Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

July 9, 2019
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
Alan Harper
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Lynn Thompson
  Stefani Seffinger, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained Planning Department staff would meet with the property owners and the Public Works Director on the Croman Mill Site Master Plan.  They would look at the design of Central Boulevard and potential cost savings. 
A.  Approval of Minutes
  1. June 11, 2019 Regular Meeting
  2. June 25, 2019 Study Session
Commissioners Harper/Brown m/s to approve the minutes of June 11, 2019.  Commissioner Dawkins abstained.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed.  
Commissioners Brown/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of June 25, 2019.  Commissioner Norton and Chair Pearce abstained. Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed. 
Jessie Kinney/Ashland/Explained she was the field coordinator for the Rogue Action Center.  She reported on an 18-month survey that involved 2,500 renters sharing their experiences and housing needs (click here).  She spoke to the need of more affordable housing in Ashland.
Chair Pearce explained the extent of Ms. Kinney’s testimony pertained to the continued public hearing on Snowberry Brook and had to be disregarded.  He thanked Ms. Kinney for her comments on the need for affordable housing.
Princess Franks/Ashland/Shared her experience with the Housing Authority of Jackson County and attaining affordable housing in Ashland.  She spoke on the community support that occurred in affordable housing developments and described the overall benefits. 
Maya Jaarad/Ashland/Shared her experience as a renter in Ashland for ten years.  She thanked the Commission for their efforts to support affordable housing.
  1.    Approval of Findings for PA-T2-2019-00009, 158-165.5 N Laurel Street
The Commission had no ex parte on the matter. 
Commissioners Brown/Harper m/s to approve the Findings for PA-T2-2019-00009.  Commissioner Dawkins abstained.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed. 
A.  PLANNING ACTION: PA-T2-2019-00008SUBJECT PROPERTY: Map 39 1E 11C Tax Lot #2504 on Engle St/Map 39 1E 11C Tax Lot #2505 on Villard St.
OWNER/APPLICANT:  Housing Authority of Jackson County/HAJC Development/Dan Horton, Architect
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review approval to allow the construction of a for 60-unit multi-family development on two tax lots (#2504 & #2505) along Villard and Engle Streets as Phase II of the existing ‘Snowberry Brook’ development. The proposal consists of four two-story eight-plex apartment buildings and seven two-story townhouse four-plexes. Units will consist of ten one-bedroom flats, 12 two-bedroom flats, ten three-bedroom flats, and 28 two-bedroom townhomes. The application includes a request for a Tree Removal Permit to remove one tree, an approximately 24-inch diameter Deodar Cedar (cedrus deodara) which the project arborist describes as posing a hazard. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Low Density, Multi-Family Residential; ZONING: R-2; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 11C; TAX LOT: 2504 & 2505.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Norton declared no ex parte.Commissioner Dawkins did not attend the June 11, 2019 but had read the packet and watched the meeting video.He explained he had been on the Planning Commission since the approval of Barclay Square that included the McCall Condominiums.He had also made comments during the Transportation System Plan (TSP) pertaining to McCall Drive.He knew the property well.Commissioners Harper, Brown, Mindlin and Chair Pearce declared no ex parte.
Chair Pearce explained they had closed the public hearing at the meeting June 11, 2019.They had left the record open for three comment periods for participants in the public hearing to testify and present legal arguments.An article in the Daily Tidings had incorrectly indicated anyone could submit evidence.Subsequently, new evidence was submitted and may need to be stricken from the record.They were reopening the public hearing due to a system glitch with the Jackson County’s property owner software.It failed to include second floor units within 200-feet of the subject property so the notice did not go to everyone who was entitled to receive the notice.He reopened the public hearing to hear from the people in the McCall Condominiums who should have received the notice but did not.An additional notice was sent on June 24, 2019.
Public Testimony
Lisandra Miranda/Ashland/Read a letter from Susan Mandel into the record (click here).
Karla Chianello/Ashland/Was part of the Birchwood Home Owners Association (HOA).  She submitted a letter into the record (click here) from the Birchwood HOA signed by 25 neighbors in support of stopping the proposed continuation of McCall Drive.
Courtney Williams/Ashland/Read a letter from Bob Alessandrelli that was not submitted into the record.  It supported a locked gate on McCall Drive.  Ms. Williams added her own comments.  She questioned waiting to block McCall Drive until an incident occurred.  There were 32 parking garages and seven access points.  Adding more traffic created more hazard.
