Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


February 3, 2015
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, Seffinger, Rosenthal, and Marsh were present.
Mayor Stromberg announced the City was accepting applications for annual appointments to the various Commissions and Committees.  The deadline for applications was March 20, 2015.  City Recorder Barbara Christensen added there were two vacancies on the Budget Committee as well.
Mayor Stromberg moved agenda item #1. Continued discussion of proposed ordinance updates, under X.  Unfinished Business after XII. Ordinances, Resolutions, and Contracts.  Mayor went on to explain the Police Chief would provide an update on the case involving a local teenager that had runaway.
The minutes of the Executive Session of January 20, 2015 and Business Meeting of January 20, 2015 were approved as presented.
Brad Christ, CIO for Southern Oregon University (SOU) and Adrienne DeDona from Jeanne Lawson Associates (JLA) submitted documents into the record and presented on the SOU Cogeneration Project.  Mr. Christ explained two of the four steam boilers at SOU were at the end of their lifecycle.  Through a grant from the USDA, SOU researched alternative options that included biomass as a viable option for a cogeneration project.  Biomass cogeneration would provide steam and electricity to offset what the university currently used.  SOU hired public outreach firm JLA to gather community feedback on biomass and the project in general.  JLA conducted a survey on the SOU Cogeneration website, received 113 responses with 65% supporting the biomass option.  A phone survey of approximately 300 residents approved using biomass 63%.  SOU would consider public input, make a determination to ask the legislature for funding the cogeneration project, and decide whether to use biomass or natural gas.
The biomass cogeneration facility would be located in the maintenance yard adjacent to McNeal Hall.  SOU would store 48 hours of biomass material in an enclosed silo at the yard.  SOU discussed possibly using mitigation with people opposing the project.  They would use the best available at the time pollution control equipment, would meet all Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) standards, and do the best they could to remove particulates and ensure good air quality.  The primary reason people supported the biomass option was it supported the local forest economy.  The secondary reason was it supported SOU’s carbon reduction targets.  Emissions from trucks transporting the material to SOU and the harvesting were included in the emissions calculation.
John Fisher-Smith/945 Oak Street/Shared his background as an architect and his experience with big projects.  The public input portion of the study was somewhat insincere.  SOU used the $250,000 grant primarily to validate whether a biomass plant would work for SOU.  The project would cost $12,000,000 and he equated it to hiring an elephant because the bi-products would heat the campus.  Air quality was the key.  Using biomass slash was not sustainable.  Burning carbon created a lot of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Police update on local teenage runaway. 
Police Chief Terry Holderness shared information that the teen intended to runaway.  He clarified what her father suspected was blood in the car was actually dirt.  There were several sightings and possible changes to the teenager’s appearance.  The Ashland Police Department had received tremendous cooperation from California agencies including the Department of Justice.  California had approximately 200,000 juvenile homeless runaways that would make it more difficult to locate the teen.   Another issue was Ashland Detectives were sure the teenager’s friends were withholding information.  Currently there was no evidence of a crime committed.
Scott Green/Spoke regarding police harassment in the community and the honesty of police officers.
Caleb LaPlante//405 NE 7th Street, Grants Pass/Represented ACT (Abolish Child Trafficking) Southern Oregon.  He addressed the January Child Trafficking Awareness Month proclamation read at the January 20, 2015 meeting and provided additional information regarding underage sex trafficking in Oregon and local communities.  He submitted documents into the record and briefly described events and programs that helped to deter child sex trafficking.
Sharre Whitson/503 Airport Road, Medford/Explained she was the executive director of Redemption Ridge and spoke further on child sex trafficking and what it meant for Jackson County.  Social media played a key role.  Perpetrators transported girls down the I-5 corridor and moved them frequently.  Last year in the state of Oregon alone there were 200-300 reported incidences of child sex trafficking.  She worked with 10 victims locally in 2014.  Nationwide, approximately 100,000 children were victimized through sex trafficking.  Redemption Ridge served the families and victims in the community and was in the process of setting up a safe home.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/Referred to testimony he provided during Public Forum at the January 6, 2015 meeting regarding his suggestion for the Ashland Renewable Energy Acquisition Department as a replacement for the Planning Department.  The department would consist of three divisions, expedited solar panel installation, home energy upgrades, and zero net energy destinations.  The City would hire an experienced energy performance manager, ten local and specialized carpenters, someone to handle the financial side and another two employees to replace the current Energy Conservation Division and described how.  Upgrading all the homes in Ashland would reduce structural energy needs 40%.
