Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March 21, 2006
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, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilors Hartzell and Hardesty were absent. Councilor Jackson arrived at 7:24 p.m.
The minutes of the Executive Session Meeting of March 3, 2006, Special Meeting of March 3, 2006, Executive Session Meeting of March 7, 2006 and Regular Council Meeting of March 7, 2006 were approved as presented.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Liquor License Application - Tabu.
3. Liquor License Application - Pipon's.
4. Appointment to Airport Commission.
5. Authorization to Enter into a Land Purchase Agreement.
Council requested that Item #5 be pulled for further discussion.

Councilor Silbiger/Chapman m/s to approve Consent Agenda Items #1 through #4. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Silbiger expressed his concern with approving the contract when they have not been given the opportunity to review it. City Attorney Mike Franell explained that the contract was mailed to the party involved for their signature. It has been signed and placed in the mail, but the City has not yet received it.

Craig Gorson/1000 Clay Street/Claimed that the adjoining property owners had not received proper notice of this action and commented that he had been in discussions with the property owner to purchase the parcel with the intent of creating open space and home sites. He asked that if the City purchases this property that he be allowed to share the expense of curbs, gutters, sewers, paving and installation of public utilities in exchange for the City granting him access from Clay Street to the three housing sites on his property.

Parks & Recreation Director Don Robertson stated that he had spoken to Mr. Gorson but due to the restrictions regarding Executive Sessions, he was not able to inform him of all the details. He stated that Mr. Gorson has expressed interest in working out some sort of arrangement that would provide access to his property so that he could subdivide or develop the rear of his property. Mr. Robertson added that the Parks & Recreation Commission was willing to speak with Mr. Gorson about this possibility.

Mr. Robertson stated that the owner of the property could sell the property to whomever they chose, but decided to sell to the City. He stated that a fair market appraisal was done and the Parks & Recreation Commission met in Executive Session to endorse the agreement. He added that the contract has a clause regarding fencing, which is beneficial to the City.

Mayor Morrison questioned whether it was necessary for the Council to review the contract. Mr. Franell stated that this was a standard contract; they have agreed on a financing arrangement to payoff the property in the next fiscal year, will grant an easement for access and maintenance of a storm drain on the property, and have agreed to a lot line adjustment to accommodate the parking area.

Councilor Silbiger noted that the tax lot listed on the staff memo is different from that listed on the Jackson County map site.

Councilor Amarotico/Chapman m/s to approve Consent Agenda Item #5. DISCUSSION: Mr. Franell noted that the correct legal description of the property is attached to the contract. Councilor Amarotico warned that they may lose this opportunity if they do not act on it and noted that this parcel has been on the City's open space plan for a long time. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Annexation and Zone Change (Jackson County Rural Residential RR-5 to City of Ashland Low Density Multi-Family R-2) for an approximately 10-acre parcel located on the East side of Clay Street, North of Ashland Street, at 380 Clay Street.
Mayor Morrison reminded the public that this is a public Land Use Hearing continued from the February 21, 2006 Council Meeting.

Abstentions, Conflicts, Ex Parte Contacts
None were reported.

Staff Report
Interim Community Development Director Bill Molnar presented the staff report. He explained that this is a request for annexation of approximately 10-acres located off Clay Street and if approved, the property would come in as R-2 Multi-Family Zoning. Mr. Molnar stated that the Planning Commission unanimously approved the request for subdivision and site review, and recommended by a vote of 5-3 that the Council approve the annexation.

Councilor Jackson arrived at 7:24 p.m.

Mr. Molnar indicated on a map where the property is located and the surrounding area, and noted that the majority of the surrounding property is located within City limits. He stated that the existing residence on the property would be retained and all of the Cottonwood trees would be retained and incorporated within the development. The applicant proposes to develop 117 housing units on this site and all public services are available and adequate to serve the development. Mr. Molnar stated the main issues discussed at the Planning Commission were regarding improvements to the transportation system and what level of improvements should be required. Mr. Molnar commented on the affordable housing requirement and stated that 15% of the units would be made available for rent or purchase by households 60% of area medium income or less. He stated that staff recommends that Council uphold the Planning Commission's recommendation and approve the annexation.

