Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

April 13, 2021
I.          CALL TO ORDER:
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. 
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins
Alan Harper
Haywood Norton
Kerry KenCairn
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
Lisa Verner
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
    Paula Hyatt
Chair Norton announced the continued public hearing for PA-T2-2020-00028 for Walker Elementary School would not be heard at this meeting. 
Community Development Director Bill Molnar issued the following announcements:
•  The Ashland School District submitted a request to extend the 120-day rule 90 days to the Parks and Recreation Department regarding Walker Elementary School.  Staff anticipated the Planning Commission would hear the item in May or June.
•  LUBA recently heard arguments in the appeal of the annexation for 1511 Hwy 99, PA-T3-2019-00001 and would render a decision April 30, 2021.  It could come back to the City to address a few items.
•  The regular meeting in May would have a public hearing on the draft duplex code amendments.  The Commission would make a recommendation to City Council. 
•  The City provided the Columbia Care project on Ashland Street $300,000 of housing trust funds for land acquisition.  They were also eligible for $475,000 of fee waivers for the affordable housing. 
•  Staff received a building permit for the Clear Creek project.
A.  Approval of Minutes
1.  March 9, 2021 Regular Meeting.
2.  March 23, 2021 Special Meeting.
Commissioner Pearce/Harper m/s to approve the minutes of March 9, 2021.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed.
The Commission pulled the minutes of the meeting on March 23, 2021 to discuss the wording on page 3, under Discussion after the first motion.  There was concern the wording was not clear in the minutes and not included in the findings.  Mr. Severson explained Condition 8 required the owner to notify the City if changes to eight parking spaces occurred.  It was reviewed and approved 15 years before and not a new circumstance.  They discussed having a binding easement for continued use even though it might not be under common ownership.  After further discussion, the minutes were left as written.
Commissioner Pearce/Dawkins m/s to approve the minutes of March 23, 2021.  Commissioner Harper abstained. He was absent from the meeting.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed.
A.  Approval of Findings for PA-T2-2020-00025, Tax Lot #600 on the newly constructed Independent Way
Ex Parte Contact
The Commission declared no ex parte contact on the matter.  Commissioner Harper abstained.  He was not present for the meeting.
Commissioner Verner suggested amending Condition 8 to clarify what action the Planning Department would take if they were notified that parking would change.  Mr. Severson explained they would review and discuss with the applicant what uses were currently in place.  There could be component spaces in the building that had transitioned to other uses.  Staff would review and assess whether there was adequate parking.  If the applicant was not in compliance with the parking standards, they could address it with other parking on the site or by adjusting uses.  Commissioner Verner suggested adding “Applicant shall provide notice to the Planning Department and the Planning Department shall assess whether there continued to be adequate parking on the properties”.  The Commission agreed. Mr. Severson read the code for prompting the Commission to change the wording to “…conditions apply with” or possibly using “Such right to use the offsite parking must be evidenced by a deed, lease, easement, or similar written instrument establishing such use, for the duration of the use,” from
Commissioner Pearce/Thompson m/s to approve the Findings for PA-T2-2020-00025 as amended in Section 8 adding “Applicant shall provide notice to the Planning Department and the Planning Department shall assess whether there continued to be adequate parking on the properties,” and “Such right to use the offsite parking must be evidenced by a deed, lease, easement, or similar written instrument establishing such use, for the duration of the use,” from Commissioner Harper abstained from the vote.  He was absent from the meeting.  Voice Vote:  all AYES.  Motion passed.
V.        PUBLIC FORUM - None    
Chair Norton explained the continued public hearing for PA-T2-2020-00028 for Walker Elementary School would not be heard at this meeting. It would be heard at a future meeting not yet determined.