1.   Resolution titled, “A resolution authorizing signatures, including facsimile signatures for banking services on behalf of the City of Ashland”
2.   Liquor license application for Marlane Balcomb dba ABC Kitchen
3.   Annual report from Rogue Valley Community Television
Councilor Marsh pulled Consent Agenda item #3 for discussion.  PEG (Public Education, Government) Access Coordinator Brandon Givens explained defunding, changes in services, additional programs, and software upgrades were some of the reasons costs increased for public access television.  Management Analyst Ann Seltzer added part of the federal communications tax restricted the amount and use of franchise fees along with the use of PEG fees.  The City paid approximately $48,000 annually in PEG fees with the remaining $7,000-$8,000 supplemented from the General Fund.
Councilor Rosenthal/Marsh m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1.   Approval of a resolution titled, “A resolution of the City Council approving an Oregon Department of Transportation request to the City of Ashland to extend water and sewer service to the Siskiyou Welcome Center and Rest Area facility located outside the city limits of Ashland and repealing Order No. 2011-June,” and approval of an intergovernmental agreement with ODOT for the provision of water and sewer service to the Siskiyou Welcome Center and Rest Area.
City Attorney Dave Lohman excused himself from the discussion to ensure no conflict of interest due to his position on the State of Oregon Transportation Commission.  Assistant City Attorney Doug McGeary explained his background regarding the issue.  City Administrator Dave Kanner provided the history on the Welcome Center and Rest Area project.  The project was outside city limits, the City was extending water and sewer to make the development possible and not granting development approval.
Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Area Manager Art Anderson explained they were requesting an extension on the 2011 order from the City regarding water and sewer connections for the Welcome Center and Rest Area.  The original Rest Area closed in the late 1990s after a series of accidents one resulting in a fatality.  The Federal Highway Administration had requested ODOT replace the facility as soon as possible.  An extensive land use process delayed the project for a couple of years during which ODOT was unable to get the appropriate permits from Jackson County. 
ODOT agreed to numerous issues and concerns during the planning process and through discussions with Ashland.  One concern raised was security.  The Welcome Center would provide a station for the Oregon State Police and a permanent parking place.  This would be the first of its kind in Oregon.  Oregon Administrative Rules (OARs) allowed ODOT to police rest areas as well.  The other safety concern was trucks parking near recreational vehicles at the facility.  ODOT had established a separate rest area for trucks only at the point of entry that eliminated truck drivers using the new Welcome Center and Rest Area.  The facility would have a parameter fence with a fenced access road off Crowson Road for people working at the Welcome Center and Rest Area.  ODOT would set up security cameras so people working at the Welcome Center could monitor activity.  The facility would have low flow toilets and sinks. Additionally, ODOT had purchased irrigation rights from the Talent Irrigation District (TID). 
ODOT Project Manager Tim Fletcher explained when ODOT purchased the property it came with water rights to the Dunn Ditch.  Per the purchase agreement ODOT recently transferred the water right back to the owner.  The property had a pipe system that connected neighboring properties to the Dunn Ditch for flood irrigation.  ODOT extended the pipes to the parameter of the property and the ditch to intersect with an irrigation junction structure that would provide ODOT access to TID water instead of the Dunn Ditch water right.  TID would release additional flow into Tolman Creek whenever ODOT’s turn came in the rotation. The water would go into a 20,000-gallon tank underground for ODOT to use as needed.  The TID water right entitled ODOT to more water than they would use.  A drip irrigation system would water the landscape at the Welcome Center.  Ramp, grading, and parking construction would occur summer 2015.  The second phase was building the facilities and developing the landscape.  A contractor would maintain the landscape for three years.
Jeff Hampton, vice president of Operations for the Oregon Tourism Commission Travel Oregon addressed the Welcome Center and explained the Oregon Tourism Commission operated Welcome Centers at entry points to the state. 
Councilor Rosenthal disclosed Council received a letter of support from the City of Medford and that he worked for the City of Medford.  The City Attorney determined there was neither conflict of interest nor a predisposed bias.
