Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


September 1, 2015
Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor called the meeting to order at 7:09 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Seffinger, Rosenthal, and Marsh were present.
Presentation on NOAA’s Storm Ready program
Ryan Sandler from the National Weather Service in Medford recognized Ashland as Storm Ready.  Ashland had demonstrated severe weather readiness as part of a weather ready nation.  The 1997 New Year’s Day flood led to a presidential disaster declaration.  In 2010, the Oak Knoll Wildfire destroyed eleven homes.  Soon after Oak Knoll Meadows became the first Firewise Community in Ashland.  Ashland’s culture of community was best demonstrated through volunteerism, outreach, and education of the Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT).  CERT led many preparedness workshops and drills.  The National Weather Service congratulated the leaders and citizens of Ashland for making their community better educated and prepared for severe weather.  Mr. Sandler presented Mayor Stromberg with the certificate.
Mayor Stromberg announced vacancies on the Forest Lands, Public Arts, Housing and Human Services, and Transportation Commissions and the Bee City USA subcommittee.
The Public Arts Commission invited the community to attend the presentations by the three artists selected to develop public art concepts for the Gateway Island.  The presentations would occur Thursday, September 10, 2015 at noon and again at 5:00 p.m. in the Gresham Room downstairs in the Ashland Public Library.
The Ashland is Ready emergency preparedness seminar would happen Saturday, September 12, 2015 at the Southern Oregon University Stevenson Union.  Tickets must be purchased in advance at Ashland Fire and Rescue for $10.   Vendors would be available at noon.  The seminar was 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. with topics that included earthquakes, weather and fire emergencies, and Ready Set Go.  Admission included a seat at the seminar and a 72-hour kit valued at $30.  Sponsors included Asante-Ashland Community Hospital, Ashland Chamber of Commerce, Costco, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Shop n Kart, and Southern Oregon University.
The Mayor went on to provide an update on the Railroad Cleanup.  Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) notified the City of their intent to do a partial cleanup on their 20-acre site.  UPRR was in a voluntary cleanup status with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and as long as they adhered to the record of decisions (ROD) of September 2001 updated in 2005, they could proceed with the cleanup subject to two requirements.  DEQ had to approve their specific cleanup work plan and UPRR had to apply for an excavation permit from the City.  This had not happened yet and once it did, the City could not interfere or stop the cleanup process.  The City could make an alternative proposal to the UPRR.  The Mayor was adding this discussion to the September 15, 2015 Council meeting.  Representatives from DEQ would be present at the meeting.  The public could submit suggestions regarding the cleanup to
Councilor Voisin announced that she and the Mayor were co-hosting a Deer Summit Wednesday, September 23, 2015 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in Council Chambers.  Rogue Valley Television (RVTV) would broadcast the Summit and the public could access the video on the City website.  A follow up to the Summit would occur during an Open Town Hall in the future.
The minutes of the Study Session of August 17, 2015 and Business Meeting of August 18, 2015 were approved as presented.
Annual presentation by the Conservation Commission
Commission Chair and Southern Oregon University representative Roxanne Beigel-Coryell provided the annual presentation.  The Conservation Commission held annual compost classes and started the new Earth Bowl Competition involving middle school students.  Commission members sat on the Recycle Center ad hoc Committee whose recommendations Council approved in fall 2014.  The Commission also participated in the Bring Your Own Bag campaign that resulted in the plastic bag ban.  They led a pilot program and installed eight cigarette butt collection containers to help prevent cigarette butts from entering the storm drains.  They researched, reviewed and presented on sustainability planning frameworks and with direction from Council made the focus on climate and energy that resulted in the Climate Action Energy Planning process and the ad hoc committee.  The Commission also heard presentations from Bee City USA organizers and supported their efforts for Ashland becoming a Bee City USA city.  They also researched and reviewed state carbon pricing bills and recommended the Mayor writing a letter of support.  The Commission wrote conservation articles for the Sneak Preview monthly and was currently working on the Climate and Energy Action Plan.  They wanted to participate in the January 2016 review of the plastic bag ban.  A subcommittee was looking into improving opportunities to recycle in the downtown area. 
