MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
March 15, 2005
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Hardesty, Hartzell, Silbiger and Hearn were present. Councilor Amarotico and Jackson were absent.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of March 1, 2005 and Executive Meeting Minutes of March 1, 2005 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Proclamation of March 16, 2005 as Ashland Elks Lodge #944 Centennial Day was read aloud.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
Councilor Silbiger/Hearn m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1. Public Hearing on 2005 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awards.
Housing Program Specialist Brandon Goldman explained that each year the City receives Community Development Block Grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and that this year Ashland received $190,000. The Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation and Habitat for Humanity both submitted affordable housing proposals for use of the CDBG allocation. Habitat for Humanity requested $156,000 for the purchase of two lots in the proposed Fordyce Street Co-Housing Development, while RVCDC requested the full amount of $190,000 to acquire three existing town homes and make them available for purchase by low-moderate income households.
The Housing Commission reviewed both proposals and recommended that the Council award the funds to RVCDC. Mr. Goldman noted that during their deliberations, the Housing Commission voiced concern with allocating funds to Habitat to Humanity because the Fordyce Co-Housing Project was denied by the Planning Commission and is currently under appeal with the City Council. Mr. Goldman stated that Staff agrees with the Housing Commission decision and recommends that the Council award RVCDC the full amount of $190,000.
Council expressed concern over hearing the Fordyce Co-Housing proposal and the potential conflict this would create. City Attorney Mike Franell clarified that the Council has two options, either differ the allocation decision until the appeal process is complete or disqualify the Fordyce project because they are not ready to proceed at this time. Mr. Goldman clarified that the City is obligated to complete the action plan and have it to HUD by May 3rd. He stated that delaying the decision would affect the City's ability to meet the deadline, but noted that Staff could contact HUD and request an extension.
Council questioned the definition of "readiness" at it related to the Fordyce Co-Housing project. In regards to the potential conflict, Mr. Franell stated that Council would be in the safest position to deny the Habitat for Humanity application.
Councilor Hartzell/Silbiger m/s that the Habitat for Humanity application under the Community Development Block Grant for 2005 does not meet the readiness criteria at this time. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
PUBLIC HEARING OPEN: 7:28 p.m.
Ron Demele/165 Crocker/Executive Director RVCDC/Explained that RVCDC would like to use to CDBG funds to purchase three town homes which have been converted into single-family units and are approximately 565 sq. ft. each. He noted that these small units would be most associated with small families. RVCDC would set up a land lease and one of the residents would be invited to serve on the RVCDC board, which will enable them to provide direct input on the future use of the land. Mr. Demele explained that the seller has indicated that the current renters are low income and they could be potential buyers after the units have been renovated. Mr. Demele stated that RVCDC would most likely have to pay a relocation fee, however the tenants who receive this fee could use it as their down payment. If any of the tenants are not interested in home ownership, RVCDC will assist them in their relocation.
Mr. Demele clarified that the total purchase price for the three units is $474,000. The amount for the units will be paid for through a bank loan and the portion for the land will come from the CDBG funds.
It was noted that RVCDC has other ongoing projects and Council questioned whether they would be able to complete their plans on time. Mr. Demele stated that they have doubled their staff since last year and have been awarded a Youth Build Grant, which will allow young adults to assist them with their projects while gaining hands on work experience.
Ken Engelund/560 Weller Lane/President of the Board of Habitat/Spoke in favor of awarding RVCDC the CDBG grant. He encouraged the City to take leadership in forming forums for partnerships with profit and non-profit organizations. Mr. Engelund noted the need for affordable housing in Ashland and expressed interest in Habitat for Humanity applying again in forthcoming years.
PUBLIC HEARING CLOSED: 7:44 p.m.
Councilor Hearn/Hartzell m/s to approve the allocation of CDBG funds to the RVCDC project as presented. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Stated that the Charter Review Committee has rejected the idea of holding public forums on the major constitutional issues they are considering. Mr. Bullock stated that without these forums, the Charter Committee's recommendations will lack voter support and the Council will not know what the voters want. He noted that the election process for the City Council is one of the issues being considered by the Committee and stated that this issue needed to have broad community discussion. Mr. Bullock announced that there would be a dialogue session Sunday, March 20th at the Ashland Public Library from 1 pm - 4 pm and noted that this meeting was not affiliated with the Charter Review Committee. Mr. Bullock invited all those interested to attend and share their input.
Philip Lang/758 B Street/Spoke regarding the planning process and the need for an ethics chapter in the revised City Charter. Mr. Lang urged the Council to review the video of the January 11th Planning Commission meeting and stated that in the middle of the applicant's presentation members of the commission began discussing the conditions for approval. Mr. Lang stated that the commissioners are not supposed to come to a decision until all of the testimony has been heard. He also noted that the Planning Director had to stop the commission twice during their meeting to correct this behavior. Mr. Lang stated that the Planning Commission often fails to follow proper procedure and suggested that the City take further action to inform commissioners of the proper process.
