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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

February 27, 2018
Chair Roger Pearce called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Troy Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Debbie Miller   Dennis Slattery
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced a public hearing would occur at the Planning Commission meeting March 13, 2018.  It was for an annexation and a site review for a business park development at Jefferson Avenue and Washington Street.  At the Study Session March 27, 2018, the Commission would discuss a public hearing for the Accessory Residential Unit Standards and possibly another update regarding the Wildfire Lands Ordinance.  The Tree Commission and Wildfire Mitigation Commission will have reviewed the ordinance by then. The Planning Commission meeting April 10, 2018, could have the continuation of the accessory residential unit at 232 Nutley Street.  The applicant had until March 31, 2018, to request a continuance.  Public Works Director Paula Brown and the Planning Division were reconvening the System Development Charge (SDC) Commission. Ms. Brown may contact Commissioner Brown to rejoin the commission.
  1. Update on Wildfire Lands Ordinance Revisions
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman explained the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfires (CPAW) assessed the existing ordinance and the proposed ordinance.  They provided recommendations and best practices.  The ordinance would come back to the Planning Commission March 27, 2018, following a review by the Tree Commission and the Wildfire Mitigation Commission. 
The ordinance standards were broken into two broad categories.  A requirement for a fire prevention and control plan, and requirements for general fuel management practices.  A presentation on Wildfire Development Standards included:
Fire Prevention and Control Plan Applicability
  • Subdivisions
  • Performance Standards Developments
  • Land Partitions
  • Site Design Review
  • Not required for new single family dwellings or additions
  • Code Refs:
Fire Prevention and Control Plan Submittals
  • Similar to formal planning application plan requirements regarding:
  • Site, building locations, drive locations, grades, hydrant locations, landscape plan.
  • Requires a tree and vegetation management plan:
  • Tree Removals
  • Areas to be thinned
  • Schedule for thinning and removal
  • Code Refs:
Fire Prevention and Control Plan Approval 
  • The wildfire hazards present on the property has been reduced to a reasonable degree, balanced with the need to preserve and/or plant a sufficient number of trees and plants for erosion prevention wildlife habitat, enhancement of water resources, and aesthetics.
  • Code Refs: & A.4
The Fire Department Fire Marshal or designee would conduct the inspection on site to ensure the plants were thinned in a sufficient manner.
  • Provisions for the maintenance of a required Fire Prevention and Control Plan shall be recorded on the property to ensure continued maintenance.
  • Code Refs: & A.4
General Fuel Modification Areas - Applicability
  • Applies to new buildings, additions, and decks increasing lot coverage by 200 sq. ft. or greater.
  • Full extent of the property for new structures.
  • 30’ from furthest extent of an addition or deck.
  • Code Refs:
General Fuel Modification Areas - Requirements
  • Remove all dead or dying vegetation.
  • No new planting of plants listed on the new Prohibited Flammable Plant List within 30’ of a structure.
  • Removal of Prohibited Flammable Plants from 5’ of a new structure.
  • No combustible materials within 5 feet of a new structure or addition, including mulch.
  • Flammable trees (not deciduous) which are to be retained:
    • Provide a 10-foot clearance to canopy from new building or additions.
    • Must be maintained to remove understory growth and clearance from the ground (8’).
    • Allowance for an exception if pruning the tree to this extent will compromise its health.
  • Existing fire resistant trees to be retained:
    • Pruned to not touch a structure.
    • Provide a 10’ clearance from a chimney.
  • Allowances to preserve vegetation for erosion control, riparian and wetland preservation.
  • Roof Material (new or 50% re-roof) to be fire resistant (Class B).
  • Code Refs: & B.3
The primary intent of the ordinance was to expand wildfire overlay to incorporate the entire city.
Implementation Requirements
  • Compliance with Fire Prevention and Control Plan, and General Fuel Modification standards, to be completed prior to bringing combustible materials onto the property.