Joseph Kauth/1 Corral Lane/Spoke on urban heat and explained how buildings gathered heat and increased temperatures.  There was a tree next to someone’s house and the arborist said it was a fire hazard.  The Ashland Forest Resiliency project removed trees at an elevation over 5,000-feet.  He thought this action contributed to the drought, and lost skiing.  The Pentagon stated climate change was the number one national security issue.
Brent Thompson/582 Allison Street/Spoke on Ashland being mostly storm ready and the recent flooding on July 7, 2015 affected him because the City had an undersized storm drain that needed remedied.  Another issue was space needs in the downtown area.  They could gut City Hall, remodel the inside and increase it to another floor or add to the Community Development building for additional space, or dig up the parking lot on the corner of Lithia Way and Pioneer Street and build a big enough building to house all the city functions.  One of the suggestions forwarded to Council by the Downtown Beautification Committee entailed improvement to the corner of Lithia Way and Pioneer Street that resulted in an issue with the existing trees.  He helped select trees in the downtown 40 years before.  Sometimes it was a success and sometimes not.  The Liquid Amber trees were raising the sidewalks and the City needed to make the tough decisions to remove some.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/Ashland corporate government versus Ashland complete citizen community.  The City acted like a corporation but there was a difference.  The Council and Mayor were elected to represent the Ashland complete citizen community.  Except the Councilors were so busy with families that often the corporate government staff tutored them.  City staff was hired hands and when their expertise became obsolete and destructive they needed to be replaced with climate solutions.  He thought the Community Development Director position should be elected to represent the complete citizen community. 
1.   Minutes of boards, commissions, and committees
2.   Award of contract to apparent low bidder for the Oak Street railroad crossing pedestrian improvement
Councilor Voisin/Rosenthal m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion approved.
  1. Public hearing and reading of ordinances titled, “An ordinance amending the City of Ashland Comprehensive Plan to add a Normal Neighborhood plan designation to Chapter II [Introduction and Definitions], add the Normal Neighborhood land categories to Chapter IV [Housing Element], change the Comprehensive Plan map designation for approximately 94 acres of land within the City of Ashland urban growth boundary from single family residential and suburban residential to the Normal Neighborhood plan designation, and adopt the Normal Neighborhood Plan Framework as a supporting document to the City of Ashland Comprehensive Plan”
Mayor Stromberg explained the legislative public hearing process and order of proceedings.  The Mayor decided to take public testimony before the staff report.
Public Hearing Open:  7:50 p.m.
Public Testimony:
Jan Vidmar/320 Meadow Drive/Stated the same issues had been brought up several times and included water, utilities, flood plain, wildlife corridor, traffic, pedestrian safety, workforce housing, quality of life.  Everything hinged on density. There were too many houses planned and density would affect all the issues.
Jim Curty/1780 E Main Street/Represented Ashland Grace Point Church and was not opposed to the general concept of development but wanted the wetlands on their property protected.  He shared the Church’s concerns with the plan.  The Church asked that Council reject the plan.  Definitions were out of date and no longer valid.
Carola Lacy/667 Park #2/The housing density of 450 units proposed in the plan would cause congestion and result in up to 5,000 additional vehicle trips per day.  The increased congestion would occur near the middle and elementary schools and cause safety issues.  Street improvements will be needed for Ashland Street, Normal Avenue, East Main Street, Clay Street, and others.  The Normal Avenue railroad crossing will need an upgrade.  Most citizens wanted the density reduced to half, the streets improved before any development, and exact street upgrades and costs specified.  The entire project was developer driven with little support from citizens.
Beth Coye/1609 Peachey Road/Was a member of Normal Neighborhood Plan (NNP) citizen group that came together to evaluate the impact of the Normal Neighborhood plan.  She referenced the NNP position paper submitted into the record calling for a reduction in density, a City driven educational outreach effort and zoning requirements to protect the wetlands.  These concerns were based on infrastructure costs, sustainability and water resources, wetland protection, street improvements, financial consequences, and quality of life. 
