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Agenda & Minutes

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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Monday, January 25, 2016

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
David Culbertson
Norman Fincher
Joe Foley
Bill Mansfield
Mark McKechnie
Jared Pulver      
Staff Present
Jim Huber, Planning Director
Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director
Kelly Akin, Principal Planner
John Adam, Principal Planner
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney
Carla Paladino, Planner IV
Liz Conner, Planner I
  1. DCA-15-103 Building Height Text Amendment
Jim Huber, Planning Director reported that Carla Paladino will present the building height text amendment and introduced Liz Conner, Planner I.
Ms. Conner stated that she previously was a planner in Klamath County and she worked in the private industry for Farber Surveying.
Carla Paladino, Planner IV, stated that last year as part of the Housekeeping Amendments, changes were proposed to how setbacks are calculated for Single Family Residential dwellings.  Several staff options and one option from CSA Planning were presented to the Planning Commission.  From that discussion, the Commission was in favor of a change but there needed to be some input from the Development Community.
 A working group was set up that reviewed the issue with the following members: 
•             Jay Harland, CSA Planning Ltd.
•             John Chmelir, JCS Oregon, LLC
•             Jeff Mayfield Cascade Design Studio
•             Eric Peterson, Hayden Homes
•             Planning Staff
o             Kelly Akin
o             Sarah Sousa
o             Tracy Carter
The group started off making changes to the setback requirements and added some additional modifications.
The draft proposal consists of:
•             Modify side and rear yard setback requirements for single family residential detached structures and duplexes.
•             Increase maximum lot coverage
•             Reduce front yard setback
•             Exempt mechanical equipment from setbacks in residential zones
The current regulations are:
•             Maximum height and setbacks determined off of front wall of building
•             Base setback plus ½ foot for every 1 foot over 15 feet
•             Same setback regardless of differing heights
The proposed amendment:
•             Continue to measure using the front wall of the building
•             Side yard setback based on height measured
Height (in feet)                 Yard (setback)
0-16                                 4 foot
17-25                               6 foot (SFR-00, 2, 4) or
                                        5 foot (SFR-6, 10)
26+                                  8 foot
•             Rear yard = 4 feet or greater of side yard setback; (10 feet if property abuts collector or arterial)
•             Any height between 17-25 is either 5 feet or 6 feet depending on the zoning district.
Chair McFadden asked if the group discussed what to do when there is an alley?  Ms. Paladino reported that the alley would be the same.  It is a 4 foot setback.
Other proposed changes:
•             Increase lot coverage
o             SFR-4 and SFR-6: 40% to 45% maximum lot coverage
o             SFR-10; MFRs: 40% to 50% maximum lot coverage
•             Reduce front yard setback to 15 feet
Commissioner Foley stated that the front yard setback seemed short.  Is that is a driveway leading up to the garage?  Ms. Paladino stated that the garage would be a 20 foot setback.  The 15 feet is basically the front door.
•             Exempt mechanical equipment from setback
•             Other general exceptions modified
•             Thought: Change rear yard to 4 feet
Commissioner D’Alessandro asked if there was a consensus with the work group on what staff is presenting?  Ms. Paladino reported that she likes it because it is easier.  It may need some tweaking but they are getting there. 
Kelly Akin, Principal Planner, stated that she discussed this with the current planners that use this the most.  They agree it is much simpler.  In the field it will be more practical and easier for the Building Department to manage.
Commissioner D’Alessandro stated that in the original discussion there was concern about the center of the house and not having a useable space on one side and maybe a walk-through on the other side in its current form.  The general jest of that was so that one could have a useable boat or RV parking on one side and have a narrower setback on the other side.
Commissioner Foley reported that one of the other issues was that with the current code one has to have a larger setback on both sides.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that he likes where this is headed.  The diagrams are clear but he is not one hundred percent sure the language states what is being shown in the diagram.  The second thing that disturbs him is that it does not deal with sloped lots.  It is assuming that the lot is flat.  Commissioner McKechnie suggested including sloped lots and how to calculate on the front to get a determination on how one is calculating it.
Ms. Akin asked Commissioner McKechnie how would one do that?  Commissioner McKechnie reported that using the city to the south they take the middle point of the house in both directions.
