MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
April 5, 2005 - 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Hearn were present.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of March 15, 2005 and Executive Meeting of March 15, 2005 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Proclamation of April 3 - 9, 2005 as Arbor Week in Ashland was read aloud.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Liquor License Application - Arty Bobb dba American Trails.
3. Liquor License Application - Robert Haney dba Bob's Golf Shop.
Councilor Jackson/Hearn m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1. Public Hearing to Consider the Vacation of a Portion of Placer Run and first reading of "An Ordinance Vacating a Portion of Placer Run."
City Engineer Jim Olson explained that Staff received a petition requesting the vacation of a 324 sq. ft. circular segment of the Placer Run right-of-way. Mr. Olson provided a brief background on the creation of Placer Run and explained that what resulted from two phases of construction was an unused circular segment of right-of-way that had originally been planned as a cul-de-sac. Mr. Olson noted that this right-of-way would affect the set-back requirements on the Applicant's lot, which is the reason for the vacation request. He noted that the Planning Commission has approved this request and stated that Staff is recommending Council's approval.
Public Hearing Open: 7:14 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:14 p.m.
Councilor Hearn/Silbiger m/s to approve first reading of the ordinance and place on agenda for second reading. DISCUSSION: It was noted that "vacation" was spelled incorrect on Exhibit A. Councilor Hartzell requested that the City do whatever possible to improve the turnarounds in this area and suggested that the City attempt to catch these types of things ahead of time and design for them. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Hearn, Jackson, Hardesty and Silbiger, YES. Motion passed.
2. (Continuation) Request for a Zone Change from R-1-5-P to R-2 and Comprehensive Plan Map change from Single Family Residential to Low Density Multi-Family for an approximately 1.3-acre parcel located on the west side of Fordyce Street, between Orchid Street and Kirk Lane. The application includes a request for Outline Plan and Site Review approval for a 13-unit, multi-family subdivision under the Performance Standards Option, as well as a Physical Constraints Permit to establish a driveway crossing over an existing drainage way. A Tree Removal request is also included with this application.
Mayor Morrison called the Public Hearing to order at 7:17 p.m. and read aloud the procedure for Public Hearings for Land Use Hearings.
Abstentions, Conflicts, Ex Parte Contacts
Councilor Hartzell noted an email from Councilor Jackson to Community Development Director John McLaughlin dated March 1, 2005 and wanted to make sure that this was included in the public record.
Councilor Jackson disclosed that she performed a site visit and also had a brief phone conversation with the Applicant, who asked about process due to the large number of people who signed up to testify. Jackson stated that she reviewed the meeting agenda with the Applicant but did not discuss the project.
Mayor Morrison disclosed that he spoke to one individual in regards to process, but he did not talk about the substance of the issue at hand.
Dr. Laurel Truan/632 Fordyce St/(time given to speaker by Cynthia Martin)/Expressed her concern that by using the correct buzz words, the Applicant has made this proposal seem like the right thing to do. Dr. Truan noted that only 2 of the 13 units would address the affordable housing issue and state that these two units were only 500 and 800 sq. ft in size. She spoke regarding the need for consistency in this neighborhood and noted that all of the current houses were within the zoning regulations. Dr. Truan stated that she had spoken with some of the individuals who are interested in living in this development and they indicated that they do not plan on working in Ashland or utilizing Ashland's schools. She noted the traffic concerns and fire access issues and asked that the Council not spot zone in this location.
Cecile Shohet/904 Garden Way/(time given to speaker by Jill Friedman, Daniel VanWeerd and Matt Damon-Tollenacre)/Stated that she is a member of the Fordyce Street Co-Housing Community. Ms. Shohet shared her personal background and her enthusiasm regarding co-housing possibilities. She read aloud two letters from individuals who wrote about their positive experience with co-housing living. Ms. Shohet reassured the neighbors that their property values would not decrease and shared two letters that supported this statement. She explained the reasoning behind the size of co-housing development and stated that this project would be a wonderful example of sustainability and affordability in Ashland. Ms. Shohet urged the Council to consider this proposal and stated that the merits far outweighed the risks.
Ellen Heine/1230 Kirk Lane/Stated that she had recently moved to the area and explained her financial situation and experience with purchasing a home. Ms. Heine stated that it was difficult for her to purchase her home in Ashland, but that it was well worth it. She voiced her concerns regarding the zone change and urged the Council to uphold the Planning Commission's decision.
