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Agenda & Minutes

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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Monday, May 13, 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:
Commissioners Present
Mark McKechnie, Chair
Joe Foley, Vice Chair
David Culbertson
Bill Mansfield
E. J. McManus
Jared Pulver
Jeff Thomas
Commissioners Absent
David McFadden, Unexcused Absence 
Patrick Miranda, Excused Absence
Staff Present
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Katie Zerkel, Senior Assistant City Attorney
Seth Adams, Planner III
20.1        DCA-18-144 Cottage Housing Code Amendment
Seth Adams, Planner III reported that this was identified as a “high priority” amendment by the Housing Advisory Committee.  Today is the third time the Planning Commission has discussed this subject.
Cottage housing developments are generally defined as a development of small, detached, single-family dwelling units that are clustered around a central outdoor common space within a coordinated site plan.  Cottage units are smaller than the standard single-family residence, and while the units are typically oriented towards the central outdoor common space, each cottage also has its own private yard and a roofed porch. 
Commissioner Mansfield asked, is it contemplated that people will individually buy a cottage house like condominiums or is it contemplated that a developer will own them and rent them out or both?  Mr. Adams responded that staff’s proposal is for both ownership and rental options.
Commissioner Mansfield commented that the last time the Planning Commission discussed this subject that Commissioner Culbertson thought there might be some entrepreneurs willing to develop something like this.  Commissioner Culbertson replied there is a marketplace for it, particularly with the escalating price of new housing developments.  It is hard to buy a 1,500 square foot that is $375,000.  As they go up and the house size down it will keep the cost of buying the house down.  It is still going to cost $200 a square foot because of the cost of land and the building.  If a house is only 900 square feet then it is more affordable. 
Permitted Zones
•             SFR-4, SFR-6, SFR-10, MFR-15, MFR-20
Senate Bill 2001 (proposed) requires all Oregon cities with populations over 25,000 to allow duplexes, triplexes, quad or cottage cluster somewhere in all their low-density urban zones, but gives them power to set “reasonable” local rules.   
Minimum Lot Size
•             15, 000 square feet (SFR-4)
•             10,000 square feet (all others)
Chair McKechnie commented that the above sizes are bigger than the minimums for those zones.  In SFR-10 zones there is a minimum and maximum size.  Is this above the maximum?  Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director reported that it is a wide range and varies by housing type.
Chair McKechnie thinks there is an issue with minimum lot size.  Ms. Evans stated that this is for infill strategy.  These are plausible.  Maximums depend on the housing type. 
•             2 times maximum of underlying zone
Commissioner Thomas is a huge proponent for cottage housing and trying to get more affordable housing.  He agrees with Commissioner Pulver is that he does not see how it is not a “slippery slope” if an exception is made in SFR-4.  He does not agree with exceeding the maximum unless the code changes.  He does not think the City has to jump ahead of the State because the City is already exceeding density targets that the State has set.  Is that correct?  Carla Paladino, Principal Planner, commented that it is a regional requirement.  The City is just exceeding what it is supposed to be achieving in terms of density.  Commissioner Thomas is concerned about the “blowback.”  If the process is not setup properly then it will be hard getting the community to buy into it. 
Commissioner Pulver stated that in the last study session it was mentioned that staff would reach out to the development and building community.  Did that happen?  He did not note any feedback in the staff report.  He is not opposed to cottage housing but what do they really know about it.  How about taking baby steps as opposed to taking a giant leap, and getting guidance from a developer that knows what he is doing in terms of developing one of these projects.  The scope can then be broadened if it works or does not work. 
Commissioner Mansfield commented that it escapes him as to what harm would happen by having the higher density.  Commissioner Pulver referenced the Cherry Creek project where there are single family residential dwellings and then a higher density project is dropped in amongst them.  He is not saying it was right or wrong.  It caused a big stir with the neighborhood.  It was not what they wanted and was not consistent with what they had or thought they had or were buying. 
Commissioner Mansfield reported there will be people that will disagree.  Last Thursday there were people that disagreed heavily with the Commission. 
Commissioner Pulver thinks there is zoning for a reason.  If that reason is not a good one then just make it residential, commercial or industrial and that is as specific as it gets.  Then everyone knows that there is open ground, and it does not matter what the zone or GLUP states.  If it is residential then it could be anything from SFR-4 to MFR-30.
Commissioner Mansfield is suggesting that their position is one of leadership and not to be a follower of the mass population. 
Commissioner Pulver as a resident and Planning Commissioner thinks there is a problem with not having a plan.  With a plan everyone knows what is going to happen. 
Commissioner Culbertson agrees.  They are narrowing the focus of disagreement down to SFR-4 and SFR-6.  Is there anyone that opposes cottage housing in SFR-10, MFR-15 and MFR-20?  It is more in line with that type of housing.
Commissioner Pulver commented that the cottage units are very small.  It has to be at that level getting into the higher density zones to make it a feasible project.  He thinks the minimum lot size should be bigger.  The cottage housing has the potential to be an asset to the community, and by having more of them the common space will be more significant and pleasant as opposed to four units pieced together with 400 square feet of common area. 
There was a lengthy discussion regarding CC&Rs. 
•             Studio / 1 bedroom = 1 space
•             2 Bedrooms = 1.5 spaces
•             3+ Bedrooms = 2 spaces
Maximum Unit Size
•             1,200 square feet (with limitation on second story floor area)
•             800 square feet (carriage units above garage / carport)
•             1,000 square feet (two attached units, with limitation on second story)
Chair McKechnie stated that the largest two attached units can be smaller than the maximum size because it will only be 500 square feet per unit per floor.  Two floors would be at 1,000 square feet.  Mr. Adams was trying to have each unit at 1,000 square feet.  Chair McKechnie does not read what Mr. Adams just said.  The language needs to be more clear. 
Chair McKechnie reported the unit becomes similar to a townhouse if the unit is 1,200 square feet with 600 square feet on each floor.  Make it 1,400 square feet with the top floor being no more than 75% of the ground floor so that it does not end up as townhouses.  He suggested not allowing attached garages.  He is not opposed to making the minimum lot size an acre.  He also suggests having alley access.
Commissioner Pulver asked, what is driving the need for maximum unit size?  Mr. Adams responded that if a maximum is not set then it loses the purpose of cottages.  Ms. Paladino commented that staff researched ten or twelve different cities and these were the averages.  Mr. Adams reported that it is trying to provide a certain type of housing that currently does not exist in a lot of communities. 
Commissioner Thomas wanted clarification that the reason the maximum is set the way it is in order to encourage more density.  Is that what he is hearing?  Mr. Adams replied that it is part of it.  Commissioner Thomas understands looking at available and affordable housing, but setting that maximum in SFR-4 does not make sense to him.  If they do not do it right the first time then it does not happen because it is not encouraged.
Chair McKechnie likes the maximum size.  Cottage housing develops community space.  He does not think it will impact property values. 
Common Open Space
•             400 square feet per unit
Private Open Space
•             200 square feet per unit
Commissioner McManus asked, did Ashland do 20% with their private open space?  Mr. Adams reported for the common open space Ashland requires 20% of the total lot area and for the private open space they require 200 square feet per unit.  Mr. McManus likes the percentage, but he does not know if it is applicable to the different zones.  Is there an opportunity in the common open space to make it more consistent with SFR-4 if the 20% option would make it more compatible with that type of neighborhood?  It is challenging for him to visually see how that would work with some of the examples presented.
Chair McKechnie suggested placing minimum dimensions on the 400 square feet.  Mr. Adams stated that in the drafted code language the common open space would be 400 square feet per unit with a minimum dimension of 20 feet in width.  That is the common standard.  The private open space would be a minimum dimension of 10 feet. 
Chair McKechnie asked, since these are single units would the application go to the Site Plan and Architectural Commission?  Mr. Adams replied yes. Staff did have it as a Type II decision by the Planning Director with onsite noticing, but changed it when they heard a preference that they go to the Site Plan and Architectural Commission.  If it is a pad lot and subdivided then the plat would go to the Planning Commission. 
Commissioner Pulver asked, will the code specify, or will it be up to the discretion of the developer as to what the open space can and cannot be?  Mr. Adams replied that as proposed it will be up to the developer.            
Covered Porches
•             Required with 60 square foot minimum with a dimension of 6 feet.
Ownership / CC&Rs / HOAs
•             Rental or fee simple
•             CC&Rs and HOA required for fee simple ownership
Commissioner Mansfield asked, why would the City have any requirement of CC&Rs?  That is private business.  Mr. Adams reported that it would establish the HOA and the CC&Rs would specify the homeowners need to maintain their common area together.  Commissioner Mansfield sees a lot of HOAs that do not work.  He has a bad feeling about it. 
Commissioner Pulver offered that units that are owned are better maintained than units rented.  One of the situations with the common areas is that all parties have to work together.  It is not a fool proof solution.
Commissioner Culbertson thinks the CC&Rs are going to be imperative just to give governance.  He is not sure an HOA would be mandated because you do not have to have an HOA.  It would be in the best interest of the group.  It would help identify what the fees are, who and how it is going to be maintained.  HOAs do not have to be managed.  They can be self-governed.  He does not think it is the City’s business to say beyond delineating who owns and is responsible for the common space.  Mr. Adams stated that is the current standard that CC&Rs are required for a subdivision.  Staff can strike out the requirement for an HOA.
Ms. Evans disagrees.  Someone has to own the common area.  That is why the HOA is required.          
Pad Lot Development
•             Permitted per an amended Section 10.703
•             Extended from mains in ROW
•             Only within common areas
•             Service laterals to individual lots
•             Type III (SPAC) (PC for the pad lot subdivision)
This will be presented to the Planning Commission on Thursday, June 27, 2019.  The City Council will hear this amendment on Thursday, August 1, 2019.
30.          Adjournment
The meeting was adjourned at 1:06 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Richards
Recording Secretary

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