A.  PLANNING ACTION:  PA-T1-2021-00141                       
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  599 East Main Street   
APPLICANT/OWNER:  Rogue Planning & Development Services, LLC for Livni Family Trust (Gil Livni, Trustee)
DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Design Review approval to modify the existing building at 599 East Main Street including converting the former church to use as office/assembly space and adding a new entry. The application also includes requests for a Conditional Use Permit as it involves the alteration of an existing nonconforming development where no off-street parking is available, and Street Tree Removal Permits to remove and replace two Callery Pear street trees (10.2-inch & 12.7-inch DBH) in the park row planting strip along East Main Street.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Commercial; ZONING: C-1; MAP: 39 1E 09AC; TAX LOT #: 7600 
Chair Norton read aloud the rules for electronic public hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Dawkins declared no ex parte contact but lived across the street from the site.  Commissioner  Pearce, Thompson, Verner, and Norton had no ex parte contact but had visited the site.  Commissioner KenCairn declared no ex parte contact but drove past the site often.  Commissioner Harper had no ex parte contact and no site visit.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson provided a presentation (see attached):
•  The application requests: Site Design  Review, Conditional Use Permit, Street Tree Removal Permit
•  Vicinity Map
•  Site & Proposal
•  Impact Area
•  Site Plan from PA #93-123 (Added Fellowship Hall)
•  Site Plan from PA #93-123 (Added Fellowship Hall) 
•  Existing Entry at the Corner of East Main & Fifth Streets
•  Looking down East Main Street from Corner
•  Rear of the Sanctuary Building (Demo to create courtyard) without courtyard
•  Rear of the Sanctuary Building (Demo to create courtyard) with courtyard
•  Existing rear courtyard area
•  Existing Parking behind 48 Fifth St (Fellowship Hall)
•  Site Plan
•  Floor Plans  
•  Elevation Drawings
•  Wall Section/Exterior Wall
•  Color Renderings
•  Parking Information in Packets (From 2013)
•  Historic Commission April 2021 Recommendations
•  Tree Commission March 2021 Recommendations
•  Site Design Review
•  Nonconforming Situations (Purpose & Applicability)
•  Nonconforming Development – Parking
•  Nonconforming Developments (AMC
•  Conditional Use Permit
•  Alteration of a Nonconforming Development?
•  Site Plan from PA #93-123 (Adding Fellowship Hall)
•  Staff Recommendation
Staff supported the re-use of the property but thought parking and trip generation lacked enough detail.  It did not prove there would be no adverse material impact to the neighborhood than the target retail use.  Staff could not support the application as was presented. 
The Commission discussed the timeline and continuing the public hearing.
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Pearce asked what the code specified regarding the occupancy limit.  Mr. Severson responded the submittal indicated 126 people and would require 31 parking spaces.  Commissioner Pearce inquired on the use and whether it had changed.  Mr. Severson confirmed it had not changed.  The application specified there would be events only associated with office use.  There were statements in the application that would preserve any permitted use in the C-1 zone for potential entertainment, but the parameters were not clear.  Commissioner Pearce thought the applicant should have applied for office use and not assembly use. 
Commissioner Harper wanted clarification on what they were being asked to compare regarding altering nonconforming use and measuring the negative impacts.  Was it an increase in the nonconformity impacts or total impacts compared to full development of the site?  Mr. Severson read the code for Nonconforming Developments, AMC The Commission would compare the proposed use to the target retail use in terms of architectural compatibility, generation of noise, light, and odor.  With this application, it came down to parking and trip generation in comparison to the target use.  In AMC Nonconforming Situations Purpose & Applicability, it stated when considering non-conformities, they are not necessarily a negative influence on a neighborhood just on that basis. Additionally, they could consider the benefits of continuing a non-conformity by weighing it against the impact to a neighborhood.  Commissioner Harper commented there could be a variety of community impacts with an assembly venue that do not necessarily occur with a church that may need to be evaluated.  Mr. Severson thought it was also comparing office and assembly use with the conditional use permit target retail use for the zone.  Commissioner Thompson clarified there was argument in the materials about comparing the use they were proposing to for the site.  Was that comparison relevant under the code section?  Mr. Severson thought to an extent, it could be.  The CUP for the church predated current regulations.  It was an established church and a CUP in that zone and not the target use. Staff had discussed whether the CUP was predicated on the fact that it is exempt and if it was repair and maintenance where it did not enlarge or alter in any way that brought the nonconforming site less in conformity with this ordinance.  It would require making the determination that the impacts of the final proposal were less impactful or equal to the prior church use.  Or, it could be viewed as beyond maintenance and repair when the only parking available on the campus separated the properties and made a wholesale change in view. He read AMC Nonconforming Developments Exempt Alterations.