Larry Medinger/115 Fork Street/(time given to speaker by Alea Kent and Willow Denker)/Stated that he is a local builder and has lived in the area for several years. He noted his work on the Housing Commission and the criteria the Commission developed in regards to affordable housing. Mr. Medinger stated that the Commission should have developed a co-housing overlay for all of the districts and voiced support for co-housing. He stated that this project was appropriate for the location and would not be inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhood.
Monty Walters/520 Fordyce Street/Stated that he lives in the oldest house on this block and if the zoning had stayed the same since his house was built, this neighborhood would have never been developed. He stated that this type of thinking was not reasonable and thinks there is a reality to progress. Mr. Walters encouraged the Council not to judge this project like a standard development and noted that many of the people involved have been working on establishing co-housing in Ashland for years. He stated that co-housing might not ever happen in Ashland if this project is denied and suggested that the Council cut the individuals involved some slack because they are not professional developers but believe in what they are doing and are willing to be cooperative.
Derek Volkart/613 Fordyce/Stated that the Applicant's approach to this process has been the antithesis of harmony and compatibility. Mr. Volkart stated that the Applicant avoided direct communication with the neighbors and threatened to build a large development if the neighbors did not support this project. He stated that co-housing could exist in Ashland, but there had to be a cooperative approach rather than forcing it on people. Mr. Volkart stated that this development would not be compatible with the neighborhood and commented on the increased noise this development would create. He stated that it was unfortunate that Ashland was so desperate for affordable housing that anyone who proposed a development while claiming affordable housing could draw automatic support.
Theresa Jensen/904 Garden Way/(time given to speaker by Wayne Freeman, Michael Keown and Sarah Breckenridge)/Noted that she is a member of the Fordyce Street Co-Housing Community. Ms. Jensen explained the group's interactions with the neighborhood. She noted the change in the parking lot design after consulting with the neighbors and stated that they were surprised by the number of people who spoke against this project at the Planning Commission hearing. After that meeting, they attempted to make more meaningful connections with the neighbors and stated that they met with them again to listen to their concerns. Ms. Jensen explained that there would be deed restrictions placed on the units to keep them from becoming rentals and noted the similarities of this project compared to what would be allowed under the current zoning laws. She stated that it would not economically feasible to do this development without the zoning change. She explained that they only needed two aspects described under R-2 zoning: alternative street standard and alternative parking configuration. She stated that this project was a creative solution and would enhance the neighborhood.
Jennie Watt/635 Fordyce St/Stated that she has lived in this neighborhood for over 9 years and has endured the changes, but always thought that this would remain a single family neighborhood. Ms. Watt stated that her primary concern was regarding the density and explained that if the zoning change was approved, the multiple-family, multi-story units would result in increased traffic and parking problems. She stated that the housing would be incompatible with the existing neighborhood and was worried that this might set precedence in regards to the undeveloped property to the west. She requested that the Council support the Planning Commission's decision and deny the zone change.
Pat Smith/635 Fordyce St/Stated this decision should not be about the advantages of co-housing, but rather what the long term effect on the existing neighborhood will be. Ms. Smith quoted the Planning Commission, who wrote: "...do not allow deterioration of residential areas by incompatible uses and developments. We find that the existing neighborhood has been essentially fully developed under R-1-5 zoning. We find that the proposal to rezone the only remaining under-developed parcel to R-2 would result in an incompatible development pattern. We find that the increase in density to 13 units, 45-60% greater than the allowed density, is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood pattern." Ms. Smith stated that there was no doubt that this development would greatly increase traffic congestion and parking problems. She also noted the safety concerns and fire access issues. She stated that the residents should have a voice in determining this neighborhood's future and asked the Council to not allow the zone change.
Doug Huston/729 N Modoc Ave, Medford/(time given to speaker by Avram Novick and Kathy Huntley)/Stated that there have been misunderstandings amongst the neighbors as to what this project actually proposes. Ms. Huston voiced frustration that previous, inadequate provisions for parking in this neighborhood have resulted in criticism for this project. He explained that parking cars together was aesthetically superior and more efficient than parking them in driveways. He also explained that this development would create an additional 50 vehicle trips per day and that this was only an additional 3% of the current usage. Mr. Huston stated that this was a case of "not in my backyard" and asked that the Council lend its support to this project.
Jason Plotts/1308 Mill Pond/Spoke in support of the project and noted that he lives in view of the proposed site. Mr. Plotts shared his experience with living in places where it was difficult to live where you work and noted how difficult it was for him to purchase his first home in Ashland. He voiced support for this project and stated that this development would provide community-wide benefits.
Karen Von Bergen/1245 Orchid St/Read letter voicing opposition from the Parkview Homeowners Association. Letter was submitted into the record as Exhibit #017.
