Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Study Session

Tuesday, June 23, 2009




JUNE 23, 2009



Chair Michael Dawkins called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.


Planning Commissioners Present:


Staff Present:

Larry Blake

Michael Dawkins
Tom Dimitre

David Dotterrer

Pam Marsh

Debbie Miller

Melanie Mindlin

Mike Morris


Bill Molnar, Community Development Director

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant




Absent Members:


Council Liaison:



Eric Navickas



A.         Ashland Transportation System Plan (TSP) – Discussion of Grant proposal, Project Scope and Tentative Timeline

Community Development Director Bill Molnar provided a brief introduction on transportation planning and Oregon’s land use system. He commented on State Planning Goal #12, which is the state’s transportation goal, and stated the objective of this goal is to create a pattern of travel and land use that will avoid the air pollution and traffic movability problems faced by other areas of the country, avoid principle reliance upon any one mode of transportation by providing increased transportation choices, evaluate land use designations and densities to support transit lines, and increase shopping areas with convenient walking and cycling distance of residential areas. Mr. Molnar also commented on the Transportation Element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and explained this document is an expression of the community’s values towards transportation; however it is still required to be consistent with the overall State goal. Lastly, he explained the City has a Transportation System Plan (TSP), which is a component of the Comprehensive Plan. This document takes the vision that is contained in the Comprehensive Plan and states what actions need to be taken to implement the community vision. Mr. Molnar stated the TSP was adopted in 1998 and states that the underlying concept of Ashland’s Transportation Element is modal equity (equal consideration of all travel modes); and through this modal equity concept, the City recognizes the need for a well designed, integrated, and convenient network of pedestrian, bicycle, public transit, and automobile systems in order to realize their vision.


Mr. Molnar explained that the City’s Public Works Department has applied for a grant to update the City’s TSP, and he commented on the three key nodes that the City would evaluate as part of this project. Mr. Molnar concluded by stating the TSP update will ultimately coordinate what the Planning Commission is doing with land use with what the Transportation Commission is doing in terms of evaluating the citywide transportation system and brings them together to make a stronger system for the entire community.


Public Works Director Mike Faught and Transportation Commission Chair Colin Swales came forward to address the Commission. Mr. Faught noted the importance as they move forward with the TSP update that they receive input from the Planning Commission about the needs in Ashland in terms of transportation and as they relate to the land use process.


Mr. Faught commented on the grant application and noted several of the key objectives, including:

·         Improve quality of life and support economic prosperity;

·         Safe and efficient multi-modal networks based on existing and forecasted land use;

·         Increase bicycle and pedestrian trips;

·         Create a “green” template for other communities;

·         Develop mixed land use activity centers with a multi-modal focus;

·         Develop transit corridors using land use and transportation measures to support the public transportation system;

·         Update the Street Design Standards to provide more options for enhanced pedestrian and bicycle facilities;

·         Plan for further safety and operational improvements such as bicycle and pedestrian lighting, bicycle boulevards and separated bike lanes.


Mr. Faught commented on the plan update process and stated they will need to work closely and in concert with the Planning Commission in order to have a plan that works well for Ashland. He explained the adoption of the Transportation System Plan update is a land use process and will come before the Planning Commission for a public hearing and then onto the City Council for final adoption.


Transportation Chair Colin Swales explained the Transportation Commission is mainly comprised of people who spent time on the Traffic Safety and Bicycle and Pedestrian Commissions. He stated they are all well equipped to deal with the task at hand; however there are many projects coming forward including the Croman Master Plan, the SOU Master Plan, and the development of the railroad property, and it would be best if they can consult with the Planning Commission as these move forward.  


Comment was made questioning how the improvements in the TSP would be funded. Mr. Faught explained the final plan will include funding options; some will be paid for through SDCs, while others will have to be incorporated into the City’s Capital Improvement Plan. He added some of the projects may qualify for regional and state funding options, and the City will pursue these as they become available.