  • Fire Code Official inspection and approval
  • Ongoing Maintenance
  • Code Refs:
Adjustments to Fire Prevention Control Plan and Fuel modification requirements
  • New flexibility to address unique on-site conditions.
  • New Section and E
  • Fire Code Official and Planning Director may waive or reduce submittal requirements or fuel modification requirements if on-site conditions are already sufficient to reduce fire risk.
    • Written Request
    • Site Inspection by Fire Code Official
    • Evaluation of criteria
  • Code refs:
Amendments to approved plans
  • Minor Amendments
  • Administrative
  • Exceptions
  • Type 1 Planning Action
  • Code Refs: & F
Physical and Environmental Constraints
  • Tree Removal
    • Amends regulated conifer tree caliper from 24” to 18” to align with the definition of “significant tree.”
    • Allows removal of regulated trees in hillside lands for trees removed as part of an approved Fire Prevention and Control Plan, or as approved to implement a comprehensive general fuel modification area.
  • Submission Requirements - Staff advisor may waive a submittal requirement if not necessary to make a decision on an application.
  • Code Refs:,,
Staff modified tree removal to exempt a tree if it was part of a fire prevention and control plan and required to meet fill modification areas in the wildfire ordinance. It would also exempt tree replacement mitigation requirements. 
Another modification changed removing and replacing a tree because it was too close to the proposed addition or structure.  In terms of what was required for a plant submittal, the staff advisor could waive a submission requirement if it was unnecessary to make a decision on the application.
Tree Removal Permits
  • Amends exemption section:
  • Newly requires a tree removal permit for removal of trees greater than 6” dBH, when the lot is large enough to be partitioned or subdivided.
  • Currently, lots occupied by a single family dwelling are exempt regardless of size.
  • The amendment addresses situations in which a site occupied by a single dwelling is cleared of trees under the exemption, in advance of an application to subdivide or partition.
  • Applies in R-1, R-2, R-3, and HC zoned properties.
  • HC zone added as Mountain Meadows is comprised of a large number of small lot single family homes on HC zoned property.
  • Code Refs: 18.5.7.C
Alison Lerch, the fire adapted community coordinator spoke to the Wildfire Readiness and Preparedness approach.  The ordinance addressed new homes and additions and would only capture a fraction of the city.  The Fire Department looked at how to have wildfire reduction citywide.  In addition to the ordinance, it required education and incentives.  The City’s Firewise USA Program currently had 28 individual neighborhoods involved. 
Fire Adapted Ashland
  1.  Expand the Wildfire Hazard Zone to include the entire city.  Wildfire risk is citywide.  The City of Ashland Comprehensive Plan would be amended to change the Wildfire Lands Overlay.
  2.  Adopt an updated Wildfire Lands Ordinance for new construction and additions that require vegetation clearance and fire-resistant landscaping.
  3. Adopt a Municipal Code (Health & Sanitation Chapter) restricting new plantings of known flammable species identified on the Prohibited Flammable Plant List.
  4. Increase wildfire safety through a citywide grant incentive program encouraging residents to remove known flammable plant species and implement fire resistant landscaping.
The Fire Department was conducting parcel by parcel assessments of every home in city limits and expected to finish the following week.  The data collected would provide information on highest hazard homes and areas.  It would enable the Fire Department to apply for a Predisaster Mitigation grant through FEMA as well as others.  The Predisaster Mitigation grant would provide up to $3,000,000 to help facilitate voluntary removal of flammable plant species and creating fire resistant landscaping.  The grant could also go towards retrofitting existing structures and building materials.
  1. Continue wildfire mitigation and risk reduction of existing buildings through the Firewise USA program.
  2. Adopt wildfire building codes within city limits so new construction uses ignition resistant building materials.
Prohibited Flammable Plant List
  • Adopted into Chapter 9, Health and Sanitation.
  • Reference in the wildfire development standards.