Councilor Jackson reported no ex parte contact but noted she received a phone call from someone who had commented in writing.

Mr. Molnar commented on how the wetlands were identified and noted that some of the storm water would be directed into the public street system while a percentage would be directed to the wetland. He also noted the condition to evaluate and maintain the flow to the north at pre-development levels.

Mr. Molnar clarified how the housing need figure was determined and stated that this was based on a housing needs analysis and not just consumption.

It was noted that the City's Comprehensive Plan identifies policies for annexation and discusses when properties should be incorporated into the City limits. It was also clarified that the delay between the Planning Commission's decision and this action coming before Council was due to the applicant's decision to wait until staff had completed the buildable lands inventory.

Mark Knox/Urban Development Services/320 E. Main Street, Suite 202/Stated that this project has been in the works for two years and explained the changes that have made to the project over this time. Mr. Knox commented on the City's base standard density, the concern over the wetlands, and the preservation of the existing trees on the site. He explained that the plan before the Council is essentially the same plan approved by the Planning Commission with a few minor enhancements. He commented on their proposal to enhance the wetlands and commented on the diversity of housing this project would provide. He noted that twelve of the affordable units would be two-bedroom, and the remainder would be one-bedroom units. He commented on the amount of improvements the applicants are going to make along Clay Street and commented on the intersection of Ashland Street and Clay Street. He stated that there are service problems that will need to be resolved at this intersection and that this situation would arise with or without this development.

Mayor Morrison questioned if the extension of the new road across the development would go through the eastern extension of the wetland. Mr. Knox said No, and explained that when they designed this project they looked at future connections and made sure that this would not encroach the wetlands at all.

Mr. Knox clarified for Council that the buildout has been estimated to take 4 - 4 years and stated that the affordable units would be build at the same ratio as the market rate housing.

Those Wishing To Provide Testimony:
Colin Swales/461 Allison Street/Commented on the buildable lands inventory update done by staff and noted that re-developable lands were not included in this figure. He suggested that the City perform a thorough investigation of the City's buildable lands and these small parcels. Mr. Swales commended the applicant for offering to build the affordable units with the market rate units and suggested that the Council make this a condition of approval.

Greg Gargus/400 Clay Street/Stated that he is not for or against the proposed subdivision, but is before the Council on behalf of himself and the adjoining neighbors to request that the footpath be vacated. Mr. Gargus voiced his safety and security concerns regarding the footpath and stated that it is redundant and not needed.

Sue Strong/2141 Birchwood Lane/Stated she is representing the Birchwood Homeowners Association and requested that in the near future they begin the procedure to officially vacate the public walkway. Ms. Strong noted her security and privacy concerns, including that the path is only 4 feet from her and her neighbor's kitchen and dining room windows and is only 18 inches away from their backyards.

Glen Cooper/196 Santa Elena Lane, Santa Barbara, CA/Stated that he is co-owner of the property to the north and voiced his concerns with: 1) the wetland area and the storm water plan, 2) the retaining basins, 3) how the flow of water is going to be regulated from one property to another, and 4) the pollution control. He also requested that both current and future potential traffic be considered.

Albert Pepe/321 Clay Street #21/Submitted a list of residents and neighbors of lower Clay Street who oppose the Willowbrook Development and the annexation for the following reasons: 1) excessive density in one area with a narrow street access, 2) excessive impact on traffic patterns, 3) wetland concerns given the existing discrepancies as to the actual site of the wetlands, and 4) impact on the existing wildlife habitats. Mr. Pepe voiced his opposition to the project on the grounds of excessive density and the need to maintain open space and farmlands for future food sources. He also commented on his concern with removal of trees.

Bill Street/180 Mead Street/Noted that he is on the Housing Commission but stated that he speaking on behalf of himself. He directed the Council to the Housing Commission meeting minutes when this action was discussed and voiced his concern that there was not considerable support from the Commission for this project. He voiced his concern regarding the mix of housing in the development and suggested the Council ask the developer to explain whether this project would meet the true housing needs of Ashland and questioned if it would make more sense for all of the affordable housing units to be owner occupied.

