Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


June 17, 2008
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, Navickas, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.

Mayor Morrison announced that they are currently accepting applications for a vacancy on the Forest Lands Commission, the Public Arts Commissions and for three positions on the Tree Commission.

The minutes of the Study Session of June 2, 2008, Executive Session of June 3, 2008 and Regular Council of June 3, 2008 were approved as presented.


1. Does the Council accept the Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees?
2. Should the Council approve the Intergovernmental Agreement with Jackson County to pay $5300.00 to use the County sobering unit?
3. Does the Council wish to confirm the Mayor's appointment of Treg Scott for a term to expire April 30, 2011 to the Airport Commission?
4. Shall the City Administrator be designated as the primary person responsible to insure an annual audit is performed per ORS 297?
5. "Should Council approve a resolution adopting a supplemental budget for FY 2007-2008 Budget a third time to create appropriations and authorize expenditure of grants received to purchase firefighter protective clothing and help pay for annual health insurance renewal?"
6. Should Council approve a resolution to adjust budget appropriations for changes in operational expenses to remain in compliance with Oregon Budget Law?

Mayor Morrison noted that items #5 and #6 were pulled from the agenda and will be heard at the June 30, 2008 council meeting.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1 thru #4. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.

It was announced that items #7 and #8 under Ordinances, Resolutions and Contracts would be continued until the July 1, 2008 Council meeting.

1. Should the Council grant a request for Outline Plan approval of a six-lot, five unit Performance Standards subdivision which includes a Physical and Environmental Constraints Review Permit for Development of Hillside Lands, a Tree Removal Permit to remove 13 trees six-inches in diameter at breast height (d.b.h.) or larger, and an Exception to Street Standards to allow the applicants to end street improvements at the driveway of Lot 5 rather than extending them to the southern boundary of the project?

Mayor Morrison called the Public Hearing to order at 7:10 p.m. and the procedure for the Land Use Hearing was read aloud.

Abstentions, Conflicts, Ex Parte Contacts - None reported.

Challenges - None

Staff Report
Community Development Director Bill Molnar, stated that in April 2008 the Planning Commission unanimously approved the project with nine conditions of approval. An appeal was filed by neighboring property owner, Catherine Dimino (summarized in the Council Communication). The application is a time sensitive decision and the 120 time limit will run out on July 1, 2008.

Derek Severson, Associate Planner, reviewed the various aspects of the proposal as outlined in the Council Communication and corresponding materials provided to the Council in the packet.

Staff's Response to Grounds for Appeal
1) The appellant believes the application does not meet lot coverage requirements and that the Performance Standards Options (PSO) does not grant or provide for exceptions. Mr. Severson showed how lot coverage has been applied in the past. In Mountain Creek Estates (Mountain and Hersey) there is fairly dense development allowed under the PSO and higher lot coverage than typically would be allowed, with that flexibility applied throughout the whole subdivision in order accommodate the open space it benefits the residents as well as the community. Similarly, the ordinance was applied at Chautuaqua Trace and provided common open space as an amenity. The ordinance defines coverage in terms of lot or site and states continuous lots can be under the same ownership as one. The Planning Commission has historically found that the flexibility through the ordinance can be applied in order to look at lot coverage for an entire development.

Mr. Molnar explained the lot coverage in the Rural Residential zone is 20 percent. The applicant and the Planning Commission made a finding that the applicants met the requirement. They made sure the project as a whole did not cover more than 20 percent of the five acre site. Page 2 of the Council Communication explains how the applicant distributed the lot coverage on individual lots.

2) Mr. Severson said with regard to the Exception to Street Standards, the unique or unusual circumstances are a combination of the site and use. The site is near the Urban Growth Boundary for the City. Vehicular traffic is minimal because of the gate restricting it. There is a pedestrian connection between Birdsong and Hitt Roads. The portion of the site beyond Lot 5 is not to be developed and is proposed to be preserved because it is over 35 percent slope. Mr. Molnar added one of the key requirements for meeting the burden of proof for an Exception is that there is demonstrable difficulty in extending the street improvement into the slope that would require extensive cuts and fill.

3) Mr. Severson explained with regard to the building envelope for Lot 1, the applicants are trying to preserve a significant row of trees on the the site. They notched the building envelope to accommodate the existing trees as required by the ordinance to protect the natural features. Secondly, a neighbor, Mrs. Darling, met with the applicants prior to their submittal and requested that her view of the town be preserved. The applicants proposed to create the building envelope to protect that viewline. It accommodates placing the driveway in the least sloped portion of the site. If the driveway came off Hitt, the site would have to be traversed at 35 percent slope. The Planning Commmission found it was a valid envelope in keeping with the purpose and intent of the ordinance to protect the natural features.

