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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Minutes

Monday, June 08, 2015

The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at noon in the Lausmann Annex Room 151-157 on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Commissioners Present
David McFadden, Chair
Patrick Miranda, Vice Chair
Tim D’Alessandro
Norman Fincher
Chris MacMillan
Bill Mansfield
Mark McKechnie
Jared Pulver
Alec Schwimmer
Commissioners Absent
Staff Present
Jim Huber, Planning Director
Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director
Kelly Akin, Principal Planner
John Adam, Senior Planner
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney
Aaron Harris, Planner II
Praline McCormack, Planner II
Donna Holtz, Office Administrator
Cheryl Adams, Office Administrator
1.            CP-15-036 / ZC -15-037 Downtown Boundary Amendment
Jim Huber, Planning Director, made two announcements.  Cheryl Adams, Office Administrator, for the Planning Department is retiring on June 30, 2015.  Donna Holtz will be replacing Ms. Adams as Office Administrator. 
John Adam, Senior Planner, stated that approximately a year ago staff presented to the Planning Commission the downtown corridor area.  One step was to reconcile the General Land Use Plan map with the overlay on the zoning district because the two were not commensurate.  The other step is to work on design standards within some portion of the downtown and having a committee.  Staff is considering creating a downtown zoning district.
Praline McCormack, Planner II, reported that the City Center designation is from 4th Street to 10th Street and from Bear Creek to Newtown.  The boundaries of the City Center do not match the Central Business Overlay.  There are various zoning districts in the downtown area, such as MFR-20, multi-family, heavy commercial, community commercial and commercial service professional.  Staff is considering replacing the various zones with one zone.
The 2050 Plan divides the area into districts.  There would be different regulations and standards for each district.   The boundary of the area of the 2050 Plan is approximately 220 acres of commercially and residentially zoned land, bordered by Jackson Street on the north, Tenth Street on the south, Hawthorne Avenue/Almond Street on the east and Oakdale Avenue on the west.
There are two options.  One is to expand the CC boundary to make it the same as the 2050 Plan area, or two, is to eliminate the CC GLUP designation and replace it with whatever GLUP designation is appropriate based on the current zone of the property.  There would have to be a Measure 56 notice because of the change in uses.  The City Center designation does not identify specific zones that are allowed. 
Feedback from the Planning Commission is whether the CC GLUP designation remains and expands it to match the 2050 Plan area, or repeal it and replace it with the appropriate GLUP designation based on the existing zoning of the property.
Staff is proposing to create a downtown special area plan similar to the Southeast Plan.  In the Southeast Plan there are different sub areas.  In the 2050 Plan there are districts that each of the zone regulation standards apply.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that this is way too complicated.  It is his opinion it should all be called City Center, leaving it open except for industrial, then reviewed on a case by case basis.
Chair McFadden agreed because it is heard to tear down a zone change.
Commissioner Mansfield echoed Commissioner McKechnie’s comments.  It is his opinion that planning is way more complex than it should be.  He would like to refer it back to staff and come up with the simplest plan they can come up with.
Mr. Adam stated that the entire objective is to simplify the conditions that it is in now.  There is a General Land Use Plan designation in one area and a zoning plan overlay that is in a different area.  There are different parking standards based on the parking district.  Staff wants to clear the layers that one can bring into an area.
Commissioner Pulver struggled with the 2050 Plan.  It is his opinion that the CC GLUP designation would be a short easy solution with parameters.
Commissioner Pulver stated that matching the Central Business District with the CC GLUP designation is a sound concept.
Commissioner Mansfield reported that in reading the 2050 Plan on the last page, he was shocked to find out that the City is talking about funding it with general funds.  That means tax payer money to him.  He does not believe the City is appropriating any tax payer funds.  Are they planning to do so?  Mr. Adam replied that the 2050 Plan has set on the shelf and there have been no monies directed toward it.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that the real striking difference between this and the Southeast Plan and why that one may work better is because there is 180,000 square feet of building in the Southeast Plan with one owner. Here, everybody has two to four thousand square feet.  That is a nightmare, to assemble enough land to do something.  The economics are there for small and big parcels.  It makes more sense for the City to act as an aggregator.  How big the City wants the buildings to be in the downtown needs to be considered?
