MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
May 21, 2002 B 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hartzell, Morrison and Hearn were present, Councilor Jackson arrived at 7:37 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of May 7, 2002, and Continued Council Meeting of May 8, 2002 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Proclamations for Ashland Study Club Week, National Public Works Week and Crosswalk Safety Week were read aloud.
Councilors Morrison/Reid m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained that the council had adopted a goal to "Develop a tree preservation ordinance and appropriate enforcement mechanisms." Based on this goal, the Tree Commission and staff over the past two years have been preparing a draft Tree Preservation and Protection Ordinance.
Tree Commissioners Rich Whitall, Bryan Holley and Greg Covey made presentation on the different facets of the proposed tree preservation ordinance. The role of the Tree Commission was explained and slide pictures were shown to help indicate the rationale for the proposed ordinance. A Heritage Tree protection program was introduced in the proposed ordinance that would protect trees receiving recognition regardless of size or location. An outline of the proposed ordinance provided information on properties that would not be regulated and procedure for permits including criteria for issuance. It was noted that mitigation may be necessary in some cases and that there would be penalties for violations. Tree protection requirements were explained as applicable to any qualifying planning action or building permit and that a Tree Protection Plan would be required.
Benefits of the proposed ordinance were noted as ensuring greater survival of trees in construction zones, increased awareness of tree protection, consideration for existing trees in development planning, protection for Heritage Trees and a legacy for future generations.
Discussion was held on the process that was followed on setting standards for public entities and requirements for public owned properties were explained. It was explained that the current Street Tree Ordinance would apply on street right-of-ways.
Councilor Jackson arrived at this point.
The city was described, as the body that would have the discretion for determining that plan, submitted by a developer, would meet the character and aesthetics of the neighborhood. It was explained that this is a tree removal permit and is not an action to deny removal, but a process of noticing on trees that are significant. Jackson noted that there is a section in the Hillside Ordinance that does apply to all zoning for single family development.
McLaughlin clarified that Chapter 18.61.094 (B)(1) of the proposed ordinance speaks to the conditions of approval and what they may include, but are not limited to. It was also noted that where possible, staff had tried not to require an arborist, but landscape professionals. McLaughlin further clarified that for commercial and multi-family properties trees are regulated at six-inch level and are considered development property. Single-family, rural residential property the level is regulated at 18 inches and public properties are held to this same standard.
Staff recommended that the council approve first reading of the ordinance as presented, with a change in section 18.61.092 to extend the expiration of tree removal permits to 180 days.
City Attorney Paul Nolte clarified that as long as the developer is not precluded from any development at all, it does not constitute a "taking of property." It is only in the case of when a developer is not able to develop at all that the city would become liable.
McLaughlin explained that the majority of the community, which is single family residence, would not be affected by this ordinance. It was staff's opinion that vacant properties constitute development property and how trees are being incorporated into a design of this property should be considered.
PUBLIC HEARING: OPEN 8:00 p.m.
Randall Hopkins/735 S Mountain Avenue/Commented how this ordinance could enhance fire protection in our community and prevent possible fire hazards. He pointed out fire hazards around construction sites and the potential danger to our community.
Debra Whitall/350 B Street/Pointed out that the proposed ordinance would bring discourse, clarity and quality of life to our community. Requested that the need for tree canopy be considered and encouraged the council to support the proposed ordinance.
Colin Swales/461 Allison/Commented that the Tree Commission has presented the proposed ordinance in a manner that the public has been able to have access to. He felt that the proposed ordinance is well balanced and gives proper attention to the preservation of trees.
Erik Navickas/711 Faith/Spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance and noted past projects that would have benefited from this ordinance.
Liz Crosson/85 Emerick #B/Spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance and commented on the importance of tree protection. Felt that there is educational opportunity through the Heritage Program and appreciated the preservation aspect. Stated that maintaining the quality of life is also important.
Cyndi Dion/897 Hillview Drive/Shared her personal pre-tree ordinance experience when saving large trees on a property that was being subdivided. She stated that awareness is important. She supported the proposed ordinance and hoped that public entities would be held to the same standards.