  • Application City Wide
  • To reduce the risk of damage to property and persons by the spread of fire due to highly flammable plant material.
  • Prohibits planting flammable plants with 30’ of buildings and decks.
Fire resistant building materials and construction - State of Oregon
  • Fire Code Amendments
  • Building Code Amendments
Fire Division Chief-Fire Marshal Ralph Sartain addressed Appendix W Building Construction.  It was a code proposal that had essential ignition resistant development for homes in the wildfire risk assessment.  It would make them less vulnerable to combust during wildfires.  The ignition resistant construction elements would reduce the house to house ignition potential resulting in a community risk reduction.  Oregon construction was already developing many wildfire risk reduction building.  Changes would include a cap on gutters, under mount open exposed decking and flooring.  Roofing material was already in City code.  Windows were in the construction code and would not change.
The Building Codes Division would review the code proposal and add it as an appendix to the 2014 Fire Code and eventually to the 2018 Fire Code appendix.  The state would adopt it first then the City.
Mr. Goldman spoke to the tree removal exemption in A2.  An existing conifer over 18 inches could be retained and the new building or addition could be in close proximity.  If it could be trimmed back to provide 10 feet of canopy spacing.  However, if that clearance jeopardized the health of the tree, it could be retained.  It would not provide the same level of fire protection.  Smaller trees could potentially be removed.
In the ordinance, A. Requirements for Subdivisions, Performance Standards Developments, Site Design Review or Partitions. (3) Approval Criteria would require discretion in reviewing a subdivision by the Commission.  It identified balancing with the need to preserve a sufficient number of trees and plants for erosion prevention on steep slopes.  An applicant going through a hillside development would have a geotechnical engineer determine if the trees were a vital part of maintaining that slope.  An applicant could also argue retaining trees to preserve wildlife habitats.  It was balancing goals in terms of what the community wanted to retain.  Community Development Director Bill Molnar added in regards to the approval criteria, the ultimate burden was on the applicant.
Ms. Lerch, the City Conservation Specialist, a Wildfire Mitigation Commissioner and the Shooting Star Nursery developed a list of plants for drought tolerant and pollinator-friendly gardens.  It also included plants that required protection from deer.  The Water Wise Landscaping website had a Firewise plant list as well.
Mr. Goldman clarified all new buildings that would increase lot coverage by 200 square feet or more would have a fuel modification area within 30-feet of the new building.   Submission requirements for the fire prevention and control plan pertained to performance standards subdivisions, preliminary plat of a subdivision, and site design review.  Site design review required for accessory residential units was not included. They would have to make a general fuel modification requirement and would not provide a fire prevention and control plan.
Planning Commission comment suggested revising the language for screening a hedge.  Other comments expressed concerns regarding enforcement, Home Owner Associations (HOA) and Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs).  Another comment suggested using hardy plank or a metal gate for the last five feet of a fence that connected to a house.
Division Chief-Fire Marshal Sartain spoke to fire resistant wood products that met Class B.  He noted city code exceeded state requirements for roofs.  Ms. Lerch described education outreach and videos that would be available.
Staff would incorporate language regarding fences and revise wording in Section 2(A)(3) Approval Criteria to clarify the balancing test.
  1. Accessory Residential Unit Standards
Planning Manager Maria Harris explained currently adding an Accessory Residential Unit (ARU) required planning approval, site design review, and a pre-application conference. It also required a Type I application fee, and the time and resources to put it together. The ordinance would exempt ARUs less than 500 square feet from the planning approval process if they were attached to a home or within a building. For a new residence, someone could incorporate an ARU into the design.  It had to be less than 500 square feet with two parking spaces on site for the primary residence.  It also needed on-street parking on one side of the street within 200 feet on either side.  If it met those requirements, it could be done with a building permit. She clarified R-1 included R-1-5, R-1-7.5, and R-1-10.
