MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
March 16, 2004 - 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Laws, Hartzell, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn were present. Councilor Amarotico was absent.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of March 2, 2004 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Mayor acknowledged that Lieutenant Rich Walsh received the "Above and Beyond Award for Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve Agency."
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of Amy Crumme Korth to the Housing Commission for a term to expire April 30, 2005.
Mayor DeBoer added to the Consent Agenda the Confirmation of Carol Voisin to the Housing Commission.
Councilor Morrison/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda, including the addition by the Mayor. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion Passed.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (None)
Eric Navickas/711 Faith Avenue/Spoke regarding the logging project occurring in the Ashland Watershed. Explained the fire triangle of fuel, heat, and oxygen, and stated all of these elements are increased by thinning the forest. Stated the best way to prevent a fire is to maintain a closed-canopy, cool, moist forest, and feels the City is creating more problems than this Restoration Project is solving. Noted the project states that 96% of the trees are under 17" diameter, but feels that this is an inaccurate description. Asked the City to look at these issues and take a conscience role in the Forest Service's proposal.
Patti Morey/435 ½ Scenic Drive/Spoke regarding the Ashland Pet Center building which has been empty for 6 years. Stated the business had to close because the owners could not afford the lease. Cited various other buildings in Ashland that are sitting empty due to high lease rates and requested that the City institute some kind of fine for buildings that stay unoccupied over a certain amount of time.
Bryan Holley/324 Liberty Street/Noted the loss of an Ashland resident, Jack Blackburn, and explained how he was a valued citizen and very active in the community.
George Kramer/386 N. Laurel/Stated he is frustrated by the state of land use planning in Ashland and explained there is a disconnect between much of what the community wants and what they are getting. Stated Ashland needs to return to its' strong commitment and consistent voice in guiding the planning process; added Ashland has built a vision before and we need to do it again. Kramer noted Goal #29, which speaks on increasing discussion and awareness of land use planning and asked that Council make this goal a priority. He explained that land use is an area where they have considerable authority to shape this city's future if they choose to exercise it. Kramer stated that city policy and how it is implemented is the root cause of the affordable housing situation, the decline in school enrollment, and the skyrocketing development costs. He suggests the Council promotes a discussion recognizing this issue, and also suggests rezoning and encouraging apartment development. Stated Ashland is in a bad cycle and is needing strong guidance. Kramer asked for the Council's leadership in fostering a true community wide discussion about Ashland's future and offered his support in reaching this goal.
In response to Public Forum, Mayor DeBoer clarified that a property owner cannot deduct income they do not receive and the owners do have to pay property taxes. He stated that Ashland is performing a thinning project above the park and residents can expect logging and about 2 weeks of helicopters at the first of April; he added that there is further information listed on the Ashland website. DeBoer thanked Holley for mentioning the loss of Jack Blackburn.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (None)
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS (None)
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. First reading by title only of "An Ordinance Creating New Sections 15.28.150 and 15.28.160 of the Ashland Municipal Code to Provide Fees for the Uniform Fire Code Plan Review and Inspections Be Set by Resolution."
Fire Chief Keith Woodley explained that during the budget process last spring, the Fire Department informed the Budget Committee that the turnaround time for Fire Prevention Plans review was approaching 20 days. After a discussion on this point, the Fire Department proposed adding a Fire Prevention Officer to help with the workload and move the timeframe to a 5 day turnaround. At that time the Fire Department received direction from the Budget Committee to seek cost recovery for a portion of that position. The ordinance that comes before the Council tonight is intended to accomplish this recommendation.
Assistant Fire Chief/City Fire Marshall Dave Hard clarified that the dollar amount for the Subdivision Review Fee reflected the amount for a single house located in the subdivision. He also clarified that the fees are based on the Building Departments' table which depend on square footage type construction and overall value. They did not want to create any new tables for this so what they are doing is taking 10% of the permit and plan review fees. Hard added that the City needs to be careful in ensuring that they are not charging twice for the same services.
