number of spaces required by this chapter by more than 10%.”
Mr. Severson explained the applicant is requesting Option 2, and their application details why they believe the office use requirements (1 space per 500 sq.ft.) are the most comparable. He displayed a matrix of the various parking ratios and stated in staff’s assessment: 1) the square footage per employee at Darex clearly supports their argument that the business is more labor intensive than anticipated by the “industrial, manufacturing and production, warehousing and freight” parking ratios in the municipal code, 2) Darex currently has 26.76 employees per acre, and with the increase to 226 accommodated by the expansion, this would increase to 46.88 employees per acre, 3) the most recent economic opportunities analysis had employment zones in the city averaging 17 employees per acre, and 4) this supports the argument that the Darex building model supports more employee density than the average E-1 business and merits consideration under the parking ratio for office as the most comparable use.
Mr. Severson stated the applicants are proposing a quasi-public park that would reserve a building envelope for future development. The area would be landscaped with pathways and seating areas, and would be available for public use until the site develops further.
Mr. Severson clarified the applicant’s are requesting 163 total parking spaces, and while parking cannot be provided for the future building and the quasi-public park space would not require 22 additional spaces, the ITE Parking Generation manual includes examples of office uses reflecting a substantial range of parking demand, and staff believes the commission could determine that the proposed number of parking spaces is appropriate and necessary based on the unique nature of the Darex operation described in the application and utilizing the “other available data” discretion provided in AMC
Applicant’s Presentation
David Wilkerson, Kerry Kencairn, Mathew Bernard, Dave Ross, and David Stephens/Mr. Wilkerson stated the proposed building is very straight forward in its design and is an expansion of their facility. He stated the addition continues the orientation of the building towards Hersey and creates a new rear of the building. He explained this property was purchased long before Clear Creek Drive was is exempt from the detail site review zone. Regardless, Mr. Wilkerson stated they want to expand in a way that is respectful to the development on the south side of Clear Creek and have adjusted their design to allow the opportunity for a future pad lot that would be developed in manner more consistent with what’s happening on the other side of the street. Mr. Wilkerson stated phase two of the expansion would be another addition to the building that would either be utilized as office space for Darex or leased to tenants, and that addition would likely include structured parking. He added parking under the building would be a natural solution given the grade change on the site. Mr. Wilkerson commented on the amount of requested parking and stated the industrial demand is insufficient and the type of work they do more closely resembles office space.
Kerry Kencairn commented on the temporary park. She stated trees will be placed in planters that can be easily moved and replanted, and they will utilize pavers and stacked blocks instead of concrete. She added the lawn area will have drought tolerant grasses and stated Darex will assume responsibility for the maintenance.
Mathew Bernard stated the goal is to create a win-win situation for the business and the community. He stated Darex has been in Ashland for 35 years and they do high volume assembly and employ over 150 workers. He added they are currently renting space to meet their needs and will be hiring additional staff.
Mr. Wilkerson stated their civil engineer has spoken at length with the city’s engineer and he is supportive of their proposed surface detention area on the east side instead of a bioswale. He stated this is just a different way to hold the water and requested the bioswale condition be removed.
Questions of the Applicant
Commissioner Dawkins asked if the applicants would be willing to discuss the utilization of their parking area for city use when the facility is not open. Mr. Wilkerson noted the challenges in working with ODOT Rail and stated he does not want to encourage people to cross the tracks until there is a proper crossing, but stated they are willing to have this conversation and see if they can make this work.
When asked about the park area, Ms. Kencairn clarified the furniture was intentionally left off the plan and stated the planter boxes and walls are all seat height.
Commissioner Brown stated as written, Condition 8e (storm drainage) is left up to staff to resolve and rather than remove it as suggested, the language appears to address the applicants concerns. Mr. Wilkerson agreed that Condition 8e is acceptable as written.
Commissioner Mindlin asked why the applicant chose to use option two (unspecific uses) as their approach for the parking. Mr. Wilkerson explained this evolved from numerous meetings with the owners and staff and stated this seemed to be the more natural approach for the project. Mr. Molnar added after reviewing the existing use tables and analyzing their background information, staff had some involvement in guiding them in this direction.
Mr. Bernard clarified for the commission that should additional parking be necessary for phase two, there is plenty of opportunity to provide additional underground parking on the site.
Public Testimony
No one came forward to speak.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mr. Wilkerson stated there are a number of ways they could have approached the parking issue, but how it has been presented is the right solution for this project. Mr. Bernard stated Darex wants to continue to be a good community member and also have the opportunity to grow their business. He stated they have been here for a long time and want to continue to be here for a long time, but they need the commission’s support to do this.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the public hearing at 8:40 p.m.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Molnar addressed the width of Clear Creek Drive and clarified the city has allowed parking on both sides of the street; however as development increases this will likely change to parking on one side only.
Mr. Severson commented on the parking rationale. He stated the normal approach would be to start with the industrial parking ratio in the code (1 space per 1,000 sq.ft.); however this is significantly less parking than the applicant has demonstrated they need. The other options available are to either look at a comparable use or a parking demand analysis, and the applicant has provided the basis for both in their application. Mr. Severson stated staff believes however the commission approaches this there is sufficient data in the record to support the applicant’s request. He added the application asserts office use is the most comparable use and under the city’s ratio, this gets them to 141 parking spaces. If the commission wishes to grant the 163 spaces requested, this is where the “other data” option comes into play and they can apply the ITE parking numbers or utilize the data demonstrating actual need provided by the applicant.
Deliberations & Decision
The commission discussed whether the ITE numbers or the actual data parking data provided by the applicant was the more defensible approach in granting the requested parking numbers. Comment was made that if you use the ITE chart and the applicant’s data, you are already at the requested number and there is no need to make this any more complicated.
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve PA-2015-01370 with the modification to Condition 7 to allow 163 parking spaces. DISCUSSION: The applicant’s were thanked for their offer to do a temporary park. Comment was made expressing support for the additional parking on the site, since it is not realistic to expect much on street parking in this area. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Pearce, Thompson, Brown, Dawkins, Miller, and Mindlin, YES.  Motion passed 6-0.
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2015-01496                 
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  35 South Second Street
AGENT:  Kistler, Small & White, Architects
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Conditional Use Permit and Site Design Review approvals to allow 3,051 square feet of additions including a new kitchen, new bar, laundry room, two new second floor offices and an accessible lift, and the conversion of the existing kitchen into bussing and storage areas for the Winchester Inn located at 35 S. Second St. Also included are requests for Tree Removal Permits to remove two trees: a six-inch diameter Plum tree located within the footprint of the proposed new bar, and an eight-inch diameter Birch tree within the footprint of the addition at the rear of the main house; and Exception to the Street Standards to retain the existing curbside sidewalks along the perimeter of the property. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Commercial Downtown; ZONING: C-1-D; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09BD; TAX LOTS: 5600-5700.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Dawkins performed a site visit. No ex parte contact was reported.

Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson explained the request is to add two additions to the existing Winchester Inn on Second Street. He stated this is a very straight forward application and the only reason it is before the commission is because the addition slightly exceeds the threshold that requires a public hearing. Mr. Severson explained the additions will add a new kitchen, bar area, laundry room, and second floor office space. He added no additional guest rooms will be added and therefore there is no increase in the parking demand. He displayed several images of the applicant’s proposal and stated staff believes the applicants have done a good job of balancing the historic district design standards with the downtown design standards. Mr. Severson noted the application includes the removal of two trees and involves an exception to the street standard to retain the existing curbside sidewalks along the perimeter of the property. He went on to say both the Historic Commission and Tree Commission have reviewed the request and are supportive of the application as presented. Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and stated staff is recommending approval with the conditions as outlined.
Applicant’s Presentation
Matt Small and Leslie Gore/Kislter, Small & White Architects/Mr. Small agreed with the staff presentation and stated this is a very straight forward project. He presented several images of the new bar/conservatory area and the kitchen and second story addition at the rear. He noted one of the goals of this project was to create a kitchen that was more efficient and offered better working conditions for the employees, and also noted the need to improve the egress out of the second story. Regarding the exception to the street standards, Mr. Small clarified this would have required the removal of the beautiful, mature landscaping the currently exists.
Questions of the Applicant
The applicant was asked why vertical boards were used for the addition when the rest of the house is horizontal. Mr. Small responded that he felt there was too much horizontal siding and this was done to add some interest and texture to the project.
The applicant was asked to identify the more modern design elements in the proposal. Mr. Small responded that these are mostly seen in the glass conservatory with its metal roof and stem walls, but also the posts, columns, and concrete base.
Commissioners Thompson/Pearce m/s to extend the meeting to 10 p.m.
Public Testimony
No one came forward to speak.
Commissioner Mindlin closed the record and the public hearing at 9:35 p.m.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioners Miller/Dawkins m/s to approve PA-2015-01496. Roll Call Vote: Commissioner Thompson, Pearce, Dawkins, Brown, Miller, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 6-0.
Meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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