MINUTES OF THE CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
March 7, 2001
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER:
Mayor Alan DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:02 p.m.
Councilors Reid, Hanson, Morrison and Fine. Hartzell arrived at 12:20 p.m. Staff present included City Administrator Greg Scoles, Fire Chief Keith Woodley, Director of Community Development John McLaughlin, Planner Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner Bill Molnar, and Executive Secretary Fran Berteau. Also present was Miles Murphy of the Ashland Daily Tidings, members of the Fire Station Oversight Committee, Ted Mularz, and John Fields, and Architects Hans Etlin and Bob Thrapp, of Peck, Smiley & Etlin.
UPDATE ON THE FIRE STATION PROJECT
Fire Chief Keith Woodley introduced Hans Etlin and Bob Thrapp, of the architectural firm Peck, Smiley & Etlin, as the firm hired to oversee the architectural work for the fire station project. He explained they were here at the study session to give council an overview of the evolution of the design process, and to give an overview of the design, planning and construction phase by calendar.
Hans Etlin introduced himself and explained he had worked on this project since its inception, and that Bob Thrapp, as the project architect, had been working on the design development of the fire station. He explained there were several variations of the plan done on different levels of development since its inception, and he went on to show the plans through the various stages. He explained that after meeting with the Fire Station Oversight Committee and the Historic Committee, as well as the chief and his staff, they received more input and the station started to evolve into a masonry building with sloped roofs, and punched openings which is similar to the original concept. Various concepts were looked at throughout the process. After more dialogue with Keith Woodley and his staff, a different version was reached which gave a two-story, flat-roof, masonry with some pre-cast elements, some more metal eve-bracket development and a complete redo of the second story plan that had an interior light well. A more efficient use of the upstairs was requested by the department which led the architectural firm to what they have at the present. Current elevations are a two-story with a finer pre-cast development of pop-outs on the side which reduce the overall mass of the building, an entry with a barrel metal vault roof, and big eaves to protect the vertical walls, and to create some shadow effect. The base is pre-cast concrete and the body of the building is clay masonry (red brick).
Bob Thrapp added that on the front part on the corner is a larger public plaza.
Etlin said the elevations are the same, which will give a civic feel and will be a nice transitional building between the downtown and the commercial strip along Siskiyou and along East Main. He explained the Historic Commission has been involved all the way, which put them in the direction of the flat roof and the eave development and they were meeting later that day to present it to them.
Reid asked if the program remains the same with all the designs, and inquired as to the status of the budget. Etlin replied that the budget has not substantially changed, and their next step would be to do a detailed analysis. He feels comfortable they are within limits and there would not be much of a swing in how the exterior is addressed.
Fine thought the most handsome of the fire stations is the Corvallis building, and he asked if it was feasible given the program, shape and location to do an exterior treatment akin to that building. Etlin explained the buildings are similar.
Scoles explained the plans had gone to the Historic Commission at least three times and there would be another meeting today to talk about the design. A Design Committee was established which included a member of the Planning Commission, an Historic Commission member, a firefighter, a planner, and an architect (Ted Mularz), which has helped shape the design. The drawings have been modified based on the influence of the Design Committee and the comments received from the various other city committees. When the application is made the normal design development process will have to be followed. It does not require a comp plan amendment or a rezone.
Fine questioned why a flat roof was decided on rather than a pitched roof as on the Corvallis building. Etlin replied the Corvallis building does have a flat roof, but it is rather an illusion because of the gable end. He explained it is difficult to do a pitched roof because of the compact foot print.
Reid added that an early photograph of Ashland High School shows it was mission style and the first architectural renderings of the station are very reminiscent of the school. She added she is not opposed to this. Reid asked about the timeline and the original projection and where we are today.
Etlin explained they are somewhat behind schedule due to the property acquisition, but the site design review should be complete by May, with another 8 - 10 weeks for construction documents. He said they have done 35 fire stations and are familiar with the code problems and issues surrounding it. The bid process will follow and within 30 days a price in hand, and then proceed with construction. Construction should normally start within two weeks after the contract approval and anticipate should take about 8 months to one year, with occupancy about the fall of 2002.