Laurel Mehaffey/Read letter voicing opposition from Larry Mehaffey/1270 Kirk Lane. Letter was submitted into the record as Exhibit #018.
Karen Jacobsen/729 N. Modoc Ave., Medford/Shared her experience when choosing Ashland as the place to live and raise her family. She noted the difficulty she faced in finding an affordable house in Ashland and explained that her family joined this co-housing project a year ago to build their future home. Ms. Jacobsen stated that this proposal fits into the City's commitment for affordable housing and its belief in the creative use of land. She stated that there has not been a unified opposition amongst the neighborhood and that there have been a lot of misunderstandings. She noted that many people in the neighborhood were supportive of this project, but were hesitant to show their support for fear that their neighbors would be upset.
Beth Lippert /Read letter voicing opposition from Jacque Notrica/1280 Kirk Lane. Letter was submitted into the record as Exhibit #021.
Sara Breckenridge/Read letter voicing support from Vanya Sloan/816 Roca Street. Letter was submitted into the record as Exhibit #020.
Leah Schindler/808 Palm Street, Medford/(time given to speaker by Jim Shames)/Noted that she is a member of the Fordyce Street Co-Housing Community. Ms. Schindler explained that this group developed an equity limit proposal which would hinder individuals from purchasing the low income housing and then immediately selling it for a large profit. She stated that the houses on the Ashland market were out of reach for most working people and stated that a $500,000 house was just as unreachable as a $5,000,000 house. Ms. Schindler stated that she represents the typical co-housing members, who are usually well educated, environmentally oriented, health conscience, community minded and noted that many also support a car-free lifestyle.
Erwin Notrica/1285 Kirk Lane/Stated that the Fordyce LID reduced the amount of available parking in this area and as a result, cars that belong to residents of Fordyce are parked along Kirk Lane on a daily occurrence. Mr. Notrica explained the problems with parking around the holidays and noted that any visitor to this development would obviously have to park outside the compound. He stated that it doesn't seem fair that the rest of the neighborhood, which was built in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance, would be impacted by one developer's request for a zone change. Mr. Notrica stated that there would be no problem if there was adequate parking, and added that the Applicant was trying to put too much into too small an area. He noted the letter from the Planning Commission, which clearly states why the zone change should not be allowed.
Dick Wanderscheid/1280 Kirk Lane/Stated that his house abuts one of the proposed parking lots. Mr. Wanderscheid stated that he has been involved in this project since the very first neighborhood meeting and stated that his perspective of the history was much different than the one presented by the Applicant. He stated that the Applicant's initial proposal that was presented to the neighbors proposed a zone change to R-1-3.5 and had 12 units, but the one they submitted to the Planning Department requested an R-2 zone with 13 units. Mr. Wanderscheid stated that land use planning was about rules and certainty, and stated that it was troubling that the rules might be changed for the last piece of property in a developed single family neighborhood. He acknowledged that they fully expected this parcel to be developed, but expected that it would be consistent with the existing housing. Mr. Wanderscheid stated that this development was double the density of the surrounding property and would be a 3480 sq. ft. triplex that would stare down into the backyards of homes that are 1/3 that size. He also noted that the project proposes three large parking lots, in an area where there are no large parking spots. Mr. Wanderscheid noted that the Planning Commission denied this proposal because it did not comply with the Comprehensive Plan and urged the Council to do the same.
Cecile Shohet/Read letter voicing support from Glenda Rackleft/526 Fordyce. Letter was submitted into the record as Exhibit #022.
Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to extend public hearing until 9:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Leslie Sadur/1245 Orchid St/Stated that she strongly believes the zone change should be denied. Ms. Sadur stated that it appears that the Applicant tried to satisfy the required burden of proof by providing just 2 units as affordable housing in order to get the zone change approved. She stated that the proposed development would create severe traffic and parking problems and stated that the opportunity for accidents would dramatically increase. Ms. Sadur noted that the proposed project would have structures that were approximately 3200 sq ft, and stated that the average house size on Orchid Street was less than 1500 sq. ft. She explained that this development would not be a benefit to the neighborhood and felt that this could set a dangerous precedent. Ms. Sadur requested that the development of this lot be consistent with the current zoning and asked that the Council deny the request for the zone change. She stated that this project would better serve the Ashland community if it were built on a spot that was zoned for multi-family units, or the Applicant could propose a different co-housing project that complied with the existing zone.
