Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, June 15, 2015

                                             MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
Monday, June 15, 2015
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Lemhouse, Morris, Rosenthal, Voisin, Marsh, and Seffinger were present.      
1.         Public Input
Jeff Sharpe/Submitted a map into the record depicting possible compatible uses for the Imperatrice property that included critical wildlife habitats, trails, agriculture, pasture to sustain 150 goats for cheese and dairy, a solar power plant, a Southern Oregon University biomass facility and over one hundred acres set aside for retention ponds. 
Bruce Fiero/Worked with a group of professionals on a plan to use a portion of the Imperatrice property as a renewable energy park and submitted a document into the record.  The project would generate 16-megawatt hours of power annually with a net retail value of approximately $3,000,000 a year.  The City would inherit the site at the end of a 15 or 20-year lease.    
Jana Toney/80 Ashland Lane/Was familiar with the Imperatrice properties and supported creating a conservation easement on the property.  She was concerned with 381E 27100 and the need to protect the multiple resources within that area.  Another issue was establishing a trail on the property.  The area was at high risk for fire. 
Eric Hansen/330 East Hersey Street/Introduced himself as the cofounder of True South Solar and described the solar site assessment services they provided.  He supported a solar park on the Imperatrice property.  If the City was serious about solar they needed to invest in a feasibility study and site assessment.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/Explained the Ashland Renewable Energy Acquisition Department he presented at prior meetings included a structural wattage construction code that would provide the number of solar panels needed on homes.  Using the land across the highway could provide another 5 megawatts for a total of 10 megawatts to balance existing structures and future growth.   Ten megawatts would only provide two years of energy.  The City needed 500 megawatts to cover homes, cars, trucks and more.  The land across from the highway was 4,000 acres, larger than Imperatrice but the City needed to act soon.  He questioned what would happen if they installed solar panels on the Imperatrice property and the City improvised on the effluent.  If he were the Community Development Director, he would have pulled $30,000 from the Electric Department and set up the solar panels.  The City should take the risk.  
2.         Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead and noted a correction that the October 6, 2015 Study Session was actually October 19, 2015.
3.   Discussion of the long-term future of the Imperatrice Property
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the City originally purchased the Imperatrice property for effluent.  The Public Works department would know within two years whether they needed the land for spreading effluent or not.  They hired consultant CH2MHill who drafted a document discussing why the City may need the property for effluent treatment.
Engineering Services Manager Scott Fleury explained the City was halfway through the mixing zone outfall relocation study that CH2MHill was performing.  They were looking at future permit requirements in regards to metals and temperature.  The project would relocate the current outfall in Ashland Creek to Bear Creek in order to obtain a new mixing zone to help the City meet future permit requirements.  Managing temperatures involved the near field and far field.  Near field temperature requirements were point of impact where the effluent water reached the new mixing zone in Bear Creek.  The far field was the overall thermal impact put into the watershed where shading and riparian restoration could meet the temperature requirements.  During spring and fall months, specifically April, May, October, and November, the City could not meet temperature requirements through wetlands treatment due to lack of foliage at those times.  Near field water temperatures during those periods were 2 degrees Celsius above the requirement.  They could store the effluent on the Imperatrice property then put it back into the creek or apply treated effluent to the land.  They would know actual storage requirements at the end of the study. 
Staff was also looking into water removal and replacement from Ashland Creek into Bear Creek.  The City had a Talent Irrigation District (TID) water right on the Imperatrice Property.  Staff was discussing using that water right to offset water removed from Ashland Creek.  Alternately, the City could spray effluent onto the property and transfer the water right to another location within the City.
Currently they did not know the size of the storage unit needed to store effluent or the location on the Imperatrice property.  The project would require several thousand feet of pipe starting at Oak Street, irrigation and spray systems.  The property consisted of two types of clay.  According to a prior study in 1998, the amount of spraying and pattern would meet the agronomic rate of what the City would plant.  Staff would address spray, pattern, and what crops to plant during the design process. The mixing zone study would determine what the City needed to meet permit requirements.  The permit and design portion would follow in phases.
If the Imperatrice property were not available to store effluent the City would look into a cooling tower and chiller at the current Wastewater Treatment site.  They would still need storage for effluent.  Staff did a general evaluation on purple pipe systems that could reuse effluent for irrigation on City park property.  The effluent was treated to Class A and could be directly applied.  They did not pursue feasibility or cost study because the infrastructure needed was expensive.  Building water tanks to truck to farms was an alternative staff could look into during the next master plan update.