DeBoer asked if the process could be speeded up if demolition of the Blue Mountain Café was done before, and recommended that part should be pulled out of the contract. Woodley explained there is more efficiency in operations if demolition is done once for the whole site.
Etlin explained that an environmental investigation will need to be done at the time of demolition because of possible soils contamination from the 1940s gas station. He has the proposal from PBS Environmental, and said there may be some soil remediation that has to be done to the site.
Reid asked about material costs and Etlin explained that the biggest part of construction is the labor, as materials are less.
Hartzell questioned the timing and whether that hinged on when Keith would move out, and asked if there were constraints along the timeline when he could move out, and wondered if he had given thought to the suggestion to do demolition earlier. Woodley replied that his concern is it is more important to do the project right. He said the city is not a skilled demolition agency and there are a lot of state and county requirements that regulate demolition and it is best left up to those who do this for a business, and to carry the liability associated with it.
Etlin explained that in the overall plan, they would deal with the various phasing issues linked to this, and would show that the contractor has to come in, allow for the Fire Department to move out within three weeks, and then have the power and all utilities cut off and start the demolition. That will allow Keith to plan his move back in date. He explained it is best to have one contractor do it all, as it gives a uniform and single source of responsibility.
Fine asked if it had been factored in when the city could apply for the demolition permit. Etlin said there is quite a process in demolishing buildings and that the fire station will have to undergo a study but the restaurant will not, because it was built in the early '60s.
Morrison inquired as to the process for mailing this information to the public and felt it important so there are no surprises.
Scoles explained this has been on the web since the bond issue discussion. The City is looking at getting the plans electronically posted on the web again, and possibly another article in the Daily Tidings. He said the last Open House at the Fire Station was not well attended. A CD of the plans will be made available by the architects for anyone who wants a copy.
Reid felt it was important to include parking and include streetscapes because of what is being done at the library. She feels that to have the fire station sit alone and not indicate there will be adjacent parking and how that will be accessed is problematic for her. Etlin explained there are 14 spaces of parking at the station.
Reid asked how many would be exclusive of that for fire personnel. Woodley explained the current lot has 11 or 12 and they are always full.
Etlin said it was previously recommended that the city acquire the adjoining property to develop some extra parking to share with the library but the property acquisition did not happen.
Reid asked about the access behind the Stratford Inn, and said that was talked about two years ago. Scoles replied that one of the things being talked about to acquire the property was being able to jointly share that driveway.
Reid inquired if there will be any public parking available on this site. Scoles replied that the same public parking will be there.
Woodley said it was never his understanding there ever would be parking. He said that Etlin provided a plot plan that showed for acquisition of Studio 55, and that was a public lot that is connected with the fire department.
Reid said she is disappointed because it would be advantageous to have public parking spaces across the street from the library which is really short on spaces. She felt her idea of a shared driveway would give a couple more public parking spaces and thought that staff would pursue those ideas.
Etlin explained we could gain two more spaces with a shared access, which was discussed, although not followed up on, but we do not have a shared access.
Fine said he has attended the same processes and felt all along this was to be a lot dedicated to fire station purposes, and there was never a commitment to move in the direction of building a public parking lot to serve the library.
Hanson said his understanding all along is there is enough parking at the fire station to handle some overflow from the library, and he said his whole reason he was not concerned about the library parking was because he thought there would be some more parking spaces on the other side of the street at the fire station.
Scoles explained that the parking lot that is on the site plan is basically the same as it was from Day 1, and the conceptual design was approved when the process was started. The number of spaces and what their use was has not changed.
DeBoer wanted to clarify that one of the concerns that they have is the library does not have adequate parking, and they wanted staff to bring some alternatives for additional parking either at the fire station or the library and the costs associated with that.
Reid agreed, but said that having two driveways adjacent to each other does not meet code, and to continue a design with two parallel driveways would not make sense because it does not meet our code. Scoles clarified that the parking has not changed within the project.
Etlin said that the driveway to the Carter House has a continuous curb, with no curb cut. Someone has placed concrete against the driveway so you can drive up it but there is not an actual curb cut.
Scoles added there was an ingress permit only for the driveway for the house next door, so staff thought they would try to work with that owner and collaborate, because if the driveway could be pushed over 20 feet, a couple of spots could be picked up. He was surprised to see the design with the driveway next to it, because they had talked about putting the driveway in the middle of the parking lot.
Hartzell questioned what the amount of parking spaces for a fire station this size should be. She asked if it will be full if 20 spaces are built.
Woodley said that the four spaces depicted as available are occupied by city owned vehicles that there is not room for inside the new building. If you have four people coming off shift, and four coming on, that is another eight spaces. Right now there is one space available on an average basis, and maybe two for the general public, and he never understood that there was going to be public parking in that lot, apart from people doing business with the fire station.
Morrison said he is agreement with what Hartzell and Reid have said, and he feels it has been brought up before that the parking at the fire station was at least in some part available to offset the shortage of parking at the library. His concern is that we are building a nice new building that is marginal in the parking available. He doesn't want any surprises to the public with this, and feels that this plan will be scrutinized closely, and every effort should be made to be proactive and bring this to the public. He added that he has heard in public that the fire station facility held potential to meet some of the parking needs of the library.
Reid said that her thought to begin with was to have the Fire Station Number One be on Highway 66, and condemn the tire store next door and have a big parking lot because that is the station that has the training facilities, CERT training, and visitors. She feels that if the public is invited to the fire station for training then you need to have enough parking, and if all of the parking is already taken by staff, then we have a problem.
Scoles clarified that this is a discussion that council had before, when this version was selected.
Fine said that in terms of being up front with the public he agrees with John. He wants to make it clear that this is dedicated parking.
Hartzell said that when she has spoken with Scoles in the past he has clarified there is no extra space for parking at the fire station. Her feeling is it has never been portrayed that there would be a public parking lot at the station.
Ted Mularz commented that with regard to Fire Station Number One being located where it is instead of on Highway 66, before he got involved with the project in 1996 he did a space analysis and the requirements for each of the two fire stations. Prior to that there was a study done by another firm that determined the response times and that is why the fire station is where it is. With regard to parking, there was never to be any public parking on this site. In the original recommendation he recommended that the additional adjoining lot be purchased, but it was not. The site, even with that lot for a fire station this size, is a little cramped. He said the real problem is we are not concerned about parking for the fire station but parking for the library.
Fine left the study session at 1:00 p.m.
It was clarified for council that the flat roof being utilized is a single ply membrane with some pitch. It is made of a rubber material much like a swimming pool liner. The purpose of the flat roof is design and cost. All of the heating units will be situated on the roof.
Hartzell inquired if there is any further process, or whether the group that worked with the design of the renderings was complete. Woodley replied that as long as we are in the design phase, his feeling is the design committee is a full partner in the process.
It was explained that after a site design review minor changes are allowable with planning approval, but the overall design has not changed very much. Input from the design committee will be taken and modified if that is desired. They have worked very closely with the Historic Commission as well. Etlin said the designs would be going to the Historic Commission that afternoon.
DeBoer urged that the committee be pulled together, to continue through site review with the Historical and Design Committee for input, and hopefully this will all merge at the same time. Etlin said that his recollection of the last Historic Commission meeting was that they liked the eave development, the flat roof and the masonry, and the punched openings, and they liked the more commercial look of the building.
Hartzell questioned the front foyer, the glassed in area where the old fire truck was going to go, and asked if anyone had said it was not a significant part of the building.
DeBoer asked that if council members had concerns to state them now, and that would be input given.
Woodley said it was an error at the time to call the front foyer part of the building a museum, as people contemplated that as a useless area of the building. However, that is the main reception area where you bring schoolchildren in on tours, where blood pressure is taken, fire prevention materials handed out, where the receptionist sits, and acts as the educational area. It has an antique fire engine sitting in the middle of it but is not a storage area for the engine. It is not a museum and that word should never have been used. The initial design brought negative responses, and the intent was it would meld in with the architecture on the front of the building and not be intrusive. It is probably the most important part of the fire station.
Scoles indicated that that had been revised based on comments received from the public and also from the Historic and Design Commissions. He said that a moderately cheaper entry could be done but it is an important civic building and you need some emphasis on the entry features. In terms of process, the deadlines are less significant than doing the process right. He said that if council has concerns about more public comment needed, or starting the design review process over, he reiterated that you cannot afford to start over each time with these projects. If council is uncomfortable with what has happened so far, then we should be told so a different process can be followed.
Hanson said he thought the building looked great and we should go for it.
Morrison explained that Scoles had gone over the plans with him previously, and he is favorably disposed toward the plan as it is now. He agrees with the foyer area and that it meets Woodley's needs and it is a sound plan. The only reason he brought up the process was he wants to make sure that everyone here is comfortable and there are no surprises. If everyone is in line and we are ready to move ahead then OK, but if council feels that since there have been a number of renderings, then it needs to be taken to the public one more time to get that stamp of approval then he is in favor of that.
Reid said the building is handsome.
Hartzell said she is glad the building is pulled back and getting some visability because that is a dangerous corner. She asked if the front face has garage doors and asked if that is an exit where trucks and vehicles pull out. Etlin explained those are inset panels, not doors. They are actually just larger windows.
Hartzell said she would heavily rely on the design team to give feedback and work with the Historic Commission.
Scoles said that during the planning process any comments that come up about design and modifications need to be made based on that. He said the Hillah was a good example and when that went through the process significant changes were made in the plan after it was submitted based on the comments received by the Planning and Historic Commission.
DeBoer said a flat roof is of concern, even with a pitch, and asked that the pitch be kept as high as possible while still keeping the look. He felt there was room for a couple of head-in parking spaces by the big curving entrance to the right. His concern is that 14 spaces is not enough, and if more parking spaces could be generated it should be pursued. He said as this is a downtown building it is worth spending some extra on the exterior facility to make it look good.
Morrison added that he thought the parking was marginal for what the building is being asked to do at this point so that is his concern.
DeBoer said perhaps it should be investigated what it costs to buy the house next door and convert it to a parking lot. He thinks the whole thing is being driven by the library and maybe more investigation needs to be done again in buying the building next to the library and seeing what the cost would be and how that fits into the plan.
Scoles commented that the shared access would be cheaper, easier and could get a few more spaces. He felt it was important to pursue that.
DeBoer said that as far as shift changes go, he didn't know if a firefighter coming to work needed to park in the parking lot, and felt there was something that could be dealt with like public transportation or parking elsewhere and walking a little bit.
URBAN GROWTH MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT DECISION:
John McLaughlin explained that when the city adopted the comp plan in 1981, an agreement was reached with Jackson County as the current urban growth management agreement and that has been in place now for 20 years. It is a little dated in what it does and there are changes that have happened over time. The city is looking at revamping the agreement and reaching a new approach that better fits the needs of the county and the city. He explained that the city has been in the process for a couple of months working with the county planning staff on how the new agreement should be done. He said that Bill Molnar, Senior Planner, and Brandon Goldman, Assistant Planner, are the key staff people involved in this project.
Brandon Goldman explained it was actually initiated after completion of the buildable lands inventory which demonstrated that about 30% of the buildable land was within the urban growth boundary and that prompted the city to go forward with the TGM grant with some objectives, to meet the planning coordination needs of both the city and the county, and to establish a decision making process for any kind of modifications to that agreement. Also, to apply internal controls that would be required to maintain the potential levels of urban development that the city would like to see within the urban growth boundary, to develop a process for coordinating the future street locations within the area, promote intermodal transportation and pedestrian amenities, and appropriate residential development standards. He said the main issue in revising the agreement at this point is naming the lead jurisdiction to control the lands, either the city or county to control growth management decisions, including planning, zoning, street dedication, building permit review, inspections, etc. Ultimately, at the conclusion of negotiations with the county, they will be able to produce a list of potential amendments to the comprehensive plan at the city and county level to allow those implemental measures to be put in place. That would likely also include modifications to the transportation system plans of both the county and the city. He said that the county has come back that their position in terms of jurisdictional authority would be requested, and that all jurisdictional authority be shifted to the city. The city is looking at three different alternatives for the urban growth management agreement and we are just in the negotiation process at this point. The first would be to keep the existing framework that we have now with the UGMA. With no changes the county would maintain complete jurisdictional authority as they do now with plans within their urban growth boundary. The city would still have standing for developments within that area but the county's comprehensive plan and zoning would still apply. The second alternative would be a full jurisdictional exchange as to what the county is suggesting, in which the county transfers all jurisdictional responsibility to the City of Ashland, the city standards apply within the UGB and the city comprehensive plan, and likely the county zoning would stay in effect and would not change until properties are annexed. The city would then provide all permitting and development review and potentially collect SDC's. Because of complications that could occur from that perspective, the city is looking at a hybrid agreement somewhere between those two with potential modifications in terms of a limited jurisdictional exchange that maybe pertain to certain parts, such as the transportation system plan. Also city site design and use standards codified within Jackson County's Land Use Ordinance for a transfer of the authority to the city.
Reid said it matters how our urban growth boundary develops and that it is developing through the standards we want in place to put it through a county process where they are adopting and enforcing it, when it is not their expertise. She asked the disadvantages of the full exchange of getting the SDC's.
McLaughlin explained you cannot charge water and sewer SDC's, unless hooking onto the city system, and it is basically an impact fee. It would be along the lines of a transportation fee, but there is difficulty because they are not within our jurisdiction. He said that Josephine County has done this with Grants Pass, although Grants Pass' urban growth boundary is in much different condition than ours, and is heavily urbanized by a county process. Bend's approach was they annexed everything in and took control, but Josephine County and Grants Pass reached an agreement where Grants Pass took control of the urban growth boundary area and they have adopted a joint planning commission, which is another level of government, to review applications within that area. Our urban growth boundary takes in Jackson Hot Springs, the car dealerships, Mike's Mufflers which is now administered by the county, and some land by the airport. Uses that the city would not allow the county does, such as drive-up coffee places, but yet they are within our urban growth boundary. So if they stay there, and they are annexed, they would be annexed in as non-comforming uses. He said there would be a joint session between the council and the county commissioners in June to talk about what to do. He explained that Laurel at the county is our contact for this process. He further explained that certain businesses would be subject to the city's sign code.
DeBoer asked if the city can enforce something like the sign code, and McLaughlin explained that would be part of an agreement as to how that would be done.
McLaughlin also said that the city would have to adopt amendments because the city's sign code does not recognize auto dealerships as a certain type of use or the area on Highway 99 may have to have an overlay adopted for sign issues similar to the freeway area. Some of the issues that come up with jurisdictional exchange would be rights to city water and sewer, and the services of the city's police and fire departments.
Hartzell asked what is motivating the county to do this. She inquired what would be expected at the upcoming joint meeting in the way of preparation with council and commissioners. McLaughlin explained there will be a meeting of the Planning Commissions and this will happen beforehand. A report will follow with a clear recommendation and the direction to go in to answer the questions being raised now.
Morrison said he would be more comfortable if he felt there was a compelling reason to change that would drive us toward one of the other two options outlined, and would probably lean toward a hybrid agreement. He feels to take on the total jurisdiction would be a heavy staff commitment. However, he feels that ultimately we are protecting ourselves because of the long term implication that will be within the city. He thinks we should be very sure we want to make any move at all, and two, move toward the hybrid agreement based on the feeling of mutual responsibility and cooperation with the county.
Hartzell questioned the county's motivation, and McLaughlin explained they are looking at the services they provide, for example, building services, and for them to send someone out to do building inspections around Ashland costs money and time. With Planning, the county admittedly does not do good urban levels of planning and would like to continue with resource planning and leave those reviews to the city. Enforcement is a big issue, and even getting conditions of approval complied with.
Hartzell inquired as to the public process. McLaughlin said the affected parties will be county landowners in the urban growth boundary, and there will be public notices and opportunities for comment.
Goldman explained that the timeframe is accelerated because of TGM's contract deadline. He said it is likely the joint commission/council meeting will be either early June or late May so they have another 30 days to finalize any recommendations.
Reid would prefer the meeting to be held in Ashland, as she feels White City is not a good venue for meetings.
Meeting adjourned at 1:45 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Fran Berteau, Executive Secretary