Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

May 3, 2005 - 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Hearn were present. Councilor Hardesty was absent.
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of April 19, 2005 were approved as presented.
Presentation for Trinity Respite Center was given by Elizabeth Hallett. Ms. Hallet explained that the center provides services for caregivers in addition to being a safe place for seniors where they can be physically and mentally stimulated. She noted that the center serves as an educational resource for the community and stated that the center would continue to be a safety net for caregivers who are having trouble managing by themselves, as well a safe place for seniors where they can enjoy themselves during the day. Ms. Hallett requested a meeting with the Council to discuss how to maintain the respite center long term and noted that the center would need to be purchased in the next 2 years in order for it to continue.

Recognition was given to City Recorder Barbara Christensen for being the award recipient of the Freedom Award given by the Society of Professional Journalists for 2005.

Proclamations of May 15 - 21, 2005 as National Emergency Medical Services Week, May 15 - 21, 2005 as National Public Works Week and May 8 - 14 as National Historic Preservation Week were read aloud.

Lars Borosund with the Ashland Fire and Rescue Department noted the EMS Fair scheduled for May 14th from 11 am - 3 pm at Garfield Park.

Councilor Hearn announced his resignation from the Council, stating it had become too difficult to maintain the balance between family, work and the demands of the Council. Mayor Morrison noted that the Council was required to fill the vacant seat within 60 days and noted the Memo prepared by the City Recorder which outlined the process.

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s to follow the schedule submitted by the City Recorder for filling of Council Position #6. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of Mark Butterfield to the Ashland Fiber Network Programming Committee for a term to expire April 30, 2008.
Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1. Public Hearing and Decision on the 2005-2009 Consolidated Plan for use of Community Development Block Grants Funds.
Housing Coordinator Brandon Goldman gave a brief overview of the 2005-09 Consolidated Plan for use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds. He explained that Staff, with the help of a consultant, prepared the plan which addresses the HUD requirements and noted that the plan varied from previous years due Council's decision in 2002 to eliminate the use of "soft money". It was noted that an additional change was done recently by the Council to modify the program year. Mr. Goldman stated that the Housing Commission recommended approval of the consolidated plan and stated the public hearing was an opportunity for the public to provide additional testimony.

Public Hearing Open: 7:35 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:35 p.m.

Mr. Goldman clarified for Council that next to each goal in the plan, there is an A, B or C ranking in regards to priority. He also clarified that currently he is the person who handles the majority of the Community Development Block Grant work, but noted that Derek Severson had begun to receive training so that he could take over some of the responsibilities.

Mr. Goldman noted that there was a public participation component in the plan which is required by HUD and explained that previously, the City held two hearings, one in front of the Housing Commission and another before the Council, however this plan eliminates the need for the second hearing in front of the City Council. Mr. Goldman explained the rational behind this decision and stated that if the Council felt it was valuable for the public to have this second opportunity, the plan could be amended.

Mayor Morrison noted an error on page 31 of the plan; at the top of the page it indicates that "...the median value of all owner-occupied housing in Ashland was $188,400 higher than the median value in Jackson County, but lower than that of Oregon State", however the chart below did not support this statement. Mr. Goldman stated that he would make this correction.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve the 2005-2009 Consolidated Plan for use of Community Development Block Grant Funds. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Public Hearing and Decision on the Action Plan for the One Year Use of Community Development Block Grant Funds for Program Year 2005.
Housing Coordinator Brandon Goldman gave a brief overview of the Action Plan for the one year use of CDBG Funds for program year 2005, which begins July 1, 2005. He stated that the City had previously selected the Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation to receive $190,000 in CDBG funds for the purchase of 3-4 town homes which will be made available as affordable housing to low-moderate income families. He noted that the remainder of the funds ($47,500) would be used for CDBG administration. Mr. Goldman stated that the Housing Commission held a hearing on the annual action plan and recommended approval of the one year use of funds.

Public Hearing Open: 7:47 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:47 p.m.