Chair Pearce read ORS 197.763(7) that pertained to reopening a record for new evidence and that anyone could raise new issues relating to that new evidence.  The rule applied to the public testimony.  He would accept Ms. Chianello’s testimony.  He asked for comments on the public testimony.
Russ Dale/Ashland/Was the original developer for Barclay Square and the McCall Condominiums.  He supported the Snowberry project.  He wanted a locked gate to preclude pedestrian traffic.  They already had massive problems occurring on McCall Drive.  If they could not get the fence installed, he would appeal the project and subsequently cut the applicant’s funding.
Ryan Hanks, director of real estate development/Housing Authority of Jackson County/Thanked the speakers for their testimony.  The applicants had submitted a revised site plan that blocked off the pedestrian access from the Snowberry Brook development to McCall Drive.  Based on other comments, they had also removed the basketball court.  As Mr. Dale had indicated in his testimony, approving the project with pedestrian access would end the project.  If approved as amended, they would not have any issues with Mr. Dale or other property owners.
Chair Pearce closed the public hearing.  He explained they had received comments from Mark Knox and 1000 Friends that needed to be stricken from the record and not considered.  A letter was submitted by the applicant during the period for legal argument that normally would have been stricken as new evidence.  However, they would accept that information in response to the testimony given at this meeting.
Deliberations & Decision
Chair Pearce explained it was not the Planning Commission’s purview to make decisions on encroachments.  It was the responsibility of the Public Works Director and the Fire Department.  It was a dedicated street.  The Planning Commission’s role was ensuring it met the site criteria and complied with Land Use Code Street Design Standards.
Mr. Severson read the last sentence in Condition 4(h) that required approval from the Public Works Department and the Transportation Commission to install bollards.  The Commission discussed revising the language so it would not inhibit what the applicant might install on McCall Drive to block access.
Commissioner Dawkins agreed with prohibiting vehicular traffic on McCall Drive with the exception of emergency vehicles but was not comfortable blocking access to pedestrians.  He was offended by previous testimony that had used the term “those people.”   McCall Drive was the shortest route to the intersection and shopping on Tolman Creek Road and Ashland Street.
Commissioner Norton noted it appeared to be a finance problem.  If the project was appealed, the applicant would be unable to move forward.  That was not a land use issue.  Ashland emphasized multi-modal.  To shut down that connectivity put people back in their cars.  Alternately, having a development there instead of a vacant lot might eliminate some of the activities occurring now.  He could not support blocking access on McCall Drive.  If the appeal ended the project, there would be another funding source and the project would come back.  Approving the application did not support connectivity.
Chair Pearce explained the application met the code and site design.  The applicants would have to go to the Public Works Department regarding McCall Drive.  Mr. Severson added that prior to adopting the Findings, the applicants could initiate the encroachment permit process through the Public Works Department.
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve PA-T2-2019-00008 and in the Findings, 4(h), last sentence, remove “with the installation of removable bollards,” and add, “prior to encroachment installation.”  DISCUSSION:  Commissioner Harper tried to find something in code that would resolve the access issue.  It looked like prohibited creating an obstructed street.  The Commission could not do what was being suggested.  Chair Pearce noted bollards were placed on a dangerous road in his neighborhood and removed a couple years later as an exit in the event of a wildfire.  Commissioner Norton wanted to know the Public Works Department’s involvement in the requirement of access through McCall Drive when the subdivision was developed.  Chair Pearce responded it was in the Transportation System Plan.  Commissioner Dawkins added there had been many discussions about connectivity between Clay Street and Tolman Creek Road.  It was a Planning Commission and City Council decision.  McCall Drive dead ended at the time because that was what was required for the development to happen.  It was there for further connectivity in the event it was needed.  Roll Call Vote:  Commissioners Pearce, Brown, Harper, Mindlin and Dawkins, YES; Commissioner Norton, NO.  Motion passed 5-1.