Staff is recommending approval of the application and support the nine conditions proposed by the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission's vote was unanimous.

Mr. Molnar clarified that staff had ongoing conversations with the Fire Department and in reviewing their conditions and report, it appears the conditions have been met. He reminded the Council that the subdivision process is a two-step process. Once Outline Plan approval has been granted, there is the Final Plan approval process. Some of the fine-tuning of the access and engineering is done at Final Plan, giving another opportunity for more detailed information, if required, by the Fire Department.

Mr. Severson added stated that Chief Hickman wanted to make it clear that the driveways would probably be providing fire access to the lots so she would want to make sure that parking wouldn't be happening in the driveways. The additional parking spaces required on the site and street would work. There will be three spaces provided on each of the private lots and between two driveways a bay will be provided for two spaces each. The gate will be moved beyond the driveway to provide turnaround. The minimum requirement to the access point for the last lot is 20 feet with curb and gutter on one side. There is a requirement to construct a turnaround that meets the standard.

Mr. Molnar clarified that the size of the subdivision does not require the applicants to dedicate open space to achieve their density. That this would be passive open space - open space with walking trails. The homeowners' association requires them to maintain a fire prevention and control plan for long-term fuel reduction the area. Lot 6 is owned in common by all five owners.

Mr. Molnar stated that if joint owners of Lot 6 were allowed to build trails or add a picnic table it could trigger another land use approval. He also added that the only long-term on-street parking adjacent to the street would be those that are constructed in bays outside the 20 feet street width.

Applicant's Presentation
Mark Knox/Urban Development Services/700 Mistletoe Road, representing the applicants Robert/Laura McLennan as the property owners/Stated that their intent has been to create a unique subdivision that will meet the intention of the Hillside Ordinance. They are pleased with the 7-0 approval by the Planning Commission. The applicants could have presented a six-lot subdivision proposal rather than five-lots. The applicants willingly self-imposed height limitations on the homes to reduce the impact and protect the views of the surrounding property owners. The applicants have proposed to increase the setbacks from 25 to 30 feet and had met earlier in the process with long-time resident, Mrs. Darling. Because of the large lots in the subdivision, the applicants have tried to retain Mrs. Darling's view. The houses shown on their plan are conceptual, however, the envelopes are fixed. The applicants are not proposing to remove any trees and have submitted a fuels reduction plan approved by the Fire Department.

Mr. Knox discussed lot coverage and explained that lot coverage is a planning tool in the Performance Standards zone to allow clustering of development. It allows creeks to have greater setbacks and the creation of common areas rather than disturbance or development.

Mr. Knox clarified the on-street parking and that the applicant is not required in the RR zone to have any on-street parking. It is clear in the Hillside Standards that a 20-foot fire clearance is required. The ordinance also discusses the consequences of widening a road (cuts and fills). They are asking to do what is permitted in the ordinance in order to preserve the natural features and minimize disturbance to the hillside. The applicants proposed to add a third parking space to each lot. They found there were places where they could accommodate two eight foot parking bays without increasing the impact to the site. He believes the parking bays may be more of a convenience for hikers in the area.

Mr. Knox clarified that street improvements would be extended and widened and that there is an area for fire truck turnaround. As houses are built, "No Parking" signs will be installed along the road.

Opponents and Their Representatives
Catherine Dimino/423 Strawberry Lane/Refer to submitted Exhibit #01-2008/Spoke regarding lot coverage. Chapter 18.88 which she felt provides for more flexibility but is clear that lot coverage in a subdivision is not allowed by this chapter. She stated the language of 18.88.100 states that the "Developments exercising the Performance Standards Options shall be required to meet all other applicable sectionsof the Land Use Development ordinance except for minimum lot size, lot width, lot depth and setback requirements, and except as otherwise provided in the Chapter." The stated exceptions do not include lot coverage nor is lot coverage mentioned anywhere else in this chapter. "Flexibility" in this chapter does not mean you can allow unstated exceptions. Ms. Dimino continued her arguments by stating that the code does not state that lot coverage is expressed in terms of the subdivision site as a whole. The definition of coverage does not state that lot or site coverage is a percentage of the area of the lot or site. It says coverage is a percentage of the area of the lot or site. She concluded that if more than 20 percent lot coverage is granted, the only reasonable option would be to grant 20 percent impervious surface and the remaining percentage designated for pervious surfaces, thus lessening the impact to the neighborhood and preserving the natural environment.

