Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Special Mtg

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September 22, 2015
Vice Chair Michael Dawkins 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
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Melanie Mindlin   Greg Lemhouse, absent
  1. Approval of Minutes.
  1.  August 25, 2015 Study Session.
  2. September 8, 2015 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Brown/Pearce m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Thompson commented on two statements listed on the August 25 minutes: 1) “Grow sites should be limited to outdoors in order to keep people from wasting the city’s electricity.” Thompson clarified this concern was related to commercial activities only. 2) “The ordinance should be clearer that the resident needs to live there, not just that the house’s primary use is residential.” Thompson stated it would be more accurate to state “the grower needs to live there.” Minutes approved with corrections.  [Commission Norton abstained from approval of September 8 minutes]
Joseph Kauth/1 Corral, #13/Commented on Goat’s Head Thorn and its impact on wildlife, urban sprawl, and man’s impact on temperature increases.  
  1. PLANNING ACTION:  PA-2015-00797                                 
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  266 Third Street
OWNER/APPLICANT:  Tanima Bhadra & Brandon Mathew
DESCRIPTION: An appeal of the approval of a Conditional Use Permit allowing a four-unit Traveler’s Accommodation consisting of three guest units and an owner’s unit for the property located at 266-268 Third Street. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density, Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 09AB; TAX LOT: 9500.
Commissioner Dawkins read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
 Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Miller, Norton, Pearce, and Dawkins conducted site visits. Commissioner Miller noted the owner was present on her site visit and confirmed the location one of the parking spaces. Commissioner Dawkins stated on his visit a vehicle was parked in the space adjacent to the gas meter and it appeared to be sufficiently off the alleyway. 
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson explained this is an appeal of staff’s approval of a travelers’ accommodation application. He stated the request is for one owner’s unit and three guest units located at 266 Third and 268 Third. Staff approved the request with the caveat that a survey be completed to verify one of the identified parking spaces meets the dimensional and backup requirements; until that time only two guest units and the owners unit would be allowed.
Mr. Severson explained the front unit is a cottage built in 1901 and the back unit was approved in 2002. At that time one on-street parking credit was granted due to the presence of 50 ft. of uninterrupted curb frontage. The approval also included two additional parking spaces between the buildings and a fourth space in the garage. For the current action, the applicant’s are proposing a fifth parking space at the rear of the property, adjacent to the garage, to accommodate the demand of the travelers’ accommodations.
Mr. Severson reviewed the elevation drawings, building plans, and landscape plan. He noted this application went before the Historic Commission and they recommended approval with the exception that the proposed porch rail not be installed. He also elaborated on the parking requirements and clarified the owner’s unit is required to have two parking spaces and one space for each of the guest units. He stated there was some question about whether one of the spaces met the dimensional requirements for a compact parking space and staff conditioned the approval to require a survey to ensure the fifth space was entirely on the applicant’s property. In regards to the on-street parking credit, Mr. Severson explained the code in 2002 stated if an applicant had 48 ft. of uninterrupted frontage it counted as one on-street parking credit, but the code has since been amended to state it “may” be counted. However in staff’s view, if you consider the parking demand and that the two buildings are already in place, it seems inappropriate to remove the credit that was granted in 2002.
Mr. Severson commented on the timeline for the appeal and clarified pursuant to AMC, the appeal was accepted on the 13th day because the 12th day fell on a Sunday. He stated the three primary issues identified by the appellant are: 1) Inadequate parking and parking not to the standards, 2) Greater adverse effect on livability of the target residential impact area, traffic, noise, and light, and 3) Questions about the primary residence of the owners. He stated as already mentioned, the applicant have shown they have four parking spaces and the main question for staff is whether the fifth space meets the dimensional requirement. Regarding the adverse effect on livability, Mr. Severson listed the ITE trip generation figures and the daily trip calculations from the Public Works Department, and stated the street was made to accommodate 1,500 trips per day but the actual trips per day are well below this. In terms of noise and light, staff felt it was difficult to make a finding that the proposed use would have more impact than a duplex. Mr. Severson stated the other item staff considered was the broader impact on neighborhood character and explained there are 14 properties in the 200 ft. impact area. Many of those are in the E-1 zone and are not residential uses. Of the residentially zoned portion there are no other conditional uses and this would be the first one granted for that impact area. The last issue raised by the appellants was the owner’s primary residence. Mr. Severson clarified the applicant’s have stated they intend to retire to Ashland and reside in the B unit at 266 Third. He added staff has included a condition that evidence of primary residence needs to be provided to the city before they can begin commencing this use. Mr. Severson concluded his presentation and stated staff is recommending approval with the conditions as noted.