John Adam, Principal Planner, stated that the current code measures along the front of the building and it takes the average of the front building height.  Is Commissioner McKechnie saying they are also going in the perpendicular dimension in the back?  One does not know if the height is exactly what it shows on paper.
Ms. Paladino asked if it was the consensus of the Planning Commission to see sloped lots language in the code?  That language will shift things. 
Jay Harland, CSA Planning Ltd., reported that there was a consensus about this represents significant improvement over the current code.  There was a close consensus on the final language.  This specific issue was discussed of the front yard versus where one measures it from.  It is much simpler to use the front elevation. 
Commissioner Mansfield stated that he likes it because it creates for more density.  He would be interested in what Commissioner Pulver has to say.  What does the building and real estate industry think about all this?  Commissioner Pulver reported that he does not deal with that part.  He deals with commercial buildings not residential.  He assumes the home builders would be in agreement for simplicity and density reasons.
Commissioner Pulver asked where does the property line start with the setback on a garage and driveway?  Ms. Paladino reported that it is measured from the property line.  There could be instances where the sidewalk is an easement.  It really depends on where the front property line is. Language can be added stating to maintain 20 feet from the right-of-way or something similar. 
Commissioner Culbertson stated that the main aesthetics of the house is principally what people are buying.  Secondarily, they are going to be looking at the side yards and back yard.  Do they have useable space?  Do they have a small or big dog?  Do they want no landscaping, do they have RV parking?  There are lots of things they look at.  Allowing the setbacks the way that they are doing now, he believes it is going to give the builder/developer more latitude to put a more functional floorplan on a piece of property. 
Commissioner McKechnie asked if a 4 foot rear yard setback too close?  Commissioner Culbertson stated there are a few but he believes they are 8 or 10 feet that are pretty narrow.  Not too many people would want a four foot back yard unless they have no pets and no desire to have any outside interactions.
Ms. Paladino reported that the group looked at increasing the rear yard setback.  At one point one, the drafts had it at 8 feet.  There was something not right with calculating the front wall and applying the rear yard setback.  It was changed back to 4 feet considering other structures in the back yard such as a shed, pool, etc. that will not have increased setback.
Commissioner McKechnie asked if there was something for accessory structures that allow it to be up against the wall?  Ms. Akin replied no.  Commissioner McKechnie suggested maybe there should be as long as staff is amending the language.
Chair McFadden has concerns with changing the Code to include additions to homes that were not originally built that way.  A subdivision like Blossom Hills that unfortunately has a utility corridor running down the back property lines and you allow people to put sheds on top it will drive the utility companies crazy.  It will drive the cost of repairs to sky rocket.  Ms. Paladino commented that easements are a catch all. 
Commissioner D’Alessandro asked if there was size exclusion?  Ms. Paladino replied from building permits.  The average is 200 square feet or less.                                                       
Ms. Paladino, again asked what the consensus was on the slopes?  Does the Commission want to see what it looks like to address slopes on the sides?  It will be a change to what there is now.
Vice Chair Miranda asked if that was addressed anywhere else?  Ms. Paladino replied that it is not addressed anywhere else.  All front walls are measured the same regardless of slope.
Ms. Akin reported that this came up in the Hillside Ordinance several years ago and the Hillside Ordinance was stripped of that language.  The reason was too much control over the aesthetics of the single family products that were being constructed. 
Mr. Adam stated that this is not a setback issue but an aesthetics one. 
Commissioner McKechnie commented that putting in several diagrams addressing the slopes would be helpful.
Ms. Paladino reiterated what she heard throughout the meeting:
•             Clarify the language to match the diagrams
•             Address sloped lots in diagrams but not necessarily change the setback
•             Add language of the 15 foot yard and 20 foot garage – making sure it is measured outside of the right-of-way
•             Change mansard roof to match the other diagrams to get half the eaves of the roof to the top of the wall
Commissioner Pulver asked if the working group discussed gross total of a setback?   Ms. Paladino reported that at the first meeting there were four bullet points of items that she heard at a study session. One was discussing some sort of combined setback but it never took off.
Mr. Harland stated that it was discussed and another item discussed was getting graduated setbacks for different zones. 
The consensus of the Planning Commission was to bring this to a public hearing.                
The meeting was adjourned at 12:51 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana, Recording Secretary

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