Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, August 05, 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Lemhouse, Rosenthal, Voisin, Marsh, Morris, and Slattery were present.
1.     Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
2.     Continued discussion of creating an urban renewal agency and district(s)
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the only change since the feasibility study was the inclusion of land within the study areas in the Jackson County Enterprise zone. The enterprise zone slowed the rate of tax growth in an urban renewal district by suppressing the ability to bond for projects because the City would not be able to raise much money for debt service.  In terms of Croman Mill, the feasibility study found the City would not be able to generate enough revenue to pay for all the projects identified in the study.  An urban renewal agency would be able to do fewer projects in Croman Mill site due to the enterprise zone and ecommerce overlay.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar confirmed the Croman Mill area was not capable of raising the $20,400,000 of improvements and at the minimum needed to generate $11,000,000 for critical public infrastructure.  Council was interested if Croman Mill could be a single urban renewal project.  Mr. Kanner noted each urban renewal district had its own budget and clarified an urban renewal agency could take on multiple districts.  For Ashland, one district would require a half time project manager.
Management Analyst Adam Hanks explained the IOF (Immediate Opportunities Fund) from ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) predicated an entity signing up to be the job creator.  Plexis Healthcare Systems was originally interested in moving to the site but did not want to commit to the job creator requirements in the IOF Grant.  The property owners could not apply for the IOF themselves and needed a job creator to receive the grant.  The first developer in the area was responsible for putting in the road and curb. 
Council discussed setting urban renewal aside to focus on the Croman Mill Master Plan, make any necessary changes then determine whether urban renewal was an option. 
Mr. Hanks explained the property owners were not active partners and interested in getting a developer. 
Mr. Molnar thought the significant infrastructure costs affected the desirability of private investors.
Council directed staff to convene a meeting with the property owners and their representative Mike Montero, SOREDI (Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc.), Councilors Lemhouse, Morris, and Slattery, the Mayor, Mr. Kanner, Mr. Molnar, and Mr. Hanks.  The group would discuss possible funding by the City, infrastructure adjustments to the Croman Master Plan, determine impediments to the project, and share results at the next available Study Session. 
3.         Discussion of whether to proceed with miscellaneous Municipal Code updates
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the state passed a law that would allow legal marijuana dispensaries to get business licenses although it remained illegal under federal law.  Ashland Municipal Code did not support business licenses for establishments conducting business that was illegal under any law.  There were three possible options.  One option would explicitly state if a business had an Oregon business license to operate a dispensary the City would issue an Ashland business license.  The second was adding language to the code if it was legal under state law the City would issue a business license.  The third would give the City Administrator the discretion to determine whether a business license was legal under state law.  Alternately, staff could remove the language from the business license code.
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the risk of not making a change to the code was someone turned down for a business license suing the City.  There was also the option of not doing anything until a lawsuit occurred then revising the code.
Council discussed the need for zoning restrictions and restricting the law further for regulation. The state law was an attempt to regulate the industry. There was a legitimate use and need for users to access the system in a reasonable way.
Council and staff went on to discuss Study Session rules.  Mr. Lohman explained under state law Council could pass ordinances and resolutions during a Study Session but code provisions only allowed Council to direct staff for additional information.  Mr. Lohman would provide legal definitions for decisions, deliberation, and language that allowed debating towards a decision but not actually passing ordinances or resolutions or providing direction on managerial functions.  Additionally the Mayor or Council majority could decide to move a Study Session topic to a regular Council meeting if it generated enough public interest.
Council and staff addressed electronic meeting attendance for commissions.  With the exception of the Council and the Planning Commission, Council thought each commission and committee should decide whether to allow electronic attendance for extenuating circumstances that were well defined.  Other comments thought allowing electronic attendance might encourage more participants.  Council was interested in evaluating how often commissions met, possibly reducing the number of annual meetings, recruitment, and how Council engaged commissions.   
4.     Discussion of whether to continue the practice of allowing Councilor announcements at Council business meetings
Council majority agreed to end the trial period and going forward, allow announcements regarding public events not associated with for-profit organizations. 
Meeting adjourned at 7:12 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder

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