Staff Response
Mr. Molnar proposed the following condition if Council chooses to approve this action. Copy was given to the applicant and distributed to the Council for their consideration.

0 That 50% of the affordable units shall be completed and occupied by qualified households, at or below 60% area median income, prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the last of the first 50% of the market rate units. Prior to issuance of a building permit for the final market rate unit, the final 50% of the affordable units shall have been issued building permits. All affordable units must be occupied, or a rental agreement or purchase agreement shall be executed with the qualified low-income households prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the final market rate unit. Purchasers or renters of the designated affordable units shall be income qualified by the City of Ashland and the City shall be presented with copies of all rental or sales agreements associated with the designated affordable units.

Mr. Molnar explained that this would require the affordable units to be built and occupied consistent with the market rate construction. He commented on the mix of housing and noted that Housing Commission meeting minutes are not generally included in the official planning action record, as this was not part of the formal land use process. Mr. Molnar commented on Mr. Swales testimony and stated that a lot of the re-developable land for multi-family lies within the Historic Districts and generally they do not see or encourage teardowns in these areas. He added that most people will turn their small house into a larger one and are purchasing properties in these areas because of the neighborhood; not because they want to develop the property and put up a duplex.

In regards to Mr. Cooper's testimony, Mr. Molnar explained that he has had a number of conversations with Mr. Cooper and believes that all of his concerns have been addressed.

In response to the comments made regarding the pathway, Mr. Molnar stated that there are clear policies in the City's Transportation Element that support multi-use paths and explained that the public pathway system was a requirement for the Birchwood Subdivision when it was approved. Mr. Molnar noted where the existing pathways are located and stated that there is a process to vacate them if Council determines they are not needed. He added that this process would not be initiated by Staff and it would be up to the property owners and Homeowners Association to bring forward.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to extend the Public Hearing until 9:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Council briefly discussed possible repercussions for not approving the annexation at this time. Mr. Molnar stated that there is always the possibility that they would be presented with a less desirable proposal later down the road and noted that the City does not anticipate any significant affordable housing developments to occur within the existing inventory.

Mr. Knox noted the re-developable lots mentioned and stated that these lots are very small and would not be used for affordable housing units. He commented on the possibility of requesting a vacation for the footpath and stated that the current connection does provide an adequate north/south connection. Mr. Knox noted his conversations with Mr. Cooper and stated that they would do a significant amount of engineering to minimize any impact to his property while at the same time retaining the hydrology that goes through the wetlands. He noted that there is a significant amount of open space on this project and they have doubled what is required by the City. He disagreed with the comments made by Mr. Street and stated that he felt the Housing Commission was supportive and left the meeting with the feeling that the Commission was happy they were offering this mix used project. Mr. Knox submitted a map into the record that indicates the property is surrounded by other multi-family developments and stated that they are comfortable with the additional condition presented by staff.

Public Hearing Closed at 9:13 p.m.

Council Deliberation
Mr. Molnar offered further explanation of the condition proposed by staff and stated that it would be the responsibility of the property owner to notify the City when a tenant moves out and a new qualified tenant moves in. He added that there is a similar restriction in the resale agreement that requires the City's verification of qualified household status when there is a change in ownership of the affordable units.

Suggestion was made to add an additional condition that would require something equivalent to conservation easements on the wetlands open space and on the southwest corner of the property with the Poplar trees.

Comment was made that the traffic in this area will become a problem much sooner than anticipated and the applicant should be responsible for a big portion of these costs. Mr. Molnar clarified that the applicant is required to install improvements along Clay Street and pay SDCs per unit that will go toward future projects. He added that the Council could impose a condition that obligates this project to participate in any future improvement district.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to approve as presented with the 26 conditions from the Planning Commission, the 27th condition regarding the buildout of the affordable units, and a 28th condition on conservation easements for the southwest corner and the wetlands. DISCUSSION: Jackson added that she did not include language for traffic because she does not want to back design the project and believes that they are contributing substantially. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Jackson, and Silbiger, YES. Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 3-1.

