Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


November 1, 2016
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 vacancies on the Housing & Human Services, Public Art, and Tree Commissions, the Citizens Budget Committee, and the Municipal Audit Commission. The deadline for applications on the Citizens Budget Committee and the Municipal Audit Commission was November 11, 2016.
Councilor Morris/Seffinger m/s to add under New Business and Miscellaneous Business, approval of the acquisition of road right of way from IPCO Development in the amount of $8.50 per square foot for the Independent Way road project.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Morris explained the acquisition of the right of way for the roadway going through the IPCO property from Tolman Creek Road for the Washington Street Project was in the Transportation System Plan (TSP) and the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).  He wanted to add it to the agenda for discussion.  Councilor Seffinger further explained it would provide safety to the community and people turning onto Highway 66.  It was important for the businesses in that area as well. 
Councilor Voisin did not think there was any rush or need to discuss the topic that evening.  Council received an email from the City Administrator with important information she had not had time to read.  The public needed to know about the project and have an opportunity to speak.  She would not support the motion.  City Administrator Dave Kanner clarified the email he sent was the Council Communication currently in front of Council summarizing the information discussed in the Executive Session the night before.  Mayor Stromberg explained a disagreement amongst Councilors occurred during the Executive Session on whether to delay the discussion to another meeting with the item publicly noticed.  The counter argument was it had already gone through a public process, approved in the TSP, CIP, and by the Planning Commission.  Councilor Voisin responded all of this took place four years ago in terms of public input.  She went on to explain a letter requesting a zone change in that area from R-25 to R-29.  Mayor Stromberg noted another issue was the concern the owner would not wait for Council to take action.  Councilor Lemhouse confirmed the motion would add the item to the agenda for discussion. 
Voice Vote:  Councilor Morris, Seffinger, Rosenthal, Marsh, and Lemhouse, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO.  Motion passed 5-1.
The minutes of the Study Session of October 17, 2016, the Executive Session of October 17, 2016, and the Business Meeting of October 18, 2016 were approved as presented.
Emily Simon/107 Sixth Street/Introduced the Safe Haven program that entailed residents placing decals in their windows to alert others if they are in need they can come to that home and have the resident called the police.  It was similar to the Helping Hand program from the 1960s thru early 1980s.  The group met with Police Chief Tighe O’Meara, spoke with Deputy Chief Warren Hensman, and notified the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) of the program.  The idea came after the racial incident with one of the OSF actors on the street and then later on The Bricks.  If a person in distress knocked on a Safe Haven door, the residence would call the police for them immediately.  This would most likely apply to women and children feeling threatened.  So far, forty people were interested in placing these stickers in their windows. 
There was no vetting process at this time.  However, they were not leaving stickers out for the public.  They either knew each participant or met him or her through neighborhood functions.  They had all participant’s addresses and contact information.  Police Chief O’Meara did not raise the issue of requiring criminal background checks.  It did not seem necessary sine the response would always be calling the police. 
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/Recommended establishing a solar farm using land across I-5 noting solar panels could be paid for over 15 to 20 years.  He asked everyone to keep his or her attention on the whole world and contribute to the whole world. 
Elizabeth Hallett/938 MM Circle/Requested that the Council speak closer to their microphones so the audience could hear them.
1.   Minutes of boards, commissions, and committees
2.   Endorsement of Brava! Opera Theater and James M. Collier Young Artist Program for the purpose of hanging a banner
3.   Liquor license application for Geoffrey Cutler dba Cranbrook Farm
4.   Appointment of Thomas Fuhrmark to the Public Art Commission
5.   5th quarterly financial report of the 2015-17 biennium
6.   Intergovernmental agreement with Southern Oregon University for research services
Councilor Rosenthal pulled Consent Agenda item #6 for discussion.  City Administrator Dave Kanner explained they would write the questions once the contract began and Council could review them.  They wanted to limit the amount to eight questions.  The research services group would mail questionnaires to businesses then follow up with a phone call.  He did not know if the university would use graduate students or under graduates.  Mayor Stromberg and Councilor Voisin would work on a way to gather input from people on the street and agencies working with those people. 
