Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, October 15, 2002

ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
October 15, 2002 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

ROLL CALL
Councilor Laws, Reid, Hartzell, Jackson and Hearn were present. Councilor Morrison arrived at 8:10 p.m.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of October 1, 2002 were approved as presented.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Mayor's Proclamation of "National Red Ribbon Celebration Week" and Proclamation of "World Population Awareness Week" were read aloud.

CONSENT AGENDA

  1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.

  2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of Jonathan Uto to the Tree Commission for a term to expire April 30, 2004.

  3. Ratification of labor contract between the City and IBEW Electrical Local 659.

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

PUBLIC HEARINGS
1. Public Hearing and consideration of potential sale of real property - 9,000 square foot lot adjacent to 128 W. Nevada Street.

Interim City Administrator Brian Almquist briefly explained the proposed sale of real property and requested authorization from the Council to take all actions necessary to market and sell the lot with the net proceeds of the sale to be used to reimburse the Open Space Fund.

PUBLIC HEARING OPEN: 7:07 p.m.

Ron Roth/6950 Old 99S/Voiced his concern about selling property just to be selling it. He questioned the need to sell the property and where money realized from the sale would go.

PUBLIC HEARING CLOSED: 7:10 p.m.

Mayor DeBoer explained that the owner had requested that the property be divided and sold as individual parcels. Oregon State Statutes require that prior to any sale of City real property that the City holds a public hearing concerning the sale. This also requires a public notice of the hearing describing the property, the proposed uses for the property, and the reasons why the City Council felt it necessary to sell the property.

Clarification was made on what parcels would be sold.

Councilors Jackson/Reid m/s to approve staff recommendation. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Public Hearing on the Appeal of Planning Action 2002-052, a Request for Site Review Approval for a 13-Unit Cottage Style Condominium Development at 2275 Siskiyou Boulevard. Request includes a Variance to Rear Yard Requirements (10 feet required, 7 feet proposed), and for distance between buildings.

Mayor read aloud the procedures for Land Use Hearings.

PUBLIC HEARING OPEN: 7:14 p.m.

EXPARTE CONTACTS:
Hearn reported a site visit and noted that he had not attended the public hearing, but did review the Planning Commission packet that contained the same information provided to the Council. Jackson reported a site visit. Reid reported a site visit. Laws reported a site visit and his familiarity with the property. DeBoer reported conversation regarding the property with the real estate agent. He noted that the procedure was discussed and felt that he could make a fair and impartial decision. He also reported a site visit.

STAFF REPORT:
Community Development Director John McLaughlin briefly explained that the Planning Commission had approved the Planning Action at their regular meeting of August 31, 2002.

Community Development Senior Planner Bill Molnar explained the proposal to construct 13 cottage style condominium units on a 1.8-acre site on Siskiyou Boulevard zoned High-Density Multi-Family. He noted that automobile access to the property is via an existing 20-foot driveway that connects to Siskiyou Boulevard through Ashley Senior Center. The units require variance for a 7-foot rear yard set back rather than the 10-foot setback required by ordinance and an 8-foot distance between cottage units. He noted that the applicant reached an agreement with Ashley Senior Apartments allowing them to use three parking spaces in the Ashley Senior Apartment complex in perpetuity. The applicant will do full City street frontage improvements along Siskiyou Boulevard including curb and gutter, public sidewalk, bike lane, and five on-street parking spaces.

He noted issues for Council consideration in reviewing the appeal, including:

1.) Procedural irregularity in terms of the Planning Commission's findings, conclusions, and orders, in that there was no discussion regarding an administrative variance to building orientation as well as a physical constraints permit to develop in the flood plain. He clarified that the initial proposal involved an administrative variance to allow for the two units closest to Siskiyou Boulevard to not have their primary orientation towards the Boulevard. In later renditions that was changed and those units do orient towards the Boulevard so the variance is no longer needed.

2.) In terms of one of the earlier plans there was a request to have a few of units encroached into the City floodplain corridor. That request was ultimately removed and no structural portions of any units extend into the floodplain corridor. So, no variance is needed.

3.) Use of existing driveway and the Senior parking areas. These issues were discussed in the Staff reports and the parking configuration not only meets land use ordinance requirements in terms of back-up space and driveway width, but also now complies with Fire Department apparatus turn-around requirements.

Staff recommendation is for the Council to sustain the Planning Commission's decision.

It was clarified for Council that the number of handicap spaces are decided upon parking demand, and that there is no requirement for loading zones in residential developments. It was noted that the applicant agreed to dedicate a public access way for a pedestrian walkway connecting Jacqueline Street and Siskiyou Boulevard.