John Fields/John Stromberg/Tracy Harding/Spoke regarding the Downtown Plan and informed the Council that they are proposing to have the consultants come to town during the week of April 24th in order to hold a series of stakeholder meetings. These meetings would flush out what the downtown process would look like and the hope is to build some strong financial and community support. It was requested that each councilor attend at least one of the stakeholder meetings, and there would be a public open house on April 26. The importance of Council's participation was noted in order to make this process successful.

Comment was made that the Council has two other major projects they are working on and concern was expressed that they might not be able to handle all three of these at the same time. Mr. Fields stated that their timeline could end up matching the Council's and they would like to start educating the community and bringing people to the table sooner in the process. He added without collecting this initial information, it is difficult to know where they are at and whether this has community support.

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

Hillary Tiefar/565 Wrights Creek Drive/Spoke in favor of enacting an ordinance banning the prolonged tethering of dogs at their homes. Ms. Tiefar stated that dogs suffer from prolonged tethering and shared an experience with dealing with a dog that was continually tethered. She asked that the Council give time and attention to this issue.

Ambuja Rosen/Spoke regarding the tethering of dogs and commented on similarities between dogs and humans. Ms. Rosen stated that this was an important issue worthy of time on the Council's meeting agenda and stated that it would be more efficient for Council to vote on this soon, rather than to keep putting it off.

1. ALUO 18.68.050 Interpretation.
Mayor Morrison noted that the Council could choose to forward this issue to the Planning Commission or table it until their next meeting.

City Attorney Mike Franell explained that there is room for interpretation in AMC Section 18.08.420, which states, "The narrower street frontage shall be the front lot line except when the staff advisor determines topographical or access problems makes such a designation impractical". Mr. Franell stated that they have not defined what type of topographical or access issues could give the staff advisor discretion to change where the front lot line would be located. He noted that the Planning Commission has not looked at this and suggested that the better course of action would be to refer this to the Planning Commission for a recommendation.

Comment was made that this issue should come back to the next council meeting for further discussion. Opposing comment was made that it is clear what the intent was and the sooner they clean up the language the better.

Councilor Chapman/Silbiger m/s to direct staff to use their ministerial direction to call the lot line facing the arterial street the front lot line. DISCUSSION: Mr. Franell clarified that this motion would direct the staff advisor to move the front lot line to the arterial street. Voice Vote: Councilor Chapman and Silbiger. YES. Councilor Amarotico and Jackson, NO. Mayor Morrison, NO. Motion failed 3-2.

Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to table this item until the next council meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Possible Formation of Library District.
Ronnie Lee Budge, Library Director for Jackson County addressed the Council and stated that Jackson County libraries are facing budget and funding problems. Kathleen Davis explained that the Jackson County Library Advisory Committee has been studying this issue and the best way to provide ongoing sustainable support is to create a special taxing district. It was explained that they would come back before Council in a few weeks with a more detailed proposal to ask whether the City of Ashland would participate in voting on the creation of this special district.
2. Revisions to Environmental Protection Agency Standards for Fine Particulate Matter.
John Becker from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality explained that the EPA has proposed to lower fine particular standards nationwide and noted that the deadline for comments on this proposal is April 17, 2006. Mr. Becker explained that the Rogue Valley is currently exceeding the new standards and stated the three major causes of fine particulate matter are transportation, outdoor open burning, and woodstoves. He suggested the following ways Ashland could reduce fine particular matter: 1) upon the sale of a home, if the homeowner wishes to continue to use wood heat they would be required to replace the non-certified woodstove with a certified one, and 2) restrict or ban residential open burning within the City limits.
1. Reading by title only of, "An Ordinance Amending Chapter 15 (Building and Construction) of the Ashland Municipal Code Relating to the Adoption of Oregon Specialty Codes."
Item postponed to next council meeting due to time constraints.
Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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