Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Study Session-

Tuesday, August 23, 2005



AUGUST 23, 2005




Chair Fields called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street.


COMMISSIONERS PRESENT:            John Fields, Chair

                                                                           Mike Morris

                                                                           Russ Chapman   

                                                                           John Stromberg

                                                                           Allen Douma

                                                                           Olena Black

                                                                           Michael Dawkins

                                                                           Kerry KenCairn

               ABSENT MEMBERS:                          Dave Dotterrer

COUNCIL LIAISON:                            Jack Hardesty, present

STAFF PRESENT:                              Bill Molnar, Planning Manager

                                                            Maria Harris, Senior Planner

                                                            Mike Reeder, Assistant City Attorney

                                                            Sue Yates, Executive Secretary


APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND FINDINGS – PA2005-00873 and PA2005-000696 will be reviewed at the September Regular Meeting.



DICK MCKINNEY, 117 Eighth Street, read and entered a letter into the record with regard to the issue of the Conditional Use Permit for the Rogue Valley Roasting Company, asking that the Commission revisit this action.  McKinney believes the mercury vapor lights are a problem along with blocked driveways and other items.  He would like to see added Conditions.


The Commission discussed the August 12, 2005 Planning Commission meeting with some Commissioners explaining their vote. 


MICHAEL HAYES handed out a written statement and he spoke about the Oak Knoll Golf Course.  He believes it is inevitable the golf course will sell and he hoped the Commission would plan ahead for this event. 


Molnar explained Oak Knoll is identified in the Comprehensive Plan as open space.  The golf course is under the Parks Department.


BRYAN HOLLEY, 324 Liberty Street, spoke on varied issues.


·        He noted that the Parks public projects don’t’ go through Planning, Tree and Historic Commission review. 

·        Holley spoke about the August 12th Planning Commission meeting and said he felt the crowd’s behavior was uncalled for and that the Chair should have better explained to the crowd the meeting protocol. 

·        With regard to ex parte contacts and conflicts of interest, the question is not that the Commissioners have ex parte contacts, it’s can you be fair?  Just say “yes.” 

·        Holley believes there should be some threshold between Type I and Type II planning actions.  He recalled the DeBoer house and how he’d asked for a hearing before the full Planning Commission.

·        Holley doesn’t hear the City of Ashland Department Heads requesting more staff.  He hopes in searching for a new Planning Director that someone will explain to him/her how the citizen’s budget committee process works. 



Stromberg said he thinks the Commission has this issue worked out now.  If someone has an ex parte contact, they just report it.  Any parties to the action have the right to argue any aspect the Commissioners have reported. 


Fields is unsure how to deal with the accusatory remarks from the public, especially when used in a slanderous way.  He is also concerned with unruly behavior.  The Commissioners discussed their concern about the disrespect shown to Staff and Commissioners at the last meeting.  Chapman told Fields he has the support of the Commission, using whatever method he chooses to handle these types of situations in the future.



Fields asked how we should use Staff time during staff presentations.  Do we want to take a vote to end a discussion on any item?  Do we want to limit the number of questions a Commissioner is allowed to ask? 


Stromberg thinks it is best to talk to Staff ahead of time if someone has a question or clarification needed on an action.  Then, the Commissioner can bring it to the meeting, having a better idea of the real issues. 


KenCairn believes that what happens at the meetings is that everyone has a position they think is important and if the other Commissioners don’t agree, one tends to feel like saying it a different way and that will change minds.  At some point, as Commissioners, we have to believe we have been heard, regardless of whether or not anyone agrees with us.


It is important to focus on the issue, especially if the Commission has come to an impasse.  A suggestion was made that one Commissioner should say, “This has been brought up “x” times.  Have you all heard this issue?  If everyone has heard it, move on. 


Stromberg said there may be a number of Councilors and Commissioners who would like to talk to those people doing our ordinance review and discuss some of the concerns and hopes of the Council and Commission.



Communication – They looked at the following suggestions:  1)  That there be an executive summary written by Staff that would segregate out the most important issues or conditions and relate those to the specific part of the code to which it refers.  The summary would be placed in the back area of the Council Chambers so the public could pick it up and have a sense of why they are testifying.  2)  There should be a cutoff date for the submission of information by an applicant and it should be “x” number of working days prior to the scheduled completion of the Staff Report.  The Staff Report should be completed and distributed five working days prior to the Commission hearing.  Staff can decide the days. 


Reeder said the Commission does not have the authority to tell the applicant when they have to have their written submittals in.  He discussed the purpose of the 120 rule and how it tends to favor the applicant.  Molnar said State law requires the Staff Report be ready seven days prior to the meeting.


It was suggested the Staff Report be sent electronically as soon as it is complete. 


Douma showed a matrix laying out who the Commission communicates with.  They will need to determine what they communicate about and how and when the information is communicated and how it is working and if it needs changing.


Chapman said with regard to the Citizen’s Planning Guide, he and Douma will continue to refine it but he doesn’t want to ask for any additional time of Staff.  He would like the new Director to review the guide before it is given out to the public.


DOWNTOWN PLAN – The committee’s mission is to do an in-depth and far-reaching citizen involvement process as part of the downtown planning process.  The committee will work with the consultant to jointly develop a plan for a downtown planning process and to figure out how to maximize the community resources for citizen involvement and information.  They have received applications from four different firms they will interview.  Waiting to be resolved is the question to the City Administrator of whether the downtown plan should be put on hold until a Planning Director is hired or should the process move ahead by doing the ground work for citizen involvement? 


CITIZEN REVIEW/COMPREHENSIVE PLAN – Black had a phone conference with Reeder and established some of the legal foundations.  The Citizens Planning Advisory Committee is part of Ashland’s code.  She will outline what an involvement committee will do and a six month timeline of information gathering.  Reeder explained that the City is in compliance with the State but not in compliance with our own ordinance. 



Molnar said it is his understanding that there will be a 30 to 60 day process to select a hiring firm.  The hiring process will be similar to the process for hiring the police chief. 


Douma suggested the Commission discuss whether or not they want to gather interview questions as a Commission and send them to the Council. 



Stromberg announced there is an OPI (Oregon Panning Institute) conference in Eugene on September 16-18th.  He will be doing the workshop for planning commissioners on Friday. 


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.



Respectfully submitted by Susan Yates






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