Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

January 20, 2004
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

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

Councilor Laws, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn were present.

The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of January 6, 2004 were approved as presented.



1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Confirmation of appointments to Housing Commission: Liz Peck for a term to expire April 30, 2007; Wendy Ostlund-Rutkai for a term to expire April 30, 2005; and Faye Weisler for a term to expire April 30, 2006.

3. Termination of a Public Utility easement on 1322 Seena Lane.
4. Approval of Agreement No. 20939 - Transportation Enhancement Project (Bikepath) Jackson Road to Laurel Street between the City of Ashland and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Councilor Morrison/Amarotico m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: Laws, Amarotico, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn, YES; Hartzell, NO. Motion Passed 5-1.


1. Appeal of Planning Action 2003-127, a Request for a Land Partition and Site Review to Construct a Multi-Floor, Mixed-Use (Condominium and Commercial) Building with Underground Parking upon the area Occupied by the Existing Ashland Springs Hotel Surface Parking Area. An Exception to City Downtown Design Standards is requested to Allow Recessed Balconies upon Street Facing Elevations {VI-B-(3)}.

Mayor DeBoer read aloud the procedure for Land Use Public Hearings. Clarification was made by City Attorney Paul Nolte regarding the amount of time allowed for the applicant and the appellant.

Public Hearing Open 7:20 p.m.

Abstentions, Conflicts, Ex Parte Contacts:
Councilor Hearn disclosed he had a conflict of interest, stating his law firm currently represents the Ashland Springs Hotel.

Councilor Hartzell/Morrison m/s to relieve Councilor Hearn from the Public Hearing and to be excused from the room. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.

Councilor Morrison stated he had received numerous emails, which he then forwarded to the City to be included in the packet.

Councilor Hartzell stated she had also received many emails and had opened a majority of them. She disclosed a phone call from Planning Commissioner Marilyn Briggs, where they discussed the content of John Fields' letter, which was included in the Council's packet. Hartzell also stated she has received two phone calls from John Javna, that she had received a statement from him explaining his previously sent letter. Hartzell noted she did not make a Site Visit.

Councilor Amarotico stated he had made Site Visits.

Mayor DeBoer explained he had met with the applicants prior to the application and directed them to Planning Staff. DeBoer stated he had read every email that has been sent to the Council, and stated he responded to each with the proper procedure protocol. DeBoer also stated he had made several Site Visits.

City Attorney Paul Nolte asked that the Council make sure they base their decisions only on the information placed before them and on the testimony they will hear this evening.

Staff Report:
Community Development Director John McLaughlin and Senior Planner Bill Molnar explained that this is an application for a land partition and a site review proposal to construct a multi-story, mixed use building in the downtown with underground structured parking. The proposed site for this development is the surface parking area for the Ashland Springs Hotel.

Molnar presented a brief summary for the Council:

• Location currently accommodates 68-70 spaces,
• Of the 5 floors on the proposed building, the 3 lowest floors are primarily for parking,
• 90 total parking spaces are being proposed,
• 70 spaces would belong to the Ashland Springs Hotel,
• 15 spaces are for the residential use, and
• 5 spaces are identified for public use.

Commercial/Residential Spaces
• Upper 2 floors include 14 condominium spaces,
• The lower of the 2 floors has 6 condo spaces (4 of which are residential, and 2 are commercial),
• Upper most floor has 8 residential condo units, and
• One of the residential units will be designated 'Affordable Housing' (available to a household that does not exceed 130% of the area median income).

Molnar explained that the applicants were requesting a land partition, which would essentially divide the property in half. This would segregate the Ashland Springs Hotel from the remaining property and allow that property to be developed separately. In addition to the land partition, the applicants are requesting an exception to the design standards relating to balconies. Molnar explained that the proposed plan would include inset balconies for the condominiums. This project would also include a public pedestrian plaza and corridor space from 1st Street to Pioneer Street, allowing through access to the Shakespeare Plaza. In addition, the sidewalks would be widened.

