Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, December 02, 2013


Monday, December 2, 2013 
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.
Councilors present: Marsh, Slattery, Rosenthal and Morris. Councilor Lemhouse arrived at 6:09 p.m. Councilor Voisin was absent.
Staff present: City Administrator Dave Kanner, City Attorney Dave Lohman, Senior Planner Brandon Goldman, and Community Director Bill Molnar
  1. Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed and provided additional information for items on the Look Ahead.  Mayor Stromberg advised the council that he had made a decision in regards to the appointments for the new Housing & Human Services Commission and he would send out the list to them for their review prior to the December 17 council meeting.
Mayor Stromberg asked that staff present the update on the Normal Avenue Neighborhood Plan and that the update information in the packet for the Unified Land Use Ordinance is provided to the council for their information.  If time permitted staff could give brief update.
2.   Discussion of Normal Avenue Neighborhood Plan update
Community Development Bill Molnar and Senior Planner Brandon Goldman presented the staff report.  Staff explained that the draft plan is intended to establish an integrated land use and transportation framework for the future urbanization of the 94-acre area within Ashland’s Urban Growth Boundary. Mr. Molnar explained that the process has been very involved and complex and that there are 32 different parcels involved with 1/3 of the parcels land-locked.
Background information included the past timeline in which the council had received updates to the plan and the discussion by the Transportation Commission and Planning Commission.  Mr. Goldman explained the planning process, which included property owners and neighborhood residents who were active in the design of a conceptual plan and remained engaged in the project over the last 12 months.
Mr. Goldman presented the key elements of the plan that have remained as areas of continued discussion:
  • The type and concentration of housing – plan provides for three different residential zones with different densities: single family residential; low-density multifamily; and medium density multifamily.  Neighborhood concern has been related to the proposed locations and potential scale of future developments.
  • Traffic volumes, street types and locations, and system capacity – Walking and cycling, or “active transportation,” is fundamental to the design plan.  The central spine of the proposed transportation network is a neighborhood collector that would extend from the southern railroad crossing to East Main Street, directly accessing the majority of the developable property with the plan area. The proposed “New Normal Avenue” has been an area of significant discussion by the public and Commissions. The Transportation Commission recommended that the New Normal Avenue be the sole vehicular connection to East Main Street. A Future Traffic Analysis report found that all existing intersections near the project are expected to continue to function within acceptable operational standards to the year 2038.
  • Wetland and riparian protection areas – Residents voiced their desire to preserve and retain the rural character of the area, which included the natural area, streams, wetland and other environmentally sensitive features.  In addition, property owners and members of the public have contended that the extent of the wetlands area shown on the plan is represented either as too expansive or not expansive enough.  Current planning approach is to require formal wetland delineation at the point of annexation, and to adjust the plan and street network accordingly to reflect the conditions on the ground at that time.
  • Plan flexibility – This plan is expected to be developed incrementally over the course of decades.  The plan has been intentionally structured to retain a high degree of flexibility to avoid prescribing a current fashion in neighborhood or housing design.  Continued discussion has been on how to address deviations from the plan as proposed by future development.  The implementing ordinance for the plan will provide provisions that ensure consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council as part of any future annexation proposals.

Staff noted that it was important to understand that the adoption of the plan is not a plan for development and annexation.  That hopefully the plan will provide predictability and provide the decision makers with a point of preference.
Mr. Goldman provided maps that identified water protection areas, draft land use framework and the transportation network.  He explained that the neighborhood charrettes had provided some plan iterations.
Council offered concern on the phrase “acceptable levels” in regards to traffic.  Staff explained this would all be based on traffic engineering studies and take into consideration future transportation needs.
Councilor Lemhouse arrived at 6:05 p.m.
Mr. Goldman explained that staff arrived at the proposed zoning using comparable to existing areas and current Comprehensive Plan.  This included the dedicated wetlands and remaining planned units.  It is designed as a hybrid frame that allows for a little more density but also for pocket neighborhoods.
Mr. Goldman concluded by explaining the steps for the final draft of the plan for public hearings to presentation to the City Council.  He also stated that the Planning Commission might need more time to review prior to it coming before the council.
3.   Discussion of Unified Land Use Ordinance update
Planning Manager Maria Harris provided in the council packet an update of key changes to the land use ordinance prior to the adoption of the Unified Land Use Ordinance (ULUO), which will replace the current land use ordinance Title 18 Land Use of the Ashland Municipal Code.
No discussion was held on this topic.
4.   Discussion of ordinance updates: City Council Rules (Chapter 2.04), Boards and Commissions Rules and Procedures (Chapter 2.10), and Miscellaneous Chapters (2.18 and 2.28)
City Attorney Dave Lohman went over the suggested changes to the various chapters of the Ashland Municipal Code that dealt with Council Rules and Boards and Commissions Rules and Procedures.  He explained that these proposed amendments also include some suggested modifications that are intended to clarify procedural questions. 
Mr. Lohman explained that Robert’s Rules can be cumbersome and the proposed amendments are an attempt to reduce complexity and provide greater clarity.  Robert’s Rules would still govern some parliamentary procedures, not covered in the proposed ordinance.
Mr. Lohman presented the proposed amendments to the Rules of City Council AMC Section 2.04.010 through AMC Section 2.04.040. 
Council voiced concern in regards to the proposed changes for Study Sessions.  Mr. Lohman explained that there is nothing in state public meetings law that precludes the Council from taking action in study sessions that would be permissible in other public meetings.  The proposal replaces, “deliberate towards a decision,” with more concrete terms describing actions that can and cannot occur in study sessions.  He provided examples of these types of actions. 
Council was reluctant to allow decision making at study sessions and if any motions would be moved on, they should only be based on direction to staff and not policy related. It was suggested that if a councilor were to object to a motion being made then it would moved to a regular meeting.  Concern was raised over noticing requirements and accommodating the public.  It was agreed that staff would continue with proposed language in this section.
Mr. Lohman continued with the proposed amendments and provided further clarification on the current noticing requirement of meetings at 36 hours.  There was a suggestion that this should be increased or keep all noticing requirement consistent at 36 hours.
Further discussion was held on guidelines for setting perimeters for the time limits regarding council speaking.  It was suggested that a councilor should not be allowed to speak more than two times unless called on by the chair.  It was agreed that this should be a judgment call made by the chair.
Staff will continue to work on the proposed amendments, which includes further clarification on motions.  Council requested that staff bring this back for further discussion and completion at a future study session.
Meeting was adjourned at 7:16 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder

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