Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, May 02, 2000

May 2, 2000
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Shaw called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m., in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Hanson, Wheeldon and Fine were present.

The minutes of the regular meeting of April 18, 2000 and the continued regular meeting of April 19, 2000 were approved as presented.

1. Mayor's Presentation of James M. Ragland Memorial "Volunteer Spirit" Community Service Award.

Mayor Shaw explained how the Ragland Award came to be, and noted the dramatic example of community service that Jim Ragland had provided. Shaw recounted some of the programs and committees that Ragland was involved with and some of his many accomplishments.

Shaw noted that the individuals and groups nominated for this year's Ragland Award included the Real Corps, Sue Graham, Barbara Ryberg, and Hal Cloer.

Shaw announced Midge Thierolf as the recipient of the 2000 James M. Ragland Memorial Volunteer Spirit Award. Noted the endless hours of volunteerism contributed on Thierolf's part, which included, but were not limited to, YMCA fund drives, the Grove Teen Center, the Ashland Community Health Center, the Ashland Youth Activity Levy, the 1997 flood efforts, the Ashland High School DECA program, and the Ashland High School quad renovation. Shaw shared letters of appreciation that were submitted to recognize and honor Midge Thierolf and her community involvement.

2. Presentation by Mayor of plaque to Officer Lynn Parlette.
Mayor Shaw presented Officer Lynn Parlette with a plaque of appreciation and acknowledged his dedication and outstanding service to the city from 1977-2000.

3. Mayor's Proclamation of May 14 - 20 as "National Emergency Medical Services Week."

4. Mayor's Proclamation of May 14 - 20 as "National Historic Preservation Week."
Mayor Shaw read the proclamations in their entirety.

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointments to Ad Hoc Transportation, Transit & Parking Committee (citizen members).
3. Quarterly Financial Report.
4. Approval of rental rate for lease extension of city property providing access to the basement of the IOOF building (Munchies Restaurant).
5. Transfer of Ashland Greenway property to successors of original dedicator.
6. Approval of street cut on Park Street to install sanitary sewer and water services.
7. Termination of a Public Utility Easement Portion located at 1331 Seena Lane Tax Lot 391E10BB - 407.

Items #2, #3, #5 and #6 were pulled from the Consent Agenda.

Councilors Hauck/Wheeldon m/s to approve remaining Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointments to Ad Hoc Transportation, Transit & Parking Committee
(citizen members).
Colin Swales/163 8th Street/Voiced his disappointment that he had not been contacted and allowed conversation with the Mayor on his possible appointment to this committee. Shaw explained that she only called those individuals that she was not familiar with. She stated that she had appointed individuals who had a strong interest in neighborhood areas. Swales questioned the appointments of certain individuals to the Ad Hoc Transportation, Transit and Parking Committee and also the recent appointments to the Planning Commission.

Swales also questioned why Donn Todt was not reappointed to the Tree Commission. Shaw recognized Todt's years of dedicated service, and noted that she generally appoints members to only two terms although Todt has been on the commission for her entire tenure. She emphasized that both Todt and Robbin Pearce, the staff liaison to the Tree Commission, was told that Todt was welcomed and encouraged, to continue attending the Tree Commission meetings but that she wanted to encourage further citizen involvement.

Shaw explained the process she uses in appointing members to the Planning Commission, noting state requirements, and stated that if a member of that commission has conflicting interests, that individual has an obligation to either remove themselves from the decision or state for public information their conflict. Noted the difficulty in a small town of finding members to commissions who do not occasionally know people coming before them or have some personal interest in certain matters.

Shaw also noted that her appointment of Don Reynolds to the Transit Committee was not about the library issue but rather about transportation alternatives for the entire city.

Hauck noted that the council has to approve the Mayor's appointments to all committees and that the council submits recommendations to the Mayor.