APPLICANT PRESENTATION:
Devian Aguirre/183 Lincoln Street/Owner of Sage Development, answered various questions concerning utilization of the parking lot, parking patterns, fire lane access and flood plain issues. She clarified that an in-house 30-day parking study had been conducted which found that the parking lot was never more than 65% full and that while parking patterns fluctuated the numbers did not statistically change. She noted that national demographics support these findings. The facility manager also reported a long-term figure of 50 to 60% use of the parking lot. It was noted that fire lane controls would be tightened. Aguirre confirmed that the building is above floodplain height and behind an extremely conservative floodplain line. It was noted that according to geo-technical and hydrology studies the site is stable.

Councilor Jackson commented that future conditions of the site are not relevant to the Council's decision tonight, but that the issue before the Council is to decide if proposed variances meet City Code.

IN FAVOR OF APPLICANT:
Eline Jones/2301 Siskiyou #215/ Phone message received for the record/Stated that the people who submitted the protest are not speaking for all of the residents of Ashley Senior Center.

Kenneth DeHaas/2301 Siskiyou #318/Did not believe that the influx of families would contribute to problems associated with parking. He noted that a letter in support of the project had been sent to the City Administrator and that ten of the persons signing that letter were present at this meeting tonight.

Don Rist/260 Jay Street, Talent/Commented on how difficult this site is to build on and commended the builder for the cottage unit designs and for working with the neighbors. He felt the project would be an asset to the community.

Tom Frantz/2265 Siskiyou Blvd/Spoke in favor of the project and supported the concept of building cottages, preferring this type of development rather than a long line of townhouses.

OPPOSED TO APPLICANT:
Dorothy Carnaghi/2301 Siskiyou #302/Spoke as representative for a group in opposition to the project. She stated opposition to the parking and driveway arrangements, noting that for 62 residents there are 64 regular sized parking places, with 10 of those being handicapped/reserved spaces. The project will change 31 of the spaces to compact car spaces, and reduce handicapped parking to six spaces. She felt this would be inadequate for the needs of the Ashley Senior Apartments residents. She noted that the lack of loading zones and turn-around spaces are problems, as is the lack of safe walkways for the seniors through the parking lot.

Councilor Morrison arrived at 8:10 p.m.

Heinz Levin/2301 Siskiyou Blvd #108/Commented on his disappointment that the trees along the property line would be removed in order to make room for carports. He felt the parking count report irrelevant because the Senior Center is entitled to the parking spaces regardless of if every resident has a car or not, and noted the negative impact the development would have on Center residents.

STAFF RESPONSE:
A brief history of the Ashley apartments was given, explaining that the complex was approved in 1988 and the parking ordinance revised in 1990 to require one space per accommodation unit. The requirement for this complex is 62 spaces. He used a projector to display the current spaces and the area with the proposed new spacing. It was clarified that the number of spaces would not be reduced but that configuration of the spaces would change. This complies with City standards.

Dave Hard, Ashland City Fire Marshall, addressed the issue of fire hydrants noting that the existing hydrant on Jacqueline Street does not count toward the project since there is no fire truck access from it to the project. A new, accessible hydrant will be added for the project, which along with an existing accessible hydrant will satisfy City requirements. Reid supported access to Jacqueline Street for emergency purposes. It was noted that fire lane enforcement was progressing.

It was clarified that the Planning Commission had determined that the loft area of the cottages did not qualify as a bedroom due to the small amount of usable space in the loft. It was noted that this application had been filed before the Tree Ordinance was passed.

REBUTTAL:
Devian Aguirre clarified that the project currently has 50% compact and 50% regular parking spaces. Re-striping was done seven to 8 years ago at which time the orientation of slanted spaces were created. There was no additional parking and no change in compact vs. standard stalls though the compact stalls were not labeled as such. In the redesign, she maintained the ratio of 50/50% standard/compact spaces but the compact spaces close to the building gained additional width. In addition, while not required, an additional fire hydrant will be included in the project. She noted certain mitigating issues to be considered along with fire safety issues, including the need for security and safety within the parking lot for the seniors. She explained that this project is smaller for a purpose, designed to serve an under-served population - persons who do not need to live in standard size housing. She noted that there are currently six cities in the nation that have cottage-housing overlays specifically for this purpose.

PUBLIC HEARING CLOSED 8:50 p.m.

Councilors Laws/Reid m/s to allow Councilor Morrison to abstain from voting as he was not able to attend the entire public hearing. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

COUNCIL DELIBERATION:
Hearn noted that the issues before the Council are limited to the variances having to do with the distance between the cottages and the setbacks.