Comment was made questioning how the City would go about creating the transportation vision. Mr. Faught explained the City will issue a very specific RFP for the consultant that will assist with this project. He stated the selected consultant will have to be open to other modes of transportation that would work well in Ashland and be able to take the input from the community and incorporate it into the plan. He added the Transportation Commission will also have a major role in making sure the plan meets Ashland’s needs.


Mr. Faught clarified the Transportation Commission and the Planning Commission will need to work together and it will be important for the Planning Commission to express any zone changes or large development plans they are considering so that the Transportation Commission can appropriately plan for the transportation needs. Mr. Molnar added this is going to be a back and forth process and noted a Joint Meeting between the two commissions has been scheduled for August 25, 2009.


B.         History of Resource Efficiency in Ashland

Electric Director Dick Wanderscheid provided a presentation titled “Energy efficiency, renewables, and sustainability: a 25 year history of resource efficiency in Ashland.” Highlights from the presentation included:

  • Ashland is the fourth oldest municipal utility in Oregon and has been in existence since 1909.
  • The City of Ashland has operated an electric efficiency program since 1982, a water efficiency program since 1992, and renewables since 1996.
  • In the last 25 years, per capita electric consumption has gone down and Ashland currently has one of the lowest consumption rates in the state.
  • Water use in Ashland has also been reduced approximately 28 gallons per person, per day, since 2000.
  • Ashland adopted one of the first Solar Access ordinances in the U.S. in 1982. That same year the City also adopted a performance development ordinance that included density bonuses for energy efficient housing and began offering a series of comprehensive energy efficiency programs in conjunction with BPA.
  • Between 1982 and 2006, Ashland has invested approximately $16.1 million in energy efficiency, conservation and renewables.
  • In 1990, the City turned to water use efficiency programs as a means to increase our water supply. These efforts have been successful and the City has been able to save 500,000 gallons per day during the summer months. In 1998 the Council adopted a new goal of saving 1.5 million gallons per day by 2050.
  • In 1986, the City began offering the Super Good Cents program, and in 2004 that program was replaced with Earth Advantage, which is a sustainable new home program that addresses all facets of green building.
  • The City has utilized density bonuses since 1982. Currently the City offers a 15% increase in density if all the homes are built to the Earth Advantage standards.
  • The City adopted the Valdez Principles in 1990, and every year staff updates the Council on all the things the City has done to support those principles.
  • The City purchases 1aMW (5% of load) of green wholesale power (wind) from BPA each year.
  • In 2004, the City and BPA won the “Innovative Application of Technology Award” for the Power Shift program.

Mr. Wanderscheid concluded his presentation by speaking on what the future may hold. He noted the Governor’s 2009 legislative plan and spoke on climate change, carbon reporting, and plug in electric vehicles. Mr. Wanderscheid explained the City’s new 20 year contract with BPA that contains tiered wholesale rates that will require Ashland to meet its load growth at higher wholesale prices than it has under the current contract. He stated these new rates will take effect in October 2011 and will impact the cost effectiveness of energy efficiency programs in the City. 


Mr. Wanderscheid further explained the impacts electric vehicles will have on the City’s electric utility. He stated as plug-in hybrids and other electric vehicles become available the City will need a carefully thought out plan to address this issue. He added it would make sense for the City to consider a smart grid, telecom and SCADA application to ensure that charging of vehicles occurs at off peak times.



A.         September Planning Commission Meetings

Mr. Molnar announced the City Council has adjusted their meeting schedule in September and as a result the Planning Commission will not have access to the Council Chambers on their normal meeting dates. He suggested two options are to either shift the Planning Commission meeting dates to the first and third Tuesday in September, or shift the regular meeting to the first Tuesday and hold the Study Session on its regular date in the Siskiyou Room of the Community Development Bld. Staff was directed to send an email to the commissioners to gather their preferences. 



Meeting adjourned at 9:20 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

April Lucas, Administrative Assistant


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