Mr. Hampton addressed hours of operation and explained Travel Oregon intended to operate the Welcome Center during the high season, April through September, seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and possibly the same during winter. 
Council expressed concern that ODOT’s use of TID water right might interfere with the City’s TID water right.  Staff clarified intake of TID water for city use was downstream from the Welcome Center site.  Property owners past the intake had lost water from City the year before.  Public Works Director Mike Faught explained TID had a curtailment system for distributing water if the flow was lower.  The City had sufficient waters rights through agreements with TAP (Talent Ashland Phoenix) intertie and TID.
Mr. Anderson did not think ODOT would use pesticides on the landscape and would have to contact the maintenance department.
Mr. Hampton noted the Welcome Center would have wifi and serve as an information hub for travelers. 
Mr. Fletcher explained they would use bladders at the far reaches of the project near Crowson Road to water that landscape. The majority of the area would be on a drip system.  Maintaining the bladders would be in the landscape contract.  TID determined the water rotations and when they shut the water off, the Welcome Center and Rest Area would be no different from the rest of the valley.  The plants used in the landscape were drought tolerant and native to the area.
Assistant City Attorney Doug McGeary clarified the question before Council was whether to extend the agreement to provide water and sewer to ODOT for the Welcome Center and Rest Area.   Where and how ODOT obtained non-city water for irrigation was not an issue of concern for Council.  Discussing the value of having the facility was not an issue either since that was already decided.  Mayor Stromberg further clarified the issue of whether people would be there or not was germane to the discussion.   However, it was not clear whether ODOT using pesticides or their ability to water their plants was directly relevant. 
Mr. Hampton anticipated 100,000 travelers accessing the Welcome Center and Rest Area annually based on previous visit numbers.  Volunteer groups would have the opportunity to provide coffee services and that would add additional people to the site.  Mr. Anderson added the Travel Oregon planned to staff the Welcome Center year round although staff numbers would vary. ODOT maintenance personnel, contracted landscapers, and cleaners would provide a presence at the facility as well.  In the event of a fire at the facility Jackson County Fire District would respond.  The underground storage could also use as a water source if necessary.  
Councilor Voisin expressed concerns that ODOT would use potable water to water the landscape in the event of severe drought and the potential threat of fire due to smokers at the Welcome Center and Rest Area.  Mr. Anderson reiterated ODOT would not use potable water from the City for irrigation purposes.  Although smoking was prohibited at all state facilities he recognized the need to research designating an area for smokers.
Councilor Voisin asked if ODOT had received their water rights from TID yet and when.  Mr. Fletcher explained ODOT acquired TID water rights for the Welcome Center and Rest Area the same time they acquired them for Exit 14 approximately two years ago.  Mr. Fletcher would forward a copy to Councilor Voisin.
Councilor Voisin addressed the estimate ODOT provided on gallons of water per day and questioned why there was no provision for water usage during drought or curtailment in the agreement.  Mr. Anderson responded ODOT would adhere to any City curtailment regulations and could add that to the agreement with the City if Council thought it helpful.  Councilor Voisin asked how ODOT arrived at the 1,400 gallons of water per day estimate.  Mr. Fletcher explained ODOT hired a specific architect who designed these types of facilities and they took projected use and calculated water usage based on sinks, toilets, urinals, and low flow.  Mr. Fletcher would forward the calculations to Councilor Voisin.
Allen Walters/775 St. Andrews/Worked for ODOT for 29 years in the Siskiyou Mountain area outside of Ashland.  He wanted Council to be aware there were transcripts on record stating the danger of putting the Rest Area in that location.  If the Rest Area were built, someone would be killed again.  If Council took away the water, it would not happen, period.  If Council wanted that on their conscious along with Jackson County and ODOT, that was OK.  They needed to know it would happen again.
Sandra Slattery/110 E Main Street/Explained she was the Executive Director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.  Both the Chamber and Ashland Visitor and Convention Bureau (VCB) were involved with the Welcome Center and Rest Area since the Rest Area was removed from the old Siskiyou site in 1995.  Over the years they worked closely with Travel Oregon and elected officials to ensure there was funding for the building and operations of the Welcome Center year round seven days a week.  The Chamber had never supported a standalone rest area in the past and would withdraw support if that were the case.  They also supported enhanced security measures.  The Chamber and VCB supported a Welcome Center managed and maintained as a year round staffed operation with all the necessary security measures in place.
Stephen Stolzer/1120 Oak Knoll Drive/Was not sure how Council could extend the agreement after hearing from the presenters.  He listed the questions not answered.  No one would be there at night and that was his biggest concern.  There were only two state police officers between California border and Grants Pass.  He had concern for his neighborhood, the safety of his family, lighting, and smoking at the facility, and accused ODOT of not being prepared for the meeting.  He wanted Council to consider the risks to his neighborhood.  He did not want people sleeping on the road near his neighborhood.
Allen Baker/955 Walker Avenue/Did not think the Welcome Center and Rest Area was a good idea.  When Jackson County approved the project the County Commissioners wanted the City of Ashland to have the final say since it was adjacent to their community.  The project did not make sense and no one was willing to admit it.  Doug and Becky Neuman offered to put a Welcome Center at Ashland Hills, and that made better sense.  Senator Alan Bates did not support the project and thought it was too costly and unneeded.  Another concern was retaliation from ODOT if the project was not approved.
Ginny Porter/1033 Oak Knoll/Asked Council to deny the extension.  This was a negative investment for Oregon and was an insane idea.  Anyone who thought it made sense did not know the facts or wanted to please some external entity.  It was an absolute death trap and numerous deaths would happen.  This was a multimillion-dollar dinosaur with costly overheard that would be ongoing.  Ashland had a lot at stake.  Council had the power to avoid a colossal mistake for the community. 
Alex Sol/761 Salishan Court/Explained he got his travel information using his cell phone.  The notion that somehow people would magically stop at this Welcome Center and boost the economy because it was there in the middle of a residential community was madness.  Transients would park there at night and have a clear path to homes in the Oak Knoll neighborhood.  When he traveled he intentionally avoided Rest Areas because they were dirty, smelled bad, attracted crime and homeless people.  He was incredulous the City would allow a rest area so close to Ashland.  Rest Areas held a threat of accidents, attracted criminals, murders, sexual assaults and was upset Council would bring that to the community. 
Sue Lawrence/518 Crowson Road/Shared a newspaper article about the drought and could not understand how the City would give away this water.  The current drought situation could be the new normal.  Once Council made that decision they could never take it back.  Mt. Ashland had no snow pack.  She lived across from the Rest Area.  She used Tolman Creek for irrigation and often it ran dry.  She thought ODOT would use all the irrigation water and deplete the supply.  Council was elected by the people of Ashland and needed to serve the people and not give their water away.  This was a bad choice and she did not want it in her backyard.
Steve Lawrence/518 Crowson Road/Attended the Jackson County planning meeting when ODOT received TID water rights.  ODOT purchased them from Arrowhead Ranch at the Phoenix interchange.  This was on the wrong side of the valley and not the same ditch.  His questioned how ODOT would drip irrigation lawns.  His had safety concerns.  They had many vagrants and homeless people wandering in the Crowson Mill site, this would attract even more.  The fence was on the east side and his property was exposed.  Someone should be at the Welcome Center at night seven days a week.
Jeanette Larson/1042 Oak Knoll/Explained as a therapist she worked with drug addiction and shared concern drug trafficking would increase once the Welcome Center and Rest Area was built.  Using rest areas to purchase drugs was an easy way to obtain them.  Another constituency was sex trafficking at the facility.  Teenagers would find their way to the Rest Area and suggested Council send the facility to another location.
Sharon Miranda/488 Crowson Road/Lived the closest to the Welcome Center and Rest Area and it would affect her greatly.  The community needed time to process the information and she hoped Council would extend the meeting.  There was no guarantee spending would increase in Ashland.  People who stopped at the rest area to use the bathroom would not stop in Ashland.  The community near the facility would be impacted very negatively.  If something went wrong she wondered who would she sue, the state or the City of Ashland because Council refused to take into consideration the impact on local residents.  They heard earlier in the meeting about hundreds of cases of sex trafficking in Oregon, the facility provided another way for that to happen.  She expressed concern for Tolman Creek, the wetlands, potential washouts and floods and requested a current environmental impact study.
Jerry Stein/806 Cypress Point Loop/Provided additional history on the Welcome Center and Rest Area.  It was a good idea 16 years ago but not now.  People accessed information about local services through their phones and laptops eliminating the need to stop at a Welcome Center.  Instead of going to the Rest Area to use the bathroom travelers could drive an extra mile to Exit 14 where there were plenty of opportunities to use a restroom.  He pointed out other bathroom options over a sixteen-mile stretch on the interstate.  It was ludicrous to think a rest area was needed at that location. 
Lois Langlois/815 Cypress Point Loop/Attended meetings regarding this project over the last seven years.  Ashland was in a drought situation and this was a good opportunity for Council to reconsider if it was a wise decision four years ago to offer Ashland’s water to an external agency.  The community near the Welcome Center site wanted the same quality of life others in Ashland had.  Council was their last resort to protect their values and quality of life as Ashland citizens.  They were counting on Council to do the right thing.
Mayor Stromberg clarified the decision before Council was whether to extend water and sewer services to the proposed facility.  Council had the ability to propose modifications to the agreement with ODOT.  Mr. McGeary further clarified the decision to extend water was made and the choice now was whether to waive the four year requirement in the June 2011 order.  He suggested adding the following language to the resolution under Section 2 “As to Section B 1-6 of this resolution, and except as modified by Section 1 above, the order shall remain in full force and effect.” 
Councilor Voisin/Seffinger m/s to not approve the Resolution. 
Councilor Lemhouse raised a point of order to ask by not approving the resolution Council could change the agreement already made or deny the request to change the agreement.   Mr. McGeary clarified Council could add other conditions to the resolution.
DISCUSSION:  Councilor Voisin did not want an extension to the agreement because there were many safety issues that were not addressed.  Water was a huge issue for her.  She also had not seen any financial figures or background on how the facility would be financed and ongoing maintenance.  Councilor Seffinger was concerned about the drought and TID water in the future, safety, and how the residents felt. 
Mr. McGeary explained Council had given public notice to change the time on the extension and had not given public notice about changing the agreement and reconsidered his previous response.  Council could not make changes unless they wanted another meeting.  It would involve reviewing criteria in Resolution 1997-27 that allowed water outside city limits and he did not have that information for this meeting. 
Councilor Voisin raised a point of order, expressed concern regarding the Assistant City Attorney’s comments, and questioned why the motion was no longer valid.  Mayor Stromberg clarified Councilor Voisin’s point of order intended to challenge the Assistant City Attorney’s ability to invalidate the motion.  Mr. McGeary responded the motion was valid but discussion regarding the criteria was outside the notice of the meeting and therefore not appropriate.  Councilor Voisin changed her explanation and disagreed with any extension.  Mayor Stromberg indicated that Councilor Voisin did not have the floor.  Mr. McGeary further clarified Council could discuss irrigation in a separate motion.    
Councilor Seffinger revised her statement and commented ODOT should not receive the extension because their time was over.  Councilor Lemhouse had not supported the agreement in the past.  The City had not violated the agreement and the appeals done by the citizens were within their right.  He was not compelled to support the agreement at this time.
Councilor Morris thought it was bad policy to vote for the motion.  In land use process, timeline extensions occurred often.  In this case many of the appeals against the project were unfounded.  He would not support the motion.  It set precedence that anytime someone did not like something, he or she could start fruitlessly appealing until the clock ran out.  Alternately, all the other criteria in the resolution still applied and voting against the resolution would vote down that criteria.
Councilor Marsh reviewed the video of the meeting that determined the four-year timeline.  It was a last minute addition and an effort to ensure the applicant did due diligence moving forward.  She observed ODOT was moving forward diligently whether or not the public liked the project.  ODOT had obtained approvals, were in the process of beginning construction, and had staffed the Welcome Center.  The four years was not predicated on anything but a good idea at the last minute.
Councilor Rosenthal/Morris m/s to lay the matter on the table. 
City Recorder Barbara Christensen indicated it was 10:30 and the meeting was now over.  Motions on the table at this point were dead.  The matter would automatically continue to the next meeting without the motions Council had made.
2.   First reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance establishing guidelines for film and media productions and repealing AMC 6.36”
Item delayed due to time constraints.
1.   Continued discussion of proposed ordinance updates
Item delayed due to time constraints.
Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder                             
John Stromberg, Mayor

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