Craig Stone/708 Cardley, Medford/Spoke regarding the Croman Mills Site. Mr. Stone stated that they had begun the land planning process, but have had several false starts. Mr. Stone requested that the Council provide meaningful direction regarding this site so that they can create something that will be beneficial to the community. He stated that without knowing the Council's desires, they are unable to move forward.
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi clarified that the Council had previously determined that they did not want to go through a formal master planning process for this site. Instead they decided that they would identify key issues so that Staff could provide direction. Mr. Grimaldi explained that due to the number of issues that the Planning Department has been working on, this issue has not yet come back to Council. He added that if the Council would like to address this item sooner, the City could bring in some outside help to speed things along. Mr. Grimaldi stated that Staff would provide an update to Council regarding the Croman Site and they could also add this issue to an upcoming council agenda.
Eric Navickas/711 Faith Street/Stated that the Planning Staff has been accepting applications that violate City ordinances and stated that the appeals will continue as long as developers continue to violate the ordinances.
1. Ashland Fiber Network Quarterly Report.
Pat Acklin/270 Scenic Drive/Shared her experience of establishing cable service and noted the difference between Ashland and Medford rates. She stated that the Council has a responsibility to do something about the differential in rates and suggested that the City work on making it more attractive for customers to hook up to AFN. She stated that there are some issues regarding who can and cannot connect to AFN and believes there could be more aggressive policies.
Electric and Fiber Network Director Dick Wanderscheid noted the Quarterly Report covers the period from October thru December, 2004 and stated that it was not a good quarter for AFN. Mr. Wanderscheid explained that Staff has implemented most of the Navigant initiatives aimed at increasing cable TV subscribers, but the initiatives have not been successful at capturing customers. He noted several other factors have had a negative impact on AFN, including: the completion of the SOU infrastructure, the bankruptcy of CDS Internet and the lower rates being offered by AFN's competitor.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg briefly explained the charts contained in the AFN Report and stated that the bottom line is that AFN is not generating enough revenue to make their debt service. Mr. Tuneberg stated that Staff has requested a meeting with the Council so that they can determine what action should be taken.
Mr. Wanderscheid stated that Staff has suggested a subsidy from the General Fund equivalent to the cable modem and high speed data franchise fees. He explained that a subsidy would allow for AFN to make their debt service payment and the City could hold a Study Session in the next few months to determine what the subsidy should be. Mr. Wanderscheid stated that Staff is recommending that Council direct them to develop options to credit AFN an amount equal to the telecommunication franchise fees and to amend the AFN's franchise to eliminate franchise fees on data services, and also schedule a Study Session to work on AFN's reorganization and identifying the amount of the subsidy and potential sources for that revenue.
City Attorney Mike Franell clarified that the Council could legally amend the franchise agreement with AFN to eliminate the franchise fees for high speed data.
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi clarified that the Navigant projections were not correct in terms of how the market would respond, which is why the deficit is occurring. Mr. Wanderscheid stated that if the City were to raise its rates comparable to what is being charged in Medford, this would go a long way to solve the current problems; however if AFN raised its rates they would risk losing customers. He clarified that Ashland's rates are approximately 30% below market for cable television.
Mr. Franell stated that if there were evidence of predatory pricing by AFN's competitor, Ashland could make a complaint with the FCC, although the Federal Government has yet to prosecute a successful case.
Council suggested that the City look into whether there is evidence of predatory pricing in Ashland, and if possible build this issue into the Study Session discussion.
Consensus was reached by Council for Staff to bring back recommendations on how to restructure AFN. Suggestion was made for the Study Session to be held in the evening so that the Budget and AFN Programming Committees could attend.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Adoption of the 2005-2006 Council goals.
Request was made for this subject to be delayed due to the absence of two councilors. Council consensus was to place this item on an upcoming Council agenda for April.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Setting a Public Hearing to Hear a Petition for and Any Objections To, the Vacation of a Portion of Greenbriar Place."
City Engineer Jim Olson explained that the Parks and Recreation Department had received a petition calling for the vacation of a portion of an unopened section of Greenbriar Place. Mr. Olson stated that when this request originally came to the Parks Department, the Parks Commission denied the vacation request primarily because they felt the right of way would be an ideal pedestrian connection to the adjacent parks property. The applicant then suggested an alternate proposal which was for the City to reserve the public utility and public pedestrian access easements over the entire vacated area. This would allow the Parks Department to have full access to the area, but the applicant would gain title to the land and would be assured that a public street would not be constructed in that area. The new petition request was heard by the Parks Commission and they motioned to support the vacation with the condition that a public utility and public pedestrian access easement be reserved. Mr. Olson noted that the required number of signatures and the $500 application fee had been received.
Parks and Recreation Director Don Robertson explained that the applicant requested the vacation because a portion of their driveway lies on this parcel and they were concerned that this could be developed into a public street. Mr. Robertson explained that given the severe drop off at the end of the parcel, it is unlikely that this section would be turned into a street, however the Parks Commission wanted to retain the option of developing this section into a pedestrian access to the adjacent parks land.