Ms. Dimino believes that the issues she has raised regarding a common driveway or an alley between Strawberry Lane and the upper portion of Hitt Road were never addressed. It is her opinion that an alley is a much better option for the neighborhood because it would be an alternate access to homes on Hitt Road. An alley would provide for more interesting designs with garages not visible to the street, alleys would reduce traffic on a substandard street, make the subdivision more neighborly, and provide a superior transportation facility and connectivity.

Ms. Dimino requested that the record be left open.

Those Wishing to Provide Testimony
Debra Kutcher/400 Strawberry/Spoke opposing any additional parking spaces because people will drive to the end of the road finding all spaces occupied and requiring them to turn around and drive down the road causing additional traffic on the road. She would prefer minimal traffic on Hitt Road as well as minimal asphalt in the area.

Karen Darling/490 Strawberry Lane/Noted that she had lived in the area since 1973 and has experienced most of the changes in the neighborhood. Working with her neighbors in a spirit of compromise and cooperation has been the best approach for her. She is the person most affected by this development because of the location of her home. In the early planning stages of development the applicants had asked for Ms. Darling's input and she had expressed a fear of losing her view. The footprint of the future house is placed in such a way that will preserve part of her view. She asked the Council to retain the footprint or the envelope of the house that will someday be built. If the future builder has free reign to build anywhere on the lot, it's very possible she will lose all of her view and house valuation too.

Rebuttal by the Applicant
Mr. Knox clarified that there are three driveways proposed in this application. Of the existing five driveways, three come off one driveway. The applicants would also be happier if they were not required to install the upper parking lot. He said with regard to providing an alley, it is best not to add roads, but to utilize the resources that are there. They did try to work out several scenarios. Mr. Knox contended that the definition of lot coverage allows for the lot or site to be considered as a whole.

About two weeks ago, Mr. Knox, submitted a 30 day extension to the 120 day rule.

The applicant stated that they wish to submit final written argument.

Councilor Navickas/Hartzell m/s to leave record open for seven days until June 25th at 5 p.m. and allow the applicant to submit final written argument by July 2nd at 5 p.m. The Council will continue their deliberations to July 15, 2008 at 7 p.m. Roll Call Vote: Hardesty, Navickas, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.

2. Will Council approve increases to the Water, Wastewater, Transportation and Storm Water utility rates effective August 1, 2008?
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report. He explained that the need for this increase had been identified during the budget process and in the provided Council Communication. Rising costs in all areas and in some cases a reduction in sales impact bottom line, ending fund balances and the ability to cover overhead. This is particularly true in the water fund where there is infrastructure, debt service and overhead.

The staff report indicated both revenues and expenses for the different utilities. In the budget process, three to five percent rate increases for these utilities had been identified. Staff recommended a three percent increase in the transportation fee, the wastewater fee; an increase from five percent to ten percent for the stormwater fee, and to use a range of adjustments in the water fee in order to provide for a conservation incentive.

Estimated impact on a monthly basis from these rates is estimated at $.23 more for a single family dwelling for the transportation street fee, $.37 more for stormwater, $.57 more for wastewater, and water in the $2.00 to $2.50 ranger per month. The adjustments are primarily for operational costs and do not necessarily deal with capital improvements but may help the debt service that is related to capital improvements.

Mr.Tuneberg explained that staff had tried to balance the need for increases while minimizing the impact on the customer/citizen. In order to do the right adjustment for each of these enterprises each year, the operational side also needed to be taken into consideration. The four proposed adjustments average 5.7 percent and the average utility bill for a family of four with a single-family dwelling is estimated at $3.60 per month.

Staff provided proposed Resolutions with the updated language to begin as of August 1, 2008.

Public Hearing Opened: 8:58 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 8:58 p.m.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2008-19 relating to Transportation Utility Rate Schedule. DISCUSSION: Councilor Navickas voiced his concern with the amount of stress put on utility rates. He felt that by keeping property taxes low, it forces the council to place franchise fees on public utilities and that it takes money from public utilities and places it into the general fund-to-fund basic public safety services. He believes we need to grapple with the regressive nature of the entire tax structure as a city. He stated that he would vote "no" on all of these rate increases as a statement of protest to the Budget Committee.

