MAY 14, 2002
Mayor Alan DeBoer personally presented thank you gifts and volunteer certificates to those members not in attendance at the recent Volunteer Recognition party.
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chair Mike Gardiner at 7:10 p.m.. Other Commissioners present were Ray Kistler, John Fields, Kerry KenCairn, Colin Swales, Russ Chapman, and Alex Amarotico. Absent members were Marilyn Briggs and Mike Morris. Staff present were John McLaughlin, Bill Molnar, Maria Harris and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS
The following Minutes were approved: March 12, 2002 Regular Meeting
April 9, 2002 Hearings Board Minutes
April 9, 2002 Regular Meeting
April 23, 2002 Joint Study Session with Historic Commission and Council
The Findings were approved for PA2002-033, 432 Ray Lane (Tom Lowell).
Jenifer Carr, 388 Grandview, stated the Planning Commission is allowing for the site to be arranged to fit the building, allowing retaining walls to be as tall as needed with dirt in front of them, and if someone wants something, they get it, regardless of what it does to the neighborhood. There is an example of this on Skycrest.
TYPE III PLANNING ACTIONS
PLANNING ACTION 2002-042
REQUEST FOR THE ADOPTION OF A NEW CHAPTER TO TITLE 18 (LAND USE ORDINANCE) OF THE ASHLAND MUNICIPAL CODE RELATING TO TREE PRESERVATION AND PROTECTION.
APPLICANT: CITY OF ASHLAND
McLaughlin said the public hearing is still open since last month's meeting. This is an opportunity to accept additional public testimony. The Tree Commissioners are present to answer questions.
No one came forth to add additional testimony.
McLaughlin said the changes proposed to the draft ordinance are at the end of the April 9, 2002 Staff Report on page 3. There are two clarifications. There were five changes proposed by the Tree Commission outlined in a memo from McLaughlin dated April 9, 2002. For the most part, those were clarifications except for 18.61.080.B.4 (page 9). The Tree Commission is recommending the section be deleted regarding tree removal criteria because it would be too difficult to enforce. Under the penalty section that more discretion is given to the court in how the penalties are applied. Rather than "shall", it will say "may".
McLaughlin said another point that came up was on page 9, 18.61.084 - Mitigation Required. The sentence reads: "The replanted tree shall be of a species that will eventually equal or exceed the removed tree in size." Add to the end of the sentence: "...if appropriate for the new location." This gives some discretion to the landscape designer in finding a balance.
McLaughlin wondered what the Planning Commission wanted to do about the Expiration of a Permit – 18.61.092 – page 10 – Should it be a year? Building permits are valid for six months. It could coincide with that. It is too hard to track it after a year. At the last meeting, Don Greene felt 60 days was too short a time period.
Swales thought it made sense to have the expiration at six months to be consistent with a building permit.
ROBBIN PEARCE, Staff Liaison, said she could not come up with a reason to extend it to six months. If someone removes a tree, it needs to be replanted immediately. By lengthening the expiration, will this encourage procrastination?
Gardiner wondered how under unforeseen circumstances this would be handled. Pearce said Staff could give a 30 day extension.
McLaughlin said the reasonable approach would be to keep it consistent with the building permit and use a six-month expiration date.
Swales asked about 18.61.080.B.3 and its subjectivity. McLaughlin thought that it will become objective through the Planning Commission's reviews. They will, through policy, set standards of what that means. It is difficult to measure in saying that trees over a certain size cannot be cut because that goes against the character of the neighborhood. Or, trees of a certain species and health cannot be cut. This process will require the Planning Commission to create findings that show the character of the neighborhood and why this tree either does or does not enhance it. He believes it will be become clear when they see plans in front of them. McLaughlin is still comfortable with the language.
Gardiner stated he is not in favor of adopting this ordinance. He appreciates the efforts of the Tree Commission and everyone thus far. He does not believe this conditional ordinance is necessary for the Planning Commission to continue to do the job the way they have done it. Over the past few years, they have won a few battles, lost a few battles with developers who have "gotten around" the process that this ordinance might protect. There have been some planning actions that have gone forward to remove some substantial trees. For the most part, it has not been detrimental to the city. He believes we can go along as a community, without a tree ordinance and expand the canopy and still maintain some control over the planning actions that come before the commission.
Swales believes this process has been a fine example of democracy in action. There has been so much public exposure and public input. The Tree Commission has been very sensitive in amending the tree ordinance to recognize the input from the public. He thinks we have ended up with something that meets those needs and gives teeth to what the vision of the Comprehensive Plan is. That is, to retain as much vegetation and tree coverage as possible. Swales thinks this will be good for the future of Ashland, especially in the commercial districts and large scale development.
