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Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes
Monday, April 22, 2019
The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at 12:00 p.m. in the Lausmann Annex Room 151-157 on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Mark McKechnie, Chair
Joe Foley, Vice Chair
E. J. McManus, Excused Absence
Patrick Miranda, Excused Absence
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney
Sarah Sousa, Planner IV
20.1 DCA-19-001 Housekeeping Amendments
Sarah Sousa, Planner IV reported that every year or two, the Planning Department brings forward housekeeping amendments to fix code errors and make clarifications. Also, add minor code changes to help meet the City’s density requirements and remove housing barriers.
There is an entire list on pages 5 through 8 in the study session agenda packet of the code changes and whether it is a housekeeping change or clarification or another regulatory change.
Zone changes have to meet two main criteria. They have to be consistent with the General Land Use Plan designation and they have to meet facility adequacy. Many of the zones have locational requirements. Staff is now looking at adding locational criteria for SFR-4. SFR-4 is a maximum of 4 units per acre. As part of the urban growth boundary amendment, it now has to meet a minimum of 6 to 7 units per acre. The City has a lot of SFR-4 zoning and everything with that zone would remain. Properties proposed for zoning would have three ways to obtain that zone. 1) If at least 70% of the area proposed to be rezoned exceeds a slope of 12% or greater; 2) If area to be rezoned is within a wildfire hazard zone; or 3) If the property to be rezoned is not more than one gross acre in size.
Vice Chair Foley asked, is that less than an acre to be rezoned or over an acre? Ms. Sousa responded that it is a gross acre or less. This can be reworded.
Chair McKechnie agreed that it needs to be reworded.
Commissioner Culbertson asked, has staff done an inventory throughout the City on affected properties that these criteria would apply? Ms. Sousa stated that staff would like to review what the average acreage size of properties zoned SFR-00 in the existing urban growth boundary. If there is something else the Planning Commission is interested in, that could be added.
Commissioner Culbertson thinks it more important to find which properties are zoned SFR-00 that may have a zone change that abuts SFR-4 that are now not able to do. Like community areas. The Springbrook project was SFR-6, the City reclassified part of it as high density. The neighbors did not want high density in their neighborhood. Originally it was all SFR-6. Projects getting more houses in tighter spacing some of the continuity of some neighborhoods may get disrupted.
Commissioner McFadden commented that it is only the SFR-00 zoning districts that are eligible. In the Southeast Plan there are a lot of SFR-4 that does not have to change that is grandfathered in unless they want to change it.
Commissioner Pulver is struggling on why the need for this. He thought with the urban growth boundary expansion they studied existing UGB and found the density in excess of the 6.7 requirement. All lands being brought in have to prove it will meet that requirement. It seems like they are already hitting the states mandate which in his opinion is excessive for this area. It seems to be wasting energy on a topic that does not need to be addressed.
Ms. Sousa continued that for zone changes to SFR-10 there is existing locational criteria but eliminate the requirement that at least one parcel that abuts a subject property is zoned SFR-10. Instead allow it if at least one parcel is within 200 feet of the subject property. The current language allows SFR-10 zoning area to be five acres or larger. It is proposed to reduce that threshold to 3 acres.
Commissioner Pulver asked, does urban residential and above include SFR-2, SFR-4, SFR-6 and SFR-10? Is medium MFR-15? Carla Paladino, Principal Planner responded yes. MFR-20 and MFR-30 are high.
Commissioner Pulver thinks SFR-10 should be in medium or getting rid of medium and just have high and low. Ms. Paladino stated that staff has discussed that but has not taken that step.
Commissioner Mansfield respectively disagrees. Mixed uses are the thing.
Commissioner McFadden’s neighborhood is SFR-4 and within a block there are apartment complexes. He does not know if mixing is beneficial.
Commissioner Mansfield suggested start getting used to it.
Commissioner McFadden commented the state is pushing to get rid of zoning.
Commissioner Mansfield reported that Josephine County voted a majority to get rid of Senate Bill 100. It continued to pass in Jackson County. He is aware there are people on the other side.
Commissioner Culbertson went off point discussing the concept of Missing Middle Housing. Missing Middle Housing is a transformative concept that highlights the need for diverse, affordable housing choices in sustainable, walkable places. It came from Optico’s and coined by the President of Optico’s. The governor has a bill sitting on her desk that she will push through that incorporates the language of Missing Middle Housing.