McLaughlin explained that the Planning Commission approved this action by a 5-2 vote, and the Historic Commission passed the action with a 4-2 vote. McLaughlin also stated that the Planning Commission determined that the Administrative Variance to Detail Site Review Standard I-C-3a(3), which was requested by the applicant, would not be necessary and did not apply because the building would be located on a separate parcel.

McLaughlin stated the key issue was on the size of the building. This application falls under the Council's previous interpretation of the Big Box ordinance, which bases the 45,000-sq. ft. limit on the footprint of the building, not the gross floor area. The footprint of this proposed building is just under 20,000 square feet.

Molnar stated that the total building size is 81,212 square feet, the non-basement area is 57,967-sq. ft., 23,670 sq.ft. Parking and 34,300 sq. feet is for the commercial and residential uses. McLaughlin noted that the Commission found that this complied with all standards, including the Council's interpretation of that square footage.

City Attorney Paul Nolte explained that Staff had given an opinion to the Council, and distributed it to the appellants, regarding whether or not the Council could reinterpret the previous interpretation as to what the 45,000 limit applied to. The initial determination of this Council is given great deference by the courts and by LUBA. On a reinterpretation, the courts are much less likely to grant such deference. If the council did reinterpret it, the best thing for them to do is allow the parties to address it and make an appropriate argument. Nolte noted that the Council had gone through an extensive public process to redefine the ordinance, but was not sure whether that would be enough to convince a reviewing court, should the reinterpretation be appealed. Staff cannot guarantee that this would be a successful argument. Applicant argues that they followed what the law stated at the time the application was filed (which is the previous interpretation of the council).

Nolte further clarifying for council that if they reinterpret the ordinance, they will be given greater deference if the Council allows the parties to address how the re-interpretation would affect the project.

Molnar explained for council that this project would need to comply with the requirements in the Downtown Design Plan in regards to parking for the hotel. He stated that the three standards for this criteria is 1) demonstrable difficulty in meeting the specific requirements of this chapter due to a unique or unusual aspect of this site and existing structure or proposed use of the site, 2) demonstrable evidence that the alternative design accomplished the purpose of the downtown design standards in a manner that is equal or superior to a project designed pursuant to this standard or historical president, and 3) the exception requested is the minimum necessary to alleviate the difficulty of meeting the downtown design standards.

It was noted that the Planning Commission had decided that having some outdoor space was appropriate for the residential units. However, they were concerned with the original design, which had the balconies protruding from the face of the building.

Nolte explained to council that the concept of the footprint as applied to the 45,000-sq. ft. had been in the adopted Council Findings for Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Representing Ed and Tanya Bemis were Gary Peterson, Attorney, Ken Ogden, Architect and David Wilkerson, Associate Architect presented the application.

Peterson addressed the legal issue of the applicable standard of review and the criteria. He stated that the application was submitted on Sept. 12th, which is well over a month before the new Big Box Ordinance took effect. Under the new Big Box Ordinance, this project would not be allowed at it stands now. However, this application is under the law that was in affect under the 1992 ordinance. ORS 227.178.3 states "if an application is complete or is made complete within 180 days of the time it is submitted, then it will be judged under the standards in effect at the time it was submitted". City Staff deemed this application complete on October 3, 2003. They feel they are clearly under the '92 ordinance.

Peterson noted that he had submitted a memo to City Attorney Paul Nolte regarding reinterpreting the ordinance. He felt that there was a need to look at the interpretation of the ordinance that was adopted in the new OSF theatre Findings. It was clearly stated that "the City Council does not interpret gross square footage of 45,000 sq. ft. to mean gross floor area square footage." This phrase was interpreted to mean a 45,000 sq. ft. footprint. This statement was very clearly made by the City Council, put down in written Findings, and it was applied on two different applications before the City (OSF new theatre building and the YMCA). The City of Ashland has applied this standard and it was the law at the time this application was submitted. The issue is not really one of interpretation, the real issue is, can a City change its' standard of approval once an application has been submitted. And he thinks the answer is clearly no. Quoted Holland vs. the City of Canon Beach. You can't change the rules on an applicant after they submit their application.

Peterson raised the issue regarding the completion of the application. He felt that this was an issue for City Staff to decide. That rarely are plans 100% complete the day it is submitted, and even Ashland City law states it allows for 30 days after notification from the City to submit additional information and make an application complete. State laws allows 180 days to make an application complete and still apply the standard that was in effect at the time the application was submitted. He stated that City Staff determined this application complete on October 3, 2003.

Ogden congratulated the opposition on the success of their email campaign, but stated that the content contained mis-information. He proceeded to dispel the information that was contained in those emails and present the facts of this project as the following:
• 142 informed signatures supporting the project were received,
• 12 residential units,
• 16 parking spaces,
• 2 commercial condominium units (could be lease spaces, but they will be commercial use),
• 3 retail store front with 5 public parking spaces,
• 68 parking spaces for the hotel, and
• 2 on-street parking spaces for the hotel (which gives them a total of 70 spaces for their 70 rooms).

Wilkerson spoke regarding the timing of the application and that it was very clear that it fell under the old ordinance. Throughout their initial discussions with the Planning Staff, the pre-application, and up until the time the project was submitted, they complied with the language of the new ordinance. The draft versions of the ordinance, up through and including the 1st reading of the ordinance on August 19th, excluded all parking from the area calculations. At the time the project was submitted on September 12, 2003, the draft version of the ordinance that was being considered by the Council would have had no impact on the project. This ordinance had been approved with minor modifications at the 1st reading on August 19, 2003, and was adopted at the 2nd reading after their submittal. The project complied with both the letter and spirit of the ordinance. At the August 19, 2003 meeting, Council requested several changes that are documented in the minutes, but these changes would have not affected their project. It was only after the project was submitted that the language was changed to include above ground parking. This change occurred during the council's discussions at the 2nd reading on September 16, 2003, 4 days after they submitted their application.

Wilkerson noted that they had complied with the separation requirement, regardless of the fact that the proposed structure would be on a different lot and would not apply. He indicated that the diagram submitted into the record clearly shows that the massing of their building is very compatible to existing building located near. He also noted that their project is smaller than what is allowable under the old ordinance. Wilkerson explained that the mass and scale of the building is almost the exact same length and that the proposed building is actually shorter. Further, the building is divided into three components and noted the exception to the design standards.

Wilkerson explained that they would use either meter or honor parking for maintaining the five public parking spaces. He further explained the entrances and exits for both levels of the multi-use parking. That the top level is flat, entrance would be on 1st Street and circulate around both the hotel and condo parking. The balance of the hotel spaces would be accessed by circulating through the garage going out into the alley, down the hill, and entering the next level down.

Peterson noted that the intention is to have an agreement between the owners of this development and the hotel (permanent in nature: an easement and use agreement) in regards to public parking. He explained that the owners would be obligated to provide the hotel with its parking spaces, and if problems arouse, it would be the responsibility of the owners to provide policing or whatever else needs to be done to secure those spaces.

Wilkerson explained that public parking is a permitted use in the commercial zone. It does not have to be public parking for commercial enterprises. Noted the similarities to the Shakespeare parking.

In Favor of Applicant:
Robert Owens/67 ½ Alida St/
Attended Planning Commission meetings and found that the applicant was open to the desires of the commission. Commented that there is a need for affordable housing in this community and there is an opportunity to add another level to this project for housing. Commented that there is no requirement for businesses to provide parking. Need to address issues of infill and what is best for the community, supports greater density and integration of business and residential. Recommends that this proposal goes forward.

Craig Hudson/437 Wiley/Owner of the Presbyterian Church for 20 years. Feels that this would be a positive and compatible design for the downtown area. Notes his enthusiasm for creating downtown residential spaces and encourages a mix of downtown spaces.

Mary Arnstad/480 Scenic/General Manager of Ashland Springs Hotel. Recognized and appreciated everyone for their concern for this community. Feels that this project would not damage, but enhance tourism. Would enhance the historic Ashland Springs Hotel building and would provide much needed parking. By bringing a residential project next door, we help balance our activity level to visitors as well as residents. Having residents downtown brings a beautiful balance to Ashland. Supports residential spaces in the downtown area. Has been on the State Tourism Board for several years and assured the community that this has been an issue in other communities. Commented on the need to provide year round tourism in order to keep year round employment. This project would preserve and enhance pedestrian walkways between the proposed building and the hotel.

Dom Provost/4224 Hwy 66/Noted his long-term residence in the community. Born and raised in Ashland (75 years). He commented on how lucky we are that the current ugly sloping parking lot is going to be developed into a beautiful project. Noted that the applicants are local and that they have conformed with all of the requirements. Project will enhance the City of Ashland, and Ashland is lucky to have this project before them. Hopes the Council will pass the project as the Planning Commission did.

Doug Neuman/951 Emigrant Cr Rd/Owner of Ashland Springs Hotel. Stated that this is a residential and human project. Noted the types of businesses that may be included in the building and the features that this project would allow. Commented on how the hotel building was renovated and had community support. He would never allow a project to happen that was not desirable to the community and noted that this project would enhance his building. Important step for the hotel in terms of viability and sustainability

Ryan Langemeyer/1700 E Nevada/Supports the project, noted that he is an architect and that the project is an appropriate scale. Likes the way pedestrian traffic is encouraged. Finds this to be an extremely desirable addition to the downtown area.

Joanie McGowan/951 Clay St/Believes that the Bemis's should not be criticized for the timeliness of the filing of the application. Would be wrong to criticize without thinking about this clearly. Likes the design of the building and inset balconies and supports mixed use of residential and commercial spaces in the downtown area. Requests that a "green roof" be included in this project as this would be excellent location as a demonstration area. Should not be criticized for building non affordable housing, which is the reality. Focus on affordability to sustainability.

Alex Neuman/ 951 Emigrant/Did not speak but wanted to indicate support.

Kent Patton/951 Clay/Noted his support for having the ability to walk to the downtown area. Stated that this is a nicely designed building and would only enhance this area. Supports the type of businesses that would be in this building and the division of businesses. Is unfair to compare this as a "big box" which he compares to Walmart buildings. Commented that when approached by the opposition, they could not explain their position. Feels that this would be good place for residential.

Michael Donovan/110 Westwood/Noted his experience with the downtown area, owns property in the downtown area. Served as the chairman on the committee for the redesign of the Downtown Plan in 1988, which was a visionary document, and many had input into this document. Stated that this proposed project is exactly what was envisioned in the Downtown Plan. Business owners believed strongly that the downtown businesses offered unique opportunities. Noted that there are arguments to protect the downtown, but that this project meets the design standards and incorporates itself into the neighborhood. Project has great merit, and will maintain the vitality and values of the downtown area.

Craig Bransches/711A Hwy 66/Commented on his views of how the downtown area has changed. Felt that the applicant had taken into consideration all the criteria of the Planning Commission. Noted the benefit of pedestrian access between the building and the plaza area.

Becky Neuman/951 Emigrant Cr Rd/Owner of Ashland Springs Hotel and Lake of the Woods Resort. Noted the intimacy, culture and outdoors of the community and that the residents are the creators of the community. Shared her experience by taking on the challenge of creating a vision. Supports the challenge before the Bemis's and that they have brought elements into the new building that are essential to Ashland. Stated that the historic nature of the hotel building had been considered in the project design. Supports the concept of balconies and the aesthetics of the building. There is integrity to the project and is not a "big box" issue.

John Gaffey/637 Oak Street/Commented that the Planning Commission, Historic Commission and city staff had stated that this project met all criteria and did not understand how the council could reverse the decision. Noted the work of Bemis and how he plays the rules. Is humored over the issue of two parking spaces and used the example of parking for the library. Hopes that the council will stick to the process and that this is not the time to do any re-visioning.

Greg Williams/744 Helman St/Previous Co-owner of the Ashland Flower Shop. Stated that he supports this project and that the current lot is ugly and this would be a great asset. Commented on past meetings in regards to growth and feels that our town has become more vibrant. As a past councilor, he stated that he was extremely reluctant to overturn Planning Commission decisions. Feels that this project is a benefit to the city.

Opposed to Applicant:
Bill Street/180 Meade Street
/Presented the Council with the following timeline and list of objections to this project:
1) Ashland City Council has the authority to reinterpret the 1992 "Big Box" Ordinance.
City Attorney Paul Nolte stated in is his memo to the council this authority. Community Development Director John McLaughlin at a Planning Commission meeting on October 14, 2003 reassured a Commissioner that the Council would be able to reinterpret the ordinance once this reached them on appeal. City Administrator Gino Grimaldi assured Street personally that this could be reinterpreted at this meeting.

2) There has been a lengthy, deliberate, fair and open public process, which allows the council to reinterpret.
Read aloud a list of all of the public meetings that contributed to the public process.

3) The 2000 OSF New Theater application was approved by applying the gross square footage floor area interpretation. The "footprint" interpretation was never discussed by the council at the time.
Noted that the public record showed it was never discussed. Noted the importance of looking at the Findings. Stated there were two interpretations in the same Findings. The first was never discussed in the public process, and was inserted by the OSF attorney. The second, discussed at length by Community Development Director John McLaughlin, explained that the building and parking structure for the OSF parking structure was less than 45,000 square feet.

4) OSF's "footprint" interpretation of the 1992 ordinance was unnecessary, arbitrary and capricious.
Restated the OSF's interpretation was never discussed during the public process.

5) The 2001 YMCA addition could have been passed by rezoning (or separating buildings - both suggested by planning staff), just as Mountain Meadows and Mountain View Retirement Residence were.
Noted concerns made by Senior Planner Bill Molnar to Ogden to rezone the land.

6) Present council members and the Planning Commission in the February 2003 and the Mayor have repeatedly, publicly, and in writing endorsed the gross square footage floor area interpretation and limitation of 45,000 gross sq. feet.

7) Present council members and the Mayor have repeatedly and publicly expressed their intent to apply that interpretation if any building projects larger than 45,000 gross sq. feet are brought to the attention of the council or come before the council.
Referred to the minutes of 3/19/03, 5/7/03, 9/4/01,2/19/02. Stated the testimony given by the Planning Staff during these meeting assured the Council that there was nothing in the pipeline that would conflict with the new ordinance. Yet there was testimony tonight from the owner of the Ashland Springs who stated he has been planning this since the restoration of the hotel.

8) The public record shows that applicant Tanya Bemis, Ashland Springs Hotel property owner Doug Neuman and PL Ray Kistler (of Ogden-Kistler architects) have participated in the open and fair public process which allows the council to reinterpret the ordinance.

9) The Ashland Site Design and Use Standard regarding Separation of Buildings should be applied to the Bemis Project application.

10) According to City Municipal Code, the Bemis Project planning action should not have been presented to the citizen volunteer Historic, Tree and Planning Commissions until it was a complete application.

11)The Bemis Project application before you tonight is still not a complete application.

In Opposition of Applicant:
Bob Starr/1375 Woodland
/Spoke regarding keeping the small town atmosphere intact. Noted his past effort in fighting Walmart. Commented on the commutative effects that this project will create and that there is a perception of taint that this was filed in order to beat the new ordinance passage. He felt that there is wiggle room for interpretation and hopes that the council will make known that they are opposed to this project.

Ron Roth/6950 Old 99S/Not opposed to more people living in the downtown area, but has problems with the "target audience." The size does not bother him, but would like to see more housing for people who work in the hotel at this site. Supports modest affordable housing mixed with luxury condos. Questioned whether this meets the downtown standards. Demonstrated bumper sticker "We're sold on Central Oregon" vs. "We've Sold Central Oregon." He stated that we're "selling" Ashland by only offering high-end residential housing. Requested that the council, at the next legislative session, address the problems associated with affordable housing.

Public Hearing will be continued on Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 7:00 p.m.

Protocol and procedure regarding the continued public hearing was explained.

Daniel Rueff/240 Ohio St
/Commented on his experience with the community in regards to the drug community and how Ashland had "hippies" rather than hard drug users. Commented on how negative these "hippies" were viewed. He stated that he is fighting against the camping ordinance and discrimination of alternative living.



1. Second reading by title only of "An Ordinance Amending Section 10.30.020 of the Ashland Municipal Code to Simplify the Annual Consideration of Outdoor Burning Regulations by the City Council."

Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to approve Ordinance #2905. Roll Call Vote: Morrison, Jackson, Hartzell, Amarotico and Laws, YES. Motion passed.

2. Reading by title only of "A Resolution of the City Council of the City of Ashland, Oregon, Authorizing the Financing of Capital Costs Associated with Constructing a Hangar at the Ashland Municipal Airport."
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained staff is requesting authorization for the City to enter into a financing agreement for 14 airport T-hangars to be constructed during this fiscal year. The request is to authorize the Finance Director to negotiate the best deal with the four different banks that are proposing. This is in the Capital Improvement Plan, and they have a construction estimate/bid in the $350,000 range. Tuneberg explained that the City would need to borrow approximately $360,000. The the revenues have been calculated based on what is generated from the hangars and priced accordingly to cover the debt service. It is anticipated that the loan itself would be at a rate well under 7%, and depending on the terms, maybe under 5%. Tuneberg felt that this is a good deal, and would be paid for by those leasing them.

Tuneberg explained for Council why the loan is taxable as opposed to tax exempt. He stated that there are certain guidelines for any asset that is built and who benefits from it. Since the City does not own aircraft and would not be housing it there, and private citizens will be paying rent and benefiting from the hangar, it falls under a taxable category. He further explained that there has been a need for additional hangar space and a waiting list has been used. It is anticipated that there will be 100% occupancy.

Public Works Director commented on the value of the airport to the community and that the airport brings a lot of interest to the community. She stated that there are quite a few business partners at the airport and that these businesses have a hangar that is strictly used for business related activity. She also noted the interest from pilots and that the Ashland airport is used for mail and FedEx deliveries when it is foggy in Medford

Brown clarified for council that the Airport Master Plan will look at a 20 year projection, will look at current and future operations, size limitations, and other things that they can bring to the airport. The plan will also look at all "what if's." She also explained that water hydrants will be installed, but that there will not be onsite water available for usage. There will also be electricity and the capability for space heaters.

Brown explained that homes in this area and she does not see anything they are doing now that would result in providing anything additional that is not already there.

Councilor Laws/ Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2004-04. DISCUSSION: Mayor disclosed that he owns aircraft at the airport. He will not be renting or building or receiving any benefit from these. There is no benefit to him through the passing of the resolution. Roll Call Vote: Amarotico, Morrison, Laws, Jackson, and Hartzell, YES. Motion Passed.


At 9:59 p.m. the meeting was continued to Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 7 p.m.

Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained the 120 days runs out January 31, 2003 for Planning Action 2000-127. It was suggested that January 22, 2004 should be considered for the continuation of the Public Hearing. The assumption will be that the Council will reach a decision that night and then afterwards a meeting would be scheduled for the adoption of Findings.

It was clarified that if someone who signed up to speak tonight and due to time constraints was not able to speak, and could not attend the January 22nd meeting, that they could submit a written statement and have it read into the record.

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