5. Transfer of Ashland Greenway property to successors of original dedicator.
Councilor Reid noted that there was an opportunity here for the city to plant trees and/or make the creek deeper to cool the water here. Wheeldon noted the work of the Ashland Watershed Partnership in seeking to restore riparian areas; she emphasized that the Partnership is contacting property owners along the creek and working to restore habitats. City Attorney Paul Nolte explained that this item is not an opportunity of the sort Reid is seeking, and that the city would have to seek cooperative agreements from property owners to improve the stream beds and plant trees. He noted that this would possibly require incentives from the city and pointed out that the Planning Department is in the process of strengthening the riparian ordinance to protect habitats.

6. Approval of street cut on Park Street to install sanitary sewer and water services.
Councilor Hanson questioned the street cut on Park Street and why the city has street moratoriums if they are not followed. Public Works Director Paula Brown explained that all property owners are noticed when a moratorium is placed on a city street because of paving. However, street cut requests can come before the council from people who are new to the area, or who have changed plans and are now trying to build on lots. In this case, the owner did not plan to build at the time the moratorium was put in place but now is building and would need to leave the project incomplete and vacant for nine months to comply with the moratorium.

Shaw noted that people could stub in connections when a moratorium is going to be in place, and Brown noted that this is encouraged. Brown noted that any costs from this street cut would fall to the individual requesting it. Discussion was held on the history of these requests, and whether the council has turned them down in the past. Brown noted that it might be appropriate to look at the fees charged, and to consider the possibility of charging more when cuts are in a moratorium area.

3. Quarterly Financial Report.
City Administrator Mike Freeman noted that the Quarterly Financial Report is not completed and asked that this item be pulled from the Consent Agenda.

Councilors Fine/Hanson m/s to approve items #2, #5 and #6 of the Consent Agenda. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

1. Public Hearing on and Adoption of the 2000-2004 Consolidated Plan for Community Development Block Grant Funds.

Associate Planner Maria Harris presented a synopsis on the update of the Consolidated Plan for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds. She explained that in accordance with federal regulations a Consolidated Plan is required.

Harris noted community needs and housing trends which indicated that 43% of Ashland households are below 80% of the median income ($38,800 for a four-person family). Also pointed out that 70% of those households are renting and only 30% own their homes. 29% of those households are "overburdened" by housing costs, and 38% experience severe cost burden.

Harris explained housing costs for home sales and rentals, noting that the average rent is approximately $600 for an apartment and $1130 for a house and that the median home price is $174,000 with a $1635 monthly payment.

Harris pointed out that in terms of homelessness and poverty trends, the Medford-Ashland median income lags behind other metropolitan areas while housing costs are higher. Also stated that the poverty rate and the poverty rate for children are higher than in the county and the state as a whole.

Harris explained that the priorities in this plan are similar to the 1995 plan, and briefly noted the priorities that have been carried over to the new plan. Some of these new priorities include job creation and looking at providing housing and supportive services to those with special needs. Harris concluded by noting the Community Development priorities, which are similar to the last plan, but with the addition of traffic calming measures in eligible neighborhoods.

Harris briefly summarized the changes she had noted, and noted for the council that priorities are ranked in this plan and criteria are included for awarding grants. Harris explained that there is an action plan which will be brought back to the council annually.

Wheeldon asked if there had been any comparison between the types of employment and corresponding pay levels between Ashland and areas with more diverse economies. Harris explained that there are county by county numbers, but that they are not particularly revealing.

Laws stated that he felt that this is a fine report, despite his perception that some of the figures are distorted by the number of students in Ashland and the availability of Ashland-specific statistics. Laws also emphasized that poverty and homelessness are regional issues and need to be addressed accordingly.

PUBLIC HEARING OPEN: 8:27 p.m. No speakers came forward.