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s to approve the 2005 Action Plan for use of Community Development Block Grant Funds. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

3. (WILL BE CONTINUED TO A LATER DATE) Appeal of Planning Action 2005-00056 - Request for a Site Review approval to add three off-street parking spaces on the east side of the building adjacent to Rogue Place, to relocate the refuse/recycle area, and to expand the outdoor patio area of the residence on the north side of the building for the property located at 394 Hersey Street. An Administrative Variance to the Site Design and Use Standards is requested to locate the off-street parking between the building and the street. A Variance is requested to exceed the maximum allowable number of automobile parking spaces by two spaces - a total of six surface parking lot spaces are permitted and eight are proposed.
Mayor Morrison read aloud the procedure for Land Use Hearings.

Public Hearing Open: 7:51 p.m.

Councilor Hearn/Jackson m/s to continue Public Hearing until the May 17, 2005 council meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

4. (WILL BE CONTINUED TO A LATER DATE) Planning Action 2005-008 - Annexation, Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map Change from Jackson County zoning RR-5 (Rural Residential) to City of Ashland Zoning E-1 (Employment) for an approximately 1.6 acre parcel located at 593 Crowson Road. The portion of the parcel adjacent to Crowson Road is proposed in the Residential Overlay (R-Overlay) that allows a residential component and in the Detail Site Review Zone which requires additional building design features.

Public Hearing Open: 7:53 p.m.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to continue Public Hearing until the May 17, 2005 council meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Councilor Hartzell was out of the room. Motion passed.

5. (Continuation) Appeal of Planning Action 2004-150 - A Request for a Conditional Use Permit to modify a non-conforming site by constructing a social hall addition on the existing Unitarian Church building located at 87 Fourth Street. In addition, the Conditional Use Permit request includes the use of the residence at 65 Fourth Street for additional meeting space, and of the backyard as a playground. The site is considered non-conforming because the existing amount of off-street parking is less than that required by ordinance.

Public Hearing Open: 7:55 p.m.

Councilor Hearn requested that he be allowed to recuse himself from the proceedings due to direct conflict of interest.

Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to approve Councilor Hearn's request to recuse himself from the proceedings. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Hearn left the council chambers at 8:00 p.m.

Ex Parte Contacts

Staff Report (continued)
City Planner Maria Harris noted that there were three additional handouts distributed to the Council and submitted into the record. Ms. Harris clarified for Council that the calculation of 108 seats came from the Applicant's findings.

Councilor Hartzell commented that the Fire Marshall had informed her that the allowable occupancy of the sanctuary was 207 persons, the alcove in the back had a limit of 49 and the balcony's occupancy was 57, which totaled a maximum occupancy of 313 people.

Community Development John McLaughlin clarified that it was the position of the Applicant, Staff and the Planning Commission that the social hall addition would not generate an additional parking demand. He noted that the church was built over 100 years ago before there were any zoning requirements and noted that the proposed addition would meet the setback requirements. Mr. McLaughlin stated that this application was similar to that of Ashland Christian Fellowship, who added an educational wing to their facilities several years ago.

City Attorney Mike Franell clarified that if the City's code allowed the house to be converted to a use other than residential that is not religious in nature, federal law would prohibit the City from saying that it could not be converted to a use that's related to the church. However if the code has restrictions on the conversion of that house for other uses, then the Council could apply that same restriction in spite of the fact that this is a religious institution.

Mr. Franell noted that the relevant section of the Municipal Code was 18.68.090.A.2, which indicates that when you have a structure that is non-conforming, it can be enlarged or modified as long as the addition or extension meets all of the requirements of AMC Title 18.

Mr. Franell clarified that in regards to churches, the Municipal Code states that there shall be one parking space provided for every four seats. He noted that previous interpretation of this section has been that the parking is based on the fixed seating in the sanctuary.