A.  PLANNING ACTION:  PA-T2-2019-00010

SUBJECT PROPERTY:  185-197 Lithia Way

OWNER/APPLICANT:  Randy Jones/First Place Partners, LLC
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review approval to construct a new mixed-use building on Lots #2 and #3 of the First Place subdivision at 185-197 Lithia Way, on the corner of Lithia Way and First Street.  The proposal includes consolidation of the two lots and construction of a 32,191 square foot, three-story mixed-use building consisting of basement parking, ground floor commercial, and 34 residential units distributed between the ground, second and third floors to serve as Oregon Shakespeare Festival artist housing.  The application includes requests to modify the common area landscaping and parking configuration to better accommodate the proposal, and Exceptions to the Site Development and Design Standards’ Downtown Design Standards to allow for balconies on the front of the building and windows that are more horizontal than vertical.  (A nearly identical proposal - but with only 15 residential units - was approved in 2015 but has subsequently expired.  Phase One, a three-story 18,577 square foot mixed-use building (Plaza West) consisting of basement parking, commercial and residential space on the first floor and residential space on the second and third floors was completed on the adjacent property at 175 Lithia Way in 2015 and currently houses Pony Espresso and the Washington Federal bank.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION:  Commercial; ZONING: C-1; ASSESSOR’S MAP #: 391E09BA; TAX LOT: 10102 & 10103
Chair Pearce read the public hearing rules.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Norton declared no ex parte but drove past the site frequently.Commissioner Dawkins had no exparte but disclosed he knew the site well and that his family had a deep connection with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) for forty years.His history with OSF would not impair his ability to make a non-biased decision on the matter.Commissioner Harper declared no exparte and disclosed he represented one of the ownership groups on the original subdivision master plan.He knew the history of the project but nothing about the application before the Commission at this meeting.Commissioners Brown, Mindlin, and Pearce declared no ex parte but were familiar with the site.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson provided a presentation (click here) that described the project that would provide 34 units to house OSF actors with commercial space on the ground floor.He explained the changes from an earlier proposal in 2015 and Exceptions.The Historic Commission supported the exceptions in 2015 but was unable to meet prior to this meeting due to the July 4th holiday.Mr. Severson read from the Historic Commission’s recommendations from 2015. Staff thought the Planning Commission could make similar Findings to those adopted in 2015.They would include a Condition that any recommendations from the Historic Commission that were consistent with standards and criteria be Conditions of approval here.Staff supported the application and recommended approval with Conditions.
Questions of Staff  
The Commission discussed changing the language in the plan pertaining to office space to commercial space.
The record was closed and would have to be reopened in order to hear the Historic Commission’s recommendations when they met on July 10, 2019.The Commission decided to change the Condition and use the Historic Commission’s recommendations from 2015.
Mr. Severson addressed the proposed parking and explained OSF had rentals in town with available parking for tenants with cars.They would place tenants that did not need a vehicle at the subject property. He spoke to the performance standards.The owner was responsible and it had to be recorded against the property. Chair Pearce explained a revision to Condition 7 he had submitted regarding parking.
Mr. Severson clarified the code required one parking space for studio units or one-bedroom units less than 500 square feet (sq. ft.).One-bedroom units 500 sq. ft. or larger would need 1.5 parking spaces per unit.There was no code ratio for studios greater than 500 sq. ft.The applicants wanted all studio units to have one parking space regardless of the size.If the Commission agreed to this suggestion, there would be a 31% reduction for 24 spaces.The code allowed up to 50% in parking reductions.
Applicant’s Presentation
Jerome White, architect, Kistler Small & White/Ted DeLong, general manager, OSF/Tara Kayton, housing, OSF/Sydnee Dryer, attorney/Mr. White clarified the offices were commercial use and the working drawings showed tenant space instead of office space.  Since the pre-approval there had not been any significant changes.
Mr. DeLong explained the project would provide 34 units of workforce housing.It would also provide OSF with needed cost stability.Currently, there were 34 leases or more in the area.Creating new housing would return up to 36 rental units to the housing market.
Ms. Kayton managed the housing and transportation of the OSF artists and some employees.They reviewed parking needs over the past five years and 25% to 35% brought vehicles to Ashland. She managed 112 units.OSF owned 58 that provided parking in addition to the rentals. They assigned housing based on need and parking.
Ms. Dryer spoke to the Transportation Demand Management Plan (TDMP).The applicants disagreed with the interpretation of the word “or” in the parking tables that any studio was permitted one space. They were amenable to a deed restriction but Ms. Dryer did not think one was required.It could be a code condition of approval instead.It was a code enforcement issue.If a deed restriction was required, they would propose changes to the language.The language in the deed restriction was too specific.