Councilors Hearn/Reid m/s to approve Planning Action 2002-052 with the conditions of approval as passed by the Planning Commission and to deny the appeal. DISCUSSION: Laws noted that the issue before the Council is the original applicant's application, not the appeal, and by approving the project, the appeal is denied. He expressed approval of the project's design and sympathized with the concerns of the seniors affected by the project. It was pointed out that as the project has met all criteria, the Council has no legal option but to approve the Planning Action. Morrison expressed appreciation for the thorough process. Voice Vote: Laws, Reid, Hartzell, Jackson and Hearn, YES. Motion passed.

PUBLIC FORUM (None)

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:
1. Consideration of the disposition of potential surplus real property (continued from September 17, 2002).

City Administrator Brian Almquist gave a brief report on the properties identified for consideration of disposition. Council agreed to take each property individually for consideration and discussion.

1. Single Family Lot-Twin Pines Circle
DeBoer commented that the adjoining property owner would like the opportunity to purchase this property. It was suggested that market analysis could be done to determine development costs vs. the value of the lot, and that once a final value was set it must go to a public hearing. It was suggested that the use of this parcel for affordable housing be investigated and to keep in mind that City assets can be used for a number of different purposes not just as a way to bring in money. It was noted that putting City owned property back on the tax rolls generated additional tax monies for the City.

2. Nevada Street Storage Lot
Almquist explained that the original purchase of this property was for electric department storage purposes and for the possibility of future use as a sub-station. He commented that there may be some environmental problems on the property and a full environmental study should be conducted before considering the sale of the property.

Reid suggested storing the poles somewhere else and to consider this property for affordable housing. It was noted that according to zoning, four housing units could be located on this property. Wanderscheid explained that currently the City has no other place to put poles and that special equipment would be needed to move them. He noted that when the fire station is finished there might be changes that could be made in storage location. He agreed that an environmental study would need to be done. He pointed out that the small building on the property contains fiber optics that connects to Medford and that this would be very costly to move, and commented that it is premature to consider selling this property until other storage arrangements can be made. It was noted that if the parcel had the potential for subdivision into four lots, then the materials could be stored on one or two lots and the other two or three could be sold.

3. Westwood Street/Strawberry Lane
It was noted that this parcel was originally part of a 12-acre development and was under consideration for a residential subdivision (60 units) back in the mid-1970's. To prevent this development, the City purchased this parcel for about $60,000 of general funds money. Preliminary platting could maximize the City's investment. Under purchasing rules, for any commission between $5,000 and $75,000 the City must seek proposals. It was noted that parking was needed in this area to serve trailheads and that discussion with the Parks Department concerning availability of locations for parking purposes should be held.

4. Imperatrice Property
Almquist explained that this property was purchased with Sewer Utility funds that were generated by the Food & Beverage Tax. He recommended that in the event the property is sold, that the fund be reimbursed the purchase costs. Profit would be without restriction and the Council could do with it what they chose. He did not recommend that the Council move ahead with the sale of this property at this time due to the need for further study on various issues, including issues with water. Hearn noted that a good development plan would make the property more saleable. It was suggested that the City hold on to the property and further explore possibilities for the land.

5. Gun Club/Lithia Springs Property
Almquist explained that the City has an existing lease with the Ashland Gun Club on a portion of this property that runs until 2009. The property is currently zoned Open Space Reserved. This land has the headwaters of Lithia Springs and some historic issues, in terms of protecting that source and avoiding contamination, that need to be explored before moving forward. The Historic Commission has not been consulted about the proposed sale of this property.

It was noted that the City could sell the property and retain, in perpetuity, the right to maintain the headwaters of Lithia Springs. DeBoer noted that a neighbor had expressed interest in purchasing the property. Reid suggested that the property might be suitable for asphalt recycling and pole storage or for trading for property suitable for such use. Hartzell asked if the Parks Department has other purposes in mind for the land. It was noted that the spring is a critical issue and should be protected.

6. Glenview Drive Storage Areas
Almquist explained that these areas are a part of Lithia Park and designated as City Parks in the Comprehensive Plan. It is currently in use by the Public Works Department for storage. Reid commented that if some property were sold some other property, more suitably located, and zoned, could be purchased for storage needs. Almquist noted that there are additional properties that have not yet been brought forward, including two half-acre parcels just across from the reservoir. He estimated their value at $150,000 to $200,000 each. He will bring those to Council at a later time.