Councilors Reid/Hanson m/s to adopt the Consolidate Plan for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds. Roll call vote: Laws, Reid, Hauck, Hanson, Wheeldon, and Fine, YES. Motion passed.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith Ave/Navickas noted he is present to discuss the Ski Ashland issue. Stated that he has spoken to Paula Brown and that she feels that demanding proper mitigation and monitoring are the two major issues for the City. Read a statement regarding the Ski Ashland expansion and questioned if proper monitoring has taken place. He noted that the city had dredged and sluiced several times, and commented on the need for proper mitigation. Also suggested that the Forest Service needs to prove that they will provide proper adequate monitoring and mitigation for the watershed.

Laws commented on Navickas repeatedly appearing before the Council on this matter. Gave a brief history on activities in the watershed, and noted logging and subsequent erosion which went into the reservoir. Explained that the City had to sluice every few years for some time, which caused environmental problems downstream. Emphasized that the City worked with the Forest Service to address this issue by stabilizing the roads and working on catch basins, and stated that this work with the Forest Service has been tremendously successful. Laws stated that this experience in working with the Forest Service gives him confidence in their ability to control erosion for the ski area expansion. Commented on the sewage treatment plant facility for the planned ski area expansion, and noted that the improvements will mean that the situation there is better than it has been in the last decade. Stated that he feels comfortable regarding these concerns over protecting the watershed, and that he does not have the expertise to address the other issues Navickas raises relative to the mountain itself.

Navickas stated some corrections to the information Laws had provided, noting additional logging and dredging that have occurred and continued to cause problems with erosion.

Councilor Wheeldon/Reid m/s to place this issue on the agenda for discussion. DISCUSSION: Freeman noted that Brown's document will go to the Forest Service as the city's comment on this matter, and that it is the city's responsibility to provide comment on this issue. Shaw objected to adding this item to an already full agenda, and suggested that the matter could be raised under Other Business from Council Members. Roll call vote: Wheeldon and Fine, YES. Laws, Reid, Hauck, Hanson, NO. Motion failed 4-2.

Colin Swales/143 8th St/Voiced his concern with the costs associated with the takeover of jurisdiction over Siskiyou Boulevard and the overall increase in the city's budget. He discussed the Kittleson Study and the findings therein that were relative to the library intersection. Questioned if the voters understood that a portion of the funds from the Library and Fire Station measures included costs related to improving this intersection, and questioned just what the cost will be to make the necessary improvements.

Councilors Laws/Reid m/s to place this item on a future agenda for further discussion prior to final action on the budget. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

Ryan Navickas/711 Faith Ave/Questioned the lease agreement with Ski Ashland and the lack of power that the city council seems to have with this entity. Suggested that the lease needs to be renegotiated to regain some decision making power. He stated his feeling that the City Council does have the power to stop the ski area's expansion through strong comments or legal action, and if the ski expansion goes through it is the council responsibility.


1. Council meeting Look Ahead.
It was noted by City Administrator Mike Freeman that the quarterly financial report will be ready for the May 16, meeting. He also noted that intersection improvement previously questioned by Swales will be discussed at that meeting and the hotel/motel tax allocation will be added to future items.

Reid explained that the hotel/motel tax collected more money than expected, resulting in a "bonus check" to the chamber and to OSF. A Budget Committee subcommittee suggested looking at the way this was handled to bring forth requests based on needs. Freeman clarified that at the last Budget Committee meeting, Fine had requested that the matter come back to the council. Shaw clarified that this must first be dealt with by the Budget Committee and a request can be made to change the ordinance setting the allocations.

Laws asked that Nolte look at the ordinance to determine if a "bonus check" was appropriate and the council discussed how this should be handled, noting that the allocation is a percentage. Shaw asked that this item be returned to the Budget Committee.

Freeman clarified that the study session for May 17 was left open to allow for the possibility of a continued council meeting on the off-site spray irrigation site.

1. Authorize the City Administrator to sign labor agreement, ratifying the tentative contract between the City and Teamsters Local Union No. 223 (Police).

Councilors Reid/Wheeldon m/s to approve authorization of City Administrator to sign labor contract. Roll Call Vote: Laws, Reid, Hauck, Hanson, Wheeldon and Fine, YES. Motion passed.

