Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

September 14, 2021
I.          CALL TO ORDER:
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins
Kerry KenCairn
Haywood Norton
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 public hearing for PA-T2-2021-00031, 375 & 475 East Nevada Street was continued to the Planning Commission meeting on October 12, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. per the applicant’s request.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar reminded the Commission there would be a virtual training hosted by the Oregon Chapter of the  American Planners Association on September 29 and 30.  The Housing Production Strategy had to be completed within a year of the Housing Capacity Analysis.  Staff applied for a grant and would find out soon if the City would get it.  The Housing Production Strategy would start in October and take approximately ten months to complete.  At the next Planning Commission meeting on September 28, 2021, the Commission would continue the annexation code update discussion.  In October, they would further discuss housing in employment lands.  The Commission’s annual update before the City Council was scheduled for December 7, 2021.    
A.  Approval of Minutes
 1.  August 10, 2021 Regular Meeting
 2.  August 24, 2021 Study Session
Commissioner Dawkins/Pearce m/s to approve the Consent Agenda.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed.
V.        PUBLIC FORUM - None
A.  PLANNING ACTION:  PA-T2-2021-00029   
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  822 Oak Street             
APPLICANT/OWNER:  Suzanne Zapf for Overlook Drive, LLC                    
DESCRIPTION: A request for Outline and Final Plan approval for a five-lot/four-unit Performance Standards subdivision for the properties located at 822 Oak Street.  The application also includes requests for: a Variance to allow a private driveway to serve four units (AMC where dedication of a public street is typically required; a Conditional Use Permit to modify a non-conforming development where the required driveway separation is not provided for an avenue (AMC, an Exception to Street Standards to not install city standard street frontage improvements along Oak Street, and a Street Tree Removal Permit to remove three Oak trees.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: R-1-5; ZONING: Single Family Residential; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 04CA; TAX LOT: 200 & 201.
Chair Norton read aloud the rules for electronic public hearings. 
Chair Norton opened the continued public hearing at 7:14 p.m. 
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Dawkins, KenCairn, Pearce, and Thompson, declared no ex parte contact.  Commissioner Verner had no ex parte contact but had visited the site since the meeting on August 10, 2021.  Chair Norton declared no ex parte contact.  The applicant was his neighbor and neither had discussed the project.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson provided a presentation (see attached):
•  822 Oak Street Proposal
•  Setback Exhibit & Tree Protection
•  Property Line Adjustment and Land Partition Survey
•  Building and Zoning Permits
•  Minor Land Partition
Questions of Staff 
Staff did not support the applicant’s argument regarding the solar standards and recommended adhering to the code that stated for development of a subdivision, the lots had to demonstrate that a 21-foot structure could be built with a north-south solar setback that is not more than half. 
Applicant’s Presentation  
Amy Gunter/Rogue Planning and Development Services/Medford, OR/They were unable to access building permits due to the office being closed that resulted in guesses on similar applications.  Her understanding for the Oak Street proposal was there had been a garage.  It was unclear whether a house was built.  However, staff had not changed their position on the solar standards.  She provided a presentation:
•  Grizzly Peak View – A Four Lot Subdivision
•  39 1E 04CA: TL 200 and 201
•  Master Grading Plan
•  Conceptual Building Setbacks
•  Physical and Environmental Constraints Hillside Lands and Severe Constraints
Please Note: some portion of the applicant’s presentation was not captured due to technical difficulties the applicant was experiencing.
Ms. Gunter explained the Condition applied to slopes at 25% or more.  They were asking for it to apply to 35% or greater slopes instead of 25%.
Mr. Severson confirmed the Hillside Development Standards were in the mapped overlay with slopes 25% or greater.  The severe constraints applied anywhere there were slopes 35% or greater.  The condition would regulate the property to 25% or greater and consider the sloped area of the proposal as a significant natural feature.  If it were in the Hillside Overlay, it would be protected by development standards.  Here, under the code, because it is not in the overlay, it was not protected.  Staff was suggesting rather than allowing development on those steeper slopes that would be protected on the hillside, it would be better to protect them as significant natural features. 
Mr. Severson confirmed the Hillside Development Standards applied to property with a slope over 25% and within the Hillside Overlay.  The higher classification of severe constraints applied anywhere within the City where slopes were at 35% or greater.  The Hillside Standards were in the mapped overlay and the 25% or greater slope.  The severe constraints applied to 35% slopes anywhere.  The condition would regulate the property to 25% or greater and consider the sloped area of the proposal as a significant natural feature.  If it were in the Hillside Overlay, it would be protected by development standards.  Here, under the code, because it is not in the overlay, it was not protected.  Staff was suggesting rather than allowing development on those steeper slopes that would be protected on the hillside, it would be better to protect them as significant natural features. 
