Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Minutes
Monday, August 06, 2018

CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL STUDY SESSION/PUBLIC FORUM

MINUTES
Monday, August 6, 2018
Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

 
Mayor Stromberg called the Study Session to order at 5:33 PM.
 
Councilor Slattery, Jensen, Bachman, Morris, Rosenthal, and Seffinger were present.
 
  1. Introduction
    1. Purpose of this meeting
    2. Two main parts of the Wildfire Mitigation Program:
      1. Voluntary and Regulatory – discussion regarding regulatory only
    3. Process for this meeting
 
Mayor Stromberg explained the purpose of the meeting (see attached).   
 
  1. The Four Components of the Regulatory Portion - One component at a time
    1. Staff presentation
 
Division Chief- Forestry, Chris Chambers, Senior Planner, Brandon Goldman and Fire Adapted Community Coordinator, Alison Lerch presented Council with a PowerPoint (see attached). 
 
Mr. Chambers discussed Ashland’s Wildfire Risk Management Programs.
 
Items discussed were:
  • Reasons why an update of the Ordinance is needed.
  • Regulatory Elements of Wildfire Safety.
  • Updated Land Use Components.
  • Prohibited flammable plant list.
  • Wildfire lands overlay expansion.
  • Ashland Wildfire and Ignitions.
  • Wildfire hazard zones.
  • Wildfire fuels mapping.
  • Fuel models.  
 
  1. Council questions
 
Slattery questioned the reason for the wildfire overlay being extended. Mr. Chambers answered that it is to show FEMA that the City is doing all that they can for the grant.
 
Slattery questioned if the overlay was extended how would the Oak Knoll fire have been impacted. Mr. Chambers spoke that nothing would have changed in Oak Knoll this is only impacting new structures.   
 
Seffinger questioned if expanding the fire zone would affect the AFR commitments work in the water shed.  Mr. Chambers answered no.
 
 
Mr. Goldman explained the Ordinance is key to wildfire lands overlay.  He spoke that the Ordinance proposed is to be City Wide and only applies to new construction.
 
Items discussed:
  • Ordinance highlights.
  • General Fuel Modification areas.
  • Fire prevention and control plan.
  • 30 ft. buffer zones.
  • Permits for new decks.
  • Removal of trees/tree preservation.
  • Fence materials.
  • FEMA Grant requirements.
 
Slattery spoke regarding the importance of education and outreach.
 
City Administrator, Kelly Madding spoke that the City will look at working with the nursery community to inform them the plant list.
 
Rosenthal questioned how many new permits are issued annually. Mr. Goldman answered new residents about 50-100 a year and approximately 200 building permits.
 
  1. Citizens' questions
 
Lynn- Ashland – Spoke in concerned about the fires currently.  Would like to know if there are any requirements other than new construction for preventative purposes. Mr. Chambers spoke that this Ordinance doesn’t go far enough and it is only affecting a small percentage of homes.  He explained Firewise does not have strict requirements.  Most of the prevention is voluntary.
 
Perry Prince – Lives within the Firewise community.  Spoke that the restrictions should be greater. He spoke that people cannot be required to upgrade the vegetation on their house.  He suggested special funding be made to clean up the vegetation for those who can’t afford it. 
 
Shannon Downey –Ashland- Questioned what the basis is on what is included and what is excluded on the plants list.  She spoke that some of the plants included are recognized as fire resistant; and some of the plants that would be a concern are not on the list.  She questioned if there are there studies that are done to get this list?  Mr. Chambers spoke that there is a slide coming up that will help answer these questions. 
 
Greg Williams – Ashland – Spoke in concerns of the plant list.  Staff would get with Mr. Williams to discuss the list.  
 
Tom Sager – Ashland – Spoke in concern of when and where this will end.  He spoke that he rides bikes in wilderness areas and currently all animals come into town.  He spoke to the importance of the need to have habitat for animals to live on.  He spoke that the Ordinance is too broad. 
 
Donald Johnson – Ashland – Spoke regarding removal of hazardous, dead or dying trees. Mr. Goldman explained that this information is in Chapter 9 of the Code. He spoke that in some cases an arborist may be required to determine the status of the tree.
 
Staff continued with presenting the PowerPoint.
 
Items discussed were:
  • Fire Prevention and Control Plan.
  • Ongoing maintenance plan.
  • Marginal costs increase to implement these plans.
  • Regulatory Elements of wildfire safety.
  • Prohibited flammable plant list City wide.    
 
Mr. Chambers showed a short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvbNOPSYyss
 
Mr. Chambers explained that the plant list is built off of different characteristics: wax, oil, and pitch are highly flammable. Native conifers were discussed.  He spoke to the plant list in the proposed Resolution (see attached).
 
Staff discussed next steps.  Mr. Chambers spoke that in 2 weeks the Ordinance will go to Council for the First Reading.  
 
  1. Carry-over Questions from July 17th - One question at a time
    1. Staff presentation
    2. Council questions
    3. Citizens' questions
 
  1. How much opportunity has there been for Public Comment?  Mr. Chambers answered there have been many open houses and meetings.  He spoke that this began in 2014.  There has also been a lot of public outreach.
  2. Could more be done to reduce wildfire risk than what is being proposed? Mr. Chambers answered that in the future there could be more regulations.
  3. Does science support the approach of the proposal?  Mr. Chambers answered there is science but we have to go by experience and best judgement for the plant list. 
  4. Will characteristics of historic neighborhoods change with this Ordinance? Mr. Goldman answered that historic neighborhoods would stay largely unchanged unless property owners removed flammable materials. 
  5. Will conifer trees disappear?  Mr. Chambers answered no, they will not disappear. 
 
 
Rosenthal questioned if any other City has a fire hazard zone.  Mr. Chambers spoke that he will research this and get back to Council. 
 
Council thanked Staff.
 
  1. Questions about the Ordinance changes themselves (if time allows)
    1. Council questions
    2. Citizens' questions
 
  1. Wrap up - What happens next?
 
The Study Session was adjourned at 7:33 PM
 
Respectfully submitted by:
 
_____________________________________
City Recorder, Melissa Huhtala
 
 
Attest:
 
_____________________________________
Mayor Stromberg
 
 

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