Commissioner Pearce thought whether it was an alteration was settled.  If it was repair or maintenance, it was an exempt alteration.  All other alterations would require a CUP.  In terms of the CUP criteria he did not think the church was particularly relevant.  In the impact looked at was whether the conditional use would have no greater adverse material effect on the livability of impact area when compared to the development of the subject property with the target use.  Commissioner Harper added they could add conditions that mitigated the impacts.  The Commission thought the impacts of the church were irrelevant.
Mr. Molnar explained staff had concluded it did not meet the definition for an exempt alteration.  It was an alteration, a CUP, and required comparison with the target use.  Where it got murky was the comparison in staff’s opinion  would be more straightforward if it was just general office space.  Adding assembly space made it difficult to complete that comparison required between the target use.  However, it was not just an office space.
Commissioner Norton addressed the additional information on traffic and parking they had received.  The uses the applicant stated for the purposes of the parking study did not match the application. 
Commissioner Harper asked about dividing the property.  It was two separate lots and not a partition.  Mr. Severson confirmed they were separate lots until the church purchased the rear parcel for the fellowship hall in 1993 or 1994.
Applicant’s Presentation
Amy Gunter/Rogue Planning and Development Services/Medford, Or/ Gil Livni/Magnolia Fine Homes LLC/Ashland/Ms. Gunter clarified weddings and social events were already occurring at the church and not what they were proposing to have happen within the conference and event space of 1,892 square feet (sq. ft.) associated with the office  use.  She provided a presentation (see attached):
•  Historic Renovation 599 E Main Street
•  Aerial Photographs
•  Subject Property
•  Site Plan
•  Existing Structure
•  Rendering
•  North Elevation E Main Street
•  East Elevation
•  South Elevation
•  Conclusion
The occupancy numbers for the 1,892 sq. ft. sanctuary area was 270, 126 if seated.  They were not trying to achieve those occupancy ratings.
When comparing the proposed use to the envisioned use of a 1,740 sq. ft. retail space, half of the square footage of the floor area on the property, they believed it could be shown that the impacts were substantially less.  Impacts in commercial zones like hours of operation were typically longer than an office type of use.  The noise associated with a commercial retail business was a higher number of trips.  It was similar throughout the week and increased on the weekend.  There should not be greater impacts on the livability of the impact area due to less traffic generation, hours of operation and number of people accessing and leaving the site would be less.  Of the areas within the impact area, eight  were commercially zoned properties even though they were residential uses.
They were not comparing their application to the church but could not ignore that it was a church for 110 years.  If they compared a commercial use allowed in the zone, as a permitted use, it could be found as less of an  impact.  For the office, people may bike or walk instead of drive.  The site had a walk score of 91 and 84 for bicycling.
The use in the zone was retail but should also compare to the economic element of the Comprehensive Plan and the adaptive reuse of the property supported by Chapter VII. The Economy and supported by the goals.  Policy 5 under Goal 7 also applied.  The property could not be used for any permitted or special use due to the existing construction of the historic building.  This proposal met the criteria.  It would have less of an impact on the livability of the area as an office instead of a retail establishment or a church.
Mr. Livni clarified assembly or events applied to the people using the office only.  A game programming company was interested in renting the space.  Once every six to twelve months, they would host a gaming event.  Those would be the only events occurring in the space.  He provided additional history on the properties.  The second property needed the parking.  That was why they were doing it separately.   The game programming company would bring a lot of business and other industries to Ashland. 
Questions of the Applicant
Commissioner Pearce commented the building use was proposed for office space and questioned why they were proposing it for assembly use.  If it was an office use only, they could still do events as an accessory to office use.  Mr. Livni wanted to ensure the gaming company would not be prohibited from hosting gaming events.  Commissioner Pearce noted assembly use was entertainment use and could be rented for a variety of events.  Ms. Gunter explained they indicated both uses due to the limitations in the land use ordinance descriptions and business code.  The building code had different occupancy ratings as the type of use changed so did the number of bodies. 