Councilor Silbiger noted that the School Levy and a large percentage of the property offset the property tax decrease and property users in the city are not subject to property tax, but they do pay utilities. He agreed that the franchise fee decision was not in the best interest of the city.

Mayor Morrison responded that the Budget Committee had spent several months going through a difficult process and did not support he council opening up this argument.

Councilor Hardesty voiced her concern with the increase but felt that the strategy used for the increase in the water fee is sensible.

Roll Call Vote: Hartzell, Jackson, Chapman, Silbiger, and Hardesty, YES; Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve Resolution #2008-17 relating to Water Service. DISCUSSION: Mr. Tuneberg for council that to cut the Capital Improvement budget could have an impact because it could affect how the debt service is paid. He stated that the increase is primarily for current Capital Improvement Projects or increased operational costs. Roll Call Vote: Silbiger, Hartzell, Chapman, Hardesty and Jackson, YES: Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

Councilor Silbiger/Jackson m/s to approve Resolution #2008-16 relating to Wastewater Service. Roll Call Vote: Jackson, Chapman, Silbiger, Hardesty, and Hartzell, YES; Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve Resolution #2008-18 relating to Storm Drainage Utility Rate. Roll Call Vote: Silbiger, Jackson, Hartzell, Hardesty and Chapman, YES; Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

Doyle Hirsch/805 Clay Street/Spoke regarding the noxious weed removal ordinance and noted many properties owned by the city that are infested with blackberries. He explained that he had a small hedge of blackberries in front of his house that he has maintained for 20 years. He has been receiving e-mails from the City that he is in violation of the weed abatement ordinance and is facing a possible fine. City Administrator Martha Bennett stated that staff would review his case and respond by letter to him.

John Stromberg/252 Ridge Road/Spoke as the Chair of the Planning Commission and notified the council that the Planning Commission was planning to discuss the enforcement of the sign ordinance. A meeting is being considering in order to gather public input from all interested citizens and they will notify the council if an ordinance amendment is necessary.

City Attorney Richard Appicello stated that the legal department is working with staff on clarification of the ordinance. He explained that the Council is not involved in enforcement but in policy and it is not just the sign ordinance that is causing discontent among business owners, but also blockage of sidewalks, etc. that involves other sections of the ordinance.

Ambuja Rosen/Expressed her concern that Councilor Silbiger has not responded to her e-mails to him concerning adoption of an anti-tethering ordinance. She believes he needs to represent the majority of his constituency.

1. Does the Council wish to approve an agreement to partially settle MAA v. City of Ashland? Please Note: Materials will be provided on June 17, 2008.

City Administrator Martha Bennett briefly explained the partial settlement agreement as outlined in the Council Communication and the attached amended complaint. Staff recommends the partial settlement agreement for Council approval.

Councilor Chapman/Hartzell m/s to approve agreement to partially settle MAA v. City of Ashland. Roll Call Vote: Hardesty, Navickas, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.

1. Should the City Council conduct and approve Second Reading of an Ordinance titled, "An Ordinance Levying Taxes for the Period of July 1, 2008 to and including June 30, 2009, Such taxes in the sum of $8,616,000 upon all the real and personal property subject to assessment and levy within the corporate limits of the City of Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon" and move approval of the ordinance?

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve Ordinance #2958. Roll Call Vote: Silbiger, Chapman, Hardesty, Hartzell and Jackson, YES; Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

1. How does Council wish to distribute Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenue generated by the existing 7% and the additional 2% tax to be implemented effective October 1, 2008?

Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report. Under "Staff Recommendation," he references Item A, but the recommendation from the staff is Item B (reference page 2, B. and the table). Mr. Tuneberg reiterated the points for discussion as outlined on page 1 of the Council Communication. The proposed resolution is included in the packet. A key item the resolution addresses is the removal from the resolution that references the Public Arts Commission needing to apply, and identified that there would be money from this revenue stream that would go to this group automatically.

Mr. Tuneberg explained that the City has already made a downward adjustment in revenue, without the increase in the tax, due to the current economic situation. By starting the new tax later, staff estimated an overall reduction of about one-third.

City Administrator Martha Bennett attempted to clarify the pro-rating system used for Public Arts. Staff used $9,000 because it had already been awarded through the budget process. She stated that if the Council wanted to allocate the $29,000 to the small grants they would need directed to allocate it or they would have to go through another granting process.

