MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
February 21, 2001
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Fine, Morrison and Hanson were present
Staff present: City Administrator Greg Scoles, Administrative Services Dick Wanderschied, Marketing and Communication Manager Ann Seltzer, Fire Chief Keith Woodley and Community Development Director John McLaughlin
1. WEB PAGE UPDATE
Wanderschied explained the transition of the City Web Page, including how information is provided to the public. He also explained how transactions with the public could occur through the website.
Seltzer reviewed the website for the council and noted a new feature, "Personalize and Notify," that had been added. She explained that this would allow users to be notified, when information that they have selected as an interest to them, is posted. Each department has assigned a staff person to post information to the website. Seltzer stressed that the website is only as good as the current information that is provided. Banner ads, at the top of the screen, give revolving links in the form of advertisements about services provided by the City.
Reid suggested setting the Utilities' lobby computers to default to the City website, and that assistance is made readily available for anyone having trouble maneuvering the site.
Scoles clarified that a contract with Project A, for approximately $25,000, was budgeted for the 2000-01 year for the development and hosting of the City website.
Seltzer explained that a limited number of staff members have access to the back-end of the site. They include: Diane Tucce, Fire Department; Linda Hoggart, Police; Heather Klima, Electric/AFN; Rich Hall and Dawn Curtis, Public Works; Adam Hanks, Community Development; Tina Gray and Fran Berteau, Administration; Kirsten Bakke, Finance; Barbara Christensen and Michelle Cole, City Recorder. Scoles explained that there is no specific policy in place controlling information put on the site, but each department head is responsible for anything put on their page.
The council engaged in a discussion regarding a central calendar, which could encompass other city groups such as the Ashland Chamber, the School District, OSF, or others. Scoles explained that Today in Ashland is set up to list all the local activities.
Seltzer clarified that the master plan is development, which is part of Phase Three and that the GIS, Autocad, AFN/electrical mapping, and other programs will be linked to the website. These future links will allow consumers to get permits and other information independently. It is expected to be a one to two year project, and will show up on budget requests for the next year.
2. DISCUSSION OF STREET CONNECTIVITY AND CUL-DE-SACS
McLaughlin explained that questions have been raised regarding the City’s policies for street connectivity and cul-de-sacs. He defined "connectivity" as a traditional, connected street pattern, the opposite of a dead end or cul-de-sac style of a street. At the State and local level, connected street patterns are the preferred approach. Statewide Planning Goal 12 was designed to promote the development of safe and convenient travel for all modes, with direct routes and connected travel alternatives. The Comprehensive Plan is required to comply with State rules. Policies govern growth and development in the city and encourage a connected-street network. The Handbook for Planning and Designing Streets was adopted in 1999, which is part of the subdivision ordinance, and provides guidance for connectivity. The Street Dedication Map, another part of the Comprehensive Plan, is used to show where future streets will connect.
Council discussed the use of cul-de-sacs and fairness to residents. DeBoer noted that national trends are returning to cul-de-sac design with pedestrian access. Fine voiced his concern regarding the economic implications for the placement of cul-de-sacs. He felt that it was not fair that only the rich are allowed this privilege, while everyone else is forced into connected streets. He stated that In order to bring the community together, connectivity is important.
DeBoer noted that more units can be built on cul-de-sacs which allow for the use of less asphalt. He is concerned with current development, including dead-end streets and drainage.
Hartzell noted the importance of access for emergency vehicles and voiced her support of connectivity in street development.
McLaughlin stated that connectivity reflects current policies. The Clover Lane/Spring Creek Drive area is an example of a proposed connection not on the adopted street dedication map and the Planning Commission denied annexation because they did not support connection of the street.
Laws agreed that all should be treated equal and added that case-by-case exceptions should not be made without good reason. He felt that the Planning Commission should have the option for exceptions, but should have viable reasons for doing so.
McLaughlin clarified that staff had developed the street dedication map, which was then presented at a neighborhood meeting, and then to the Planning Commission and City Council, and ultimately was adopted by ordinance. Adopted street plans outside the city limits have also been developed. It is possible to make changes to the dedication map, but each must be supported and approved.
Marilyn Briggs/590 Columbia Drive/Stated that connectivity is generally good. She noted a new street term called the "stralley" which serve as streets, but are more like alleys. Briggs requested eliminating them.
Scott Kurtz/676 Liberty/Is the developer who is required to connect Romeo and Millpond. He supports connectivity, but felt that they are inappropriate places to connect cul-de-sacs. Kurtz encouraged the council to think about designing for alternative transportation.
Hartzell explained that encouraging alternate transportation is not by making driving more difficult, but by creating easier access to alternatives. Laws agreed, adding that the Planning Commission needs to be able to make exceptions.
McLaughlin explained that stralleys meet minimum street widths and are used as a tool to avoid cul-de-sacs while maintaining connectivity. They allow for additional lot development without using dead-end streets, sidewalks are on one side, parking, and houses face the street.
DeBoer voiced his concern that current development is not designed for emergency vehicles and that small, and high-density neighborhoods are causing new problems including compromised parking.
Fire Marshall David Hard/671 Spring Creek Drive/Stated that a 22-foot street has been established as an acceptable width for emergency vehicles. If street patterns are laid out correctly, cul-de-sacs are not an issue for fire safety. Connectivity over cul-de-sacs is slightly preferable, but he understands the limits of modern urban planning. The key is to not develop four or five cul-de-sacs in a row with only one access street. A turnaround by fire vehicles in cul-de-sacs is not a problem if adequate parking is available.
Scoles explained that the objective was to give the council information on how to approach changes, and how policy flows down to standards. Some changes may need to be made in the City Comprehensive Plan, but others may be more simple.
Laws noted his satisfaction with present policy, but requested that staff keep aware of changes occurring across the nation.
Scoles explained that the Planning Commission does not have the latitude to say whether or not a street will be connected if it is delineated on the dedication map. If the council wants to give the commission the authority to decide on changes to the dedication map, an amendment would be needed.
Meeting was adjourned at 1:53 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder/Treasurer