Chair McFadden reported that he likes the idea of making different districts and having a flexible design in each.
Staff would like to pursue having a definite idea of what the parking regulations are without having to rely on an old fashion parking overlay. Going beyond north of 4th Street, it starts to lose any kind of cohesiveness.  It is a big downtown area for an area this size.
Ms. McCormack stated that another pro for dividing into districts is way finding.  The City will be moving forward with a downtown way finding program.  Mr. Adam commented that this came out of the U of O projects.
Commissioner D’Alessandro asked if these types of district boundaries are typically found in this small of areas in other cities?  Mr. Adam stated that in comparable cities the zoning is at this scale.  Yes, they are comparable.
Chair McFadden reported that the City has a plan for improvements along Bear Creek making it a more attractive place.  There is a lot of potential in that area such as restaurants looking over the Creek, a convention center, schools, etc., using the environmental aspects of Bear Creek.  Ms. McCormack commented that is what the 2050 Plan is about. 
Commissioner Pulver asked if there was anything in the Code that would prohibit development along the Creek?  The downtown is in desperate need of residential to try and achieve the 2050 Plan.  There is synergy between work, life and play in this Plan.
Ms. McCormack reiterated downtown there is a C-C GLUP, C-B Overlay, various zoning district, parking district and historic district.  What is the best way to simplify?
Chair McFadden asked if the Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission should review everything in this area?  Would that help with consistency?  Kelly Akin, Principal Planner stated that the Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission has the same authority as the Site Plan and Architectural Commission.  It is just the properties that are different.  They are not geared for non-historic development.
Commissioner McKechnie asked if the Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission can be eliminated and let the Site Plan and Architectural Commission do it all?  Ms. Akin replied that there has to be a Historic Commission to administer the districts.  There are four or five different Historic Districts.  The City is a Certified Local Government community that requires a Historic Commission.  It is a grant opportunity for the City independent of anything else.
Commissioner Pulver asked if the design guidelines will be embraced by the Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission in their area and everything else by the Site Plan and Architectural Commission to make sure compliance?  Mr. Adam stated that the draft design guidelines for the downtown design committee came from the historic guidelines but it is not necessarily constraint to historic.
Commissioner Pulver reported that it is his opinion that the historic element is not going away but an added complexity to the area.  If ones property is in the historic district they go to the Historic Commission and if not then it goes to the Site Plan and Architectural Commission.  There is no consistency between the two review bodies.
Ms. Akin stated that is correct.  The National Park Service administers the National Register of Historic places and they have certain criteria that have to be met if one builds new construction, remodels or rehabilitates in historic districts.  The work staff is trying to do is intended not to run afoul of those.  There will be some level of consistency through that.
Commissioner D’Alessandro stated that there is potential for conflict on all the outside borders of the Historic District with what the Site Plan and Architectural Commission decides is appropriate versus what the Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission on the other side of the street decides is appropriate.  Ms. McCormack reported that is why they want to develop a design guideline, to avoid the conflicts.
Commissioner Pulver suggested modifying the City Center GLUP language definition and restrict the zoning uses but leverage the existing zoning.  Eliminate the districts and encompass those in the City Center GLUP map designation.
Ms. Akin reported that part of the reason for doing this was for practical administration.  There are things the City may want permitted in downtown that the City would not want permitted broadly in the C-C zone.
Staff has discussed making the Downtown form based as opposed to the traditional zoning.
Staff wants to simplify the downtown zoning, encourage development and look good.
Commissioner Pulver stated that if the City wants residential downtown there needs to be parks so citizens can move their family’s downtown and feel they have a place to play that they can walk to.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:10 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana, Recording Secretary

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