Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Business Meeting

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21, 2012
Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, Silbiger, and Chapman were present.
Mayor Stromberg pulled Agenda item #1.  Acceptance of an offer for a land exchange with James C. Miller, adjacent to the Ashland Gun Club under PUBLIC HEARINGS for further staff attention.
He went on to announce vacancies on the Firewise Commission, Housing Commission, Public Arts Commission, Tree Commission, and Audit Committee.
The minutes of the Study Session of August 6, 2012, Executive Session of August 6, 2012, Joint Meeting of August 7, 2012 and Business Meeting of August 7, 2012 were approved as presented.
Mayor Stromberg’s Proclamation declaring August 25, 2012 as Teenage Suicide Awareness Day was read aloud.
1.   Approval of Commission, Committee, and Board Minutes
2.   Annual renewal of liquor licenses
3.   Appointment of Paula Sohl to the ad hoc Steering Committee on Homelessness
4.   Approval of FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant requests
5.   Ratification of labor contract with the Ashland Firefighters Association IAFF Local #1269
6.   Approval of plaza activity policy
Councilor Morris pulled Consent Agenda item #6 for discussion.
Councilor Chapman/Slattery m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1 through #5.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Staff explained the open flame prohibition in the plaza activity policy pertained to cooking and did not extend to fire dancing.  The 64 square-foot space requirement would allow the City Administrator discretion to approve more space for larger events as needed.
Councilor Morris/Slattery m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #6. Voice Vote: Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
1.   Acceptance of an offer for a land exchange with James C. Miller, adjacent to the Ashland Gun Club
Item postponed.
1.Approval of final design for downtown plaza
City Administrator Dave Kanner provided background on the process.  Public Works Superintendent Mike Morrison added staff would remove the lead based paint on the curbs 2013 and steam cleaning the sidewalks would happen fall 2012.  Both projects would come from Street Department funds.
Mr. Kanner explained prevailing wage was rolled into the construction estimates, and design fees were not included in the overall budget cost.  Staff considered consistent planting in planter boxes and trash receptacle replacement separate projects and did not include them in the costs.  The Electric Department would determine lighting placement for future installation and those costs were not included in the budget at this time.
Greg Covey and Alan Pardee from Covey Pardee provided a presentation on the final design that included examples of how concrete in Ashland was historical.  The plan added six benches with backs and retained the length of seat wall specified in the original design.  They reduced the width of the long straight seat wall and recommended shrubs and groundcover that would protect existing tree roots from pedestrian traffic.  The plan would replace concrete with a permeable paving system that would filter storm water.  Concrete would cost 60% more than the pre-cast concrete permeable pavers.  Covey Pardee also recommended the addition of three trees.
The existing percentage of paving was 54% of the total site area and the proposed was 65% creating a 20% increase in concrete paving compared to the overall site area.   Construction specifications on permeable pavers allowed only a 1/8 inch variance over 10-feet of pavers, greatly reducing trip hazards.  The new trees would not heave paving and have root guards in the tree grates that would keep roots below grade.
Marilyn Briggs/590 Glenview Drive/Expressed disappointment the final plan did not have the concrete platform and the additional trees would block pedestrian traffic, people gathering and obstruct larger displays.  She thought the Plaza should have open space with neutral tones and let the people passing through provide the color and action instead of plants.  Overall, she thought it was a wonderful urban design.
Catherine Dimino/423 Strawberry Lane/Read from a document she submitted into the record stating concern the downtown area was not wheelchair safe, asked Council during construction projects to make dangerous areas a higher priority, and take into consideration access problems for the disabled.  
Andrew Kubik/1251 Munson Drive/Explained he liked the Plaza re-design but thought it was incompatible with the overall architecture of the area.  The additional pavement would generate heat retention and create an uncomfortable atmosphere.  Project costs outweighed the end benefit and he strongly encouraged Council to work with Covey Pardee and balance the re-design with a preservation effort to retain its character.   
Pete Cislo/4631 Evening Ridge Terrace, Medford/Spoke as the owner of a landscape supply company on the benefits permeable pavers were to an environment.  He talked to the bidders and thought Council would be pleasantly surprised at the low bids submitted.
Mardy Larson Carson/455 B Street/Thought the design was beautiful but shared concerns with project costs, the lack of restroom facilities, and asked Council to incorporate a lavatory into the design.