Bob Robertson/4890 Henderer Rd, Elkton OR/Spoke in opposition of the proposed ordinance and voiced concern that "Tree Police" would be created.
Don Greene/253 Normal Ave/Spoke in opposition of the proposed ordinance and pointed out several sections in particular that would problematic, noting increased costs, conflict with the Housing Element Report and base density incentives. He felt that there are already existing ordinances that protect and preserve trees, and that our tree canopy has increased over the years. He noted his support for the Heritage Program.
John Freedom/442 Holley/Commented on his experience with the Planning Commission and the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) involving the Hillside project. He urged the council to look at the commissions and educate these members so they understand what their roles and duties are.
Iraj Ostovar/389 E Hersey/Felt that the current ordinance protects the community trees and noted examples on how the community is protecting trees. Commented on the value of property rights, freedom of choice and ability to utilize private property for investment purposes or retirement.
PUBLIC HEARING: CLOSED 8:35 p.m.
Nolte suggested that language should be added to 18.61.094 (B)(1) that states no significant negative impact on the character or aesthetics of the neighborhood should preclude development of the property to at least its residential base density. It is his opinion that this language would enable the city to survive the subjective part of the ordinance and would allow the residential development that the zone otherwise allows. He explained that the ordinance is subjective, but can be cured as long as it ensures that residential density is permitted regardless of the impact of the neighborhood.
McLaughlin recommended removing the word "base" in permitted densities to be consistent. He pointed out that under the density bonus section of the ordinance is states that density bonus "shall" be increased a certain percentage if requirements are met. Nolte suggested that in 18.61.080 (B)(3) second sentence, "shall" should replace "may" in granting an exception. He explained that these suggested changes would be included in the proposed ordinance at second reading.
McLaughlin explained that the permit fees for development applications are set to cover staff costs and that the Planning Department budget is designed to recover 75% from fees as previously approved by resolution.
Discussion regarding removal of dead or dying trees from residential property was held and how this would be handled. McLaughlin explained that if the tree was dead, it would be considered an "exempt activity," but if through the review process the tree is determined salvageable, then staff would provide recommendations and direction to the property owner.
Clarification was requested on how to handle "hazard trees" that are not in public right of way and that this clarification be included in the proposed ordinance.
McLaughlin explained that a plan would have to show how they achieve density bonuses and if the developer is unable to show this, they haven't met the burden to show that it is permitted density. Nolte explained that the statute regarding clear and objective approval standards speaks to "proposed housing density" provided the "proposed density" is otherwise allowed in the zone. He understands this to mean the density proposed by the developer on application and agreed that the language of the ordinance needs to be reviewed.
Erik Navickas/711 Faith Street/Spoke regarding the Mt Ashland Ski area expansion and presented slides that indicated areas filled with sediment and erosion. Noted large old growth trees and wetlands in the expansion and presented pictures of streams that are not being recognized by the US Forest Service. Brought attention to an upcoming council study session on June 19 for presentation by Ski Ashland.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (None)
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Approval of Strawberry Lane Concept Design.
Public Works Director Paula Brown reported on the progress for the design of Strawberry Lane noting the public opportunity for review at the 35% design stage. The primary concern heard from the neighbors at these meetings, was the need for sidewalks. Sidewalks are shown on the design, but the neighborhood requested that the council revisit the need for sidewalks. Brown presented schematics pictures on how the area would look with sidewalks and retaining walls.
Staff is recommending continuing with the existing system as designed and noted that staff supports the need for sidewalks to ensure pedestrian safety.
Linda Katzen/29 Scenic Drive/Spoke regarding safety issues and her preference for a rural setting. She does not believe enough thought had been given regarding the type of material that is being proposed for surfacing and is concerned with safety. Feels that the neighborhood is being pushed and questioned what it would take to get what the neighbors want.
Larry Bressler/152 Strawberry Lane/Requested that the council postpone a decision and to take into consideration the expense involved to complete this project. Would like to have alternative proposals.
