Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October 3, 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 Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.
Mayor Morrison announced a vacancy on the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission.
Councilor Jackson questioned the accuracy of the motion listed on page 6 in regards to the two representatives for the Advisory Team being specifically from the Sierra Club. City Recorder Barbara Christensen stated she would compare the motion to the audio tapes and report back if a correction is necessary.

The Regular Council Meeting minutes of September 19, 2006 were approved pending possible correction to the motion listed on Page 6.

Mayor's Proclamation of October 1-7 as "Mental Illness Awareness Week" and Proclamation of October 8-14 as "National Fire Prevention Week" were read aloud. Members of the Ashland Fire & Rescue Team were acknowledged by the Council and audience.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Blind Awareness Month, and International Walk/Bike to School Day were also recognized.

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Appointment of Zack Williams to the Forest Lands Commission.
Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Ambuja Rosen/Shared her concerns with the tethering of animals and requested the City adopt an ordinance that would limit tethering. Ms. Rosen gave examples of how similar ordinances are implemented in other cities.

Pip Cornall/451 Waterline Road/Presented a resolution and asked for the Council's support to make Ashland a "Peace City." He noted that Ashland has a history of supporting peace movements and stated there would be many benefits to Ashland becoming part of this movement.

Marilee Jenkinson/Spoke regarding the trial of Lt. Ehren Watada and submitted written materials into the public record.

1. Mt Ashland Area Expansion update.
City Administrator Martha Bennett explained the two-part strategy developed by staff. Part 1 is to write the Forest Service and ask that they deal directly with the City on the permits related to the ski area settlement sale and the expansion. Part 2 is to write Mt. Ashland Association (MAA) and state the City intends to proceed working cooperatively with them to resolve the terms of the resolution and that the City will proceed with issuing permit as MAA fulfills the terms of the resolution.

Kurt Buser/509 Grandview Drive/Read a letter he sent to the Mt. Ashland Association Directors. He noted in his letter his experience as CEO of a ski resort in Lake Tahoe and advised not to expand due to the following: 1) Lack of sustained growth in the industry, 2) Challenging economic conditions, 3) Risk management, and 4) Favorable weather conditions vs. inevitability of global warming. Mr. Buser questioned why Mt. Ashland is expanding and stated MAA needs to improve the existing facilities.

Selene Aitken/446 Helman Street/Asked the Council to stop the expansion of the Mt. Ashland Ski Resort. She shared her concerns with trees being cut but the expansion not completed, and with MAA experiencing a financial failure. Ms. Aitken voiced support for preservation of the watershed and the trees.

John Fisher-Smith/945 Oak Street/Read a letter to the City Council asking the City to act decisively before untold damage is done on Mt. Ashland. He stated the taxpayers are ultimately fiscally responsible for what happens and this was an unpredictable endeavor. Mr. Fisher-Smith stated MAA has failed to fully document their financial plan and the appropriate conditions that might warrant an expansion are not present. He urged the Council to use its power to stop the project immediately.

Eric Navickas/363 Iowa Street/Stated it is clear the citizenry of Ashland does not support the expansion project and noted the City's long history of working to protect the watershed. Mr. Navickas commented on the risk of liability to the City and on the history of flooding. He stated it is time for the Council to take a stand against this expansion.

Paul Copeland/462 Jennifer Street/Suggested the Council look at the big picture and not at MAA's diversions. He stated the litigation should be completed before any timber is cut and recommended the Council issue a strong statement that they do not want cutting to proceed until the appeal is complete.

Shelley Elkovich/919 Oak Street/Stated that MAA has failed to clean up existing environmental messes and erosion impacts, and they are still under appeal in the courts and have not raised the money. Ms. Elkovich questioned why they should be allowed to proceed at this time.

Dot Fisher-Smith/945 Oak Street/Voiced her concerns with this situation and stated it is unconscionable to allow MAA to cut the trees first. She stated it makes no sense to allow them to do this without having seen the business plan or knowing how the money will be raised and urged the Council to not allow them to cut trees until the appeals are satisfied.