Bob Arago/370 Courtney Street/Approved the re-design and observed the changes made over the eight years he had worked at the Information Center had done little to unify the Plaza and the new design would do just that.
Thomas Gaffey/680 Oak Street/Explained his connection to the Plaza and shared comments from visitors he surveyed regarding the Plaza that wanted the area cleaned up but did not support a re-design.
Isabeau Vollhardt/51 West Hersey Street/Agreed with Mr. Gaffey’s testimony and added the Plaza needed to be a place where people who lived in Ashland or visited for lengthy periods would spend time there and that it reflected the history of the community and was not just a pedestrian walkway.
Tom Stanley/7428 Stonefield Drive, White City/Wondered how the Plaza as the heart of the city was in disrepair and not properly maintained.  The City should have contacted civic groups, volunteers, or sponsors to adopt the Plaza.  The cost of the re-design was too high, unwarranted, and impacted funding available for other city improvements.  The proposed design lacked historical cohesiveness.  He thought Council should stop the project and have the community work together through civic clubs, volunteers, and sponsors to collaborate and address the areas of concern.  Additionally, the City could use a portion of the funds for Plaza maintenance on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.     
Lisa Alexander-Stanley/7428 Stonefield Drive, White City/Read from documents she submitted into the record expressing concern the idea to re-fresh the Plaza had turned into a re-design.  She explained why she suspected the City, the Chamber of Commerce, and Plaza business owners of having a hidden agenda to eliminate homeless people and transients.   Regardless of the motivation, the Plaza re-design was a costly mistake.
Mr. Covey explained color and material affected heat retention.  Poured concrete in its natural form had the highest reflectivity.  Permeable paving would retain more heat than natural gray poured concrete.  Permeable pavers would protect the health of trees, allow them to grow and provide a larger shade canopies.  If exposed to the sun only, permeable pavers would warm up more than gray concrete. 
He went on to confirm the project would add three new trees.  The other six trees would remain except for the Modesto Ash that had contracted Anthracnose disease.  The City consulted an arborist and options were nursing the tree back to health requiring dramatic measures or removal and replacement. It was difficult waiting for a tree to grow and provide shade but planting the right tree in the right place was important.
Covey Pardee originally intended the raised stage area as a gathering space with wide seating behind.  Negative feedback from the public during the Public Input meetings and later from Council prompted them to remove it from the plan, reduce seating space, and create an implied venue space instead.
An independent arborist’s report concurred with the Parks and Recreation Department staff arborist the Japanese maple had incurred damaged and decline from people climbing it and sitting underneath it.
The best option for the health of the tree was transplanting it in a park where people could not add harm and replace it with a larger canopy tree in the Plaza.
The new design would require less intensive maintenance but still need maintenance.  The modified utility box would be in a pre-cast concrete form that could display art similar to the curved wall in front of the Center for Visual Arts at Southern Oregon University.  Moving the utility was included in the City portion of the budget.
Councilor Slattery/ Morris m/s to approve the final design for the downtown Plaza as presented by Covey Pardee and direct staff to work with Covey Pardee on construction documents and bid packages, with the goal of undertaking the designed improvements to the Plaza beginning in January 2013. DISCUSSION: Councilor Slattery thought the initial costs were high but received a lot of support from the community.  The overall design was worthy of moving forward.  Councilor Morris added the design provided a better transition over time.  Councilor Chapman thought the design lacked interest and was the wrong style for the area but liked the permeable pavers.  Councilor Lemhouse appreciated Mr. Kanner addressing the factual basis of the economic side, and that the City started to save money a few years prior restricted to tourism, specifically for capital projects.  Due to weather, time, frequent use, and lengthy camping sessions the Plaza was in disrepair and Council had a responsibility to take care of it.  Funds spent on the Plaza were an investment in potential revenue increase from tourism, and the increased morale of the community. 
