Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, August 16, 2005

MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
August 16, 2005 - 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street


CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

ROLL CALL
Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilor Hartzell was absent.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of August 2, 2005; Executive Meeting of August 2, 2005; and Continued Meeting of July 20, 2005 were approved as presented.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
1.  Presentation and Update by Conservation Commission.
Conservation Commissioners Charles Bennett and Ross Finney presented the update to the Council. They explained that the primary directive of the Commission is to educate and advocate for the wise and efficient use of resources by the City of Ashland and its citizens. It was explained that the Commission is achieving this directive by addressing the following issues: 1) Recycling and Source Reduction, 2) Solid Waste/Landfill Issues, 3) Electric Conservation Issues, 4) Water Conservation Issues, 5) Resource Conservation Issues, 6) New Power Resource Decisions, 7) Renewable Resource Decisions, 8) Education of Citizens about Resource Efficiency Issues, and 9) Working Partnerships. A brief explanation of the numerous programs and projects of the Commission was provided.

2.   Mayor's Proclamation of September as National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month.
Proclamation was read aloud.

CONSENT AGENDA

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of Allen Crutcher to the Historic Commission for a term to expire April 30, 2007.
3. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of Sara-Lynne Simpson to the Youth Activities Levy Commission.
4. Acceptance of trail easements.

Councilor Jackson requested that Agenda item #4 be pulled for discussion.

Councilor Jackson/Hardesty m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1-3. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Jackson noted that this item is a result of the work being done by the Ashland Woodlands Trails Association as part of the Master Trails Plan with the Parks Department and Planning Department. She explained that these easements were acquired from existing property owners to recognize the TID Trail as it crosses their properties and thanked the property owners for their willingness to assists in preserving the trails.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #4. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

PUBLIC FORUM
Melissa Mitchell-Hooge/271 High Street/Spoke regarding the "Save Our Schools & Playgrounds" organization. Ms. Mitchell-Hooge stated that this group has been working to preserve the Briscoe and Lincoln School playgrounds as neighborhood parks and submitted a proposal for their preservation to the Council. She noted that the proposal had already been provided to the School Board and would be presented to the Parks & Recreation Commission next week. [Copy of proposal was submitted into the Public Record]

Brent Thompson/582 Allison Street/Spoke regarding parking in the Railroad District and limited inset parking on East Main. Mr. Thompson suggested that the City occasionally allow businesses along E. Main to purchase parking spots in the planting strip. He noted the parking issues related to the Armory and recommended that the City look into implementing the design plan for diagonal parking on B Street, which would provide 42 new spaces. He also suggested that the Council look into mandatory recycling on construction sites.

Ian Wallin/770 Faith Avenue/Spoke on behalf of a group of citizens who are attempting to organize an effort that will monitor, document, and present to the City Council police activity that is unbecoming or unprofessional. Mr. Wallin stated that their intent is to promote professional behavior, restore dignity and establish good rapport between the citizens and police. He requested public support and stated that comments or suggestions could be emailed to ianwallin@yahoo.com or copstoppers@yahoo.com.

Philip Lang/758 B Street/Spoke regarding ethics and submitted a copy of the City Portland's Charter - Chapter 1.03 to the Council. Mr. Lang commented on the Council's acceptance of gifts from Oregon Shakespeare Festival and recommended that the Council adopt a code of ethics for Ashland's elected and appointed officials. The book "On Bullshit" by author Harry Frankfurt was presented to the Council as a gift.
[Copy of Mr. Lang's written testimony and attachments were submitted into the Public Record]

PUBLIC HEARINGS
1.  Public Hearing re An Appeal of Planning Action 2005-00328 - Request for a Conditional Use Permit to use one of the residential condominiums in a mixed-use building for one hotel/motel unit for the property located at 180 Lithia Way.

Mayor Morrison read aloud the procedure for Public Hearing for Land Use Hearings and opened the Hearing at 7:45 p.m. City Attorney Mike Franell noted that the opponents would be limited to 5 minutes.

Abstentions, Conflicts, Ex Parte Contacts
Councilor Amarotico noted that he sat on the Hearings Board when the original applicant came forward seven years ago. Councilor Hardesty noted his involvement with the Historic Commission as the Council Liaison. Councilor Silbiger stated that he had sent an email to Colin Swales and noted that a copy of this correspondence has been submitted into the record. City Recorder Barbara Christensen clarified that all of the emails from Colin Swales had been submitted into the record as exhibits.