Questions of Staff
Mr. Severson clarified conditional use permits must commence within 18 months of the approval and can’t be discontinued for more than 6 months. He also clarified he spoke with the city’s building official and the bollard placed next to the fifth parking space was not a requirement of the city. Suggestion was made that if the fifth parking space meets the requirements it should be clearly marked and staff confirmed a condition requiring the space to be striped could be added.
Applicant’s Presentation
Brandon Matthew and Tanima Bhadra/Stated the property is zoned R-2 which allows travelers’ accommodations with a conditional use permit and explained there are two existing houses on the property, each with two stories. Mr. Matthew stated all of the units will be over 400 sq.ft. and anyone could be used as the owner’s unit. He cited staff’s comments on previous CUP approvals that “Travelers’ Accommodations are permitted as a conditional use within established residential neighborhoods primarily as a means to financially support renovations to older historic homes” and stated they are a textbook case for this. Mr. Matthew listed the improvements they have completed on the property and stated this is a transitional area adjacent to E-1 properties, and noted the alley used to access the units is busy with delivery trucks and service vehicles. He stated the location is close to downtown and any traffic the use brings will be inconsequential. Regarding parking, Mr. Matthew stated the property already has four parking spaces and the fifth space meets the city’s requirements. He added visitors will park on the site, he and his wife will park in the garage, and the on-street parking would be used rarely, if at all. He clarified they met with Avista Utilities and received permission to remove the bollard and Avista is going to install a new one in the planter bed instead. Mr. Matthew commented on traffic generation, noise, and light/glare.
He explained the average household generates 10 trips per day and they expect visitors to go out once during the day and once at night, far less than long term residents. Regarding noise, he stated their target clientele are OSF patrons who average 61 years in age and they don’t expect them to generate a lot of noise compared to a group of 20-something renters or a family with children. Regarding light/glare, Mr. Matthew stated they will not be adding any additional lighting that would glare neighboring structures and there is nothing they can do that will compare to the glare from the street light in the alley. He added the trees along Third Street and the width of the street provides a significant sound and light buffer, and the fence and arbor that separates their property from the neighboring property also provides a sound and light buffer.

Marc Valens/247 Third/Stated he appreciates the improvements made to the property but stated the neighborhood character needs to be protected. Mr. Valens stated this application is for a new use and recommended the on-street parking credit be reevaluated. He stated the property owners have been parking on the street and is not sure he trusts their statement that this would not get used. He stated the city’s prior actions and lack of curb space has had a cumulative effect and there is no room for anymore on-street credits. Mr. Valens expressed concern with the bollard being removed without a new one installed. He also voiced concern with bringing a commercial activity onto their block. He stated this is a very connected residential block and there will be a constant turnover of people if this is approved. Mr. Valens stated he is worried visitors will add noise, change the character of the neighborhood, and believes this will have a greater adverse impact.
Jerome White/253 Third/Voiced his concerns with the encroachment of commercial businesses into residential neighborhood and stated there will be impacts. He asked for the commission to be sensitive to the residents and stated this use will not enhance the neighborhood. Mr. White noted Noble Coffee and the impacts it has had on their neighborhood, and while they welcomed commercial uses on the fringes they have seen a creeping affect into the neighborhood. Mr. White questioned the landscape buffer requirements which state the parking space must be 8 ft. from the building with a 5 ft. landscape buffer and asked if the applicant’s would need a waiver or variance.
Public Testimony
Charles Douglass/265 Third/Stated he lives directly across from this property and they are already impacted by Get in Gear that is next door and the traffic, congestion, and parking issues they already face. Mr. Douglass stated he has concerns about how parking will be enforced and stated it is not uncommon for him to park on the next street over. He stated Third Street is different from Fourth Street and there is a distinct block of residential houses, and by crossing over the alley they are encroaching onto this. He asked that the neighborhood be preserved as is.
Elizabeth Ellingson/253 Third/Stated parking is an issue and there are only two properties that have off-street parking, with most residents relying on on-street parking. Ms. Ellingson stated their livability will be impacted and does not feel this change from residential to commercial is appropriate for the neighborhood. She stated there will be different people every weekend and they can’t anticipate they will all be coming only for OSF plays. She stated this is a tight knit neighborhood and while she appreciates the improvements would like for the owners to be permanent residents in the house and have long term renters in the other unit.
Vivienne Friedman/258 Third/Stated she lives next door and while the applicants have done a good job with renovating the property she has concerns about a travelers’ accommodation. Ms. Friedman stated voices, sounds, and lights from cars are amplified in the alley and impact the surrounding neighbors. She expressed concern with how many guests would be allowed in each unit and stated this historic district lacks the benefit of garages and the only place to park is on the street. She stated she has never seen anyone use the garage at this property and expressed concern that the owners will maintain their primary residence in California and rent out all four units.
Teresa Safay/120 High/Stated she is a reservations manager for a travelers’ accommodation in Ashland and believes the impact will be far less than the residents anticipate. Ms. Safay stated 80% of their guests are over 50 years old and she has not received a single complaint about noise in the four years they have been operating. She stated guests often fly in and are shuttled to the units and stated this action may even free up some on-street parking spots for the neighborhood.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Tanima Bhadra/Stated they have enhanced the neighborhood and the garage provides the buffer space mentioned. She explained they have been parking on the street because the back house is currently being rented and their construction materials were stored in the garage. Regarding the bollard, Ms. Bhadra stated they spoke with Sean at Avista and was given approval to remove the bollard. She stated the neighbors talk of cohesiveness but stated the renters have never been invited to their neighborhood events. She stated given the age and average length of stay for visitors they don’t expect a lot of cars moving around. She added they will be clear with visutors on where they need to park, and noted they are providing more off-street parking than anyone else. Ms. Bhadra stated there is nothing wrong with having a second residence and it is unfair for the neighbors to claim they won’t live there. She stated they have followed all the rules and they understand this needs to be their primary residence.
Questions of Staff
Staff was asked about the buffer requirements for parking. Mr. Severson listed the screening requirements in AMC and stated this has historically been applied to parking areas next to residential units. He stated in this case it is a strip of parking spaces along an alley and just one of them is on the applicant’s property. He added if the commission approves this action they should include an exception to this criteria.
Ms. Harris clarified the code language that states during operation of the travelers’ accommodation the property must be the primary residence of the business-owner, and also clarified for an applicant to keep their CUP active they only have to use the property as a travelers’ accommodation six months out of the year.
Ms. Harris clarified if an exception is going to be entertained for the space next to the garage, they should continue this hearing to the next meeting so that the action can be re-noticed with this extra component. She added another option is to give the applicant’s the choice to continue with a two-unit travelers’ accommodation and they would have to come back and modify the CUP for the third unit. Commissioner Dawkins noted the survey requirement still remains for the third unit as well. Commissioner Dawkins called the applicants forward and asked how they would like to proceed. Ms. Harris noted if they approve a continuance staff will need to obtain a timeframe extension. The applicants discussed the options and agreed to continue the hearing to the next meeting.
Commission Discussion
Commissioner Norton expressed concern with it not being clear when the property will be used as a travelers’ accommodation and when it won’t. Ms. Harris responded that it is not uncommon for people to use these units as long term rentals in the off season, and noted the conditions will include a requirement that only two units may be rented long term. Commissioner Brown stated the City Council voted to allow this use in the R-2 zone and there is criteria they must follow when considering these requests. He stated these uses take away from the city’s long term rental inventory and that is unfortunate, but he is supportive of approving it. Commissioner Thompson stated the travelers’ accommodation framework that was adopted allows this use in this location and stated it is speculative to say travelers’ accommodations would have any more impact than renters. She voiced support for allowing the on-street credit and is in favor of approving the action subject to the questions that remain about the fifth parking space. Commissioner Pearce agreed and stated the criteria states “no greater adverse material affect” and this is different than no adverse affect at all. He added subject to the survey and the exception, the application meets the criteria for a conditional use permit. Commissioner Miller stated she treasures neighborhoods, but the alley provides a great buffer and she does not believe the accommodations will affect the neighborhood. She stated she understands the neighbors’ concerns, but these are travelers who want to come and stay in a house, not at a commercial establishment, and the location is so close to downtown the trips per day will not be as much as a regular renter.
Ms. Harris announced the hearing for PA-2015-00797 will be continued to Tuesday, October 17, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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