Councilor Voisin noted the original idea of refreshing the Plaza had grown into a re-design that was piecemeal and too expensive and other improvements were more important.  Additionally, no one had discussed how the re-design related to the Downtown Plan.  The design did not fit in the downtown area and she would not support the motion.  Mayor Stromberg observed the Plaza could not stay the way it was and Councilor Chapman agreed.  He regretted the public process that involved 80 people in the design and wondered what Covey Pardee would have proposed on their own.  The trees definitely needed tending and protection but he would not support the motion.  Councilor Voisin agreed the Plaza needed refreshing and suggested forming a committee to focus on design, relate it to the Downtown Plan, and make suggestions to Council.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Lemhouse, Morris, Slattery, and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Voisin and Chapman, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
1    Second reading of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending AMC 14.08.030 connection outside city, inside urban growth boundary and adding AMC 14.09.020 sewer lateral ownership”
Councilor Voisin/Lemhouse m/s to approve Ordinance #3073.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Chapman, Lemhouse, Morris, Voisin, and Slattery, YES. Motion passed.
2.   Renewal of a motion to approve first reading by title only of the ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending section 18.32.025 of the Ashland Land Use Ordinance to provide for the relocation or redevelopment of four financial institutions’ existing, non-conforming drive-up uses in Ashland’s Historic Interest Area” and move it on to second reading.
Councilor Chapman did not think the issue was resolved at the previous meeting properly and wanted it brought back for further discussion. 
Councilor Chapman/Morris m/s to First Reading of the ordinance and move to Second Reading. DISCUSSION:  Councilor Chapman reviewed the ordinance and determined it did not eliminate drive-ups, would benefit institutions that wanted to redevelop their property without moving and it would be advantageous to have a special permitted use defined.  Although a conditional use permit might be more effective because it would encourage public input.  Councilor Morris thought it was disrespectful Council had not discussed the application the Planning Commission recommended at the August 7, 2012 Council meeting.  The ordinance did not eliminate drive-ups and allowed current owners to lessen the impacts like reducing drive-up lanes.
Councilor Lemhouse agreed Council did not handle the application well in regards to closure.  However, he had weighed the argument and did not think it was a good idea to make this change to the code, especially since it did not come from the bank itself.  Councilor Slattery agreed with Councilor Lemhouse.  He was uncomfortable the bank was not the initiating entity, it felt piecemeal and he was not swayed by the presentation.
Councilor Silbiger did not think the reasons supporting the application were compelling.  The current policy to reduce drive-ups had failed and this was the perfect time for Council to change and update the ordinance.  Councilor Voisin agreed with public testimony from the last meeting that there was nothing currently to stop the suggested improvements.  She read from the Downtown Design Standards that discouraged exclusive automotive uses in the downtown and the City’s discretionary powers to new uses.  Updating the ordinance was not necessary.
Mayor Stromberg explained the economic development strategy called for a review of current procedures and the removal of those that were unnecessarily burdensome or not appropriate in particular settings. The applicant made a good case that a conditional use permit (CUP) may not be beneficial in this situation.  He suggested a sunset clause that would eventually eliminate all drive-ups in the downtown area.  Councilor Chapman thought a sunset clause would deter redevelopment efforts.  Councilor Morris added this was not C-1 or C-1D zone.  It was a split zone R2-E1 that would require a site review anyway.  Because of the zoning, he did not see how a bank could relocate their drive-ups within town.
Councilor Slattery appreciated a possible compromise but if the intention in the Comprehensive Plan was lowering the number of drive-ups, Council needed to determine whether the City was accomplishing that or if they needed to readdress the entire issue.  Until he understood the direction better, he could not support the motion.  Councilor Silbiger clarified the Comprehensive Plan stated the City develop ordinances that discouraged drive-ups.  The proposed amendments would not encourage drive-ups and the additional regulations placed more conditions that further discouraged them. 
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Morris, Silbiger, YES; Councilor Lemhouse, Slattery, and Voisin, NO.  Mayor Stromberg broke the tie with a YES vote.  Motion approved 4-3.
Councilor Slattery as liaison to the Mt. Ashland Association (MAA) Board provided an update regarding the ski expansion.  An Oregon Federal Judge dissolved the injunction that blocked the ski expansion and dismissed the complaint.  MAA was now poised to start developing the operation plan that required vetting by the US Forest Service and the City as well as continue ongoing fund raising efforts to reach the amount required for the expansion.  Currently they had saved $230,000 for the project.  They also anticipated an appeal that would delay the process further.  MAA assured Councilor Slattery they would not start logging and the plan had not changed.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:25 p.m.
_____________________________              ______________________________
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder                 John Stromberg, Mayor

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