Currently OSF provided shuttle service and car loans.OSF had 112 properties and a small number of employees that brought cars.Alternately, markets, businesses, transportation service changed over time.The applicant agreed with the report obligations.The lease was currently 25 years with two options to renew.If the OSF lease terminated, the landlord could bring in another tenant and limit the parking.If there were changes, the future lessee would need to go to the City to make them.The application complied with all the City requirements.There was a lot of parking even with a reduction.
She agreed with recommendation regarding the Historic Commission.
Questions of the Applicant
Mr. White explained there was bike parking at the main entrance on the street.Downstairs bicycle parking would be accessed through the driveway or a door in the upper left corner.He went on to address density and parking.There was not enough area at the site to meet maximum density.
Ms. Kayton confirmed OSF had a bike share program.
Chair Pearce explained the deed restriction was administrative and would serve as a notice to future owners the property had a TDMP.Ms. Dryer asked that if there was a deed restriction that it noticed the fact there was a TDMP that limited residential parking to 24 spaces and how it was enforced could vary with the user.
Public Testimony - None
Rebuttal by Applicant - None
Chair Pearce closed the hearing and the record.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioner Mindlin did not recall doing a TDMP that gave this much of a reduction for residential parking.  Reporting every year seemed unnecessary.  She wanted to know the City’s role in the ongoing maintenance of Transportation Demand Management Plans.  Mr. Molnar explained this was the first TDMP involved in a planning action.  The parking management strategy chapter identified it as tool as long as it demonstrated long term reduction and parking demand. The chapter provided flexibility for how the plan was memorialized through deed lease contracts.  He did not see a lot of staff time involved with the annual reporting.  The Findings were quite detailed.  They were looking for consistency.  The applicants were well suited for this location.  Mr. Severson added for other reporting requirements in other TDMPs was mixed use credit or on-street credits.  This was new ground.  Commissioner Brown noted Exhibit A of the applicants Findings spoked directly to their TDMP.  He thought something similar could be used in other planning actions.  Chair Pearce explained he had done many transportation demand management plans.  They worked fine but needed to be recorded.  He was comfortable not recording the entire plan.  Recording a notice that stated the TDMP could include a variety of items that could change over time would suffice.
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve PA-T2-2019-00010 with the modification to Condition #7 as amended with the following:
  • Modification to Condition #7 third sentence will read “can” instead of “will”
  • Modification to Condition #7 first sentence, strike “…and record real property records of Jackson County …” and add a sentence that notice of the TDMP in a form acceptable to the City will be recorded in the real property records of Jackson County.”
  • Condition #2, third sentence changing “or” to “nor” to read “Construction fencing shall not be left in place after project completion, nor placed…”
  • Accept staff’s interpretation of parking calculations regarding studio and one-bedroom units under 500 sq. ft.
  • Accept #2 in the applicants’ Findings under Exception to Standards, “There is no demonstrable difficulty in meeting the specific requirements, but granting the exception will result in a design that equally or better achieves the stated purpose of the Site Development and Design Standards; or…”
  • Accept the Historic Commission’s recommendations from 2015.
DISCUSSION:  Commissioner Dawkins thought it was a great project and liked smaller units in the downtown.  Commissioner Brown agreed.  Commissioner Harper confirmed the modification to Condition #7 would include the language Chair Pearce recommended or similar.  He amended the motion that Condition #7 would state “can” instead of “will.”  Chair Pearce further confirmed the following changes to Condition #7:
  • Modification to Condition #7 third sentence will read “can” instead of “will”
  • Modification to Condition #7 first sentence, strike “…and record real property records of Jackson County …” and add a sentence that notice of the TDMP in a form acceptable to the City will be recorded in the real property records of Jackson County.”
Commissioner Norton confirmed the applicant understood what the Commission was approving.  Commissioner Harper amended the motion with the following:
  • Condition #2, third sentence changing “or” to “nor” to read “Construction fencing shall not be left in place after project completion, nor placed…”
  • Accept staff’s interpretation of the parking calculations regarding studio and one-bedroom units under 500 sq. ft.
  • Accept #2 in the applicants’ Findings under Exception to Standards.
  • Accept the Historic Commission’s recommendations from 2015.
Commissioner Dawkins agreed to the amendments.  Roll Call Vote:  Commissioners Dawkins, Harper, Mindlin, Brown, Pearce, and Norton, YES.  Motion passed.
Meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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