Christine Crawley/124 Strawberry Lane/Noted her desire to protect the rural settings and commented that there are no current traffic safety issues involving these roads. Requested that the council allow the neighborhood to do without sidewalks.
Ken Crocker/134 Nutley/Voiced his concern that Strawberry Lane traffic will increase because of the development of new homes in this area. Urged the council to find a way to make this area safe for pedestrians without affecting the rural atmosphere.
Johanna Wright/127 Strawberry/Requested that the council consider undergrounding the electrical utilities. She explained that City Engineer Jim Olson had misled her on the impact this LID would have on her property. She noted several areas where her property would be impacted
Debra Kutcher/315 Maple/Spoke in favor of a walking pathway and voiced her concern in regards to pedestrian safety and the importance of escape routes.
Susan Hunt/220 Nutley/Read statement from neighbors who opposed the installation of sidewalks noting that this street has limited use. She noted the stress that would be placed on the trees when installing proposed sidewalks.
Susan Powell/180 Nutley/Voiced her concern with the proposed design and how it would deprive the neighborhood of its character. Would like to have a choice of alternatives that the neighborhood could consider.
Ryan Navickas/711 Faith/Felt that the construction of Strawberry Lane is destruction of Park Land and destroys an area for imagination.
Judith Ousler/252 Strawberry Lane/Agrees that there is a need for safe footpaths but has concerns with the proposed sidewalks. Noted elevation problems and questioned how sidewalks could be installed.
David Chapman/318 Wrights Creek Drive/Commented that Grandview Drive is a known shared use route and that the area is used as a neighborhood park. He suggested a small parking area at the top of Strawberry Lane.
Harry Bartell/365 Strawberry Lane/Commented that at the neighborhood meetings there were no choices offered.
Ed Brubaker/197 Nutley/Pointed out that the area is very steep and shared how he moves from one side of the street to other in order to take advantage of shade.
Reid shared conversation she had with a property owner in this area that advocated for sidewalks and the difficulty that this property owner had experienced with those that did not share her point of view. Reid noted that she is a property owner and participant in the Strawberry LID.
Letter was noted for the record from David and Lisa Shear stating their opposition to sidewalks in this area.
Brown commented on issues that were raised by the public. She explained that the city could not maintain pathways that are trail-like in nature, by providing just pathways not sidewalks. Traction for these pathways also could not be provided for these steep slopes. She explained that for these reasons, staff supports sidewalks and a heavy broom finish that would provide additional traction in concrete. Brown explained that some type of chips could be embedded into the asphalt as long as they can be embedded properly.
Brown explained that meandering sidewalks are difficult on narrow right-of-ways. She commented that if property owners were willing to dedicate 10-15 feet of their property to allow these pathways, would be the best way to go. She explained that any deviation from the normal pathways would cost the neighbors land.
Conduit is being put in place for future undergrounding of electric utilities.
Councilors Hartzell/Reid m/s to extend meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Brown explained that she did not support how Grandview Drive had been covered and noted the difficulty of maintenance and inadequate drainage. She explained that the retaining walls had been shown higher than needed in order to be more conservative than expected. Although she does not normally support retaining walls, narrow steep streets require retaining walls. Brown stated that you have to be careful with having mountable curbs on the steep side of the road.
City Engineer Jim Olson explained that the corner of Strawberry Lane and Scenic Lane is one of the worst areas in regards to amount of right-of-way available and is very constrained for what is needed. He pointed out that the other side is constrained even further by a very steep bank. The design being presented splits the available area, moves into the bank on the west side and uses a seven-foot retaining wall.
Brown explained there would be additional expense in order to provide alternative designs without sidewalks. She noted that property owners participating in this LID have reached the cap that was set by the council. Morrison expressed his desire for allowing this area to keep its ambiance and would like to see another option that would narrow sidewalks but stay within existing right-of-ways.