Councilor Rosenthal/Marsh m/s to approve the Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed.
1.   Discussion of questions to be addressed for the purpose of clarifying the 10x20 ordinance
Mayor Stromberg explained Council wanted to enable and remove obstacles to get the project started.  That involved pursuing questions at the same time as they were getting the project moving forward.
Barbara Comnes/444 Park Ridge Place/Read excerpts from the national park service website noting the City had them posted in a similar fashion on the city website regarding the Ashland powerhouse.  She urged Council to carry on the tradition of boldness in addressing the 10x20 ordinance.
Dave Helmich/468 Williamson Way/He was one of the people collecting 10x20 signatures.  When citizens asked him on the status of the ordinance, he told them Council, in collaboration with City staff, would overturn the ordinance by letting it twist slowly in the wind.  He was heartened by the Mayor’s comments.  The ordinance guaranteed carbon mitigation possibly at low cost to taxpayers and ratepayers with no significant financial risk and with increased power security. 
Councilor Rosenthal suggested having a Study Session as soon as possible and feasible for Council to consider the policy questions and provide clarity to staff.
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained that he, It/Electric Director Mark Holden, and Management Analyst Adam Hanks would answer the questions.  Councilor Voisin expressed concern the originators were not included and questioned staff’s ability and expertise to answer the questions.  Mr. Kanner responded they had not planned on meeting with the citizens who wrote the ordinance.  It was no longer their ordinance, it was now the people’s ordinance, and the representatives of the people were City Council.   City staff was fully capable of coming up with alternative answers to the questions.  Staff would eventually engage the services of a neutral third party consultant to identify other potential answers and help create scenarios to conduct feasibility studies as well as cost analyses.  Mayor Stromberg added there was a benefit having a credible outside expert answer the questions, regardless of whether staff was capable or not.  It helped the project be credible and viable in the community.  Secondly, they did not want to find themselves stuck on questions that delayed the project.  Councilor Voisin expressed concern that time was passing and wanted a timeline.  Mr. Kanner commented had the item gone to ballot the City would not be as far along as they were now.  Mayor Stromberg added the Climate Energy Action Plan (CEAP) Committee moved the questions to Council to expedite the process.
Councilor Rosenthal explained the CEAP had answered question 5 several weeks ago affirming they wanted the 10x20 ordinance referenced in the plan.  However, there were policy questions Council needed to answer for the CEAP to move forward.  The CEAP was asking Council two questions.  One, did Council have additional questions.  Two, did the Committee wish to incorporate the ordinance into the plan, which had already happened.  Council needed to answer several policy questions in order to determine the path forward.    
Council discussed dates and options for a Study Session to answer the policy questions.  Some questions would have to wait until the consultant was hired.  Staff would put together enough material for Council to delve into some of the questions.  The November 15, 2016 would start at 6:00 p.m. to address the questions prior to the regular Council meeting.
Councilor Lemhouse/Rosenthal m/s to start the next Council Meeting at 6:00 p.m.  Voice Vote: ALL AYES.  Motion passed.
2.   Discussion on the acquistion of road right of way from IPCO Development for the Independent
      Road project
Public Works Director Mike Faught explained the traffic on Highway 66 had gotten so congested at times, people exiting Washington Street had trouble turning left onto Ashland Street /Highway 66.  It also affected businesses along Highway 66 as well.  This was a priority project in the 2012 Transportation System Plan (TSP).  The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) solution in the Area Management Plan was extending the existing 200-foot median that started at the freeway to Tolman Creek Road, making it impossible to turn or cross the street.  Staff wanted to minimize the need for the median or at least delay it for many years.  Presently ODOT had painted a stay clear indicator on Highway 66 in front of Washington Street.
The TSP came up with an alternative solution that would build a connection between Tolman Creek Road and Washington Street through the IPCO property.  It would allow drivers on Washington Street to avoid the congestion on Highway 66 by accessing Tolman Creek Road.  Conversely, drivers from Tolman Creek Road could access the road to Washington Street to get on the freeway.  The property owner strongly objected to the project.  Mr. Faught had been in prolonged and difficult negotiations with the owner since 2012 and now they were on the verge of making the sale.  If approved, the City would purchase 800 feet to construct the connector road.  The distance was less than a mile.  An appraiser priced the land at $7 per square foot (sf) but the minimum for the owner was $8.50 per sf and they were unwilling to accept a lower offer.  The City wanted to avoid going through the condemnation process that would cost more.   
Staff and two commissions vetted all options and alternatives.  The connecter between Washington Street and Tolman Creek Road was the best option.  It was close enough to the interchange of the two intersections to create a relief from both ends.  Other options further away were not as effective.  The property owner adamantly opposed the project, Mr. Faught worked with him over the years, and this was the best agreement the City could expect. 
Mayor Stromberg summarized staff worked on all the issues four years ago.  The Council and Planning Commission approved the plan and it underwent a long negotiation.  The City needed to close the deal now or it would go through condemnation.  The project was already 75% designed in order to determine impact to the property.
Mr. Faught explained developing Independent Way would either eliminate the median extension or reduce the need to have it in the near future.  It could happen in fifty years.  ODOT was also looking at installing another median across the freeway.  The City needed to move quickly or they could lose the deal. The property purchase estimate was $341,000.  The total project would cost $1,800,000, included the cost of purchasing the land, and was in the adopted budget.  Staff would have full cost once the project went out to bid.
Councilor Marsh/Morris m/s approval of the acquisition of road right of way from IPCO Development in the amount of $8.50 per square foot for the Independent Way road project and authorize the city administrator to sign all documents necessary to complete the transaction.  DISCUSSION: Councilor Marsh was on TSP during the discussions on Independent Way and did not think the City would ever come to any agreement with the property owner.  She thanked Mr. Faught for his efforts and patience in working with Mr. Brombacher.  She had personally witnessed an illegal U-turn in that area and as it became more congested, there would be more.  She suspected that soon they would have to accelerate capital improvements on the other side of the freeway to address congestion issues there.  Councilor Morris agreed with Councilor Marsh and never thought the property owner would sell.  He supported the motion.  Councilor Seffinger thought it was a safety concern and effected the businesses in that area.
Councilor Voisin wanted a guarantee ODOT would not build the median.  Councilor Lemhouse lived in the area and noted it was getting more and more congested and had witnessed risky traffic behavior as well.  There was no guarantee ODOT would not build the median.  If they did, the project would be the only relief in that area for traveling.  This was most likely the best deal the City could negotiate.  Not accepting it could cost the City more in the future.  Councilor Marsh thanked the property owner, Mr. Brombacher for continuing to engage in the public process.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Marsh, Morris, Lemhouse, Seffinger, and Rosenthal, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO.  Motion passed 5-1.
1.   Second reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance repealing and replacing AMC Chapter 6.40 by adoption of state and county regulation”
Councilor Voisin/Morris m/s to approve ordinance #3135.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Voisin, Marsh, Seffinger, Morris, Lemhouse, and Rosenthal, YES. Motion passed.
City Administrator Dave Kanner addressed an email from the lead volunteer at the Pioneer Hall shelter asking Council to consider adding a third shelter night.  Pioneer Hall was available on Sunday night.  Mr. Kanner had concerns on volunteer availability and who the City would actually contract with to achieve a third night.  Council supported Mr. Kanner looking into a third night further as long as it ran the same as the other two shelter nights.
Councilor Voisin announced Options for Homeless Residents in Ashland (OHRA) was sponsoring a camp out 3:00 p.m. Saturday November 5, 2016 at the Lincoln Elementary school.  It would give citizens and senior high school students a firsthand experience on being homeless.   Secondly, Wellsprings would host a tiny houses building seminar November 12, 2016 and November 13, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m. 
Dana Smith, Assistant to the City Recorder                 John Stromberg, Mayor

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