Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

April 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 April 6, 2004; Executive Session of April 6, 2004; Study Session of April 7, 2004; and Continued Council Meeting of April 8, 2004 were approved as presented.

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

Mayor announced Pete Belcastro as the recipient of the Ragland Award.

2. Presentation of Tree City U.S.A. Award and slide show.
Tree Commission members Bryan Holley and Ted Loftus, and Stewardship Forester for Oregon Department of Forestry Teresa Vonn presented the City of Ashland with the Tree City U.S.A. Award. Mr. Holley explained the necessary steps that the City has to follow in order to be eligible for this award. He also brought to attention the City ordinances that protect the trees in Ashland. Mr. Loftus briefly explained the purpose of the Tree Commission and the benefits of having trees in our community. He noted that Arbor Day is April 24th and the location of the Tree of Year.

Ms. Vonn spoke regarding the accomplishment by the City on earning this award and the appreciation of the Forestry Department to the City. She noted the National Arbor Day Association sponsors the Tree City U.S.A. Award.

Tree Commission members Mary Pritchard, Laurie Sager and Bryan Nelson were introduced.

Slide show by Fred Stockwell was shown.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith St/Stated he respects the work of the Tree Commission, however does not believe the City deserves this award. He noted the City's support of logging trees of all diameters and the logging in riparian areas. Mr. Navickas spoke regarding the protection of the Winburn parcel, and stated this is a critical piece of land and is of historic significance for the City. He explained that fire fuel reduction could be dealt with through non-commercial means by hand piling and burning.

3. Proclamations of April 18 - 24, 2004 as Volunteer Recognition Week and Proclamation of April 26 - 30, 2004 as Respite Care Awareness Week. Proclamations of April 18-24 as Volunteer Recognition Week and Proclamation of April 26-30 as Respite Care Awareness Week were read aloud.

Mayor DeBoer noted appreciation for Alexis Butler and the other volunteers who worked last week during the National Youth Service Day, and stated he will be providing a Certificate of Appreciation to them at the next council meeting.

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.

Mayor pulled Consent Agenda item #2 for discussion.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #1. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointments/re-appointments to various boards, commissions and committees.
Mayor DeBoer explained the process he used when making the annual appointments to various boards, commissions and committees. He read out loud his appointments, which are included in the council packet information. Mayor DeBoer noted the additional appointment of Dylan Robbins to the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission, which was not listed on the memorandum.

Michael Riedeman/632 Iowa/Spoke in regards to the non re-appointment of Colin Swales and noted what he felt were qualities that Mr. Swales provided. He did not agree with the Mayor's reasoning and requested that the Council deny the Mayor's appointment of Allen Douma to the Planning Commission.

Alan Sasha Lithman/460 Sunshine Circle/Spoke regarding the non re-appointment of Colin Swales to the Planning Commission. Read aloud his statement and submitted it into the record.

Bill Street/180 Mead/Read aloud a note from Planning Commissioner Marilyn Briggs regarding the non re-appointment of Colin Swales to the Planning Commission. Statement is attached to minutes. On behalf of him, Mr. Street read aloud a statement and submitted it into the record.

Ryan Navickas/711 Faith St/Spoke regarding the non re-appointment of Colin Swales to the Planning Commission. Mr. Navickas stated it appears to him that the Mayor is excluding Swales from City government because of his actions in the DeBoer Appeal, and the Mayor wishes to reduce his standing from a trusted advisor to a marginal activist. Mr. Navickas urged the Council to reject the Mayor's appointment.

Jon Uto/1361 Quincy St #8C/Spoke regarding the non re-appointment of Colin Swales to the Planning Commission and shared his experience in the community as a volunteer. He stated that he appreciated the challenge that Mr. Swales placed on community members, and stated Mr. Swales challenges the other commissioners to think differently. Mr. Uto asked the Council to reconsider the Mayor's appointments and keep Mr. Swales as a Planning Commissioner.

Jack Hardesty/575 Dogwood Way/Read aloud a statement in regards to the non re-appointment of Colin Swales to the Planning Commission, which has been signed by 48 Ashland residents. Statement was submitted into the record.

Ben Benjamin/881 S Mountain/Spoke against the non re-appointment of Colin Swales on the basis of him being an activist. Mr. Benjamin stated opposing views need to be heard and studied.

Malena Marvin/361 Idaho/Presented over 200 signatures in opposition of the non-appointment of Colin Swales to the Planning Commission. Read aloud a letter and submitted it into the record.

Russ Silbiger/562 Ray Lane/Questioned what makes the three newly appointed commissioners more qualified than Colin Swales.

Ramona DeVaul/865 Palmer Rd/Spoke in regards to the non re-appointment of Colin Swales to the Planning Commission. Commented on the need for honest individuals participating in our City.

Mayor DeBoer stated the three appointments to the Planning Commission are not placed in set positions, and was a random placement of Allen Douma in Mr. Swales seat. He explained that he has given these appointments a lot of thought and noted he had attempted to meet with Mr. Swales when making this decision. Mayor DeBoer noted the controversy surrounding Mr. Swales initial appointment and explained that he had received several emails from citizens who were opposed to his appointment and concerned with his objective. He also stated that the perception that someone could have a bias in a quasi-legal matter could put the City at risk.

Councilor Hartzell invited the Mayor to respond to the questions raised by the public. Mayor DeBoer stated if there is a person sitting on the Planning Commission, and they are perceived to have a bias, that puts the Planning Commission at risk. He explained that every citizens who goes in front of the Planning Commission needs to be provided a fair and unbiased opinion based on the information presented.

City Attorney Paul Nolte clarified that any person appearing before the Planning Commission is entitled to a fair and impartial tribunal. If a commissioner has such a bias that it does not matter what evidence comes before them, and the decision has been made prior to the hearing, then the applicant appearing before the commission has been deprived of that fair hearing. Mr. Nolte added it is very difficult to prove such a bias exists.

Councilor Morrison spoke on the number of commissioners requesting appointments and noted that Mr. Swales is the only person who requested a re-appointment who did not get it. Morrison commented that Mr. Swales is hardworking, and although he does irritate some people, this is not a good enough reason to not appoint him. Morrison noted he had contacted three Planning Commissioners to get their input on the appointments, and explained that he has not heard grounds that would warrant the non-appointment of Mr. Swales. Morrison stated that he does not feel the appointments by the Mayor are the best appointments for the Commission, and he cannot support them.

Councilor Hearn explained that when he was first acting as the liaison to the Planning Commission, he received calls from the other commissioners who were concerned with Mr. Swales. Because the Planning Commission is a quasi-judicial body, some people were concerned with the possibility of a bias. Hearn stated the bigger question issue here is for the Council to remember their role. They can either approve or reject the Mayor's appointments. Hearn noted the commissioners should have nothing to do with construction, land use, development, or real estate, and this is why, as Morrison asked, they cannot appoint someone with more experience. Those with the most experience are the most likely to have conflict of issues. Hearn stated it is not up to the Council to decide who should sit on the various commissions.

Councilor Laws shared his past experience as a councilor, and noted that the boards and commissions are rarely representative of the entire community. Laws explained that the Mayor gets the most votes during an election in comparison to any other elected position and therefore best represents the majority of the community. He explained the role of the Council is to ensure that there are no blatant appointments made and they should only reject the Mayor's appointments if there is an obvious problem with that person. Laws stated that people have the right to expect an unbiased commission and feels it is necessary to respect the Mayor's judgment.

Councilor Hartzell stated they are on shaky ground assigning such labels as 'activist'. Hartzell stated this discussion is helpful and does not want the media to cast an image on Mr. Swales that he has some form of bias and this was the reason he was not appointed. Hartzell asked the legal staff if they had any evidence of Mr. Swales putting the City in jeopardy because of his role on the commission.

City Attorney Paul Nolte stated there are several examples, although he is not responsible for accumulating those. He explained that when Mr. Swales first began on the Planning Commission, it was evident that he was using evidence not in the record to make his decision. At that time, they had counseled with Mr. Swales and explained the requirements for sitting in a quasi-judicial capacity. Mr. Nolte stated he believes there have been subsequent times when ex parte contact occurred, even up to and including the last hearing held before the Council. Mr. Nolte stated he has learned of these instances, but does not keep a record of them. If asked, he is sure they can find several times where the bias of Mr. Swales was fairly evident in several of the matters he handled.

Councilor Hartzell commented on the way the Mayor's appointments are made, and what message this is communicating to the public. She noted that if Mr. Swales is not re-appointed, she wanted to ensure the public that his voice and perspective are not less valued.

Mayor DeBoer stated the Planning Commission is the only commission or committee that is quasi-judicial, so it is different from the rest of the commissions. He does not mean, when he says 'activist' to mean it in a negative way. Mayor DeBoer explained his criteria for the appointments, stating he was looking for three non-builders, and non-people in the profession who represented the citizens. He also noted the state law, which requires that no more than certain amount of a specific profession can be on the commission. Mayor DeBoer stated these decisions needed to be made and he tried to do the best job. He also noted that he had asked the Councilors to reply after sending them his proposed appointments.

Councilor Morrison stated that one his issues is that two of the applicants are appointed to two commissions, and feels this is a burden to place on someone given the extent of work needed for the Planning Commission. Morrison noted that Dave Williams states in his application that he tends to oppose high-density residential projects other than those that might be required by Oregon law. Morrison feels that Mr. Williams should be held to the same standards that Mr. Swales is being measured against. Morrison suggests that the Council approves the other commission appointments, and ask that the Planning Commission appointments go back to the drawing board. He further clarified his rational stating one of the applicants seems to have a predisposition against high-density residential housing, one other person does not seem to have any background at all and the last applicant is on two different commissions and does not have any background in this area. Morrison stated that the Mayor's appointments to the Planning Commission send out the wrong message to the community, and he believes there are better candidates out there.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve Mayor's appointments other than the Planning Commission, and include the additional appointment to the Bike & Pedestrian Commission. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hearn stated there seems to be two competing issues, 1) Mr. Swales reappointment to the Planning Commission, and 2) the background of the three people being proposed by the Mayor. City Attorney Paul Nolte stated most people do have biases that they bring to the table, but as long as you can set those aside and make a decision based on the criteria, then you are fine. Mr. Nolte added that the end of Mr. Williams statement reads "other than those that might be required by Oregon law", which sustains that he is going to apply the law despite any bias against high-density. Councilor Amarotico commented that someone serving on two commissions should not be criteria for not confirming their appointment. Amarotico stated he will not support the motion and feels all of the proposed appointees are qualified. Mayor DeBoer noted that the sitting chair of the Planning Commission is required to sit on the Conservation Commission, by ordinance. He also clarified that some of the double appointments were done because he felt there is a good tie between the two, and gave an example of the double appointment to the Bike and Pedestrian Commission and the Traffic Safety Commission. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Laws/Amarotico m/s to approve the Mayor's appointments to the Planning Commission. Voice Vote: Laws, Amarotico and Hearn, YES. Hartzell, Jackson and Morrison, NO. Motion failed 3-3. City Attorney determined that the Mayor is not allowed to vote.

Council took a break in order to allow the City Attorney to confirm the Mayor's inability to vote.

Mayor DeBoer stated the Council needs to make a decision, explaining they cannot leave the Planning Commission sitting with only 6 members.

Councilor Laws motions for the Council to interpret the Ordinance allowing the Mayor to vote in the case of a tie. Motion dies dues to lack of a second.

Mr. Nolte explained that it is his opinion that the Mayor cannot vote in this matter. He further explained that an interpretation could be made unless it changes the meaning of the ordinance.

Council discussed whether it was urgent to come to a decision tonight. It was mentioned that the Mayor could come back with new appointments to the Planning Commission at the next scheduled Council Meeting, which would still be before the commissions next meeting on May 11.

Councilor Amarotico/Hearn m/s to approve the appointments of Allen Douma to replace Raymond Kistler and Doris Mannion to replace Cameron Hanson to the Planning Commission. Voice Vote: Amarotico, Laws and Hearn, YES. Jackson, Hartzell, Morrison, NO. 3-3 Motion Fails.


Mica Cardillo/Address Unknown
/Encouraged the public to attend the Earth Day Event, this coming Saturday at North Mountain Park.

Fred Caruso/102 Garfield #15/Spoke regarding health and sanitation. Proposed mandatory audible warning devices for drivers on bicycles and suggests the banning of gas powered leaf blowers in the City.


1. Ratification of Labor Contract between the City and the Ashland Police Department.

Councilor Laws/Jackson m/s to authorize City Administrator to sign the labor contract, ratifying the tentative agreement reached in negotiations. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Strawberry Lane Property Partition - Proceeds of sale to fund Housing Trust Fund: Update on Planning Process.
Community Development Director John McLaughlin presented the staff report and recommended that the Council consider the requests of the concerned citizens of the upper Strawberry Lane neighborhood.

Mr. McLaughlin explained that this is a land use application, and that he is before the council tonight as the applicant for the partition. He asked the Council if they would like to make any modifications to the application before it moves forward to the Public Hearing scheduled for May 11.

Councilor Hearn noted there had been discussion amongst the neighborhood that the partition would result in 1 acre lots. Mr. McLaughlin explained the neighborhood never reached a consensus. He also stated that based on the neighborhood the .5 acre lot size, which would result from the partition, is not inappropriate for the neighborhood. Council discussed the 5 conditions suggested by the residents of the neighborhood. Mr. McLaughlin clarified the City does not require building envelopes with minor land partitions, unless it is in a sensitive lands area.

Councilor Laws noted that 6 of the lots closest to the proposed partition are .5 acre or less. Mr. McLaughlin clarified that the ordinance states that if it appears that a section of land is ultimately going to be developed as a full subdivision, then the City can require all the conditions imposed for a larger subdivision. Mr. McLaughlin explained the reason for this is because people use to divide off lots in a way that skirted having to build a new road. The difference here is that the property is on a corner lot, it is relatively small, and has fully improved streets on two sides.

Mayor DeBoer stated it is his hope that someone will come forward and purchase the 3rd one-acre lot, before it is partitioned into two.

Councilor Jackson questioned why they didn't just do the partition into 4 lots now. Mr. McLaughlin explained that the base density in the RR.5 is 1.2 units per acre, which would only allow two houses on this property. By creating 3, there is one lot that either the City or an individual could partition after 12 months time.

Mr. McLaughlin clarified that Staff needs to know if the Council wants to make any modifications based on the concerns that were raised before this application moves forward.

Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to extend meeting past 10:00 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Ron Roth/6950 Old Hwy. 99S/Stated he is very supportive of this project, and commented that a private developer would follow the same procedure as staff is proposing. He stated the lot sizes are compatible with the rest of the neighborhood, and he is in favor of the Mayor's idea of selling off the 3rd parcel as a whole. Mr. Roth urged the Council to move forward with bringing this before the Planning Commission. He also strongly encouraged the Council to strengthen their commitment that the funds resulting from the sale of the property are dedicated to affordable housing and that it is a restricted fund and cannot be borrowed for any purpose.

Council consensus to allow this application to move forward.

1. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Creating the Charter Review Committee."

Management Analyst Ann Seltzer stated the Charter Review and Update is a current council goal and provided a brief synopsis. Ms. Seltzer explained that normally you would not need a resolution for the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee, but it has been proposed in this process to create a historical paper trail. She explained the drafts provided in the packet are based on input from Sandra Arp, information from the National League of Cities, and examples from other cities. Staff has put forward several discussion points for the Council to review, including: 1) Public Input, 2) Appointment of the Committee, 3) Timeline and Meeting Frequency, and 4) Extent of Review.

Councilor Hartzell explained her list of comments which were presented to the Council, and are included in the record.

Councilor Jackson voiced concerns with the timeline, and questioned if the proposed schedule was reasonable. She stated it is important to take input from the public at an early point, and explained that her primary concern was regarding the pressure of completing the review within five months. Jackson commented on the committee starting with the model charter, and if they feel that existing elements of the charter should remain then those aspects can be incorporated.

Councilor Hearn also expressed his concern with the rigorous schedule, and the type of applicant that would be able to adhere to such a schedule.

Councilor Laws stated one of the reasons they wanted to have the Charter Review completed by the fall election was to look at the relationship between the Mayor and the City Administrator. If they are going to change the duties of the Mayor in any way, it should not be done right after a new Mayor has been elected. If the process cannot be completed by November, the most appropriate option would be to wait until the Mayor's term has ended, which would be another 4 years.

Councilor Laws raised the question of the appointments, stating he does not believe they want volunteers. He explained that in this case he does not believe they want a representative committee, but rather a prestigious and intelligent committee. He feels the appointments should be made by the Mayor, and the Council should be participatory in submitting recommendations to the Mayor.

Councilor Morrison stated his suggestion would be to have an all inclusive application process, and then have the Mayor and two other persons review the applications and determine the members of the committee. He explained that having weekly meetings will maintain the momentum, and although he does not believe they will be able to have the review completed in time for the fall election, he still feels this is the best method to achieve results.

Councilor Hartzell stated she is struggling with the Mayor making the appointment of the committee chair, and suggests that the committee make their own recommendation. She believes the committee needs to be transparent, and the meetings should allow the public to attend. Hartzell noted the committee needs to keep in touch with the wants of the community.

Mayor encouraged councilors to come up with some writing and make some decisions.

2. Reading by title only of "A Resolution dedicating Property for Open Space Park Purposes Pursuant to Article XIXA, Section 2, of the City Charter (Zaller and Geddes Property located at 755 Oak Street)."

Councilor Hartzell/Hearn m/s to approve Resolution #2004-08. Roll Call Vote: Hearn, Laws, Amarotico, Jackson, Morrison, and Hartzell, YES. Motion passed.

Councilor Hartzell noted the police dispatch has moved to Medford, and there is a going away celebration scheduled for April 26th, in the Council Chambers.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:26 p.m.

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