Council expressed concern in respect to handing over this public property when the design for the adjacent park has not been completed. The Council also questioned what the public benefit would be if they approved this vacation. Staff clarified that the Parks Commission did not see any particular benefit to approving the vacation, but they also saw no harm as long as the City retained the full width easement opportunity. Comment was made regarding the Parks Commission simply accommodating this request in order to be a "good neighbor". Additional comment was made that it may be beneficial to delay the vacation request until the master plan for the park is complete.
Councilor Hearn/Silbiger m/s to deny the Resolution for the vacation. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS
1. Request from Councilor Hardesty to discuss proposed quarrying and asphalt operations to be located off Dead Indian Memorial Road.
Councilor Hearn noted his involved with this issue and asked that the Council allow him to recuse himself.
Councilor Hartzell/Silbiger m/s to allow Councilor Hearn to recuse himself from discussion. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Hearn left the meeting at 9:38 p.m.
Councilor Hardesty noted that the proposed quarry would have an impact on the traffic in Ashland and expressed concern regarding a potential dust problem. He stated that the proposed quarry would operate 24 hours a day and would impact not only the surrounding area, but the entire city.
Mr. Franell clarified that the proposed site is outside the City's Urban Growth Boundary, but is in an area of mutual concern. He noted that the County is obligated to notify the City of action within this area and consider any input that we may have.
Donna Shu/7500 Dead Indian Memorial Rd/ (time given by Tom Kane/7500 Dead Indian Memorial Rd)/Voiced concern regarding the proposed aggregate mining asphalt plant and stated that hundreds if not thousands of residents would be affected. Ms. Shu stated that 7-10 large rock hauling trucks per hour would be traveling along Dead Indian which will cause treacherous traffic conditions. She noted that there are few turnouts, no bike lanes, no turning lanes and no emergency braking lanes along this already heavily traveled road. Ms. Shu spoke regarding the odors, air pollution and dust plumes that would be created and the related health concerns and requested that the Council draft a resolution that opposes the application.
Tracy Harding Bungay/334 Bridge Street/Voiced concern in regards to bicycle safety on Dead Indian Memorial Road. She stated that this area is frequently used by bicyclists and is dangerous enough already.
Howard Wilcox/120 Gresham/(time given by Laurel Miller/107 Manzanita)/Spoke regarding the potential threat to those who suffer from respiratory illnesses. Mr. Wilcox stated that the fumes produced at the plant would travel and impact our community, view shed and the tourists who visit our area. He stated that this plant would have a serious impact on our quality of life.
Councilor Hartzell/Silbiger m/s to extend meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Pam Vavra/2800 Dead Indian Memorial Rd/Noted that in 2000 the previous Mayor, Cathy Shaw, submitted a letter to the County opposing this plant and Ms. Vavra asked that the current Council act in a similar way to maintain their standing. She stated that the residents need support in order to fight this proposal and asked the Council for their help.
Richard Alspach/300 Cove Rd/Stated that Dead Indian Memorial Road is a heavily used recreational road and urged the Council to consider the impacts this project would have on the citizens of Ashland.
Eric Navickas/711 Faith Street/Reminded the current council that the previous council had focused on the traffic impacts to the streets within our city limits. Mr. Navickas noted the current traffic issues in this area and stated that the City has a lot to say in regards to this issue.
Willie Wolf/2875 Dead Indian Memorial Rd/Noted that East Main is not dissimilar to what exists on Dead Indian Memorial Road and wondered how the residents on East Main would react to hauling trucks coming down the street every five minutes. Mr. Wolf stated that the quarry truck drivers would be paid by the size of their loads and that time is money to them. He noted the safety issues and stated that there is no regulatory process that would hold the quarry to the 7-10 trucks per hour. Mr. Wolf urged the Council to submit a letter to the County expressing their concerns in regards to the safety issues.
Comment was made that most of the trucks will utilize Exit 14 in Ashland, so it does appear that the City has some standing to address the traffic issues.
Community Development Director John McLaughlin spoke regarding the traffic concerns and stated the area next to the Holiday Inn off of Clover Lane already has traffic limitations on it. He noted that the area at the end of Clover Lane can generate no more than 100 vehicle trips per day and explained that the State may redesign this area at some point to better accommodate the traffic needs. Mr. McLaughlin stated that the quarry project is market based and if there is a demand for aggregate and asphalt at this end of the valley than the County will want to provide materials for projects that may be happening. He also noted that the County is required by the State to identify aggregate resources.
Council requested that Staff draft and presents a letter at the upcoming hearing. The letter should address the three primary areas of concern: Transportation, Safety and Pollution; and more specifically: the use of Exit 14, recreational use by both bicyclists and motorists as well as those who use this roadway as an alternate route to and from Klamath Falls, and potential issues related to the City's ambulance service which services this area. The letter should also ask that stringent requirements be placed on the applicant to define the pollution levels and the view shed issue should be mentioned as well.
Suggestion was made that the assessment of the air quality impacts should not just include the pollution at their plant location, but what their transportation facility would do in terms of air quality.
Staff stated that they would draft a letter as outlined by Council and submit it to the County.
Meeting was adjourned at 10:19 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor