Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

September 6, 2005
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.
Councilor Hardesty, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilors Amarotico and Hartzell arrived late.
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of August 16, 2005 were approved as presented.
1. Presentation and Update by the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission.
Staff Liaison Derek Severson and Commissioner Tracy Harding addressed the Council. Mr. Severson explained that the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission is dedicated to the advocacy for non-automotive forms of transportation and works to ensure the development of bicycle and pedestrian facilities as part of the integrated transportation network. The Commission promotes bicycling and walking in Ashland, conducts bicycle safety programs, serves in a liaison role to the Planning Commission and the Council, and assists in implementation of the transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Severson listed the meeting times of the Commission and its members and noted that there are currently two vacancies.

Ms. Harding spoke regarding Car Free Day, which is scheduled for September 22, and provided an explanation of the bike safety classes.

2. WWII Medals Awarded to John Billings.
World War II Medals were awarded to long time Ashland resident and World War II veteran John Billings.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Approval of Grant Distribution Greater than $75,000.
3. Approval of Sole-source Procurement and Public Contract Greater than $75,000.
Councilor Hartzell requested that Consent Agenda item #2 be pulled; and Councilor Amarotico requested that item #3 be pulled for discussion.

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

Finance Director Lee Tuneberg clarified that the amount of the Dry Creek Landfill contract for 2005 was less than the two previous years due to a reduction in the amount of waste being deposited.

Councilor Amarotico/Hartzell m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #3. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s to table Consent Agenda item #2 until the first or second meeting in October. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Mr. Tuneberg clarified that reports from the Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival were distributed to the Council back in March, and stated that Staff could redistribute this information along with any additional information the Council requests. Mr. Tuneberg requested that Council allow Staff to issue partial payments to both recipients until Council has had time to review the reports. Council agreed to honor this request.

1. Public Hearing re Clover Lane and First Reading of "An Ordinance Withdrawing an Annexed Area from Jackson County Fire District No. 5 (Pacific Western of Medford, LLC, Annexation, End of Clover Lane)."
Senior Planner Bill Molnar explained that the City Council originally approved the land use component of this project back in October of 2003. Since that time, the Applicant has been involved in designing the public street and utility systems, as well as a multi-use public pathway system that will connect Clover Lane to Spring Creek Drive. Mr. Molnar noted that last month, the Council approved the resolution formally annexing the property into the City limits and stated that this is the final step of the process which withdraws the property from Fire District #5. Staff's recommendation is for Council to approve the first reading of the ordinance and move it to second reading.

Public Hearing Open: 7:31 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:31 p.m.

Councilors Jackson/Hardesty m/s to approve first reading of "An Ordinance Withdrawing an Annexed Area from Jackson County Fire District No. 5" and move it to second reading.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Hardesty, Chapman and Silbiger, YES. Motion passed.

2. Public Hearing re Amendment to Sign Regulations and First Reading by Title only of "An Ordinance Amending Chapter 18.96, Sign Regulations, Regarding the Number of Business Frontages."
Senior Planner Bill Molnar explained that this issue was brought forward by Brent Thompson, who owns a building on Oak Street that has four entrances and houses several businesses, however because of the current Sign Code regulations, signs are only allowed to be posted at two of the entrances. At the November 2, 2004 meeting, Council discussed Mr. Thompson's request to amend the Sign Code and directed Staff to initiate the process of having the Planning Commission evaluate the possibility of amending the ordinance. The Planning Commission held a Study Session and a Public Hearing to discuss this issue and unanimously recommended that the Council approve the proposed changes to the Sign Code regulations, which would strike the language limiting business frontages to two. Mr. Molnar explained that when the ordinance was originally written, its intention was to limit the number of signs on buildings constructed for a single use business. With the new wording, signage could be posted on all four sides of a building if there were functional and attractive entrances to individual businesses on each side of the building.

Mr. Molnar stated that this ordinance amendment could result in a greater number of signs being placed on buildings, but pointed out that there is still a limitation on the total size of the signs. Mr. Molnar provided examples of various buildings and business signs displayed in Ashland. It was noted that with the amendment, there is a possibility that a single business that monopolizes all four sides of a building could posts signs at each entrance. Once possible revision that would remedy this would be to state "no business or enterprise shall be credited with more than two business frontages" rather than the proposed modification which is to delete the entire last phrase that states "no building shall be credited with more than two business frontages". This would limit a one business establishment from posting more than two signs and would prevent a single business owner from over signing a building.

Mr. Molnar reminded the Council that the City's land use ordinances are currently being reviewed and stated that the Council could choose to have this provision evaluated during the review.

Concern was expressed regarding the use of the term "attractive", which could be fairly subjective. Mr. Molnar provided an explanation of why they decided to use the term "attractive and functional and open during normal business hours" and stated that this language could be looked into during the land use ordinance review process. Mr. Molnar also pointed out the Planning Commission discussed the possibility of requiring a design review process for additional entrances.

Public Hearing Open: 8:06 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 8:06 p.m.

Concern was expressed from Council over not having a maximum number of signs allowed and the allowable size of the signs. Suggestion was made to change the word "building" to "business". It was questioned how this amendment would be implemented with malls, such as the A Street Marketplace, and concern was expressed regarding various situations where multiple signs could be posted and how large of a sign would be allowed. In response to whether the additional entrance would need to have sidewalk access or streetscape design, Mr. Molnar stated that the Planning Commission had discussed these issues and were interested in revisiting them again.

Mayor Morrison suggested that this issue be remanded back to Staff or the Planning Commission for more definition and precision of language, including:
• Clarification of street frontage vs. business frontage,
• Clarification of collective signage (such as a mall) vs. tenant signage within, and
• Clarification of residential vs. commercial.
He stated that there is no urgency with this issue and commented on the lack of support amongst the Council to approve the proposed amendment.

Councilor Jackson/Hardesty m/s to table ordinance and return to Staff for further clarification. Voice Vote: all AYES. Councilor Hartzell was out of the room. Motion passed.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Requested Council action on ethics violations of the Planning Commission and listed the following three issues: Issue #1: Stated that Commissioners need to disclose conflicts of interest at every meeting. Issue #2: Spoke regarding the requirement that citizens need to challenge any disclosures at the meetings and stated that there is nothing in the State Ethics Laws about this. Issue #3: Stated the City's Code of Ethics does not apply to Planning Commission and stated that the City needs a new ordinance or a Charter amendment to close the loop holes and ensure integrity in the planning process.
1. Reading by Title only of "A Resolution Protecting the City of Ashland from Mt. Ashland Ski Area Business and Environmental Risks" and "A Resolution of the City of Ashland Identifying City Policy Relating to the City's Obligations as the Permit Holder for the Mt. Ashland Ski Area."
City Attorney Mike Franell addressed the Council and presented the Staff Report. He explained that Paul Copeland worked with the City to arrive at a resolution that was acceptable to both his group and the City. Mr. Franell noted that Mr. Copeland had withdrawn his resolution for consideration and has voiced support for the amended resolution drafted by the Legal Department, which contains two additional provisions. The first addition was to Section 1 and reads "Reasonable steps shall include an initial inquiry of the US Forest Service for an estimate. If the US Forest Service is unable to or refuses to provide such estimate, the City will take such other reasonable steps as it determines prudent to estimate the costs of restoration". The second addition was under Section 2 and reads "The City will request Mt. Ashland Association to provide an annual update to the business plan until build out of the expansion has been completed".

Mr. Franell explained that the resolution addresses three policy implications without creating significant budget implications to the City. The three policy implications being promoted are: 1) the protection of the City's watershed, 2) a provision to cover the contingent liability for restoration responsibilities, and 3) whether or not the City would like to go beyond restoration and include rehabilitation of the land. Mr. Franell explained that the protection of the watershed would be through the implementation and reporting of a QA/QC Team. The second policy implication would be addressed through the lease agreement with Mt. Ashland Association (MAA), which states that they assume responsibility for permit compliance and therefore assume the restoration responsibility which is one of the conditions within the permit. Mr. Franell explained that although MAA would be responsible for any restoration, it would be prudent for the City to look at what the restoration might entail and begin planning for contingent liability for restoration. He stated that asking the Forest Service for an estimate of what they would envision the restoration requiring was a good first step. He added that it was important to point out that the contingent liability may change as the Forest Service regulations change over time.

Mr. Franell explained that when the City entered into the lease agreement with MAA, the City required that there be a minimum liquidation value of the assets of the ski resort, however there is concern that this amount may not be adequate to cover the restoration responsibility. He stated that adopting this resolution is one way of identifying the City's concern in this area. He also stressed the importance of ongoing negotiations with MAA in regards to how the contingent liability should be handled.

Rivers Brown/1067 Ashland Street/Commented on climate change, long emergency, and escalating energy costs. He stated that systems and plans can go astray and this expansion is battling global climate change. Mr. Brown stated that cheap energy would soon be gone, commented on the liquidation value of the ski equipment, and stated that the City needs to face up to their responsibility.

Paul Copeland/462 Jennifer Street/Spoke regarding the final draft of the resolution presented to the Council and noted that the budget commitments had been removed. Mr. Copeland stated that the resolution asks for prudent financial responsibility and stated that having some foresight was a prudent thing to do. He commented on the request for a business plan and stated that this would build confidence with the community, provide a way for MAA to be transparent, and would involve the public in what they are doing. Mr. Copeland stated that the public wants the Council to take a public policy position on what the interest of the City is, and what they want the outcome to be.

Greg Williams/744 Helman Street/President of Mt Ashland Association/Voiced his concern with this resolution in terms of process, and stated that this was not handled in an open and transparent manner. He stated that neither MAA nor the Forest Service were consulted about this resolution, even though they are directly affected. Mr. Williams stated that the Association was very disappointed that they were not asked to participate and stated that they have always believed themselves to be partners with the City, not adversaries. He stated that they encourage open dialogue and the City should have come to them if they had concerns. Mr. Williams stated that MAA is willing to consider options; including shouldering all of the liability, if the City will renegotiate the lease and permit. He stated that if the Council was truly interest in the City's liability, then they should go back to the drawing board and invite all parties to the table to develop a plan together.

Angie Thusius/897 Beach Street/Stated that the City of Ashland was the real steward of the mountain because of its total fiscal responsibility for any environmental or business problems incurred by MAA. She stated that the proposed resolution was reasonable, conservative, and absolutely essential to safeguard the community.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith Avenue/Stated that he has been very discouraged by the process involved with MAA. He stated that he has attempted to attend their board meetings, but the public is excluded for all but the last 5 minutes of their meetings. Mr. Navickas noted previously adopted resolutions that have been discarded by MAA and the Forest Service. He stated that this resolution gives the City a foothold in assuring that the proper implementation takes place if the expansion goes forward, and stated that it was very important for the Council to pass this resolution.

Bill Little/ 80 High Oak Drive, Medford/Noted that he is currently a board member of MAA and will be the president next calendar year. Mr. Little stated that MAA has always been willing to discuss issues with the City and stated that the board was very surprised by this resolution. He requested that they be allowed to discuss these issues prior to a formal resolution being adopted and stated that many of the provisions are either redundant or conflict with the current lease agreement. He stated that they do not want conflict and would like to work with the City together as partners. Mr. Little stated that if there is concern about MAA's fiscal responsibility, then they should sit down and discuss alternative methods by which the permit could be held which would bypass any liability that the City might have.

Andy Bayliss/201 Oaklawn Avenue/Stated that the proposed resolution would not violate the lease with MAA. He stated that Mt. Ashland was an asset and this resolution was simply bringing the original agreement up to date. Mr. Bayliss stated that this is the Council's chance to impact what is happening.

Lesley Adams/10252 Sterling Creek, Jacksonville/Stated that this resolution should have been passed years ago and spoke regarding the government's role of safeguarding its people. She commented on the need to safeguard basic resources and stated that the watershed was the most valuable resource a community could protect.

Tom Rose/430 Wiley Street/Stated that he attends MAA meetings and had requested information that was submitted at one of MAA's meetings, but was denied a copy of the document.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s to approve Resolution 3 (Attachment C) as clarified tonight. DISCUSSION: Support was voiced for the resolution and comment was made that the resolution pertained to the City's obligations and did not require MAA to do anything. Objection was voiced to the process and statement was made that they needed to have everyone at the table to discuss these issues. Objection was voiced to requesting MAA's business plan. Comment was made noting the importance of securing the proper funds for reclamation and protecting the viability of the watershed.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Chapman, Silbiger and Hartzell, YES. Councilor Jackson and Amarotico, NO. Motion passed 4-2.

1. Designation of Voting Delegate for NLC Meeting.
Due to time constraints, item was postponed to the September 7th Continued Meeting.
2. Quarterly AFN Report.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg presented the AFN 4th Quarter Report to the Council. He explained that the projections were established several years ago and briefly reviewed the information presented in the report. Mr. Tuneberg stated that although AFN did not hit all of the targets, AFN has had some improvements. He also clarified that this information had been provided to the AFN Options Committee.
3. Water Recycling Task Force Ad Hoc Committee Formation
Interim Public Works Director Joe Strahl presented the Council Report. He explained that the City's effluent is of extremely high quality, however it is too warm. Mr. Strahl stated that the City is obligated to research ways to deal with the warm effluent. Accordingly, they have contracted Carollo Engineers to evaluate the possibility of water reuse. Staff recommends the creation of a task force with representations from various backgrounds, and has provided a list of individuals to be considered should the Council support the formation of the Water Recycling Task Force.

Mr. Strahl stated that the recycling issue has potential for creating controversy and stated that Staff wanted to involve a wide sector of the public to assist in evaluating this alternative.

Opposition was voiced to Staff presenting names of members and statement was made that all citizens should have had the opportunity to apply. Recommendation was made for the task force to look at all options and comment was made that over-focusing the public attention on this one alternative would emphasize it.

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

Support was voiced for the representative categories presented by Staff. Recommendation was made to add one representative from the non-profit environmental community. Comment was made agreeing that all of the options should be considered by the Task Force, not just recycling.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s to direct Staff to use the Task Force working in conjunction with the contractor on all alternatives and add a position on the Task Force for representative from a local environmental organization whose specializes in water quality. DISCUSSION: Opposition was voiced to the modifications and comment was made that there was no need for the Committee to look at the engineering alternatives. Mr. Strahl clarified that evaluating the others options would add a few extra meetings to their schedule. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Reading by Title only of "A Resolution re Authorizing a Cable Television Rate Increase in the Telecommunications Fund and Surcharge on Electric Accounts."
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg provided a brief introduction of this item. He explained that the Council previously agreed to not implement an electric rate increase and identified a potential surcharge to AFN. He noted the upcoming hiring of a manager and the work being done by the AFN Options Committee. Mr. Tuneberg noted that the Council Memo identifies the four options and the tools at the Council's disposal for making these fiscal decisions. He stated that the Memo lists potential cable tv rate increases of 15% and 25% and clarified that current rates are 25%-35% below the national average. Mr. Tuneberg commented on the subsidy and stated that back in June the Council approved a $200,000 subsidy and stated that in the budget for this year there is a $500,000 transfer from the Electric Fund.

Mr. Tuneberg noted that Councilor Silbiger has also presented an option for consideration.

Support was voiced for a combination of a surcharge and a rate increase. Comment was made questioning if the surcharge could be based on a percentage of the electric rates vs. a flat fee amount. Request was made for any AFN surcharge to be clearly identified on the bills.

Due to time constraints, item will be continued to the September 7th Continued Meeting.

2. First Reading by Title only of "An Ordinance of the City of Ashland, Oregon, Granting a Franchise to Avista Corporation for the Construction, Operation, and Maintenance of Natural Gas Facilities Within the City of Ashland, Oregon."
City Attorney Mike Franell explained that Avista Corporation is the natural gas provider in the area and the City's agreement expires this year. He stated that Staff has negotiated a new franchise agreement that incorporates the excavation permit requirements that are now in our code and Staff recommends that the Council pass the ordinance adopting the franchise agreement and move it to second reading.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve first reading of Ordinance and move to second reading. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Amarotico, Hardesty, Chapman, Jackson, and Hartzell, YES. Motion passed.

1. Comments regarding Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Land Conservation and Development proposed changes to State transportation goals and rules.
Due to time constraints, item was postponed to the September 7th Continued Meeting.
Councilor Hartzell mentioned the possibility of a sister city program through the NLC which would offer support to Gulfport, Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Council expressed support for pursuing this option further.
Meeting will be continued on Wednesday, September 7th, 2005 at 12:00 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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