Commissioner Harper supported staff wanting a continuance.  He asked Ms. Gunter for clarification that as a church, it may have been under parked by 20 spaces and as an office, it would remain under twenty spaces indicating no new negative impact.  Parking targeted on Sundays was dramatically different to office use being under parked all day every day.  Ms. Gunter explained it was misnomer that churches impacted parking one day a week.  For instance, weddings did not happen on Sunday.  This church had several events occurring throughout the week from feeding the homeless, running support groups as well as a school.  Commissioner Harper asked if those activities were reflected in the traffic study.  Ms. Gunter replied no, the traffic memo was in response to staff denial based on not comparing it to a permitted use in the zone.  The memo still showed the proposed use was less impactful than the permitted use in the zone.  Commissioner Pearce read from the Sandow memo that the parking analysis indicated larger meeting gatherings typically occurred only a few times a year.  Mr. Livni had indicated it would be weekly.  Commissioner Pearce thought the traffic analysis underestimated the number of gatherings and uses of the larger space.  Ms. Gunter clarified is was 1,900 sq. ft. space within a larger building.  Commissioner Pearce noted it was 40% of the building.  Mr. Livni further clarified the gaming events would take place a few times a year, not weekly.  Commissioner Pearce was comfortable with it if it was always associated with office use. 
Ms. Gunter suggested a condition of approval that reigned in the ability and the use of that space.  Mr. Livni was comfortable adding language that specified events would be associated to the office only.
Commissioner Norton asked for confirmation that the events were for testing games only and not tournaments.  That the events would be held for research and development with no admission charged to play the games.  Mr. Livni confirmed the events were for testing games, not tournaments and would be online.
Commissioner Thompson addressed the need for 9 on-street parking spaces to support the office use in excess of the five for the target use.  The other lot could be developed commercially.  She questioned the impact of granting a CUP without any on-site parking and how on-street parking constrained the rest of the neighborhood.  Mr. Livni explained it was currently being used as a shelter but could continue as a church.  He did not think he should be penalized for owning both lots.  There would never be parking for the front building.
Ms. Gunter added the code allowed a reduction in parking up to 50% when preserving a historic building through a Type 1 variance.  That would apply to the other properties seeking redevelopment.  It could not apply to this property because there was no parking.  The other sites were often larger than this property.  Most of them have alley access in addition to on-street parking.  The lot in the application was the only one without an alley.
Public Testimony - None
Applicant’s Rebuttal - None
Deliberation and Decision
Commissioner Harper/Verner m/s to continue the public hearing for PA-T1-2021-00141 to the next regular meeting on May 11, 2021, 2021.  DISCUSSION:  Commissioner Harper asked the applicant to comment on the staff suggestion to extend the statutory period for 30 days.  Ms. Gunter understood there was adequate time but no time for an appeal.  She preferred to wait on the extension.  It was not necessary at this moment.  Commissioner Pearce thought there would be time for potential appeal.  Chair Norton agreed.  Mr. Severson explained the extension would put it at the deadline.  Commissioner Harper wanted to review the traffic study and staff analysis.  Commissioner Verner agreed. Chair Norton wanted time so the applicant could submit  what they propose to do along with parking data prior to the next meeting.  Commissioner Verner added it would be useful for the applicant to draft language about a condition using the gathering space for the existing tenant and provide a certain number of events per year.  Commissioner Thompson suggested the applicant clarify whether it was an office use or assembly sue.  Ms. Gunter would request a 30-day extension if it helped with the analysis.  Staff and the Commission discussed continuing the meeting to the next regular meeting on May 11, 2021.  Commissioner Harper amended the motion to continue the matter to next the regular session and leave the record open.  Roll Call Vote on amended motion:  Commissioner Pearce, KenCairn, Norton, Thompson, Harper, Verner, and Dawkins, YES.  Motion passed.
Meeting adjourned at 8:54 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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