Mr. Molnar further explained the property was not in the Performance Standards Options (PSO) Overlay.  An applicant could ask it to be in the overlay and processed under the Performance Standards.  The City had three to four reasons to allow it.  The applicant’s  argument was the development needed to be processed under the Performance Standards to protect the environment and the neighborhood from degradation that would normally occur under general application of the subdivision code.  Part of the PSO was looking at environmentally sensitive areas like sloped areas and trying to structure or place building envelopes to reduce the impact on a natural environment.  Staff thought using the PSO only for the protection of the significant trees did not go far enough.  There were significant slopes that went down to the Bear Creek flood plain area.  Mr. Severson added the criteria stated the existing natural features of the land such as wetlands, floodplains, ponds, large trees, and rock outcroppings, were identified in the plan and significant features included in the common open space, common area, and unbuildable areas.
Commissioner KenCairn asked if that meant any steep slope could be a significant natural feature that should be protected?  Mr. Severson explained the Commission had the discretion to determine whether it was a significant natural feature or if protection was necessary.  Commissioner KenCairn cautioned the Commission on defining slopes as a significant natural feature. 
The applicant’s presentation resumed.  Ms. Gunter disagreed with staff’s recommendation on the solar standards.  She thought considering a slope as a significant natural feature would lead to unintended consequences.  In applying a more rigorous restrictive standard outside of the Hillside Overlay, how would they look at subdivisions inside of the Hillside Overlay?  The code would deem them buildable and supposedly hillside lands were steeper and constrained as far as erosion.  The soil types in the proposal were not erosive.  They were preserving two large trees that were not technically required.  They were going beyond PSO subdivision requirements regarding common open space.
Questions of the Applicant
Chair Norton wanted to know how the applicants wanted to handle the condition on the slopes.  Ms. Gunter suggested amending the condition so that the building envelopes demonstrated no impact to the areas of 35% slopes or greater.
Commissioner Verner shared her concern that the two main trees along the driveway might be undercut by the bioswale.  Commissioner KenCairn asked for a condition to have staff address the location of the bioswale at the time of final approval.  Commissioner Verner agreed.  Commissioner KenCairn wanted the condition for tree protection to be based on the species and age of the tree that was either approved by an arborist or an authority on tree protection.  
Commissioner Pearce wanted a condition requiring a GEO technical or structural engineering study for construction on slopes over 25% in place of the current condition regarding slopes. Ms. Gunter noted they had already begun consultation with a GEO technical expert for soils analysis.  They would have a soil report prior to the building permit.
Commissioner Thompson wanted to know the rationale for building under the PSO Overlay.  The proposed tree protection did not satisfy the code standard to apply the PSO standards outside of a PSO Overlay.  She asked staff if this had occurred in the past and what standard would apply and whether just protecting against degradation through a GEO technical or structural engineering study would be sufficient.  Mr. Molnar responded this primarily happened in developments next to a flood plain and described how.   It was part of the PSO.  There was no minimum standard lot size so there was flexibility to design a project that was best for the site.  He did not agree with Ms. Gunter that every steep slope was a natural feature because it was not the history of the application.
Public Testimony  - None
Applicant’s Rebuttal  - None
Chair Norton closed the public hearing and record at 7:51 p.m.
Deliberation and Decision
Commissioner Pearce did not think the applicant’s argument regarding the solar standards applied.  Land divisions created new lots and were designed to certain standards.  It did not matter if there was an existing lot.  He supported Commissioner KenCairn’s condition that would require an arborist or professional opinion for tree protection from the bioswale.  He restated his earlier suggestion to replace the current condition for the slope with a new one requiring a GEO technical report showing no adverse impact to slope stability.
Commissioner KenCairn/Pearce m/s to approve Planning Action PA-T2-2021-00031 with the suggested tree protection modification, not accept the solar request as it stood, and requiring a GEO technical report for construction on slopes 25% or greater to protect against degradation of the slope along with all other conditions recommended by staff.  Roll Call Vote:  Commissioner Verner, Thompson, Pearce, KenCairn, Norton, and Dawkins, YES.  Motion passed.
A.  PLANNING ACTION:  PA-T3-2021-00003
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  192 North Mountain Avenue
OWNER:  The Hodgins Family Trust (Robert & Beverly Hodgins, trustees); The Mary G. Walter Living Trust (Mary G. Walter, trustee); Steve White                              
DESCRIPTION:  A request for annexation of 7.9 acres and Outline Plan approval for a 52-unit residential subdivision for the property located at 192 North Mountain Avenue.  With annexation, 7.9 acres of the ten-acre property would be brought into the city with R-1-5 Single Family Residential zoning, and the entire ten-acres would be subdivided to create 52 residential lots and eight common areas.  The application also includes requests for an Exception to Street Standards to not install a parkrow planting strip with street trees on the proposed bridge over Beach Creek; a Limited Activities & Uses Permit to install a bridge over Beach Creek in order to provide street connectivity to North Mountain Avenue; and a Tree Removal Permit to remove four of the site’s 25 trees. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION:  Single Family Residential; ZONING: Existing –  City R-1-5 & County RR-5, Proposed – City R-1-5; ASSESSOR’S MAP:  39 1E 10; TAX LOT #’s: 800.
Chair Norton opened the public hearing at 8:03 p.m.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Dawkins and Verner declared no ex parte contact, and one site visit.  Commissioner KenCairn had no ex parte contact but had been to the property.  Commissioner Pearce declared no ex parte contact but was familiar with the property.  Chair Norton had no ex parte contact but had visited the side streets around the proposed area.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Derek Severson provided a presentation (see attached):
•  Beach Creek Annexation Proposal for 192 North Mountain Avenue
•  Vicinity Map
•  Existing Farmhouse & Accessory Buildings photo
•  Beach Creek Annexation aerial photos
•  Beach Creek Corridor (from south property line)
•  Beach Creak Corridor (where two channels converge)
•  Beach Creek Corridor (behind old farmhouse)
•  Beach Creek (at north property line)
•  60-inch DBH Black Oak Tree photos
•  30-inch DBH Ponderosa Pine Tree
•  North Mountain Avenue (looking south from driveway)
•  North Mountain (looking north from driveway)
•  Surrounding Streets (Google Streetview)
•  Annexation site plan
•  Annexation Criteria
•  Required Affordable Units site plan          
•  Required Affordable Units
•  Transportation Engineer’s Assessment
•  TSP Street Dedication Map (Fig. 10-1)
•  Proposed Beach Creek Drive Location photos
•  Adequate Transportation site plan
•  TSP Sidewalk Priority Projects (Fig. 7-1)
•  TSP Existing & Planned Transit Service (Figure 9-1)
•  RVTD Future ‘Route 5’ from RVTD 2040 Master Plan
•  TSP Existing & Planned Bikeway Network (Fig. 8-1)
•  Subdivision Preliminary Plat Map
•  Subdivision Site Plan
•  Site Plan
•  Conceptual Elevations
•  Proposed Lot Coverage Allocation
•  Limited Activities & Uses Permit (Bridge in WRPZ)
•  Exception to the Street Design Standards
•  Tree Removal Permits photos
•  Proposal for 192 North Mountain Avenue

Staff recommended approval subject to conditions and forwarding a recommendation in support to the City Council.
Questions of Staff 
Commissioner Verner asked about Talent Irrigation District (TID) feeding the creek.  It was explained the creek was intermittent.  Even though TID was turned off, it had water in it mid-September.  In general, TID ran in almost all the creeks.
Commissioner Verner asked whether the open space would be available for public use.  Mr. Severson did not think it would.  He described the open spaces in the development.  Commissioner Verner addressed common area E and asked if the houses on lot 19, 20 and 21 would be oriented towards that area.  Mr. Severson confirmed they would face the common area.  It would be a common promenade open space.  He went on to note there would be a 12-foot bike path easement along the south portion of the property.  There was a substantial creek corridor with two channels that would require a crossing.  There was also property in the southeast built to the south edge of the railroad property that did not have easements in place.  If the Commission did not require the easement as proposed, staff recommended increasing the width of a sidewalk from 5-feet to a 10-foot paved width to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians passing each other safely.  He showed additional slides depicting the area.
Commissioner Pearce addressed the excess open space being allocated to individual lots.  He asked if there was a condition that demonstrated compliance.  Mr. Severson confirmed there was a condition to comply with the 50% lot coverage, but the Commission could make it clearer by adding it was intended on a per lot basis.  Commissioner Pearce explained it was not allowed in the code, but the applicants could get around it by increasing the lot size. 
Commissioner KenCairn thought it sounded like a density transfer.  Mr. Severson explained in the past that was how it was considered.  Sometimes lots were significantly smaller than the zoning had them be to minimize impact to a natural feature or cluster them around open space.  In the PSO Subdivision, prior applications had used that flexibility in the purpose and intent to allocate open space by adjusting lot spaces.  It was challenged in 2012 and since then, the code was updated to make it explicitly allowable.  What the applicant was proposing was consistent with how it was done in the past.  There just was not a clear, direct path in the code to enable it.
Applicant’s Presentation  
Mark Knox/KDA Homes/Ashland/Mr. Knox provided a presentation:
•  Beach Creek Subdivision
•  Subject Property (single tax lot)
•  Aerial of City and County Land
•  Aerial of the site, street pattern
•  Aerial of subdivision layout
•  Subdivision Site Plans
•  Photo
•  Style of Proposed Houses
Mr. Knox confirmed the promenade and pedestrian links would be available to the public through an easement along with the connection to the neighborhood in the north.  He addressed the lot concerns.  The smaller lots, the additional open space along with 176 square foot (sq. ft.) porches were critical to having a successful neighborhood.  The design was planned well for pedestrian and bicycle mobility.
Denise James/Habitat for Humanity/Explained she had worked with City staff for years on ways to provide affordable housing in Ashland without success due to land costs, infrastructure, and income limits.  This project would allow Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing.  She described the organization.  They were excited to move forward soon.
Mr. Knox added the intent was to build out the subdivision, install utilities and sidewalks then gift the land to Habitat for Humanity. 
Questions of the Applicant
Commissioner KenCairn asked for a condition that required some form of sediment control for the creek.  Mr. Knox explained they had a geologist on their team and had met with staff from the Public Works Department regarding the issue.  He wanted the City to add it as a Capital Improvement Project with the applicant doing the work needed.  He asked that the condition note it was really the City’s responsibility.  Mr. Severson explained the criteria required adequate public facilities.  The Public Works Department recommended preparing a storm water plan that addressed post development peak flows not exceeding the pre-development levels.  So the flows and volumes would be controlled on site.  It would have to be connected in the Findings to a specific systemic need in terms of public facilities.  The final plan would have an engineered design.
Commissioner Dawkins wanted the bike lane increased from 5-feet to 10-feet on the southeast corner of Orchid and Rose Lane to limit potential conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians.  Mr. Knox agreed with the suggestion.
Commissioner Pearce clarified it would require a  public dedication of a bike path along that area instead of the public dedication along the south boundary.   
Mr. Knox explained the open space around the farmhouse would not be open to the public.  The promenade and
pedestrian connections throughout the area would be public.  They were planning an easement for the houses abutting the creek to the path for maintenance purposes.
Commissioner Verner asked if there would be retaining walls for the driveways on the two lots at the southwest corner parallel to the creek.  Mr. Knox explained  both lots would be on flat land with a 30-foot setback from the creek.  He went on to confirm there would be on street parking spaces in addition to the garages on the site for a total of 3 parking spaces per unit.
Commissioner Dawkins asked about having a pathway that went through the cohousing development.  Mr. Knox proposed it, but the neighborhood was adamantly against it.  There was another path directly to the south.
Mr. Knox clarified right of way areas and public access. 
Commissioner Thompson asked for clarification on the request for the reallocation of the excess open space to the lots.  Mr. Knox wanted 50% of the excess open space not required and not in the riparian area to be allocated to the 52 lots.  Commissioner Thompson expressed concern that doing this without any code parameters would set a precedent for future development.  Mr. Knox thought there was flexibility to do that in the performance standards chapter and was done often prior to 2012.  He confirmed it would be 176 square feet per lot and not an average.
Public Testimony 
Julia Sommer/Ashland/Read from a document submitted into the record (see attached).
Allan Weisbard/Ashland/Explained his questions had been answered.  He liked that the promenade would be public.
Sue Whiteman/Ashland/Read from a document submitted into the record (see attached).
Rick Harris/Ashland/Read from a document submitted into the record (see attached).
Commissioner Dawkins/Pearce m/s to continue the meeting to 10:00 p.m.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed.
Applicant’s Rebuttal 
Mr. Knox had no disputes with the testimony from Ms. Sommer and Ms. Whiteman.  He was familiar with the issues.  They would be building on site storm water detention systems.  The fix was not that difficult, and they would be working in the creek anyway.  He did not want to cut into the embankment to reduce the slope unless instructed to do so by a professional.  He also agreed with Mr. Harris’ testimony on balancing the separate goals.  He hoped the Commission understood the proposed lot allocation was a fair response to saving the old house and open space.  He thought it was the right thing to do and it would balance the other goals. 
Chair Norton closed the public hearing and record at 9:31 p.m.
Deliberation and Decision
Commissioner Pearce liked Commissioner Dawkins’ suggestion for the bike path.  They would be approving the outline plan, the limited activities permit, the street standards exception and the tree removal permit contingent on the City Council approving the annexation.  He was concerned allowing the increase to the lot coverage.  It was a nice idea, but the Commission had to apply the land use criteria in the land use code.  The applicant was relying on the purpose statement and that was not a land use criterion.  There was nothing in the PSO Overlay that allowed it.   The PSO Overlay allowed modifications to the minimum lot size, lot width, setback standards and other standards specifically provided in the PSO.  He agreed with staff’s recommendation. 
Commissioner KenCairn wanted a condition that Beach Creek include a trash trap that collected anything larger than 4 inches before it left the property.  There should also be a sediment control basin somewhere along the system.  The Homeowner Association needed to inform potential buyers of the associated costs in having more open space.  Commissioner Pearce commented state law required a reserve study showing weekly expenses over 10 to 20 years.  Commissioner Dawkins agreed with Commissioner KenCairn.  The City Council needed to be aware of it as well.
Commissioner Verner supported the applicant’s effort in allocating the additional open space between the lots.  She thought there was enough leeway in the code to allow it as well.  Commissioner Thompson disagreed.  She did not think the Commission had permission in the code to take it into consideration. 
Commissioner Dawkins did not think the street standards requiring trees and irrigation should apply to the bridge.  Commissioner KenCairn agreed and suggested adding criteria that street standards did not apply within the riparian corridor and have it defined by the size of the stream.  She thought the code should be amended in the future.  Commissioner Pearce agreed the Commission should grant the exception and investigate changing the code.
Chair Norton agreed it was a great idea to allocate additional open space to the individual lots, but it was not permissible in the code.  He suggested the applicant reduce the amount of open space or reduce the number of lots and leave the excess as open space.  Commissioner KenCairn explained the geometry of the site was determining lot size.  It was more convenient for them to allocate the extra open space.  There was not a precedent for doing it.  Commissioner Pearce thought the Commission should consider changing the code to allow it in the future.
Commissioner Dawkins/KenCairn m/s to approve sending Planning Action PA-T3-2021-00003 to the City Council, without the Street Standards for the  bridge, and changing the bike path to 10-feet, including a trash rack or something similar and a sediment control structure for the creek, addressing the creek issues when they do the engineering of the storm water plan, and contingently approving the four permits pending the approval of the annexation by City Council.  Roll Call Vote:  Commissioner Thompson, KenCairn, Dawkins, Pearce, Norton, and Verner, YES.  Motion passed.
B.  PLANNING ACTION:  PA-T2-2021-00031                   
SUBJECT PROPERTY:  375 & 475 East Nevada Street   
APPLICANT:  Rogue Planning & Development Services, LLC for
OWNERS:  Peter & Laura Schultz (owners, 375 E. Nevada St.-Tax Lot 1000), David Young (owner, 475 E. Nevada St.-Tax Lots 1100,1200 & 1300)
DESCRIPTION:  A request for a Minor Comprehensive Plan Map Correction to clarify the City of Ashland’s Urban Growth Boundary for four properties located at 375 & 475 East Nevada Street. The application asserts that there are differences in the UGB’s location between the official paper maps and the current GIS maps in use by both the County and the City, and that the original maps’ scales were such that the line width could significantly alter the boundary location. The application asks to make clear that the portions of the four properties in question are within the City of Ashland’s Urban Growth Boundary as Residential Reserve (1.37 acres of Tax Lot 1000) and North Mountain Neighborhood Plan (2.08 acres of Tax Lots 1100, 1200 & 1300). PLEASE NOTE: The “1982 Ashland/Jackson County Urban Growth Boundary Agreement” also requires review and approval of applications to correct errors in the Comprehensive Plan Map by both the Ashland City Council and Jackson County Board of Commissioners. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Single Family Residential Reserve & North Mountain; ZONING: RR-.5 & NM-MF; MAP: 39 1E 04A; TAX LOT #: 1000, 1100, 1200 & 1300.
Commissioner Verner/KenCairn m/s to continue the item to the Planning Commission meeting on October 12, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed.
Meeting adjourned at 9:53 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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