Council questioned that rather than simply taking 10% of the building fee, would it be possible for the City to approach these fees in a way that gets them closer to cost recovery. Woodley explained that Staff was concerned with the accumulated impact on the cost of building and the outcome of the discussion was to not seek 75% of cost recovery, but rather 50%.
In response to Council, Hard clarified that the fees are based on the value of the building and the building permit because the City incurs more expense in inspecting buildings that cost more. He also explained that commercial development is much more intricate than residential development and as the size of the residential home goes up, so does the intricacies of access, fire flow and fire hydrant distance. Woodley added that typically there is a corresponding relationship between cost and square footage that has to be inspected, and therefore the fee reflects this in a fair way.
Councilor Laws/Hearn m/s to approve first reading and place on agenda for second reading of ordinance. Roll Call Vote: Hearn, Hartzell, Laws, Morrison and Jackson, YES. Motion Passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS
1. Report from Councilor Kate Jackson on National League of Cities conference.
Councilor Jackson relayed that while attending the conference she had done some lobbying for the City and explained that she had met with various senators, congressmen, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The main target was the funding for the construction of the Forensics Laboratory expansion, however Ashland's efforts to reduce the fire fuels in the watershed, the Internet Tax, the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act, and the Safe Harbor Provisions were also topics of discussion.
In regards to George Kramer's testimony, Councilor Hartzell stated she would like to work with Staff to discuss the issues mentioned including being more pro-active and defining the key issues.
Councilor Morrison stated the comments made by Kramer held merit and emphasized the need to obtain a good idea of what they want to accomplish and where they want to go.
Councilor Laws agrees that this needs to be discussed on a community wide basis. However stated that the problem is not that Ashland is lacking a vision, but rather the carrying out documents are not working as well as they ought to. Would agree that much of the community is not aware of what is in the Comprehensive Plan, and they are not informed that the City already wants the same things they are speaking out about. Laws stated they need to reexamine the visions and goals which may need some updating, however noted they need to keep in mind that this is a tremendous workload for staff. Laws stated he took an oath to abide by the constitution and feels it is his responsibility to follow what the ordinance says or change it, and to not seek out the loopholes.
Councilor Hearn stated he would like to see the Council work on some of these things, and believes they need to look at the ordinances and Comprehensive Plan and make the necessary adjustments. Hearn noted that for a town it's size, Ashland is a cutting edge city in terms of land use, but added it is important to continue to vision and see what we can be done to make it better.
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi stated this project is too big and too important to rush into, and would like to meet with Community Development Director John McLaughlin first and bring forward options for discussion at a Study Session. Grimaldi stated there are a number of significant issues that they are presently dealing with, but would like to start moving forward with this with a goal of having something more specific to Council in the July/August timeframe.
Councilor Laws feels the timeframe mentioned by Grimaldi is acceptable, noted that any changes to the Land Use Ordinance should involve the Planning Commission, and expressed his concern with not having a Citizens Planning Advisory Committee.
Councilor Hartzell wants to look at the problem and does not believe they need staff to do that. Added staff is a piece of this, but does not feel comfortable waiting to address this issue. She would like to be more proactive and meet with the public and identify what some of the barriers are. Her fear is that if they turn this into a "visioning process" they are looking at a 5-year process, and would like to look into a more immediate address to these issues.
Councilor Jackson stated she does not want to confuse the issue, and stated that land use planning is a separate process from visioning.
Council and Mayor noted the 'Dawn to Dusk' agreement for the logging project noting that this will be an imposition on the residents and asked that they remain patient as it will be over soon.
Councilor Hartzell stated that for the future she would like more information on the cost figures that lead to Staff's conclusions.
Mayor reminded Council that there is a Study Session Wednesday and noon and a Special Meeting to discuss the Ashland Fiber Network on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
Meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m.
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