Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
October 18, 2005
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, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Executive Session of October 4, 2005 were approved as presented. The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of October 4, 2005 were amended to reflect the actual discussion order of agenda items; and amended to include that during the Fire Station #2 Update, Council commented on the level and types of activities projected to occur at Fire Station #2, and that they might not all be able to be done there or be desirable to be done there.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Mayor's Proclamation of October 24 as United Nations Day was read aloud.

CONSENT AGENDA

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Mayor's appointment of Steve Siewert to the Tree Commission.
3. Mayor's appointment of Selene Aitken to the Bike and Pedestrian Commission.
4. Mayor's appointment of Nathan Meyerson as the Youth Liaison to the Bike and Pedestrian Commission.
5. Request to Waive Permit Fees at 2001 Siskiyou.
6. Liquor License Application for Creekside Pizza Bistro.
7. Liquor License Application for Yuan-Yuan Restaurant.
8. Liquor License Application for Lela's Cafe.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Mayor Morrison requested that the Public Forum and the Resolution regarding the AFN surcharge be moved forward on the Agenda.

ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS

1. Reading by Title only of Resolution to Repeal Resolution 2005-36 Amending the Implementation Date for the Ashland Fiber Network Surcharge on Electric Accounts.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report on the proposed amendment to the AFN surcharge. He explained that the Council adopted the surcharge in September with implementation scheduled for October. Mr. Tuneberg stated that this surcharge could have a significant impact on senior citizens and low income families in Ashland and recommended that Council delay the implementation of the surcharge to January, which would provide time for staff to develop a methodology that would provide relief to low income citizens. Mr. Tuneberg commented on the two existing programs that provide relief to low income citizens and noted that customers who had already paid the surcharge would be credited that amount back to their account.

Lisa Byrne/51 Garfield Street/Expressed her concern regarding the fee; explained how she had researched the legality of the surcharge; and expressed her discomfort with the Council's decision to charge people for a service they are not receiving. Ms. Byrne commented on the definition of "utility" and stated that high-speed digital internet and cable television does not meet this definition. She stated that the Energy Assistance Program was helpful, but only covers a portion of the user's electricity bill and would not cover the added surcharge. She requested that the surcharge only be applied to the customers who utilize the service.

James Rowland/165 Van Ness/Stated that the AFN surcharge was an unjust charge to the citizens of Ashland. Mr. Rowland stated that he supports his family on a fixed income and that this surcharge was having a direct effect on his family, even though they do not utilize the service. He stated that it was not right for the City to charge the citizens for this service and noted his attempt to file a claim with the Public Utilities Commission. He requested that the City look at other avenues for funding AFN and questioned why the electric utility users were not notified and given the opportunity to discuss this.

Ann Marie Hutson/550 Oak Knoll/Expressed her support for postponing the surcharge and noted her numerous conversations with citizens who are angry over the issues concerning AFN. Ms. Huston stated that the City was not up to the task of running a telecommunications service and suggested that the Council stand back and view the situation from afar. She asked that Council put themselves in the position of the citizens and do what is best for all of the citizens of Ashland.

Ambuja Rosen/511 Wightman/Spoke on behalf of the low income residents of Ashland and stated that the $7.50 surcharge should not be on the back's of low income residents. Ms. Rosen stated that low income residents should not have to subsidize luxury services for others and stated that if the City needs to pay for AFN through taxes, they should tax luxury items. She stated that the City should not be taxing the essential services that low income people need and requested an exemption from the surcharge for low income citizens.

Carla Price/78 Lincoln Street/Stated that City's are not set up in the capacity as a business. Ms. Price stated that she is low income, but will not qualify for the Energy Assistance Program. She expressed her support for delaying the implementation and questioned if the surcharge was their only option or if AFN could file for bankruptcy.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve Resolution #2005-40. DISCUSSION: It was clarified that anyone who had already paid the surcharge would receive a credit. Support was voiced for the Resolution and it was noted that this would provide the City more time to explore the whole issue and develop options that are more satisfactory. It was also noted that the alternatives from the AFN Options Committee would be presented prior to the new implementation date. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Hardesty, Chapman, Silbiger and Jackson, YES. Motion passed.

PUBLIC FORUM
Robin Rose/2300 Siskiyou Blvd/
Shared her experience in southern Louisiana following the recent hurricanes. Ms. Rose suggested that the City create a "Sister City" or "Bridge City" with a city from this area that is in need. She stated that she had been working with Councilor Hartzell and would be providing a proposal for the Council to consider.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

1. Appeal of Planning Action 2005-01050 - regarding Liberty Street.
Mayor Morrison read aloud the procedure for a land use public hearing and called the public hearing to order at 7:37 p.m.

ABSTENTIONS, CONFLICTS, EXPARTE CONTACTS
Councilor Chapman stated he performed a site visit, spoke to Dean Shostrom regarding the location of the proposed driveway, and spoke briefly with Jan Craigie only to tell her that he could not discuss this application.

Councilor Silbiger stated he performed a site visit and had a similar conversation with Mr. Shostrom.

Councilor Amarotico declared a potential conflict of interest with his past business dealings with Mr. Shostrom, but stated that this would not affect his decision.

Councilor Hartzell noted that she was present at the Tree Commission meeting when this application was discussed and requested that the minutes from that meeting be entered into the record.

Councilor Hardesty noted that he was present at the Planning Commission meeting when this application was discussed.

City Attorney Mike Franell clarified that it is best to not engage in conversation when conducting a site review. He added that engaging in conversation is not illegal; however any conversations need to be declared on the record.

Councilor Silbiger further clarified that Mr. Shostrom informed him of where the road would be located and that this was the extent of their conversation.

STAFF REPORT
City Planner Maria Harris presented the staff report on the Planning Action. She stated that the property was located at 720 and 730 Liberty Street and provided an overhead drawing of the vicinity map. The proposal is to create a third lot from two existing lots and the total site is .82 acres. Ms. Harris explained that there is an existing loop driveway system that connects to the end of the existing alley, and there is a drainage that runs from the southwest corner to the northeast side. She stated that the property slopes downhill and is heavily treed. The residence's vehicular traffic is proposed to come off the alley and emergency access is proposed to come off the loop system and exit through the alley onto Ashland Street. Ms. Harris noted that a Tree Protection Plan was submitted with the application. The plan identified 95 trees on the property that are 6" or greater in diameter; and the proposal is to remove six of those trees.

Ms. Harris explained that the three main issues discussed by the Planning Commission were: 1) the use of the alley as the sole resident's vehicular access, 2) the emergency access route, and 3) the drainage swale crossing. She stated that the Planning Commission approved the application by a 5-3 vote, with 25 Conditions of Approval assigned.

Ms. Harris stated that should the Council approve the application, there are some corrections that need to be made to the Findings. Condition #14 should read "...not limited to an all weather surface, weight, width and grade requirements ...", and suggested the addition of Condition #26 which would state that a conservation easement be added to the drainage area. Interim Community Development Director Bill Molnar clarified that this was one of the applicant's self-imposed restrictions, which are discussed on page 79 of the record. He stated that the additional condition would make it clear that all areas outside the footprint or the driveway route would need to be retained in their natural state.

Ms. Harris noted the time sensitivity regarding this issue.

Mr. Molnar commented on previous flooding on Beach Street and noted that the applicant's design is required accommodate a 100-year flood. He explained that under the current standards, crossings are permitted as long as they meet certain design standards. He also noted the possibility of an "Arizona Crossing" and commented on some of the draft changes to the Riparian Ordinance. Mr. Molnar noted the Hillside Ordinance and the slope of the lot. He clarified that there was no information presented that did not support the grade percentages indicated in the application.

Comment was made questioning whether alleys were intended to be used as a primary access. Mr. Molnar provided a brief history of this issue and noted that a provision was added to the Ashland Municipal Code after dealing with these issues in the Historic District. The provision states, "Where an alley exists adjacent to the partition, access may be required to be provided from the alley and prohibited from the street". He explained that since the adoption of this standard, most of the partitions off alleys have been relatively straightforward; however in this case they are dealing with an alley that is fairly long and dead-ends at a private driveway system. He noted that this issue was one of the major points discussed at the Planning Commission meeting.

Mr. Molnar commented on the difference between physical capacity and environmental capacity in terms of the alley. Mr. Harris noted that the partition standards require that all streets, including alleys, meet the current street standards; however the standards are silent on the issue of pedestrian access.

City Attorney Mike Franell reminded the Council of the time constraints for the public hearing.

APPLICANT
Dale Shostrom/1240 Tolman Creek Rd/Representing the applicant Dean Shostrom, who is his brother and the owner of the property. Mr. Shostrom stated that this project was not "infill to the extreme" as stated by the appellant's attorney, but rather the lot is spacious, has reasonable access, is well suited for a small residence, and is three times the size of the City's minimum lot size requirement. He explained that the portion of land adjacent to Liberty Street is too steep for the home site or driveway, and explained that the alley, which terminates at the proposed lot, provides easy and direct access to the buildable area of the parcel. He stated that this -acre parcel is a beautiful, wooded viewshed and that it was understandable that Mr. Jones, who is the neighboring property owner, would want to prevent this application from proceeding. Mr. Shostrom commented on the crossing and stated that their geotechnical engineer has designing a crossing that would withstand a 100-year flood. He explained that the City's Fire Department staff had stated that the presence of this home would actually improve the fire safety of this area and stated that this application would provide the Fire Department access to enter and exit the alley from Liberty Street, thereby improving the fire safety of all of the surrounding parcels. Mr. Shostrom stated that the Planning Commission concluded that the alley would be sufficient to serve the proposed home once the conditions were met and commented on the self-imposed restrictions.

Mr. Shostrom clarified for Council that they would be open to using the Arizona Crossing but would like to further research this to determine if this would be the right approach.

OPPONENTS AND THEIR REPRESENTATIVES
Chris Hearn/515 E. Main Street/Representing the appellant Eric Jones, who is one of the immediate neighbors. Mr. Hearn addressed the issue of infill and stated that in some cases, infrastructure such as alleys were not build to accommodate traffic levels beyond a certain threshold. Mr. Hearn referenced Ashland Municipal Code sections 18.76.050(G), 18.76.050(G)(1), 18.76.050(H), 18.76.060(A), and 18.76.060(K). He stated that this alley may not meet the definition of an alley because it does not go all the way through and noted that this alley already serves as the access for at least twelve residences. Mr. Hearn stated that the alley is very narrow and cannot accommodate two vehicles meeting on the roadway. He noted that a simple flag drive serving two lots would require much more than what is being required for this alley. He commented on the physical constraints review permit and the construction of a driveway across the riparian drainage. He stated that disruption of the drainage could have adverse impacts on adjacent downhill properties. In regards to the Hillside Development Standards, Mr. Hearn stated that the slope of the proposed new parcel exceeds 25% and impacts on adjacent parcels have not been minimized. Mr. Hearn provided several photos of the site.

Mr. Hearn stated that there is no clear upper limit or lower limit of what an alley can accommodate, and stated that the Council has the authority to decide whether this access is appropriate. He noted that three of the Planning Commissioners felt that the alley could not accommodate this development, and questioned the threshold of this alley.

THOSE WISHING TO PROVIDE TESTIMONY
G. Vaatreit/908 Ashland Street/Requested that his statement be read into the record. Statement is included in the record as an exhibit.

Councilor Jackson left the meeting at 8:47 p.m.

Sue Grossman/880 Ashland Street/Noted the location of her property and commented on the issue of the increased use of the alley. Ms. Grossman stated that this application would increase the use of the alley, which has already reached capacity level.

Peter Finkle/785 Beach Street/Commented on the safety concerns in regards to pedestrian access and the width of the alley. Mr. Finkle stated that the Council should take the access of safety vehicles into consideration.

Karen Bates/711 Beach Street/Noted the location of her property to the proposed development and stated that the riparian stream runs along the side of her house. Ms. Bates stated that there is a lot of water running through the applicant's property and questioned what the proposed culverting would do to the stream. She noted that she has a lot of wildlife on her property and does want them to be adversely affected by this project.

STAFF RESPONSE
Ms. Harris noted that questions regarding access to the property from Liberty Street should be addressed by the applicant.

Mr. Molnar clarified that there is no requirement that there be direct vehicular access to the house and cited an example of a home whose vehicular access stopped short and only had a pedestrian access directly to the house.

Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder commented on the definition of an alley found in the Street Standards, and stated that this definition was an expansion of the general definition found in the Land Use Ordinance. Ms. Harris added that the Street Standards were designed to be more user friendly.

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

Mr. Molnar continued to comment on the alley issue. Mr. Reeder clarified that in the Street Design Standards, each type of street has a description and stated that there does not seem to be a conflict between the two definitions presented. He stated that one is a succinct definition and the other explains why there are fewer standards for an alley than there are for other streets. He added that it is up to the Council to determine whether this alley meets the definition of an alley and noted that the definition in the Street Standards does not contemplate whether an alley has through access.

City Attorney Mike Franell explained that there is some ambiguity in the definition of alley. He stated that the key question for the Council to determine is what the language "through a block" means. He explained that this will require an interpretation on the part of the Council and stated that the Council has not made an interpretation on this definition in the past.

Comment was made questioning if Condition #25 was feasible. Ms. Harris stated that at the hearing the applicant indicated that they were in agreement with this condition, but that the Council should ask the applicant for details.

Fire Prevention Officer Margueritte Hickman was called forward to address the fire safety issues. Ms. Hickman addressed how emergency vehicles would gain access to this property and explained that they could park approximately 200 feet from the furthest point of the structure. She stated that the Fire Code specifies that they should be within 150 feet of the furthest point of the structure; however there is an exception when this is impractical due to slope or vegetation that allows the Fire Department to provide an allowance, with the condition that the structure install a fire sprinkler system. Ms. Hickman stated that the Fire Department reviewed this application and granted them an exception.

REBUTTAL
Mr. Shostrom read a prepared statement into the record. Statement was submitted into the public record as an exhibit.

Council asked Mr. Shostrom to address the question of access off Liberty Street. Mr. Shostrom explained that it was not typographically possible to access the property from Liberty Street and noted the slope change and the turn radius.

PUBLIC HEARING CLOSED at 9:21 p.m.

COUNCIL DELIBERATION
Mr. Franell reminded the Council that their interpretation of the planning code would be binding on the Planning Commission and Planning staff on all future actions. He added that it would also be binding on the Council, unless they reinterpret or amend the ordinance. Mr. Franell clarified that the Council needs to make an interpretation on what "through a block" means. He also noted that Council has the ability to place additional conditions on the granting of approval and stated that if they do not feel the alley is adequate for the number of residences it serves than they could add a condition that it be brought up to a certain standard.

Councilor Hartzell motioned to deny the application on the basis of fire and access limitations. Motion died for lack of second.

Councilor Chapman/Silbiger m/s to approve the application with the 25 conditions for approval from the Planning Commission and the 26th condition proposed by staff. DISCUSSION: It was clarified that the 26th condition addresses the conservation easement. Councilor Hartzell noted that Condition #1 covers the applicant's self-imposed restrictions and suggested the following amendments to the other conditions: Condition #8, add the language from the Planning Commission noted on page 29 of the record and amend condition to read "...cover such improvements and costs of Liberty Street and the alley at the rear of the property...". Condition 15, add the language "That the public alley must be cleared of overgrown vegetation to create and maintain a clear vertical space...". Councilor Hartzell noted the option listed in the staff memo which states "...Council could consider requiring the driving surface of the proposed culverted crossing to be pavers, rock or grasscrete rather than pavement" and suggested that they include a condition to this effect with language that encourages the applicant to consider an Arizona Crossing. Councilor Hartzell also suggested a condition that states that every three or five years, neighbors or citizens could request a review by the Planning Commission to assess the adequacy of, or need for additional conditions. Mr. Franell clarified that they do not have the authority to impose this condition.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s to amend the original motion to include the following: Condition #8, add the words to the last line "cover such improvement costs of Liberty Street and the alley at the rear of the property"; Condition #14, add the language "..but not limited to an all weather surface, weight..."; add Condition #27, which would state "That applicants strongly consider use of an Arizona Crossing and the driving surface of the proposed culverted crossing to be pavers, rock or grasscrete rather than pavement". Voice Vote: all AYES.

Voice Vote on original motion as amended: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Councilor Hartzell, NO. Motion passed 4-1.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS None

NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS None

ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS

1.  Contract for Police Review Study
Police Chief Mike Bianca explained that when the City advertised for a police chief two years ago, this action was outlined in the advertisement. He stated that within the department over the past several months there has been relentless questioning of many aspects of their basic operations and listed some of the concerns of the department. He stated that the department needs this study and recommended that the Council approve this project.

Mr. Bianca noted that a breakdown of the cost proposal was submitted to the Council.

Mayor Morrison expressed his support for this study and noted that staff had reviewed the applicants for this project and that this applicant was very qualified to perform this type of work.

Councilor Chapman/Hartzell m/s to approve contract for $51, 035. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Hartzell, Amarotico, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.

OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS None

ADJOURNMENT
Meeting was adjourned at 9:58 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor


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