Sue Crader/500 Broken Bow, Jacksonville/Explained how community was important to her and how she works in Ashland, but has not been able to live here. Ms. Crader stated that she has been looking for a home to purchase in Ashland for the past year and noted that the least expensive home she found was $315,000 and it was a fixer upper. She noted that R-2 land is a rarity in Ashland and stated that moving this project to another parcel was not a possibility. Ms. Crader stated that this was an affordable housing project that would provide affordable units for Ashland.
William Sauers/55 Granite Street/Stated that he was speaking on behalf of Michael Ellis and Robin Nordley, who were unable to attend. Mr. Sauers noted the lack of zoning regulations in Houston, Texas and the problems that this has created. He also questioned whether there were schools, grocery stores and other services that the residents of this development could walk to. He asked the Council to consider the parking issue and asked that they look at other places where this development might be more appropriate.
Tonya Graham/418 Lit Way/Letter of support was submitted into the record as Exhibit #012.
Alan Harper/717 Murphy Rd, Medford/Attorney for the Applicant/Stated that the opponents' issue appears to be regarding the compatibility with the Comprehensive Plan criteria. He stated that the majority of the objections were not about the density, but the impacts associated with it. Mr. Harper explained that this project would be different from the adjacent area, but that this is what solutions do. He commented that Ashland was not going to solve this problem by doing the same things they have always done. He stated that this would be a single family development and would be compatible with the existing neighborhood. He explained that the 4 additional homes would create a very minor impact and stated that there would be significant benefits and advantages compared to a standard cookie-cutter development. Mr. Harper explained that the massing, open space, and noise creation would all be similar to a standard development.
Council questioned how the multi-purpose rooms in the community center would be used, and whether the Applicant's $266,000 cap on the units could change. Ms. Mindlin explained that the common house was for group activities, including meals, and as a space for the children to play. She clarified that they would not be renting this space out for commercial or business use. In regards to the proposed cap, Mr. Harper stated that the land cost and the build cost were tied to this $266,000 benchmark. Ms. Mindlin further clarified that at this point it was difficult to determine what the absolute build cost would be, but noted that they had included some padding into their estimate to account for this.
It was noted that at 9:30 p.m. the public hearing would have to close. Council discussed their options for proceeding. Suggestion was made for the Council to deliberate tonight on the merits of this case instead of postponing their decision to another meeting. Additional request was made for the Council to postpone the decision so that the Council could have the opportunity to have their questions answered.
Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder clarified that the Council should focus their attention on the compatibility issue.
Mr. Harper stated that the Applicant would be willing to grant a two week extension.
Suggestion was made to continue this meeting to tomorrow's Study Session. Additional suggestion was made for the Council to schedule their next meeting for 6 pm. Council reached a consensus to continue this issue at their next regularly scheduled meeting.
Councilor Jackson requested that the Council establish some time boundaries as to how long they are going to spend discussing this issue and commented that the Council needed to be more efficient in handling these appeals. Councilor Hartzell stated that the majority of the time spent had been used for public input and did not believe that Councils deliberation would require as much time. Mayor Morrison stated that when they reconvene, he would like to move as quickly as possible. He added that this was a quasi-judicial process and that the Council needed to be thorough. He noted that there would be no additional testimony or information at the next meeting and stated that it was not appropriate to set an arbitrary time limit at this time.
Mayor Morrison stated that the Public Hearing would be continued on April 19th at 6 p.m.
City Attorney Mike Franell noted that the Council should not be receiving any new information from any sources. He stated that if the Council received any emails, other than those directly from Staff that pertained to the Code, they should not open or read them.
Bryan Holley/324 Liberty/Spoke regarding the possible sale of Lincoln Elementary School and noted that this issue had escaped the City's land use process. Mr. Holley noted that the Copeland site, which is much smaller than Lincoln Elementary, was going through extensive process while the Lincoln site had been able to precede outside the normal land use proceedings. He noted that only 6-7 people were making this decision, when there have been dozens if not hundreds of people working on the decision for the much smaller Copeland site. Mr. Holley asked that the Council slow down this process, and perhaps go back to the drawing board and bring back more ideas on how to move forward.
Mat Marr/955 N Mountain/Stated that the decision regarding the Lincoln Elementary site was of interest to everyone who cares about Ashland. Mr. Marr stated that community involvement and partnerships between Ashland's key institutions would be necessary for any proposal to succeed. He noted that the City's Planning Staff has stated that 2 months was the standard RFP timeline, and 1 month was the absolute minimum, however in this case there was only 2 weeks between the release of the criteria and the final deadline. Mr. Marr stated that the School Board has been reluctant to ask for help and that the City should step up and offer assistance. He suggested that the Board consider a "do nothing" proposal, which could outline the economic benefits that would be accrued to both the City and the district by maintaining the increased property values near Lincoln. He stated that this decision should be made with a long term view and suggested that the City, School Board and community work together to find a solution.