The following were suggested as choices for the allocation:

  • Bank the money (Staff felt would be most prudent)

  • Direct allocate. (Council provided with options and recommendation by staff that it be clear that it is a one year direct allocation)

  • Allow for an additional Grant round. (Staff explained that this is very labor intensive to go through this for a small amount of money)

  • Use the monies for qualified city projects that are not yet developed, and

  • Direct grant monies to medium size groups.

Ms. Bennett clarified the tourism restrictions associated.

Tom Olbrich/356 Alta Street/Executive Director of Ashland Independent Film Festival and past Board Member of the Visitors Convention Bureau (VCB). He stated that their organization would benefit greatly from the marketing aspects of a healthy VCB and from the small grants committee named the "Cultural and Economic Development Subcommittee" of the Budget Committee. He believes "tourism" should be included in the name. He felt that the direction of the Council seemed to be to shift some of the increase to the small grants committee, which was not the staff's recommendation. He questioned how organizations would be able to "prove" they had met the state requirements. He also questioned how, by shifting to percentages, it would reflect the Council's recommendation made on April 15 - 45 percent to VCB, 25 percent to OSF, and 12 percent to tourism.

Sharon Javna/219 Almond/President of the Board Science Works/Noted a letter previously sent to the Council. She explained that they are the largest small organization and that the amounts received from the City over the years have been two percent of their budget. She shared how their tracking system works and three projects that have to do with attracting tourists.

Councilor Hartzell stated that based on the current economy she favored giving $10,000 each to Science Works and to the Film Festival and to bank the $9,000. Her second choice would be to do a study on the current going on in the downtown area.

Councilor Navickas approved the idea of giving some of the money to some of the small grantees but not necessarily to Science Works and the Film Festival as they would not take a significant hit due to the crisis in the economy like some other organizations would. He suggested $20,000 go to the Plaza upgrade and to bank the remaining $9,000.

Councilor Jackson favored banking the money and to review it over the coming year. She is not ready to allocate it to any particular organization and state that an evaluation process was already in place. She stated that VCB Grants had not been pro-rated as all others had been. She supported the requirement to produce data that would help to document marketing efforts.

Councilor Silbiger voiced his support on banking some or all of the money. He felt that if a Qualified City Project were to be approved that no consultant fees be involved.

Councilor Chapman reviewed the direction of the Council from the April 15 meeting and commented on the State defined tourism and that Regional tourism is almost as important to the City as State defined tourism. He felt that the problem with the small tourism grants could have been resolved by increasing the money in the economic development part of the grant. He supported the initial allocation of $9,000 and to consider taking some of the money from the Economic Development side for Small Grants. He suggested splitting the $100,000 from the tourism side between the VCB and Qualified City Projects. He felt that the City should begin to build a fund for tourist related facilities (Qualified City Projects) by banking the $29,000.

Mayor Morrison stated that the decision is how to manage the $29,000 and how best to put it to work. He reminded all of the current economic crisis and voiced his support on investing the $29,000 in the community. He commented on how ready the VCB is and the projects they currently have in place. That the VCB is a known producer that promises the best return on the City's investment.

Councilor Hardesty stated that if the money is banked it should go toward Qualified City Projects identified by the Council. She agreed that the VCB had not been pro-rated and on the importance of the VCB to work with organizations like Science Works and the Film Festival for marketing and tracking purposes.

Councilor Hardesty/Silbiger accept staff's recommendations and to bank $29,000 to go toward Qualified City Projects that Council will decide later on. Roll Call Vote: Hardesty, Navickas, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES; Hartzell, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

Councilor Jackson/Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution relating to distribution of TOT.

Silbiger/Hartzell amended the motion to insert the word "and tourism" to the title of the Resolution. Roll Call Vote: Chapman, Silbiger, Jackson, Hartzell, Navickas, Hardesty, YES. Motion passed.

Councilor Chapman/Jackson m/s to amend the motion to approve the resolution to change "Economic and Cultural Grants" from 12 percent to 2 percent, and change "Remaining to tourism projects determined in a budget process" to 25 percent. DISCUSSION: Hartzell objected to the amendment as she felt the Council was not talking numbers and it had not been discussed enough.

Councilor Hartzell/Navickas m/s to table the motion. Roll Call Vote: Hartzell, Jackson, Navickas, Chapman and Hardesty, YES; Silbiger, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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