Marilee Jenkinson/Stated the expansion would not serve the community and felt there are other things that could be done that would better serve all of the people.

Nick Frost/224 N. Third Street/Stated the business plan in muddled and questioned why MAA has chosen to cut the trees first. Mr. Frost asked the Council to take action to make certain that logging does not occur until the litigation is complete.

Councilor Hartzell/Silbiger m/s to have staff issue a letter along the lines of what was discussed in Executive Session to the Forest Service and that it be issued tomorrow if possible, and that a letter be issued to Mt. Ashland Association as discussed in Executive Session. DISCUSSION: City Attorney Mike Franell clarified the provisions of the letters as discussed in Executive Session. He explained the primary responsibility of the City of Ashland as the permit holder is to ensure adequate provisions have been made for the financial viability and operations, as well as restoration of the ski area in the event the operations cease; and pursuant to the lease agreement, the City has the right to perform reasonable inspections and investigations to ensure that operations are viable. Given that at this point the City has not been provided with sufficient information to adequately assess the viability of the expansion, the City will send a letter to the Forest Service requesting that instead of dealing directly with MAA, that the Forest Service deal directly with the City. In addition, the City will send a letter MAA to try to resolve the outstanding questions of viability. Comment was made that the intent is to not interfere in the operations, but to ensure that the City's responsibilities under the permit and lease are upheld and protected. Mayor Morrison commented on the timing of this matter and stated it is imperative that the letters be received prior to timber being cut. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Hartzell, Chapman, Amarotico, Jackson and Silbiger, YES. Motion passed.

Comment was made questioning the make-up of the Advisory Group as determined at the last Council meeting. Mr. Franell clarified the Council could reconsider the previous motion or offer a new motion with the amended language.

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s for two seats on the Advisory Group be designated by non-active litigants of the environmental community. DISCUSSION: Comment was made questioning whether this removed the Council's authority to choose. Councilor Hartzell voiced her support for trusting the environmental community to put forward people with high expertise. She stated if they are going to build confidence in this process they should allow the environmental community to designate individuals as long as they are not active litigants in the court case. Mayor Morrison questioned how to define "environmental community". Public Works Director Paula Brown clarified her recommendation was for this to be individuals who have been involved in Ashland watershed issues in the past. She suggested that the environmental community submit names of who they would like to serve on the Advisory Group to her, and then have the Council and MAA come to agreement on who will serve. Comment was made voicing concern with giving MAA the opportunity to approve or deny who will be on the team. Mayor Morrison agreed that the responsibility of selecting the team needs to remain with the City. Comment was made noting that MAA's only request was that there not be litigants of the court case appointed to the team. Ms. Brown clarified the candidate names would be submitted to her and she would bring the list to Council for final selection. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES.

1. Philip Lang request for fee refund.
City Administrator Martha Bennett presented the staff report. She explained that Mr. Lang and Ms. Miller believe the variance process they completed was unnecessary because after their variance was denied, they came back and received an over the counter permit from the Planning Department to allow for construction. The applicant is requesting the amount paid for the variance and subsequent appeal be refunded. Ms. Bennett stated that staff recommends against this, however if Council decides to grant this request she asked that they make specific findings to identify why this situation is unique.

Philip Lang and Ruth Miller/758 B Street/Stated they are before Council to ask for an act of honesty and fairness. He explained they initially applied to develop a library in the 6 ft. x 15 ft. sunroom on a pre-existing deck. The library was approvable, but according to the Planning Department, the sunroom extended 6 ft. into the required 20 ft. second story setback and this would require a variance. He noted that he questioned this assessment at the time and offered to not have a closed roof but was told that a roof or an open coverture would constitute a structure under AMC 18.08.750 and would still require a variance. They therefore applied for a variance and paid the $832 fee. The variance request was moved up to a Type II Hearing, which they lost, and they subsequently appealed and lost before the City Council, which costs an additional $269. Mr. Lang stated they have subsequently applied to build the same 6 ft. x 15 ft. sunroom with an open coverture as originally proposed and received instant over the counter approval. He explained that the Planning Department now states the approval is based on the definition of "story" not "structure"; and since the structure has no ceiling or roof, it does not meet the definition of a story and the setback requirement does not apply. Mr. Lang claimed they have been given a hard time due to his previous criticism of the Planning Department and felt they have been treated unfairly. He stated their project was approvable without the variance and requested a refund of the unnecessarily imposed fees in the amount of $1101. Ms. Miller stated it is clear that an error was made in the interpretation of the ordinances and since they received services they did not need, they believe justice and fairness requires that a refund be issued.