Tom Giordano/Agent for the Applicant and Bill Emerson/Designer for the Applicant came forward and noted that several members of the church were also available for questioning. Mr. Giordano noted the exhibits which were submitted into the record and stated that the benefits of the social hall to the community far outweighed the issues raised by the Appellant.

In regards to the house, Mr. Giordano questioned how it ever got labeled as an affordable housing unit, and stated that if the church desired, they could fix it up and sell it for $300,000-$400,000. He clarified that this building is referred to as The Annex and is used by young adults for worship purposes.

Mr. Giordano explained that the social hall and sanctuary would not be used at the same time and gave several examples of how the structures would be utilized. He noted that currently, the church has to move the pews to make room for the social, and stated the social hall addition would make it easier for the church to function more efficiently. He stated that denying this project would not decrease the parking need and stated that this project would actually improve the parking situation because they have proposed to provide additional parking spaces than what is currently there.

Mr. Giordano asked the Council to consider the following when making their determination: 1) the church has been there for 100 years and predates many of the buildings and uses in the neighborhood by many years, 2) until now, there have never been any complaints about the church, 3) this proposal would not increase the overall church use, just make it more efficient, 4) this proposal would have less impact than that of the target use, 5) this project would actually be improving the situation by providing additional parking spaces, 6) this application has been unanimously approved by the Historic and Planning Commissions, and 7) the City would have the power to revoke the church's conditional use permit if future complaints were not addressed.

Mr. Giordano clarified for Council that there are 18 pews in the sanctuary; at three feet allocated for each person, this is how the Applicant came to the 108 calculation. Mr. Giordano clarified that the Applicant is not recommending a more intensive use and assured the Council that there would be no change in the intensity of volume.

Concern was expressed by a councilor regarding the use of the space and whether the Applicant could guarantee that the two structures would never be used simultaneously. Mr. Giordano clarified that if there ever is a time when the usage gets out of line, there is already a process in place to deal with such a situation and the church could lose its conditional use permit.

Mr. Emerson clarified that the church had initially wanted to install a commercial kitchen so that they could feed the homeless, but later decided against it due to the costs involved. He also noted that they would create a buffer between the play area and the adjacent apartments by inserting large shrubs and a fence and noted that all play equipment would be placed a minimum of 10 feet from the property line.

Phillip Lang/758 B Street/Stated that this appeal was not related to the worthiness of the church or the quality of the proposed addition, but based on the terms and requirements of the applicable ordinances. Mr. Lang stated that the building, regardless of its current or possible use, was non-conforming and therefore could not be expanded. He stated that the target use of the R2 zone was low-density multi-family residential housing and all other uses were only permitted with a CUP. Mr. Lang stated that allowing the Applicant to remove the house from the affordable housing inventory countermanded a vowed public policy set by the Council and questioned what message this would send to the community if the Council denied the appeal.

Councilor Amarotico/Hartzell m/s to extend public hearing until 9:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Mr. Lang stated that the proposed project would produce an adverse material affect compared to the target use of the zone and stated it was against common sense to think that the two buildings would never be used at the same time. Mr. Lang stated that the current parking situation was inadequate and displayed photos taken on various Sundays and stated that the burden was on the Applicant to prove that the sanctuary addition would operate at the same or more restrictive level as the existing facility.

Those Wishing to Provide Testimony
Jan Waitt/147 Manzanita Street/Noted that she was a member of the fellowship and made herself available for questions. Ms Waitt commented that during the week, the parking area is used by people from the surrounding area. She stated that this is a heavily used area and does not believe that the church impacts the neighborhood anymore than anyone else.

Staff Response
City Attorney Mike Franell clarified that the 120 day timeframe ends May 18th and noted that the Applicant had already granted one 60 day extension.

Mr. McLaughlin clarified that the only inventory the City has of affordable housing are those structures that have already been guaranteed as affordable units. He also clarified that churches are seen as a compatible use in residential neighborhoods and stated that he felt the parking requirement was a reasonable standard.

Mr. Franell clarified that the applicable section of the Ashland Municipal Code was 18.68.090, and noted that the correct wording was different than what was stated by the appellant.