It was clarified that the focus of tonight's hearing should be on the hotel/motel issue; not on the previous raised issues regarding Planning Commissioner Kerry KenCairn.

Staff Report
City Planner Maria Harris stated that the application before the Council is a request for a Conditional Use Permit to use one residential unit in a mixed-use building for a hotel/motel unit, and noted that the building is located in the C-1-D zoning district. Originally, this action was approved in April, 2005. Subsequently, it was called up for public hearing and the Hearings Board approved the action with 5 conditions at their June 4, 2005 meeting.

Ms. Harris presented a slide show of pictures for the Council. She noted that a hotel or motel is a conditional use in the C1 zone and stated that it is up to the Council to determine whether the proposal meets the definition of a hotel or motel unit. This includes whether the unit has a "separate entrance directly exterior" and consists of "individual sleeping quarters, detached or in connected rows". She stated that the 120-day timeline expires on August 18th; therefore it is necessary for the Council to reach a decision at tonight's meeting.

Ms. Harris stated that the AMC defines a hotel unit as "A building in which lodging is provided to guests for compensation and in which no provisions are made for cooking in the lodging rooms." While a motel unit is defined as "A building or group of buildings on the same lot containing guest units for rental to transients, with separate entrances directly exterior and consisting of individual sleeping quarters, detached or in connected rows, with or without cooking facilities."

Comment was made questioning how a single unit would fall under the definition of motel, noting that the language in the definition states "units" (plural). Ms. Harris stated that this question would be best directed towards the applicant, as they have the burden of proof.

Mr. Molnar provided a brief history of the building. He stated that back in 2002, the space that is now two garages was an open floor plan and was identified as either office or retail space. At the time of the building permit, that was modified and a request was made by the applicant to convert 600 sq. ft to two single space garages. Mr. Molnar stated that it is not uncommon for some changes to occur during the time between the planning approval and the building permit.

Applicant
Harold Dresner/1550 Tyler Creek Rd/Explained that last year he and his wife purchased unit 301 at 180 Lithia Way from Archerd & Dresner, LLC, a company in which he is a partner. In February, they applied for a Conditional Use Permit. Their plan was to live in the apartment during the fall and winter and rent it during spring and summer until they sold their existing home. He stated that they presented their application for the CUP using the existing definition of a motel, realizing that it is odd to think of one unit as a motel, but noting that this was the only legal definition available. Mr. Dresner stated that the Planning Department and Legal Staff felt that the unit fit this definition and stated that it is now up to the Council to make a judgment call. He explained that the requirement of two parking spaces to qualify as a motel was an existing protection that would prohibit other housing units downtown from turning into motel units and stated that the statements made by Colin Swales was a distortion of the facts. Mr. Dresner stated that from the start, the intent of Archerd & Dresner was to sell the two condos in the Jasmine Building; it was only when construction was almost complete that he and his wife considered buying one of the units from the corporation.

Comment was made questioning if the applicant would consider a "sunset clause" that would make the CUP valid for a limited time. It was also questioned how to distinguish when a CUP is needed, noting that the applicant can already rent the unit on a yearly lease or on a month to month basis.

Mr. Dresner stated that they are aware that they currently have the option to rent the unit on a month to month basis, but felt that the unit would serve the needs to Ashland better if they were allowed to rent it for shorter periods of time.

Those Wishing to Provide Testimony
Bill Street/180 Mead/Spoke regarding the need for the conditional use to be compared to the target use and stated that the applicant failed to do so. Mr. Street stressed that this was a threshold interpretation and stated that allowing this use could transform the nature of downtown. He noted the current diversity in the downtown and stated that the units downtown used to be for citizens who could not afford a house and stated that this action would reduce this type of housing. Mr. Street requested that the Council deny the application.

Jim Batzer/131 Terrace/Voiced his support of the project and noted he is a long time resident. He stated that the downtown area is primary commercial and does not believe this application will change the area. Mr. Batzer stated that this is targeting a special market and there are a limited amount of people who would take advantage of it and requested that the Council approve the application.

Jerome White/253 Third Street/Expressed his support for Mr. Dresner's point of view and disagreed with the statement that this was "planning by stealth". He stated that mixed-use was an old concept that is coming back and thinks that however they can get housing downtown is a great thing. Mr. White stated that whether it is transient or not, it is still housing and makes our downtown lively.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith/Stated that this is clearly not a motel; it was designed as a condo and that is what it is. He expressed his concern regarding setting precedence and the attempt to weaken the City ordinance. Mr. Navickas stated that the applicant did not need the CUP, as he can currently rent the unit and thinks that the City needs to be firm on their position and requested that they protect the character of downtown and not allow for vacation rentals.

Barbara Allen/131 Terrace Street/Noted her long time residency and voiced support for downtown travelers accommodations. Ms. Allen stated that if they only have accommodations on the outskirts of town, then they are creating a situation where visitors will go to Medford. She stated that this unit would help to support the local and downtown businesses and voiced her support for this planning action.

Macki Grafton/535 Rock Street/Stated that she manages travelers accommodations and one of the most important factors for guests is that they be within walking distance of the theatre, restaurants and shops. She stated that there is not enough of this type of lodging available and people are being forced out to the motels on the edge of town.

Brent Thompson/582 Allison/Submitted the following written testimony:
"I do not believe it matters whether a condominium unit is rented short term. It is still centrally located housing which will by its central location reduce vehicle trips and contribute to the vitality of the downtown. We need more housing downtown of whatever type. We need to generally allow four-story buildings and four and one-half if the top floor is incorporated in the roof line."

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Spoke regarding potential conflict of interest in regards to Planning Commissioner Kerry KenCairn and this planning action.

Council questioned the reasoning for bringing forward the issue of conflict of interest due to this being a de novo hearing. Assistant Attorney Mike Reeder clarified that since this is a de novo hearing, anything that is done during this hearing would cure any potential defect.

Staff Response
In response to the conditional use being compared to the target use, Mr. Molnar explained that the target of this zone is retail commercial, and this building is being compared to a 5,000 sq. ft. retail business. He stated that Staff felt that providing a mixed use building with one motel unit would not have an adverse material impact on the livability when compared to a 5,000 sq. ft. single use retail building given the types of businesses that could operate in such a facility.

Mr. Molnar commented on the issue raised regarding permanent housing vs. vacation rentals. He stated that the Downtown Plan speaks of the advantages of permanent housing, but noted that the City's Economic Element, which was updated in 1991, identified a large deficit of tourist accommodations by 2005. He stated that there are merits to both housing and tourist accommodations downtown and stated that the Land Use Ordinance does not state a certain balance.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to extend Public Hearing to 9:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Rebuttal
Mr. Dresner addressed the threshold issue and stated that this was not a legitimate concern because of the two parking space requirement. In regards to the target use issue, he stated that there was no legal impediment to his use of the residence and stated that the target issue was not relevant. He stated again that it is up to the Council to make this judgment call and noted his disappointment that this application has resulted in Kerry KenCairn's name being impugned. He stated that she is a hardworking, honest commissioner and does not deserve this negative attention.

Public Hearing Closed: 9:03 p.m.

Council Deliberation
Mayor Morrison stated that the Council can choose to approve the application, deny the application, or approve with additional conditions. Suggestion was made for the Council to begin the deliberations on the definition of hotel and motel.

Statement was made that the unit does not fit the definition of a hotel or a motel. There was agreement voiced to this and it was commented that it would be a stretch to call the unit a motel. Explanation was given that a motel is thought of as having multiple units and it was noted that a single unit such as this would not need an onsite manager. Statement was made that at this point in time, the code does not allow using the rules for travelers accommodations for downtown housing, and it would be preferable to clean up the language in the code rather than making an exception in this case.

Additional comments were voiced in regards to the single unit meeting the definition of a motel. It was explained that the hotel definition would not apply because the unit has a kitchen, and the motel definition would not fit because that definition implies multiple units with an onsite manager.

Mayor Morrison voiced his concern that if they stretch the definition they could open themselves up to unintended consequences. He added that Staff has recently started of process of correcting some of these ambiguities in the code.

Councilor Hardesty/Jackson m/s to deny the application. DISCUSSION: Comment was made that if there was a precedent set, it would not be a bad one. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Chapman, Hardesty, and Jackson, YES. Councilor Amarotico, NO. Motion passed 4-1.

Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder presented to the Council preliminary findings for their consideration and requested that they provide Staff direction on the proposed language.

Request was made for the findings to focus on the definition of the motel issue, and not on the access issue. It was noted that the reasonable interpretation of the definition is that there is more than one unit and there is a manager associated with the facility. Request was made for the findings to include an additional paragraph after 2.3 that addresses this issue.

Mr. Franell suggested the addition of the language "We find the proposal does not meet the definition as a motel because it is only a single unit, and because there is no proposed onsite manager."

Councilor Jackson/Hardesty m/s to approve Findings & Conclusions for PA #2005-00328 as amended. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Silbiger, Chapman and Jackson, YES. Motion passed.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS  (None)

NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1.  Adoption of Engineering Design Standards for Public Infrastructure Improvements.
Interim Public Works Director Joe Strahl and Associate Engineer Peter Smeenk presented the Staff Report to the Council. Mr. Smeenk noted that he had previously submitted the Engineering Design Standards to the Council several months ago, and stated that it was important for the Council to provide input so that they can move forward. He noted that there is a technical advisory group that meets frequently and noted that there is an opportunity to make revisions every six months.

Council voiced support for the document and the importance of having consistent standards requirements throughout the community was noted.

Request was made for Staff to clarify why the arterials are designed for a minimum speed of 45 mph. Mr. Smeenk explained that this is the standard that they are required to design to for any projects that receive federal or state funding. He stated that this is the minimum they have to design for and clarified that this is different from a target speed. He stated that while the street design has to accommodate speeds of 45 mph, the City's Street Standards promote the slowing down of speeds as much as possible.

Councilor Jackson/Hardesty m/s to adopt the Engineering Design Standards for Public Infrastructure Improvements. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2.  Ninth Annual report on implementation of the Valdez Principles
Electric Director Dick Wanderscheid presented the Annual Report and provided a brief history of the Valdez Principles. He stated that the report consists of a list of the programs, initiatives and City activities that support each of the principles, and stated that this was an ongoing and growing list of activities. It was noted that items that have been accomplished or are no longer being worked on are in parenthesis, and new items that have been added are in italics. Mr. Wanderscheid provided an explanation of the new items that have been added to the list, which include:
Purchase of a new Bio-fuel Tank
Greening the World Wellness Weekend
Cities for Climate Protection
Temperature Study for the WWTP Effluent
Piping of Filter Backwash Water to the WWT Plant
The City's Public Works Department will be purchasing a New Hybrid vehicle for use by the Water Department

Mr. Wanderscheid noted that Staff was considering a better format of the report and requested Council's input.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Spoke regarding the AshlandConstitution.org group and how they considered the Valdez Principles when developing the core values driving city government. Mr. Bullock questioned why the Valdez Principles were not in the City Charter and why there have not been more reports in the past. He feels that the City has taken a values-driven process and turned it into Staff busywork. Mr. Bullock offered three suggestions: 1) Place Valdez Principles on city web site and link to projects, 2) Use Valdez Principles when setting annual council goals, and 3) Take these principles to heart.
[Mr. Bullock's written comments were submitted into the Public Record]

Request was made for staff to look into determining if it is possible for citizens to research what is on the list. Opposition was voiced to placing the Valdez Principles in the City Charter. Comment was made that the values might belong in the Charter, but the principles do not because they are continually changing.

Councilor Chapman/Jackson m/s to direct Staff to design an Ashland Green Fleet Program and report back to the City Council for approval. The goal will be to conserve money and our environment by reducing the use of fuels, favoring renewable clean fuels and minimizing air emissions. DISCUSSION: Councilor Chapman offered the following suggestions for the program:

1) Collect data
  Catalog city vehicles and their fuel consumption
  Determine total costs of fuels (considering both monetary and environmental impacts)
2) Optimize vehicle travel, operation & maintenance
3) Substitute other modes of travel or reduce the need to travel
4) Use clean fuels in existing equipment when possible
5) "Right-size" the replacement vehicles by downsizing or eliminating vehicles you do not need
6) Purchase the most fuel-efficient and lowest emission vehicle possible and consider alternative fuels, hybrids and electric vehicles
7) Investigate state fleet pricing for green vehicles
8) Report results periodically to the City Council

Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to extend meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Request was made for Staff to provide a status report on each phase of the Cities for Climate project.

Mr. Wanderscheid stated that students from SOU are working on this project and have provided two status reports and he would provide these to the Council.

3.  Quarterly Financial Report: April - June, 2005.
Finance director Lee Tuneberg presented the Staff Report to the Council. He reminded the Council that these are preliminary numbers and noted that Staff has been preparing for the audit. Mr. Tuneberg stated that operating revenues are at 99% of budget. The Personal Services category is at 95% of budget city-wide and Materials and Services is at 92% with Debt Service at 98%. He stated that it is their goal to be at 100% or less in these categories. He also stated that the Financial Report will be presented to the Council in October after being accepted by the Audit Committee.

Councilor Silbiger/Jackson m/s to approve the Quarterly Financial Report. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS  (None)

OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS  (None)

ADJOURNMENT
Meeting was adjourned at 10:13 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor


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