Tod Brannan/367 Normal Avenue/Noted the Question & Answer posting on the City website regarding Normal Neighborhood Plan and thought the post was an attempt to refute and shut down arguments citizens were making against the plan.  He read his interpretation of the answers from a document submitted into the record.   He urged Council to perform due diligence on any developer interested in developing in the Normal neighborhood area.
Nancy Parker/456 Euclid Street/Read from a document submitted into the record that described the Normal Plan as a big city plan for a small town, addressed annexing the urban growth boundary (UGB), and discussed lack of costs in the plan.  She had concerns regarding the advanced financing.  There was enough land to allow sustainable growth for the next 20 years without the need to develop and annex UGB land.  Even though the plan was in progress for years, many citizens just recently heard about it in the past month.
Nancy Boyer/425 Normal Avenue/Read from a document submitted into the record on the zoning imbalance in the plan and questioned why other areas within city limits were not being discussed for development.  She referenced the Mayor’s annual City report and encouraged Council to support its own Goal #13 to develop infill and use compact urban forms not urban sprawl and reject the plan. 
Bryce Anderson/2092 Creek Drive/Spoke individually and as representative of four Homeowner Associations impacted by the plan primarily by the property owned by the Baptist Church Foundation on which the Rogue Community Church was located  The Home Owner Associations had issues a year ago with the density of apartment buildings in the plan adjacent to their neighborhoods. Since then Council and staff agreed it was not an appropriate use.  The zoning changed from NN-2 to NN-135.  However, the ordinance allowed apartment houses in NN-135.  There were wetlands issues and affordable housing that could increase density by 60%.  He recommended conditional use permits for property zoned for commercial.
David Hoffman/345 Scenic Drive/Shared his longevity in the area and knowledge of the community. He had issues with the City’s decision making process.  He did not think the decisions made were democratic.
Mary Ruth Wooding/727 Park Street/Shared concern with the closing of schools due to loss of families in the community.  With the potential of 450 new units, she wanted to know how the City would provide for schools.
Howard Miller/160 Normal Street/Shared two points, one was urban agriculture.  The Normal neighborhood area had very good soil and irrigation that would be paved if they developed the plan. He was concerned the wetlands near a major development area were being progressively limited and had issues with the advanced financing. 
Carol Block/355 Normal Avenue/Discussed the sustainability of resources and livability versus city growth.  She read from the 2012 Ashland Housing Needs report.  She had issues with the density and the way the City informed the citizenry of the plan and the tax implications.
Sue DeMarinis/145 Normal Avenue/Read from a document she submitted into the record regarding underlying zoning in the open space area and lower density housing.  She urged Council to amend the density in the Normal Neighborhood Plan.
Paula Fox/367 Normal Avenue/Read from a document she submitted into the record on growth and water.  She referenced Mayor Stromberg’s State of the City speech for 2015 and read two of the five proposals regarding quality of live in Ashland. The City needed to address water resources. 
Terry Froson/283 Meadowood Drive/Shared his experience in the City of Henderson and that development would never stop once it started.  Inventory reduced property values. 
Jim Wells/321 Clay Street/Lived on the west side of the area and viewed the east side of the proposed development.  He was concerned with the public process.  He only just became aware of the plan last night.  He questioned sewer capacity, future upgrades, annexation and new zoning and how it affected the comprehensive plan.
Jon Cypher/351 Morton Street/Shared his acting experience, quoted John Lennon and Terrence McKenna regarding the madness of society and explained a chess move that he equated to how society was not important because society would pass.  He questioned what legacy the community was leaving behind and whether people cared for mother earth.  She was the only one that counted.
Carol Rosin/351 Morton Street/Commented that she had only heard that night of the Normal Neighborhood Plan and shared concerns how development destroyed communities due to lack of planning.  The City needed to consider infrastructure and conscious leadership.  She hoped Council would listen to comments made during public testimony.
Councilor Voisin/Morris m/s to extend the Public Hearing until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Debbie Miller/160 Normal Street/Read from a document submitted into the record that pointed out features of the plan inconsistent with City Goals that included preservation of open space and wetland, housing, implementation, transportation, and financing.
Lisa Sennhauser/300 Normal Street/Read a response from Councilor Marsh regarding infrastructure costs and explained why she disagreed.