RICH WHITALL, Tree Commissioner, thanked the Planning Commission for their participation. He appreciates the discretion the Planning Commission uses to make the decisions they make. One reason they have pushed so hard for this ordinance is that there have been difficult decisions to be weighed and the ordinance should help that decision-making. He felt is would be a statement to the citizens of Ashland about the values our city has with regard to trees and an invaluable asset and tool for the city. They are hoping to not make the Planning Commission's job more difficult but to help define things more clearly and give developers better guidelines.
BRYAN HOLLEY, Tree Commissioner, believed by putting up strict boundaries, it will be helpful and cause fewer disagreements and confusion. They felt some subjective language is appropriate. They've left a little wiggle room. It's been said that Ashland has a healthy urban forest and because it is healthy, it reaffirms the good things we have done that are worth continuing.
COMMISSIONERS' DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Fields believes that as a planning tool, the ordinance will not change any decisions the Planning Commission would have made in the past. It might help clarify expectations. For that reason, he will support it.
Chapman agreed with Fields and feels ready to let this move to the Council.
Swales moved to recommend adoption of the ordinance to the City Council with the changes recommended by Staff, the Tree Commission and the change to the permit expiration to 180 days (will become Conditions of Approval on planning actions) and the change to 18.61.084.
Amarotico seconded the motion and it carried with Kistler and Gardiner voting "no".
PLANNING ACTION 2002-058
REQUEST FOR AMENDMENTS TO THE CITY OF ASHLAND TRANSPORTATION PLAN MAP. THE AMENDMENT INVOLVES THE LOCATION OF FUTURE STREET DEDICATIONS (EXTENSIONS) BETWEEN CLEAR CREEK DRIVE AND NORTH MOUNTAIN AVENUE, AND ROGUE PLACE, WILLIAMSON WAY, STARFLOWER LANE AND A STREET.
APPLICANT: CITY OF ASHLAND
Harris stated the amendment is to the Transportation Plan Map that is part of the Comprehensive Plan. The Transportation Plan Map includes future street dedications in areas that are undeveloped. The purpose of the street dedication is to show when the area is developed and where the major connections will be. Oftentimes, the locations on the map are not exactly how they will look on the ground. It is somewhat conceptual in nature. When the map is adopted it doesn't mean the street will happen. The only thing that will make the street happen is if a property owner chooses to develop a property and at that time a street would be required.
In the Railroad property, we are seeing more development occurring and it seemed like a good time to get our housekeeping in order and get the map taken care of. There is a policy in the Transportation Element that requires the street dedication map to be updated. The first part of the development of the Railroad property is near Oak Street. A condition was put on the remainder of the property that it is to be cleaned up to residential standards before it is developed. It is Staff understands, this cleanup plan is in place at DEQ. It is looking like there will be some development pressure in the near future.
Harris referred to the existing Street Dedication map and the proposed map included in the packet. There is one change on the proposed map. It is the piece going to the 90-degree corner of Williamson Way. This area will be an alley. The map came from the Railroad Master Plan. They did a lot of work with the property owners as to how the connections would work best for everyone.
They are trying to get the east/west connection from Mountain Avenue to Oak Street, with a secondary connection through a residential neighborhood. There is an east/west truck route. They want a couple of north/south connections from Rogue Place to the Fourth Street dedication. All the goals and policies call for an inner connected street network. This property is somewhat constrained because it is developed largely around the periphery so it is not easy to find places to get streets and alleys through. They are trying to balance getting neighborhood connection into and out of the area too. They also want street connections that make the commercial area viable and still have adequate transportation.
Staff believes this plan meets the criteria of a public need supported by the Comprehensive Plan. They are outlined in the Staff Report.
The Planning Commission is the final decision-making authority in this action. Staff is recommending adoption of the street dedication modifications tonight.
Swales wondered if the truck route junctions could be straightened out some. Harris said the area around this is the most intense and the street might be narrower with more activity. She said when the area is developed, the plan will be refined. The truck route is not designed to be a through route. Molnar said the city has a lot of flexibility to modify the streets to accommodate other parts of the street plan.
Swales wondered if there were any plans to have another crossing over the railroad for bike and pedestrian. Harris said it is her understanding that getting one would be feasible but a challenge. At this point they are looking at abandoning that crossing.
Gardiner read RON SUTPHIN’S (401 Williamson Way) comments into the record.
MERA GAGNON, 466 Williamson Way, said at prior meetings she and other neighbors raised concerns about the willow trees, the creek, birds and riparian area. It seems the street is going right through it. There was tremendous input and it's seems their comments have been totally ignored. She is also concerned about the truck route and whether the trucks will go through her neighborhood. Will the trucks be pick-ups, vans, or semi's travelling this route? How much noise and pollution will be generated in the residential neighborhood? She speaks for others on Williamson Way.
Gardiner responded that there will be the same trucks that are now using Hersey Street making deliveries. They will probably not use the neighborhood to drive through, but the truck route from Oak.
Molnar said they are not proposing cutting into riparian area, but following it.
COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION
KenCairn moved to approve the proposed street dedication as part of the Ashland Transportation Plan. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.
ADJOURNMENT– The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.