Hartzell commented on the increasing use of Grandview Drive and how some drivers may not be as aware as others regarding cautionary driving measures. She also stated that she is not supportive of the extra expense associated with preparing an alternative design. Hartzell commented on her concern for public safety, fire and drainage issues that could only be addressed with sidewalks. She noted one area of exception, top part of Nutley Street that may not need sidewalks.
Reid commented that it is the responsibility of the neighbors to advocate for the neighborhood but, as a city councilor, it is her responsibility to consider what is good for the community as a whole and for the future. She cited safety as a major concern and top priority.
Laws commented on his past council experience involving this area and how the council had turned down development due to inadequate transportation. He felt that the area was properly zoned as single family residential but had been down zoned considerably to reduce the density in this area. He stated that the city has an obligation to provide adequate transportation to every part of the city and this area is within the city limits regardless of its rural atmosphere.
Hearn commented on the need to consider pedestrian/traffic safety due to development and increased use of this area. Brown clarified that ADA requirement for sidewalk width is 36 with bi-passes.
Councilors Laws/Hearn m/s to approve the Strawberry Lane Concept Design as presented, for staff to look into the possibility of three foot sidewalks with bi-passes and if property owners come forward, to consider meandering pathways. DISCUSSION: Olson clarified that meandering pathways would be possible in only a few areas and would result in additional expense. Hartzell opposed smaller sidewalks on Alnutt Street due to the need for access of safety vehicles in emergencies. Reid supported making changes where possible, to lesson the impact on the neighborhood, but does not want to compromise with substandard sidewalks. Jackson noted the growth in this area and the need to provide for pedestrian safety. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilors Hartzell/Morrison m/s to cease pursuing sidewalks on the upper part of Nutley Street. DISCUSSION: Reid could not support the motion due to not having the knowledge of development potential or parking issues. Councilors Hartzell/Morrison withdrew the motion.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. First reading by title only of "An Ordinance adopting a new Tree Preservation and Protection Ordinance - Chapter 18.61 of the Ashland Municipal Code.
City Attorney Paul Nolte stated that the suggestions and recommendations as discussed would be included in the second reading of this ordinance for the council approval.
Councilors Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve first reading of ordinance and place on agenda for second reading. DISCUSSION: Nolte clarified that a regulatory taking only occurs when a property owner is denied all economically viable use of the property. He stated that as long as there is economic viable use, then no taking would occur. Nolte explained that the penalties mentioned in the ordinance have never been considered a "taking." Reid noted her difficulty with the proposed ordinance and regulating property owners on how to care for their property. Hartzell noted the responsibility of codifying the City Comprehensive Plan and bring these values forward when making decisions. Laws requested that the language of the proposed ordinance be clarified and made as specific as possible. Roll Call Vote: Hearn, Hartzell, Morrison, Laws, Jackson and Laws, YES. Motion passed.
2. First reading by title only of "An Ordinance Adding Youth Liaison Members to the Bicycle and Pedestrian, Historic, Traffic Safety, and Tree Commissions."
3. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Adding Youth Liaison Members to the Conservation, Forest Lands and Housing Commissions and the Senior Program Board."
4. Reading by title only of "A Resolution revising rates for Water Service pursuant to Ashland Municipal Code Section 14.04.030 and repealing Resolution 99-41."
City Administrator Greg Scoles explained that the effective date for these rates would be July 15 or 60 days. He stated that rates would be evaluated in the future and it would be a good time then to look at rate design. Hartzell commented on her interest of how these rates are based, either conservation or revenue generation.
Councilors Laws/Jackson m/s to approve Resolution #2001-08. DISCUSSION: Morrison voiced his support of looking at how rates are based. Roll Call Vote: Laws, Hearn, Reid, Jackson and Morrison, YES; Hartzell, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
5. Reading by title only of "A Resolution revising rates for Electric Service pursuant to Ashland Municipal Code Section 14.16.030 and repealing Resolution 2001-18."
Councilors Morrison/Reid m/s to approve Resolution #2001-09. Roll Call Vote: Hartzell, Reid, Laws, Hearn, Morrison and Jackson, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS (None)
Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted, Barbara Christensen, City Recorder