Due to the number of qualifiers, staff created a new section under Accessory Residential Unit titled A.  Exemptions.  Suggestions from the Planning Commission resulted in A. 5 and A. 6.  The exemption would not apply to the multifamily zones because on-street parking was more heavily used.  Mr. Molnar added the downtown parking management study looked at parking in the early morning and end of day.  They did not detect issues with parking.
For B. R-1 Zone, (2), staff removed “…except that accessory residential units shall be counted in the density of developments created under the Performance Standards Option in Chapter 18.3.9.”  In B(3), the maximum gross habitable floor area of an ARU did not come up often enough to add the language.  B(6) and B(7) were the design standards staff had introduced.  They were in the site design chapter.  Staff moved them to this section because it was easier to read. They clarified the “interior of the property” language in B(7) to, “New exterior doors and outdoor living areas (e.g., balconies or decks) on the second story shall be oriented towards the interior of the property rather than the side or rear yards.”  Staff would clarify it further to indicate ARUs above a detached structure and add language to minimize the impact on the neighbor’s private space.
In RR Zone section, they removed (1) and (2) regarding building on lands with less than 25% slope and access to an improved city street. Hillside Development standards would address slopes that were 25% greater.  If someone did an addition that was 300 square feet or less, it would not require a physical environmental constraints permit. 
In, E. NN Zones and F. NM Zones were added.  It would allow exempt ARUs less than 500 square feet to be in those zones.  The Normal Neighborhood and North Mountain plans had ARUs written in the code and adopted before they were developed.  The proposed ordinance would allow a building permit only for exempted ARUs less than 500 square feet instead of going through site design.  The number of units was not locked in.  It was the number of lots created through the subdivision process.  The ARU standards specifically stated they were not subject to the density requirements.   
Commissioner Norton explained the conditions of approval for his subdivision locked in the number of units, not lots.  Ms. Harris commented most of the subdivisions over the past 30 years were performance standard subdivisions. It brought up whether the community had the ability to acknowledge changing conditions and adjust policies.  The community decided through the regional planning process the city would not expand boundaries and accommodate future growth within city limits instead.  Mr. Molnar noted there were neighborhoods with subdivisions that were platted with a home owner’s association that restricted additional units through their CC&Rs.  Commissioner Norton did not think the public was clear on what the ordinance would allow.  They might not understand that homes with ARUs were essentially duplexes.  He stressed the importance of having a public process and suggested notifying all of the Home Owner Associations in Ashland about the proposed ordinance.
Ms. Harris clarified (B) as one ARU was allowed per lot and the maximum number of dwelling units shall not exceed two.  It was an exemption from site design review and did not permit an unlimited number of ARUs.  Applicants had to meet all the qualifiers under (B). For 500 square feet ARUs in historic districts, a planner reviewed the building permits with another review by the historic review board.  It went through the noticing process and was appealable to the Planning Commission.  The standards were the dimensional requirements of the zone.   The following would not be required:
  • A landscape plan
  • Open space for the ARU
  • Planting street trees
  • A full Historic Commission review if applicable
Mr. Molnar added it would go to the Historic Commission as part of an advisory.  If the 500 square foot addition was part of the site review it had to meet the mandatory standards in terms of compatible materials.  Ms. Harris explained it did not have to happen for a single family home.  An applicant could build the same volume for a house that was allowed under the standard requirements of the zone.  It did not make a difference if the new section was an ARU A 500 square foot addition for a house in a historic district required a building permit only.  It did not go through a site design review.
One Commission comment suggested clarifying parking further. 
Ms. Harris addressed Table Automobile Parking Space by Use.  She separated the requirements for a single family dwelling into its own box and added another box for ARUs.  They used the same standard used for cottage housing where one space was required for an ARU.
Staff would incorporate suggested changes and take the opportunity to update typographical errors and redundant information in the ordinance. 
Meeting adjourned at 8:47 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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