Ines Diez/321 Clay Street/Supported the comments made and shared her concern with the lack of communication and thought it was disrespectful.  The plan would affect families in regards to traffic. She urged that a dialogue begin with the community in order to protect trust.
Brent Thompson/582 Allison Street/Hoped Ashland never needed the land and noted the potential for the community to degenerate with lower density.  He shared the history on how the City ended up supporting infill versus sprawl. 
Marni Koopman/1206 Linda Avenue/Explained she moved from the Normal area due to the plan.  Cities were now integrating climate action into planning.  She recommended putting the Normal Neighborhood Plan on hold until climate and energy action planning was complete.
Anya Neher/237 Clay Street/Drove Clay Street daily and described how difficult it was already navigating parked cars.  She had concerns with traffic, the long-term burden of high density and wanted Council to consider the plan conservatively.
Julie Matthews/2090 Creek Drive/Described the Normal Neighborhood Plan Working Group and that it met during work hours.  She felt citizens were not given adequate time to speak regarding the plan compared to the developers.  The ordinance needed to be strengthened, there were loopholes and citizens needed to be more informed and involved in the actual ordinance language.   The plan needed more input from the public and possibly citizens brainstorming with the developers.  She described a voucher bank theory.
Rich Rohde/124 Ohio Street/Ashland did not have affordable housing, diversity, or rental stock.  He encouraged planning a neighborhood with diversity.  Ashland needed to look at building diversity. 
Brett Thomas Lutz/1700 E Main Street/Read from a letter he submitted into the record.  He worked for the National Weather Service as a meteorologist and noted the affect land clearing had on the area he lived.  He explained the importance of wetlands, the strong El Nino predicted for 2015-2016, and the potential for severe flooding in the Normal Neighborhood area.  Additionally, the school bus turnaround needed to be addressed.   
Abraham Wylie Bettinger/779 Oak Street/Supported the density of the housing proposal.  Lack of affordable housing had changed the community over the years.  He wanted housing for the working class in Ashland.  This was an issue throughout the nation and indicative of not making room for all people.  He supported the plan.
Randy Jones/815 Alder Creek Drive, Medford/Spoke on behalf of six different parcels set for development.  He appreciated the opportunity to work with the Normal Neighborhood Plan Working Group.  He encouraged Council to look at the recommendations made by the group and reverse a suggestion from the Planning Commission.  It was difficult to build and sell affordable housing in Ashland.  He recommended the City define affordable housing and working class housing.   The requirement to build affordable housing 500-feet from the railroad tracks presented a problem in the Normal neighborhood area. 
Max Martinie/321 Clay Street/Recently became aware of the plan.  Shared concern with the growth already in the area and noted friends could no longer afford to live in Ashland.   Another concern was pedestrian traffic in the Normal neighborhood area.  She supported affordable housing but was more concerned with the impact in the area and wanted a plan that affected all citizens, not just the ones in the Normal plan area.
Cathy Shaw/ 886 Oak Street/Explained Senate Bill 100 dictated infill.  This was a plan on how to develop the area if someone wanted to develop it.  This was proactive.  The City pushed development to the flatlands so people would be able to access businesses and public transportation and be multi modal.
Staff Report:
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the 94-plus acres were in the urban growth boundary (UBG).  The UBG was established in 1982.  Over the past 25 years, the City had annexed 65-acres accommodating 375 homes.  There were no pending proposals or pre-applications to annex the Normal Neighborhood area.  In 1982, the City adopted a basic plan for the area that when the land came into the City it would have two residential zoning designations with densities between 5-8 units for a total of approximately 500-550 homes.  The City also identified a basic transportation plan in the early 1980s.    
Over the past decade the City participated in the Greater Bear Creek Regional Valley Plan.  One of the stipulations was meeting target residential densities in the UGB that was 6.6 units per acre for Ashland.
Subtracting the 25 acres for open space and unbuildable area within the Normal master plan resulted in approximately 450 units, 6.6 units an acre.  The Comprehensive Plan stated as part of the regional plan the City could reduce density in the UGB only if at the same time the City identified where it would increase the density to meet the 6.6 unit per acre target within city limits.