The Wastewater Master Plan was a planning level document that usually involved refinements when the engineering processes began.  Shading would meet the far field temperature requirements.  The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) provided temperature requirements that assumed a certain level of temperature that would need to be reduced in the near field. Since then, CH2MHill determined a temperature difference more than the initial estimate by DEQ for peak periods in April-May and October-November.  The City could not use existing wetlands for treatment.  The Parks and Recreation Department had an area adjacent to the current Wastewater Treatment Plant forecasted as a third oxidation ditch.  Mr. Fleury confirmed the average daily effluent outfall was 2 million gallons per day 2 degrees warmer than required.
Kristi Mergenthaler, a representative from the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy explained the Conservancy was very interested in conserving areas on the Imperatrice property.  Recently they discovered the largest known breeding colony of grasshopper sparrows in Oregon on the property.  Endemic buttercup was also found on the Imperatrice property known only in Jackson County.  The grassland above the ditch was incredibly intact when grasslands on pacific coast states were endanger with less than 10% left.  Supporting all or some of the property through a conservation easement to protect the natural heritage for future generations was a great gift to the community.  The Conservancy was interested in purchasing the property or creating conservation easements on the property and managing it themselves.  Conservation easements were flexible legal tools that protected conservation values and agricultural lands.  The Conservancy addressed the plan for solar and did not want the possibility of sustainable energy destroying bio-diversity. 
Parks and Recreation Director Michael Black explained they were looking into obtaining trail easements to connect the Imperatrice property to Grizzly Peak.  A single trail would have a minor effect, if any on storing effluent.  Other conservation and recreational opportunities on the property could include a mountain bike skills park as well.
Mr. Fleury clarified part of the treatment for wastewater added heat but he suspected the warm water from showers, dishwashers, and laundry was the reason for the higher temperature in the near field. 
Mayor Stromberg read a Questions and Answers document regarding a solar farm on the Imperatrice property that he submitted into the record.  The document indicated reasons why the Imperatrice property was not conducive for solar that would benefit Ashland.  The solar installation would not decrease Ashland’s greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint.  The power generated would not go to the City of Ashland’s electric system.  Pacific Power would most likely purchase the power and sell it elsewhere.  It would also cost 8-cents per kilowatt-hour instead of the 3.75-cents currently charged through the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).  Wholesale electricity served by BPA was the lowest in the nation.  At the end of the 15-20 year lease the City could inherit a system in the latter half of its life expectancy requiring expensive upkeep and replacement.  The document also discussed requests for proposals (RFP), the solar tax credit that would sunset 2016 and compared solar on rooftops in Ashland to solar farms.
Councilor Voisin had issues with the questions and answers document and disagreed with how the Mayor introduced the document into the meeting.
Council agreed to encourage further development of trails and recreational options in concert with Public Works that would not conflict with the effluent study.  Council wanted to delay all other decisions regarding uses until the study was complete in 1.5 years.  Council comments were concerned using the wetlands for solar or effluent, wanted the Parks and Recreation Department involved for open space and trail systems, and wanted to look at ways to enhance the City’s solar program.   Opposing comments wanted to designate 40-acres for a solar park.  Council was interested in a Study Session regarding the electric utility to review energy sources and having the Conservation Commission review new products and systems for waste management.
4.   Discussion of planning for City Hall replacement
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained the 2008 Facilities Master Plan concluded the City’s top priority was Fire Station 2 then City Hall. The document identified a number of different options that included adding floors to the current City Hall or new construction.  Alternately the Community Development building could have two additional stories added.  He suggested taking the next two years to discuss what the community valued most in terms of providing better and safer office space then analyze different ways to accomplish space needs.  He referenced the master planning process from the City of Eugene and incorporated five steps they used that would help a hired consultant team facilitate the process for the City.
The Helman family deeded City Hall to the City in the 1890s with the stipulation if the City no longer used it for city purposes it went back to Helman heirs.  If the City chose to stay in the present City Hall building, they could gut the interior, do the seismic retrofit then rebuild the interior and increase it to four floors.  Both the Community Development Building and City Hall were out of space.
Council directed staff to have a new seismic study done on City Hall and the Parks and Recreation building.  Mr. Kanner would use the results to update the space needs analysis document.  Councilor Marsh was interested in cost estimates to add floors to City Hall.  Mr. Kanner would bring a ballpark estimate on the seismic study to the June 16, 2015 Council meeting.  
Meeting adjourned at 7:16 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                                                                                          
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder

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