Art Bullock/Submitted a letter into the public record outlining his reasons why the Council should grant the request for refund. Mr. Bullock stated there was a breakdown in process that caused the applicant to go through tremendous expense and it is clear the process was unnecessary. He stated the department that made the mistake should shoulder the financial burden, not the victims of the process breakdown.

Interim Community Development Director Bill Molnar disagreed with Mr. Lang's claim that the two plans were the same. He clarified the initial plans that were denied showed a permanent pitched roof structure but the building permit issued after the denial was for a three-walled structure without a permanent roof structure. He stated since the structure no longer had a permanent roof structure or ceiling, staff determined it no longer constituted a "story".

Comment was made recalling that the materials reviewed by the Council during the appeal clearly indicated a roof structure.

City Attorney Mike Franell clarified the Legal Department completed a review of the code language when the applicant came for the building permit and determined it was appropriate to issue the permit. He stated the over the counter application did not include the permanent roof structure and disagreed that the applicant reached the same eventual outcome.

Mayor Morrison commented on the work being done by Siegel Planning Services to eliminate unclarity and loopholes within the land use ordinances and stated they are working towards making the planning process clearer and less subject to interpretation.

Councilor Silbiger/Amarotico m/s to deny request for refund. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Request for a Variance to Allow Operation of a Light Plant for ODOT Night Work.
Public Works Director Paula Brown introduced Erica McCarten and Joe Thomas with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). She clarified the variance request is for night work and the related noise to complete improvements to a section of Siskiyou Boulevard between Mistletoe Rd. and Exit 11.

Ms. McCarter explained a section of concrete between Tolman Creek Rd. and Crowson Rd. is deteriorating in places and needs to be repaired. ODOT is requesting a variance to allow them to flag at night while the lane they are working on is closed, and they will need to have light plants so the drivers can see the flaggers. She stated they are anticipating up to four consecutive days to repair each lane and stated they will reopen the lanes as quickly as possible. Ms. McCarter noted that ODOT's Public Relations Specialist Bill Boyett has spoken with four of the six property owners in the affected area and left information with the other two and they have not received any adverse comments.

Mr. Thomas clarified ODOT will repair the concrete where it is failing and then overlay all the concrete with asphalt. It was also clarified they would be performing some bicycle and pedestrian improvements including adding some curbs and sidewalks and repairing some of the section with loose gravel.

Councilor Hartzell suggested sending the residents in the area notice if the Council approves the variance.
Councilor Hardesty stated if ODOT has a "less noisy" generator that it be used for this project.

Public Hearing Open: 8:56 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 8:56 p.m.

Councilor Amarotico/Chapman m/s to approve ODOT's request for a variance to allow night operations, including noise from generator powered lighting, for a limited time on Siskiyou Boulevard between Walker Avenue and the I-5 interchange during the construction period from April to September 2007. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

3. Discussion of City Charter Ballot Timeline.
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer presented the staff report and explained that Council reviewed the draft City Charter in July and indicated there was not adequate time to get the Charter placed on the November 2006 ballot. She requested the Council consider the proposed timeline submitted, which would place the Charter on the May 2007 ballot. Ms. Seltzer noted the proposed timeline allows for five meetings, including a public hearing, and stated the City's deadline to submit materials to the County would be March 15, 2007.

City Administrator Martha Bennett asked that the Council agree on when they would like to place the City Charter on the ballot so staff can communicate this with the public and provide the citizens a fair opportunity to work within the City's process or have their own process if necessary.

Comment was made requesting they allow ample time during the meetings for discussion. It was clarified Council previously agreed to have the strong mayor vs. city manager issue as a separate ballot measure.

Ms. Bennett stated the decision point is whether Council is ready to take public comment, not whether the document is ready to be placed on the ballot.

City Attorney Mike Franell noted there are some additional items staff will bring forward for Council discussion at the proposed October 17 meeting including the separation of the Police and Fire Departments and suggestions received from individual councilors. He requested that the Council submit any additional comments or suggestions to the Legal Department and agreed to email a copy of the draft Charter and comments from the previous Study Session to the Council.

Ms. Seltzer noted an error in the staff report and stated there will not be a separate meeting in November to discuss the water language.

Councilor Hartzell recommended the Council discuss the water language before they take public comment and questioned if an ethics provision would be included in the Charter. Mr. Franell clarified the draft Charter includes a section that indicates the City will adopt its own ethics ordinance and previous Council consensus was that it is better to have this provision outside the Charter.

Art Bullock/Spoke regarding the public forum aspect of the proposed schedule and voiced concern with discussing all of the changes in one meeting. He stated this would be too much information for citizens to absorb at one time and thinks it would generate more "No" votes for the Charter. Mr. Bullock voiced his objections to the current water language and with the proposed timeline and suggested a better design would be to present the options to the community and let the citizens weigh in on which ones they prefer.

Ms. Bennett stated if the Council feels they need more time that is fine, but asked that they identify a target date and stick with it.

Support was voiced for committing to the May 2007 election. Mayor Morrison recommended that they focus on preparing language they are satisfied with and that reflects the input from the Charter Review Committee and forward it to the citizens for a vote, and voiced his support for shooting for the May 2007 election.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to adopt the schedule presented by staff with a target to place the Charter revision on the May ballot. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

4. Discussion of Future of Railroad Property.
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer presented the staff report and listed the three discussion points: 1) What are the City's goals for development of this property, 2) Could the City buy the property as is, and 3) What are the Council goals for the clean up of the property. She stated Union Pacific has indicated they will not move forward with the clean up in 2007 and noted the importance for staff to be clear on what the vision for this property is once it is under development.

Interim Community Development Director Bill Molnar presented a slide show, which addressed:

Study Area
Significant Actions
Existing Standards
Railroad Property Master Plan/Key Elements
Adopted Street Plan
Illustrations of Central Core/Train Station Concepts
Public & Natural Spaces
Parking Management

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

Donna Andrews/3821 Fieldbrook/Commented on the opportunity for an entire development to be created and suggested the City look at models from other communities where there has been a partnership between the city, railroad and local developers. She applauded this opportunity and stated they could create something that would be a "gem" for Ashland.

Nick Frost/224 N Third Street/Suggested the City create another core for Ashland and to make it a place that would be a gathering point for locals. He stated the Downtown and lower Lithia Park has become a place for tourists and voiced support for creating a new open space and park for the local community. Mr. Frost stated the design seems to be geared to address traffic flow and suggested they consider blocking off the central core to vehicles. He voiced his support for the City looking into the idea of purchasing the railroad property and stated if the City cleans up this land they will have more control over the final result.

Eric Navickas/363 Iowa Street/Stated there are two missing elements, one is open space and the other is urban public space. He stated this is the last contiguous open space within the City's urban growth boundary and it has some real opportunity to be developed as a park. He noted the two industrial ponds and functioning wetlands on this site and suggested the City protect the ponds and maintain the space around them as parks. Mr. Navickas questioned the mixed-use element throughout the project and stated they should not try to create a second commercial area that tries to compete with Downtown.

Council discussed whether they were interested in a possible purchase of this property. Councilor Hardesty suggested the Planning Commission be involved planning and suggested a possible joint Study Session with the Council. She stated this is a great opportunity and would like to see public involvement. Councilor

Hartzell stated it is premature to discuss the plan before they address the issue of whether to purchase the property. She stated there is opportunity to use this parcel for the public good and voiced support for giving consideration of how the City might gain control of the parcel. Councilors Silbiger and Chapman also voiced support for the City looking at possibly purchasing this property. Councilor Chapman added that the draft plan presents a good start, however there are lot of things he would change. He stated it would be great to look at this as an entire project and stated it could be cost effective to develop underground storm management and parking at the same time as the clean up. Councilor Jackson voiced support for looking into the purchasing option but stated she has questions about how much it would cost to clean up the property and what funding might be available. Councilor Amarotico stated he is interested in figuring out how to gain control over what is build there, but does not think it needs to be built out quickly.

Mayor Morrison stated this needs to be looked at very carefully before they spend any money. He stated they are a long way from looking at a purchase plan and stated there are ways to control what develops in that land without owning it. Right now they are faced with the clean up problem and voiced support for looking at what their options are.

Councilor Hartzell asked if staff could do some research with the state agency to determine what funds are available at the state and federal level for the clean up. Ms. Seltzer clarified the maximum the City could receive is $1 million and the City would have to own the land to qualify for these funds.

Ms. Bennett summarized Council's discussion and stated there is interest in staff investigating both a total or partial purchase of this property and what land use regulations apply. She stated staff would do some exploration into these issues and this would return to Council as a Study Session in the future.

Mayor Morrison clarified this issue was brought forward to make everyone aware that there is a master plan and to start the process so they are prepared when the clean up issue comes up again.

1. First Reading by title only of an ordinance titled, "An Ordinance Amending the Ashland Municipal Code Relating to Adoption of the 2004 Oregon Fire Code."
Fire Prevention Officer Margueritte Hickman presented the staff report and explained there were two provisions Council had previously expressed concern with because they were less restrictive than the State minimums. The first provision was to require a turn-around at the end of a 250 ft. dead end; the State Code requires a turn-around at the end of a 150 ft. dead end. The other was a provision regarding the fire flow. Ms. Hickman explained the City amended the provision in 1991 to allow 750 gpm for single family dwellings less than 3600 sq. ft.; the State Code is 1000 gpm. She explained that both provisions were determined by the State Fire Marshall's Office to be legal adoptions even though they are less than the State Fire Code. Ms. Hickman added she met with City's Water Department and significant improvements have been made to the water system that would allow them to meet the Oregon Fire Code requirement of 1000 gpm.

Staff recommended adoption of the amendment and ordinance provided in the packet materials. Ms. Hickman stated if Council chooses to adopt the 150 ft. turn-around requirement, staff recommends bringing forth an amendment to the Land Use Ordinances to avoid code conflicts. She also recommended that staff pursue improvements in Fire Code related final inspections by the Fire Department staff in new projects.

Councilor Silbiger noted that Ivy Lane was mentioned in the staff report and declared a potential conflict of interest and stated he has a relative that resides on Ivy, however this would not affect his decision.

Councilor Hardesty noted that Jacqueline Street was also mentioned in the staff report. Ms. Hickman clarified if the Council chooses to accept the amendment it would affect future developments but not the current development that is there.

Councilor Chapman voiced support for adopting the State Code but questioned why not accept all the changes at the same time. Ms. Hickman noted the vegetation ordinance would take some time.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to move the Ordinance to second reading and that staff move forward to implement improvements in Fire Code related final inspections by Fire Department staff in new projects. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hartzell clarified this motion addresses options one and two listed under staff recommendations in the staff report. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Hardesty, Chapman, Silbiger and Jackson, YES. Motion passed.

Ms. Hickman clarified staff would move forward with bringing forward an amendment to the Municipal Code for the turn-around provision.

2. First Reading by title only of an ordinance titled, "An Ordinance Amending Chapter 2.52 of the Ashland Municipal Code Relating to Rules of Procedure for Personal Service Contracts."
Delayed due to time constraints.
3. First Reading by title only of an ordinance titles, "An Ordinance Amending AMC 3.08.020 to Apply Ethics Provisions to Employees, Appointed Officials and Elected Officials."
Delayed due to time constraints.
Councilor Jackson briefly commented on the Regional Problem Solving Process and stated they had held their first meeting to begin deliberating and preliminarily accepting individual growth areas and they would be working on this process for the next few months.
Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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