Melissa Mitchell-Hooge/271 High Street/Representing Save our Schools and Playgrounds. Ms. Hooge stated that her group was concerned about this issue because they believe that the playground and the school site are intricately connected. She stated that selling this property would cut off their options for the future and urged the Council to speak to the School Board and encourage them to slow down the process. She explained that this was an issue of great public concern and that this issue warranted careful consideration. Ms. Hooge stated that the community has not been given adequate time to weigh in on this issue and encouraged anyone who has interest in this matter to attend the School Board meeting on April 11th.
Deborah Shook/425 Liberty/Expressed concern with the decisions that are being made in regards to the sale of Lincoln Elementary. Ms. Shook stated that she doesn't understand the rush and encouraged the Council to take more time in regards to this issue. She expressed concern that the community hadn't been given the opportunity get involved and felt that they should explore all possibilities. She added that it might be short sited to presume that the decline of students was permanent and encouraged prudence.
Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to extend meeting until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to place discussion of the Lincoln School issue on the agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (None)
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Authorization to Dispose of Surplus Property in Excess of $10,000.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg requested Council's permission to dispose of the surplus property described in the Council Memo.
Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to approve authorization to dispose of surplus property in excess of $10,000 per the list provided by the Finance Director. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
2. Tax Obligation Settlement Agreement.
City Attorney Mike Franell explained the tax obligation settlement agreement for Ron Roth and Kathleen MacMichael, who own Geppetto's Restaurant and the Plaza Café. He explained that one of the owners suffered a knee injury that resulted in their financial hardship, which lead to delinquencies in the food and beverage tax payments from the two restaurants. The owners owe over $53,382 and are requesting that the city grant them a hardship case relief from the penalties incurred and enter into a payment plan for judgments and outstanding tax and interest amounts. Mr. Franell explained that the Roth's have a residential rental property that has a good deal of equity in it and they have agreed to grant the mortgage over to the City to secure the repayment of the delinquent taxes and interest. Staff recommends that the Council authorize the Mayor to execute the tax settlement agreement.
Suggestion was made to add a deadline to #6 on the agreement. Mr. Franell stated that a 60 day limit would be appropriate and could be added to the agreement. Mr. Franell clarified that there was over $100,000 of equity in this property, and that he would verify this before entering into the agreement.
Councilor Jackson/Hardesty m/s to accept the proposed settlement agreement and direct Staff to complete the agreement as amended regarding the 60 days limit on #6. DISCUSSION: Comment was made that the City should not let these types of situations develop to such an extent as this one. Voice Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Hearn, YES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Reading by title only of "A Resolution setting a Public Hearing for Assessments to be charged against Lots within the Tolman Creek Road Improvement District No. 84."
City Engineer Jim Olson presented a brief background on the history and process of the Tolman Creek LID. He noted the actual cost of the project was higher than estimated, which was primarily due to escalating construction costs and increases in oil prices. He explained that the final cost per unit would be $1278.42 and explained that the proposed resolution would set the final public hearing where the Council could view any written or oral objections to the assessment. Mr. Olson clarified that Staff would like to hold the public hearing on May 18th, 2005.
Councilor Silbiger/Hardesty m/s to approve Resolution #2005-12. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hearn, Hartzell, Silbiger, Hardesty, Jackson and Amarotico, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS
1. Discussion regarding Lincoln School.
Councilor Jackson acknowledged the problems facing Ashland's schools and stated that she respected the elected board of the school district who are in the position to make decisions about their property. She noted that the School District was successful in leasing Briscoe Elementary in ways that benefited the community and explained that the board was trying to take a conservative view in locating a source of income. Councilor Jackson explained that the School Board decided to include the option of sale, which excluded the playgrounds and field, in order to entertain the widest possible options. She noted that the City has put forward a partnership proposal and noted that the School Board would be reviewing these proposals at their next meeting. She encouraged anyone who was interested to attend and contribute their constructive suggestions.
Councilor Hartzell noted that on April 20th, Kids Unlimited would be hosting a Poverty Summit.
Councilor Jackson stated that she would be attending the League of Oregon Cities City Hall Lobby Day and would be meeting with Oregon's Senators.
Mayor Morrison reminded the Council that there was a Study Session scheduled for April 6th at noon in the Council Chambers. Topics of discussion will include Charter Review Update and Downtown Plan Process.
Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor