Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

October 26, 2021
I.          CALL TO ORDER:
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
Lisa Verner  
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Kerry KenCairn
  Paula Hyatt
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the City Council approved the first reading of the 192 North Mountain Avenue annexation at their meeting on October 19, 2021.  The condition on building homes to Earth Advantage levels was changed to building homes to recognized green building standards.  He and Maria Harris would provide an update on the annexation code changes to the City Council at their study session on November 1, 2021.  The Planning Commission would deliberate on the AT&T appeal at their meeting on November 9, 2021.
Senior Planner Derek Severson announced the nominations for Tree of the Year. Information was on the City’s website,  https://gis.ashland.or.or/Tree/
III.       PUBLIC FORUM - None
A.  Code Amendments for Housing in Employment Zones
Planning Manager Maria Harris provided a presentation (see attached):
•  Data Analysis 
•  Ashland C-1 & E-1 Zones
•  Ashland C-1 & E-1 Zones with E-1 Residential Overlay
•  Ashland C-1 & E-1 Zones with Transit Triangle Overlay
•  Ashland C-1 & E-1 Zones with Transit Triangle Overlay and Downtown Design Standards
•  Three Locations
•  1: Inside the DDS overlay
•  Ashland C-1 & E-1 Zones, with Transit Triangle Overlay and Downtown Design Standards Map 1
•  Example Photo
•  2: Outside DDS and TT overlays
•  Ashland C-1 & E-1 Zones, with Transit Triangle Overlay and Downtown Design Standards Map 2
•  Example Photos 
•  3: Inside the TT overlay
•  Ashland C-1 & E-1 Zones, with Transit Triangle Overlay and Downtown Design Standards Map 3
•  Example Photos
•  Other Amendments
•  1: Inside the DDS overlay – buildings that 1 story or lots that are greater than 10 acres in size
The code required applicants to use the standards in place for the Downtown Design Standards (DDS).  If the building was in the C-1 or E-1 zones, only 35% of the ground floor could be residential.
•  Next Steps
Ms. Harris addressed written testimony from Mark Knox.  He suggested allowing 100% residential on the ground floor in all three locations and use the conditional use permit process to limit housing as temporary.
Commissioner Pearce commented on the floor area ratio (FAR) and that 1.5 was too low.  Ms. Harris explained 1.5 FAR was used in the Transit Triangle Overlay (TTO).  When parking and landscaping were factored in, 1.5 worked.  They discussed allowing a 2.0 FAR for buildings with underground parking.
Commissioner Thompson wanted to know if the changes would apply to areas outside the DDS overlay and if it pertained to new construction only.  Ms. Harris explained for the TTO option, it must be new construction.  Outside of the TTO, it would reduce the current requirement of 65% for non-residential uses on the ground floor, to 35% and was not limited to new construction.  The application would have to meet building codes.  They discussed obtaining the current square footage of existing commercial buildings.  It would require inventorying existing building space and that was not doable.  The City did not have square footage information for all existing buildings.
Commissioner Thompson asked about having sufficient land for commercial and employment.  Ms. Harris explained Fregonese and Associates, compared vacant land with land used over the past decade as well as job numbers.  The goal was not to look at how much employment land will be needed; it was generating more housing.  The 2007 EOA forecasted more employment growth than what happened.  No one knew what the demand for retail and office space would evolve to.  Ms. Harris pulled up the slide depicting C-1 and E-1 Zones with the TTO and DDS.  Along with Mr. Molnar, they confirmed the parameters of all three areas.
Commissioner Verner liked Mr. Knox’ suggestion to allow 100% residential to all three areas to meet the demand for housing.  The Commission could review the outcome in five years.  If there was a demand for commercial, they could change the approvals and convert units back for commercial.  Ms. Harris commented that once an area was changed to 100% residential, it would be difficult to convert back to commercial.
They discussed being commercial ready and allowing residential to be 100% in all three areas. Commissioner Verner thought it should all be 100% commercial ready.  Ms. Harris explained 100% residential was allowed in the TTO.  For the other areas, the requirement would shift from 65% commercial on the ground floor, to 35%.  Commissioner Thompson wanted to know the impact on allowing 65% residential to non-TTO areas.  Mr. Harris explained it added 30% more for residential.  Commissioner Pearce did not think it would have much of an impact.  Converting a building from commercial to residential would be expensive.  Ms. Harris clarified it applied only to two or more stories and would have no impact on one story buildings.  Commissioner Thompson was less concerned about residential in commercial space in certain areas and used the area by the Ashland Hills Hotel as an example.  Ms. Harris explained an option for that area was creating another overlay.
Mr. Molnar supported the analysis provided by Fregonese and Associates.  The EOA projected growth over 20 years and included employment growth using 8 acres annually and the reality was only 2 acres were used per year.  The TTO area had only 6 proposed developments over the past thirty years.  
Commissioner Thompson had concerns regarding the parking changes for multifamily citywide.  Ms. Harris confirmed it would change multifamily parking requirements. 
Chair Norton thought allowing 100% residential might create successful little retail nodes.  He did not support a five-year check in and suggested letting the private sector and market control that and not use CUPs. 
The Commission discussed allowing 100% residential in new construction and including it in the E-1 zone and requiring construction to be commercial ready.
Commissioner Thompson was not comfortable changing the parking standard for city in any zone for multifamily development.  Ms. Harris explained it was the standard used for cottage housing and the TTO.  One of the strategies in the Housing Capacity Analysis was decreasing multifamily parking requirements.  Chair Norton thought they should use the standards, monitor the outcome and adjust if necessary. 
Ms. Harris suggested bringing back two code options.  The one presented tonight and another using the TTO approach everywhere in town except the downtown area.  There was consensus for allowing 100% residential in the E-1 and C-1 zones.  Ms. Harris would leave out the DDS overlay.  Everything else in C-1 and E-1 zones would have the residential overlay.  It would allow 100% ground floor residential on first floor with a certain percentage for commercial ready space.  Commissioner Dawkins did not agree.  He thought it should be 100% in the C-1 and E-1 zones but left to the developer to determine what would be appropriate.  Commissioner Pearce thought commercial ready criteria was important for this change.
Staff would bring two ordinance options for the Planning Commission Study Session on November 23, 2021.  Chair Norton did not support changing the FAR without significant studies.  Mr. Harris would provide analysis on what efforts would support increasing the FAR.  Staff would also research underground parking.
Meeting adjourned at 9:02 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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