Mr. Giordano stated that the addition would not increase the intensity of use and noted that if it did, the City could revoke their conditional use permit. Mr. Giordano stated that "You could even put in wording like the Planning Commission did saying never would these two ever operate at the same time" and noted that all churches have overflow parking on Sundays.

Mr. Emerson noted the overflow parking from Headwaters and stated that this addition would not increase the parking demand.

Public Hearing Closed: 9:30 p.m.

Council Deliberation
Mr. Franell stated that the interpretation the Planning Commission made was that the use is already in existence and the proposed expansion would not change the criteria used to determine parking requirements. He explained that the parking requirements are derived from the number fixed seats in the sanctuary, and since this addition does not change the seating in the sanctuary, the Planning Commission made the interpretation that the building could be expanded. Mr. Franell explained that there are some areas that are open to interpretation by the Council. The first is that the code defines parking to apply one space for every four seats, but it does not specify where those seats are located. The second area of interpretation is that a conditional use may be expanded as long as you are not impacting areas that are already in existence. Mr. Franell stated that the Council could make the interpretation that they are going to look at the entire use, however cautioned the Council to consider the implications of making a change from the direction that the City has previously taken.

Mr. Franell mentioned that AMC 18.104.050.A lists the criteria for how to determine impact.

Comment was made that it would not be appropriate to reevaluate how the parking requirement is determined and opinion was expressed that the Council should not apply a much stricter standard here when they have not done it this way before; If Council wished to address this issue, it should be handled separately.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to reject appeal and approve the application per the Planning Commission findings.

Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to extend meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

DISCUSSION: Mr. Franell clarified that the Planning Commission had made an official interpretation, but there had not been one made at the Council level. He stated that if the Council approved this application, they would also be approving the existing interpretations, which would make it much more difficult to reinterpret this later. Mr. Franell noted that the Applicant had stated that there were 108 seats in the sanctuary and offered the Council an explanation for how this number was determined. He stated that it was up to the Council to weigh the evidence and determine whether or not they were going to accept the existing deficiency in parking and only look at the additional impact from the expansion or whether they wanted to look at the whole deficiency issue. Councilor Hartzell expressed her concern regarding encroachment in the historic areas by growth from commercial and non-residential uses. Councilor Jackson explained the reasoning for her decision and stated that it was important to stay with the method that has been used before to estimate parking. Senior Planner Maria Harris clarified that the applicant had said in their application that they would not use the two structures at the same time, but there was no specific condition for this. She commented that the Council could add this condition.

Councilor Silbiger/Hartzell m/s to include a condition that the social hall and the sanctuary are not used simultaneously and a second condition that the use of the sanctuary be limited to the 108 seats as stipulated by the applicant. Voice Vote: Councilor Hartzell and Silbiger, YES. Councilor Amarotico and Jackson, NO. Mayor Morrison, YES. Motion passed 3-2.

Roll Call Vote on original motion as amended: Councilor Amarotico, Jackson and Silbiger, YES. Councilor Hartzell, NO. Motion passed 3-1.

1. Council election of Audit Committee member.
Postponed due to time constraints.
2. Adoption of 2005-2006 council goals.
Postponed due to time constraints.
1. Adoption of Findings for Planning Action 2004-105 - R&C Investments - Mountain Pines Subdivision.
Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder gave a brief explanation of the staff memo on this issue and noted that the findings had been modified to reflect the Council's decision and reasoning.

Councilor Jackson requested that page 43 of the findings, under #1, the last sentence be amended to read, "An existing dwelling will continue to exist but not as an Accessory Residential Unit (ARU)."

Councilor Hartzell suggested that three sentences be omitted on page 25, beginning with "The Exceptions for 18.88.050 are not as stringent as the "normal" variance standards in ALUO 18.100..." Due to time constraints, Mayor Morrison requested that this issue be continued to tomorrow's study session.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m. for continuation to May 4, 2005 at noon.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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