Evan Archerd/120 N Second Street/Spoke about two of the goals for Ashland citizens, affordable housing and open space acquisition. He noted that the sale of surplus City property could generate a large amount of funds to use towards those goals. He offered his services in helping the City move forward on those goals, especially in terms of affordable housing.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith Street/Expressed concern about affordable housing and open space acquisition, however also supported protecting both the Strawberry Lane and the Imperatrice properties. He commented on potential uses of these properties, including use as a City arboretum and Public Park outside of the City limits, and other recreational use. He noted that the Pioneer and Lithia lots could be developed as high-density affordable housing, as well as the Water Street parking lot. He suggested the possibility of working with the Elks Lodge in developing high-density affordable housing on a current parking lot.

Ron Roth/6950 Old 99 S/Spoke concerning the potential sale of property, noting that he saw no point in selling without first determining how the proceeds would be used. He noted that since land in Ashland is a good investment we should not be in a hurry to sell. He did not support the sale of the Imperatrice property, noting the potential for various uses by the City, including equestrian, hiking, and mountain bike trails, and affordable housing. He commented on the importance of the water rights issues.

Mayor DeBoer brought forward the following messages/correspondence in regards to this issue:

Ashland Gun Club/Phone call/ Reminded the council that the police use the Gun Club shooting range and that the Club has 400 members. Urged the Council to keep the Gun Club.

Brent Thompson/Letter/Urged the Council to not hurry in deciding the disposition of the Imperatrice property.

Bear Creek Watershed Council/Letter/ Concerned with the water rights on the Imperatrice property.

Councilors Reid/Hartzell m/s to extend meeting until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Hearn suggested the possibility of selling properties without water rights.

Councilors Laws/Hearn m/s to direct Staff to develop plans for the sale of properties #1 and #3. In addition, for property #3, that Staff and the Parks Department investigate the possibility of area for parking on Parks' land or on property #3. DISCUSSION: The possibility of land trade for affordable housing use was noted. It was clarified that offers for the properties would be brought before the Council for consideration. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Laws suggested that Council submit specific questions about the properties to Staff. Concern was expressed about environmental hazards on property #2.

Councilors Reid/Hartzell m/s to ask staff to bring back a plan for an environmental assessment for the Nevada Street storage (property #2) within the next 60 days. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Hearn/Jackson m/s to take the following action: 1.) In regards to property #5, that we look into the terms of the lease to see if the City is required to honor the lease until it expires in 2009 or if the City can sell in advance of that without legal repercussions, 2.) Find out how much of the property includes the headwaters of Lithia Springs, and what is necessary to protect that, and 3.) Investigate the environmental appropriateness of allowing lead to be fired into the property. DISCUSSION: Morrison expressed concern over the time involved in environmental assessments. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS:
1. Designation of voting delegate for League of Oregon Cities meeting in November.

Councilors Reid/Laws m/s to appoint Mayor DeBoer as delegate for the LOC meeting. DISCUSSION: It was suggested that the voting delegate be open to input by other Council members. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilors Morrison/Reid m/s to designate Councilor Hartzell as alternative delegate for the LOC meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Discussion of the Potential to maximize the City's energy independence by using alternative energy sources.
Electric & Telecommunications Director Dick Wanderscheid reported on Ashland's progressive energy policies and programs, noting that Ashland was one of the first in the Northwest to offer a solar water heating program, net metering, and solar electric system rebates.

He noted that the cheapest and easiest way to move the Green Power initiative along is to purchase more Green Power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Ashland pays a premium of $10.50 per megawatt hour for every megawatt of Green Power purchased. This adds approximately $91,000 per year to our wholesale power bill which makes Ashland electric rates about 1% higher than they would be if we didn't purchase Green Power. He explained that including the costs of Green Power in the rates customers pay is easier, shares the burden, and is less expensive to administer than offering Green Power by subscription.

He concluded that Ashland's existing programs are as aggressive as any in much of the nation and recommended leaving the existing programs in place, monitor changes in technology and costs, and adapt as future changes unfold. Wanderscheid noted that demand load management is on the agenda for a future time.

Laws advocated that the City, at some time in the future, help Ashland citizens make the transition to Green Power.

3. Ashland Fiber Network Quarterly Report.
Wanderscheid reported that AFN is doing well, having achieved nearly all business plan goals for the quarter. He noted that this year is the last year that the business plan projects major growth in television and internet accounts. He walked the Council through the report, highlighting various goals and benchmarks achieved, and noting that AFN is currently in negotiations with bandwidth providers. He noted that customers are happy with AFN.

ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS (None)

OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS (None)

ADJOURNMENT
Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

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