2. Continuing discussion of wastewater effluent and bio-solids management options.
Public Works Director Paula Brown provided updates to the requests made previously by council regarding effluent and bio-solids management options. She emphasized that this meeting is devoted to providing information, that council should ask questions and that staff is given clarity for a decision point at the next meeting of May 16. She explained that the decision that will be before the council on May 16 is whether to put treated effluent into the creek or will there be land application of effluent.

Brown explained that there have been four options that have been discussed. These are as follows: 1) Return effluent to the Creek throughout the year through wetlands or natural phosphorous removal means with an identified and accepted temperature reduction methodology; 2) Return effluent to the creek throughout the year by adding filters and chemical precipitation method to remove phosphorous at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and include an identified and accepted temperature reduction methodology; 3) Reuse the treated effluent during the irrigation season (May through November) on the city's hillside property with low head, low trajectories, low pressure land application methods for a grass crop and winter cattle gazing, and 4) Reuse the treated effluent during the irrigation season (May through November) on the city's hillside property with low head, low trajectory, and low-pressure land application methods for a poplar plantation or similar use.

Brown explained that the option of returning effluent to the creek through wetlands has been removed because DEQ in a short time frame does not have the data to make this happen.

Brown clarified that the State Health Division and the Department of Environmental Quality will be at the May 16, council meeting. She stated that if the decision is to go back to the creek the agencies involved would be consulted for return of water to the creek. The primary agency making this decision is the Oregon Department of Water Resources. Laws stated that he would like to invite individuals from the fishery agencies and requested that Brown find someone who could speak with knowledge of this area. Brown explained that if these individuals are invited, and they are not the decision makers on the question that is being asked, it becomes a debate situation.

Reid explained that the reason she brought up the Department of Agriculture is because of a law suit that is currently in the courts and has to do with poplar plantations. She felt that if the poplar plantation is going to be an option to be considered by council, that the council may want to be aware of these proceedings.

Fine stated that there had been two other possibilities discussed and noted them as drip irrigation instead of any kind of spraying and returning water to the creek following its dilution with water obtained from the Lost Creek Dam Water rights. Brown clarified that drip irrigation will be discussed and why it is considered but not really on the table. She explained that the option of the dilution is probably not a solution. Bob Eimstad from Carollo Engineers stated that the Federal Rules that implement the Clean Water Act do not allow dilution to the effluent before it is discharged.

Carollo Engineers' Bob Eimstad explained that the original system that was proposed for the hillside spray irrigation used about 190 heads/170 psi for spraying and did not fall within the category for the Health Division as low pressure load capacity. He stated that they have found a sprinkler head that is a low impact type sprinkler, but smaller in size with a low trajectory spray. He explained that using these sprinkler heads would mean 570 heads to cover the same area. Eimstad stated that his will drive up the cost of the project, with the biggest cost associated with distribution piping. He clarified that this has not been submitted to DEQ or to the Health Division to see if this satisfies their undefined requirements for a low trajectory, low pressure system. He stated that his will be the next step.

Eimstad explained that one of the cost factors is to design an irrigation system that would be protected from cattle damage if this is going to be used for pasture grass. He clarified that one of the assumptions is to continue on with pasture grass and that the sprinklers and piping would need to be protected from cattle.

He explained that they modeled the microorganism densities with the smaller sprinklers which made some conclusions regarding the amount of bacteria due to aerosol spray which is in the report submitted to the council. He stated that using the results of the model indicate a low probability of coming into contact with a pathogenic microorganism.

Eimstad explained for the council that aerosol production is directly related to orifice diameter and the pressure that you operate them in. He clarified that the larger the orifice, and higher pressure, the lesser amount of aerosols is produced. He felt that the concern with the big guns had to do with projecting the aerosol higher into the air and the possibility of the aerosol to migrate.

Eimstad explained that colony forming unit (CFU) is a bacterium that has caused a colony to grow on that particular medium. He stated that they did not run the model showing a breakdown of the automated weather station, continued use of sprinklers and 30-40 mile an hour wind gusts, in order to determine how much bacteria would be found at the nearest homes. He explained that the model is based on empirical data and he is not sure that this included 30 miles an hour wind conditions. Fine voiced his concern and asked for scientific information on the risk level of risk with the possible situation where the automated weather station breaks down and the spray continues in wind gusts. Eimstad stated that the logical approach would be to add redundancy to the control system and agreed to go back and look at the development of the model to see if it can be stretched to 30 miles an hour winds.

He informed the council that there are a few homes within the 1000 feet of a sprinkler head. He explained that at the May 16 meeting he could bring a drawing of the irrigation system with 1,000 foot radius circle around the perimeter to show which houses may be affected.

Brown reported that there has been no collection of wind data at this site and that the closest wind data would be from the Ashland airport. Eimstad explained that the model is based on assumed wind conditions.

Eimstad presented a draft memorandum on year-around discharge of WWTP effluent to Ashland Creek and explained that the cost numbers need to have additional detail information worked out.

He reported that they had spoken to DEQ and found out what permit limits they would impose in the summer season and it is anticipated that these would be quite stringent limits.

He explained that the city has two options for getting to the level of concentration expected. These options are: 1) A filtration plant following the current WWTP; or 2) Membrane filters. He stated that these figures do not include temperature.

Eimstad explained costs associated with membrane filters, and commented that there is significantly higher operating cost associated with the running of this type of plant. He explained that you have to tailor the system to meet the particular need of the community.

Eimstad explained that the costs presented do not include any of the biosolids costs and that these figures are only for the liquid stream portion. He wants the council to clearly understand the implications of not using the hillside property for anything, what part would then be spent for liquid stream treatment, and how you would discharge into the creek. He reminded the council that the biosolids would still need to be dealt within some way. He estimated that instead of $8.6million cost associated with effluent irrigation and biosolids facilities on the hillside, that the cost would be somewhere around $16million to discharge to the creek on a year around basis.

Eimstad clarified that there is no way to separate the effluent from the biosolids. Reid voiced her support in continuing to look at alternative options for biosolids. Hanson commented that we may be running out of time for looking at alternate options. Laws felt that it would be appropriate for additional alternative options to submit their ideas in a memorandum to the council prior to the May 16 meeting.

Brown stated that they have asked Clearwater Technologies to submit a proposal and information on their proposed method on disposal of biosolids. She suggested that, if this is of interest to the council, that this could be scheduled for discussion at the May 16 meeting. Shaw emphasized the need for this information to be submitted in writing prior to the May 16 meeting to allow adequate time for council review.

Brown explained that the next phase is to bring back information on wind speeds as requested and cost for the temperature.

Eimstad briefly explained the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) discussed in the background report prepared when DEQ was first developing the permit. Explained that the report gives 0.13 phosphorous limits as a monthly average, but that he has heard from DEQ since then, that 0.08 would be the daily maximum. Eimstad noted that they would check to verify whether DEQ will be concerned with daily maximums or monthly averages.

President of Sylvan Systems John Warinner presented a proposal for utilizing Ashland's Wastewater for economical and ecological Benefit. He explained that the goal would be to manage the wastewater to minimize health risks to Ashland citizens, to minimize financial impact and risk, and to enhance the environment. He stated that the tool that they have developed to meet these goals is to design, build and operate a plantation to grow high-value poplar wood with wastewater. Warinner stated that their goal would be to minimize health risks while optimizing economics and ecology.

He explained that Sylvan Systems is the premier poplar grower in the Pacific Northwest, with a decade of experience in poplar breeding and growing, ten poplar-based reuse projects, and a proven intensive culture strategy for growing poplars as a high value wood and a proven precision irrigation strategy. He explained that their product is called "cambium wood," and pointed out that there is a fifty-year history of this sort of project in Europe. He emphasized that their focus is growing wood profitably and sustainably with proven value as a solid wood product.

Warinner noted that the farm product will be trees that are 14-18 inches in diameter, 100 feet tall, with an 8-year production cycle. These will produce straight, clear, whitewood logs with value as plywood, molding and veneer-based products. Warinner discussed the nearly identical climates between the Rogue Valley and Walla Walla Valley where they have their model plantation. He discussed value-added end products that would be possible, including plywood, particle board, hardboard, furniture, molding, paper, energy production and emphasized that every part of the tree will be used.

Councillors Hanson/Fine m/s to extend the meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

Warinner pointed out that the poplar wood industry provides 40% of the wood in Italy, and can be used in the United States for plywood production. Warinner discussed the production system, which uses precision irrigation with smaller sprinklers in a densely planted plantation with very little chance of water migrating off of the site. Emphasized that there are a number of ways to handle buffers and irrigation with a plantation, and pointed out that cover vegetation is also used. Discussed site suitability and design work they have done, and noted that they have no concerns about growing trees on the site. Suggested that the economic benefits to the city would be a significant reduction in capital costs with income to offset operating costs, and that ecologically, between the crop and irrigation system, concerns over the aerosol effect could be minimized.

Warinner emphasized that their irrigation management procedures are state-of-the-art, meaning that concerns with runoff, leaching, and water management are minimized. Clarified that their herbicide usage is minimal to control weeds while establishing the trees, and stated that the herbicides do not leave the site. Also stated that pesticide use would be localized, and that pesticides would be used only rarely to address any insect problems that might be encountered.

Warinner suggested that this proposal would enhance the area's hydrology, and would reduce energy used for irrigation while enhancing air quality with long-term carbon sequestration. Also, mentioned the enhancement of wildlife habitats. He stated that they have reason to believe that they can achieve FSC certification, given the city's preference for certified wood.

Warinner emphasized that they are open to modification of the program to work with the city's needs and stated that their proposal is to cut trees every eight years, but that harvest would likely be phased with selective cutting to avoid clear cutting of the hillside.

Warrinner discussed whether the amount of effluent to be produced could all be used on the site. Warinner stated that the effluent produced is well within the capacity of the site. Laws suggested that the council would also like an answer on whether the bio-solids could also be used by the May 16 meeting. Warinner confirmed that he has experience using bio-solids on poplar plantations and will work with Brown to prepare information for the next meeting.

Warinner stated that it would cost approximately $60,000 to change the city's system to accommodate what they are proposing and noted that the irrigation system construction would cost about $1,500 per acre, versus the "big gun" system estimate of $3,000 per acre. Stated that operating costs are potentially very low, and would be subsidized by the value of the wood.

Warinner explained that they would like to own and grow the wood, but they can accommodate whatever the council wants. Confirmed that they can design a system to include wind sensors if the council wants such a system, but that wherever possible they prefer to have humans making decisions. Explained that within 45 days the tree canopy will begin intercepting the stream of the sprinkler spray to counteract wind, and confirmed for Fine that effluent leaving the site is a design issue and that reasonable precautions can be taken. It was stated that he did not believe that any risk factor can be reduced to zero, but that they can take all reasonable and prudent precautions to minimize risk.

Warinner concluded that the proposal they are making is that the city would own the conveyance and storage, and the irrigation system, and they would own what is grown. He cited critical risks as: acts of god, contractor performance, design, management, future value of the wood, financing and insurance. Emphasized that his firm has a proven track record and can make assurances to address these risks as needed. Stated that if the city wishes to pursue this, equitable relationships need to be negotiated and design needs to begin.

Warinner clarified that Sylvan is the only group in the Northwest growing poplar for solid wood, and stated that this is based in their cultural practices in growing poplars. Discussed costs for growing pulp/fiber versus for lumber, noting that poplar used as wood is five times more valuable than that used for pulp or fiber.

Council asked that Brown's memo be sent to the Forest Service to provide city input on the issue of the Mount Ashland ski area expansion.

Reid asked that Tolman Creek Road be placed on the agenda for the first meeting in June.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder

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