He agrees with Commissioner Pulver that there is a lot of things that the City is complying with the states restrictions. It is his opinion that we are trying to jam something through he is not sure exists.
There is a 5 acre parcel on Gene Cameron that has come up for a subdivision. It goes between Lone Pine and comes out on Gene Cameron. It is like an island. What if that applicant were able to make their application for SFR-10 and met the criteria. It is completely surround by SFR-4. It creates an island within the City of nonconforming type of construction.
Commissioner Mansfield asked, would that be tragic? Commissioner Culbertson believes it would be misplaced.
Commissioner Pulver’s issue is that it is a wide swath this can fit in urban residential.
Chair McKechnie is concerned with the 200 feet and wants to keep abuts adjoining property.
Chair McKechnie asked, is it physically possible to get 10 single family dwelling units on an acre? There needs to be a more creative way to do 10 units per acre that allows for more open space opposed to having everyone with a tiny postage stamp yard. Chair McKechnie suggested changing SFR-10 to R-10 and MFR-15 to R-15.
Ms. Sousa reported that most of the SFR-10 subdivisions are meeting more the SFR-6 detached density.
Vice Chair Foley likes getting rid of the single family part of SFR-10 and MFR-15 and being creative. That would flow with cottage housing. There may be developments that fit better into that concept that may or may not be all single family approach.
Ms. Paladino reported that staff has itemized their housing amendments. Future amendments will potentially modify how the density looks in terms of numbers. It would shift how they are named. SFR can be misleading. The R may be more appropriate. This round of amendments will not have that change. It will take more time and effort to modify.
Currently, duplexes are allowed in the SFR-4 and SFR-6 zones but they shall be divided by a lot line. Each unit has to be on an individual lot. It is proposed to remove that requirement so that a duplex can be on one lot in those zones, still subject to meeting density.
Chair McKechnie commented that if a duplex was on its own lot and ADU could be added to each side.
Commissioner McFadden asked, what sells better? Single property attached housing or duplex on a single lot? Commissioner Culbertson replied that it depends on who the buyer is. The vast majority of buyers in the FHA program single family detached or single family with lot line is what they will be able to purchase. They are typically not looking at it in the aspect of purchasing one half and rent the other half.
Residential units are allowed in the commercial zones subject to MFR-30 standards. The proposed change is that that density would still have to meet MFR-30 but the site development standards would follow the underlying commercial zone. That would include setbacks, lot coverage, and height allowances.
Chair McKechnie stated that there is a caption in that section that states within 150 feet of a residential zone the height is limited to 35 feet. Is that remaining? Ms. Sousa replied yes. That may change with the next housekeeping amendments.
Commissioner McFadden commented that there is a change that allows a 35 foot height to go 20 feet higher. Is that applicable to this commercial one?
Ms. Sousa reported that the height in most commercial zones is a maximum of 85 feet except if the structure is within 150 feet of a residential zoning district, boundary or special area designation then it is limited to 35 feet. In this round of amendments staff is not proposing to change that. For Heavy Commercial zone staff is proposing a 55 foot allowance for multifamily buildings unless they are within 150 feet of a residential zoning district it would be 35 feet.
Commissioner McFadden asked, is 20 feet higher a reasonable increase? Chair McKechnie replied that probably the idea is to avoid long canyons of buildings. You don’t want a 55 foot building shadowing a single family home next to it.
Ms. Paladino stated that staff has not taken a hard look at the 35 foot within the 150 feet. It is on their list to do. Is the Planning Commission comfortable with staff moving forward with increasing the height without the other? Chair McKechnie responded they should do both.
Ms. Sousa asked, what about the solar? Chair McKechnie commented to put in and look at it.
Another change is how to measure building height for purposes of side and rear yard setbacks. The current measurement is from the average height between peak and eaves. The change would be to the top plate. This will allow for more steeply pitched roofs and will be easier to explain and administer.
Commissioner Pulver asked, did the Planning Commission discuss this several years ago? Was it an issue with Fire or administrative. Chair McKecknie responded that it was administrative. It had to do with a one story element next to a two story building. The two story would have to be counted as part of the separation.
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director replied no the change was how to measure. It was using the front elevation of the building. The change was for a two story house with a one car garage. Instead of using the two story element for the one car garage side yard one could use the one car garage side.
It seems to Commissioner Pulver that there is more play with the proposed language.
The fire department has also requested that staff review building height measurements for properties that slope down from the street. The fire department has requested not to measure sloped properties from the front elevation because it does not provide an adequate setback for ladders for a two story house.
Staff is proposing for properties that slope downward from the street, the building height shall be measured from both the front and rear elevations as per the following: (1) The measurement of the front wall shall be calculated as listed above in subsection A. The measurement of the back wall shall be calculated measuring the vertical distance from the lowest contact ground level at the back wall of the building to the highest top plate. If the back elevation is higher than the front wall elevation by more than 3 feet, the rear elevation shall be used for purposes of side and rear yard setbacks.
Chair McKechnie asked, how many plans does the Planning Department receive that shows the ground elevation around the building? Computer generated does not recognize that there is a foundation or a slope. Ms. Evans does not think this is uncommon.
Commissioner Culbertson asked, if this were to go into effect, how would it effect some of the subdivisions that are platted but not built out? If it went in would it have an effect of eliminating being able to build on a lot? Ms. Evans guess would be no because those lots are big. These lands are generally SFR-4 so the walls are sizeable. She does not think they would run into issues with the building envelopes. It could change the footprint of the house. The concern for her is that it will end up with a lot of nonconforming structures.
Commissioner Pulver asked, has the Fire Department provided recommendations? Ms. Paladino responded that the Fire Department is good with the language.
Commissioner Pulver asked, is there anything with the road grade or layout that would trigger fire sprinklers in the house? Chair McKechnie commented that was vetoed. Commissioner Pulver stated that fire sprinklers might be an option to alleviate everyone’s needs.
Chair McKechnie reported that by doing this it creates a lot of nonconforming structures. If they come in for a renovation or addition permit does that create an Exception because their lot is nonconforming? Ms. Evans responded no. If adding on to an existing nonconforming building the addition would have to be conforming.
Removing special standard limits attached housing to one story if with 20 feet of a SFR zone. The current language reads: “Those portions of any multiple-family dwelling located within 20 feet of any property line common with property containing single-family zoning shall not exceed one story.” Staff is proposing to remove that language because the building height allowance is the same for both SFR and multifamily zoning.
Bike parking has to be within 50 feet of the well-used entrance or closest automobile parking space. The proposed amendment is to delete within 50 feet, not farther from the entrance than the closest automobile parking space and bicycle parking may also be provided inside a building in suitable, secure and accessible locations.
Commissioner Pulver asked, is “near” enforceable? Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney responded “near” will be a tough fight. Every time they see one half way across the parking lot there will be questions as to how near. For a small parking lot, the far side of the parking lot can arguably be near. He is in favor of increasing the distance measurement. He thinks “near” is going to create a lot of fights because it is an extremely vague term. He likes getting rid of the requirement it is closer to the nearest parking space because there is potential ADA issues.
Commissioner Thomas asked, what is the requirement for bike parking in a commercial lot? Ms. Paladino reported that is based on the number of parking spaces. Commissioner Thomas asked, does all commercial have bike parking? Ms. Paladino responded, yes. Commissioner Thomas’s concern for making it so difficult with the requirement of where it is located is that developers will do the very minimum because of the bike parking. More bike parking is encouraged but yet the concern is where it is located. Ms. Paladino commented that staff is trying to make it easier.
Commissioner Pulver commented that maybe “near” is okay but that may cause them to be located in bad spots.
Chair McKechnie is in favor of getting rid of the required bike rack type. It is his opinion it is unnecessary. Ms. Paladino commented that came from the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
Allowing density/use flexibility for structures originally built for residential in commercial zones. The existing language is: A structure in any commercial zone that was originally built as a single family home may be converted to a permitted use and then converted back to its original residential use subject to the requirements of the Building Code. The proposed language is: A existing structure in any commercial zone that was originally build for residential use may be converted to a permitted commercial use and then converted back to a residential use, subject to the requirements of the Building Code with the following allowances: a) The minimum density requirement does not have to be met; b) There may be a mix of residential and commercial uses within the same building without a required amount of square footage attributed to either.
Commissioner Culbertson asked, the homes that have been built residential and have always maintained as residential is the process easy to get commercial zoning? Ms. Sousa commented that if the underlying designation is commercial it would require a general land use plan designation change and then a zone change. It is not easy. If it is zoned commercial the property can be use as commercial or residential.
This is tentatively scheduled to go to the Planning Commission on Thursday, June 13, 2019 and Thursday, July 11, 2019 to City Council.
Ms. Paladino asked, does the Planning Commission want staff to come back with the changes in another study session before the public hearing? The consensus of the Commission was favorable.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:08 p.m.
Terri L. Richards