The ultimate objective of the plan was when the land was annexed the plan would lay out clear expectations for the applicant.  It would essentially provide a road map for future applicants. 
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman further explained the Comprehensive Plan adopted in 1981 established a conceptual plan for bringing the area into city limits.  It did not necessarily accommodate the natural areas, wetlands, or street network.  A neighborhood plan gave the community and City the opportunity to refine stipulations in the Comprehensive Plan.
Annexations for development typically occurred in an incremental fashion.  The property had to be adjacent city limits for annexation.  The neighborhood plan let the community discuss broader issues in the context of the entire 94 acres and look at the internal street, bike, and pedestrian networks and offsite improvements.  The densities proposed in the area were compatible with the city as a whole.  Specific requirements would capture storm water on site and accommodate storm water runoff without putting further impact on the storm water system.
Mr. Goldman clarified in all development throughout the city the developers paid the infrastructure costs related to the development.  In the case of the Normal Neighborhood Plan, that included internal streets, sidewalks, and utility extensions that serve the development.  Developers also paid a proportionate amount for offsite improvements due to the impact of development.  System Development Charges (SDCs) contributed to offsite improvements as well.  The expectation in the Normal Neighborhood Plan Working Group was if the City decided to participate in an Advance Financing District, it would be through a development agreement.  That way if the development did not occur within a 20-year period the City would have the opportunity to recapture any remaining money owed through how the development agreement was constructed.  SDCs were fees collected for development that went into a fund for citywide improvements.
Housing density transitioned from south to north with higher density development near the railroad tracks, multifamily, and within a relatively short distance to transit lines, parks, and community facilities.  The plan would maintain options for neighborhood serving businesses and services close to East Main Street near the northeast corner of the plan area.  Land use designations were revised March 2015 to the following:
  • NN-01 at 5 units per acre was now NN-1-5 at 4.5 units per acre
  • NN-02 at 10 units per acre was now NN-1-3.5 at 7.2 units per acre
  • NN-03 at 15 units per acre was now NN-1-3.5-C at 7.2 units per acre plus mixed use
  • NN-03C at 15 units per acre plus mixed use was now NN-2 at 13.5 units per acre
The Normal Neighborhood Plan Working Group formulated Neighborhood Module Illustrations within the plan framework to provide general examples of characteristics to help make a neighborhood module successful. Development in the Normal Neighborhood would be family-friendly, energy, and water efficient and include micro-agriculture.
The Working Group revised the transportation framework.  The local neighborhood street network incorporated multiple connections with East Main Street and maintained the Normal Collection as designated in the initial draft plan.    Local neighborhood streets aligned to provide a grid pattern.  It also included a direct pedestrian connection to Ashland Middle School and perimeter transportation improvements to the railroad crossing and East Main Street. 
There were recommendations from the Working Group to accept the open space plan as presented but allow minor amendments to reflect a state approved wetland delineation.  A minor amendment process would allow modification of open space areas to correlate with the then current wetland delineation.
The Planning Commission’s evaluation of the open space amendment process supported the original recommendation of having a major amendment to the plan if someone wanted to modify it to correlate with current wetlands.  Alternately, the Commission recognized the Working Group’s recommendation for a minor amendment process and suggested adding the following language to approve minor amendments when they demonstrated:
  • Equal or better protection for identified resources will be ensured through restoration, enhancement, and mitigation measures.
  • The application demonstrates that connections between open spaces are created and maintained providing for an interlinked system of greenways.
  • The application demonstrates that open spaces function to provide habitat for wildlife, promote environmental quality by absorbing, storing, and releasing storm water, and protect future development from flood hazards
  • The application demonstrates that scenic views considered important to the community are protected, and community character and quality of life are preserved by buffering areas of development from one another.
Council continued the item to the September 15, 2015 Council Meeting. The Public Hearing would remain open.  Those who testified during this meeting would not be able to testify at the September 15, 2015.  People who did not testify could have a chance to do so at the next meeting.  The public could continue to submit documents into the record.
1.   8th Quarterly Financial Report of the 2013-15 Biennium
Item delayed due to time constraints.
Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
___________________________________              ________________________________
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder                             John Stromberg, Mayor           

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