Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

March 7, 2006
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.
Regular Council Meeting Minutes of February 21, 2006 were approved as presented.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Liquor License Application - Agave.
3. Confirmation of Mayoral Appointment of Information Technology Director.
Councilor Hardesty requested that Item 3 be pulled from the Consent Agenda.

Councilor Hartzell/Amarotico m/s to approve Consent Agenda Items 1 and 2. Voice Vote: all AYES.

Councilor Hardesty voiced his objections to the appointment of Joseph Franell as the IT Director.

Mayor Morrison commented on the selection process and clarified that City Attorney Michael Franell did not participate in anyway. He also stated that Joseph Franell was selected on the basis of his qualifications and was clearly the best candidate. City Administrator Gino Grimaldi added that it is illegal for the City to discriminate because of family relationships.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve the Mayor's appointment of Joseph Franell as the Information Technology Director. Voice Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Councilor Hardesty, NO. Motion Passed 5-1.

1. Public Hearing on a Resolution Adopting a Supplemental Budget Establishing Appropriations within the 2005-2006 Budget.Administrative Services & Finance Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report and stated that it is necessary to create an appropriation recognizing a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the purpose of purchasing firefighting tools and equipment.

Public Hearing Open: 7:11 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 7:11 p.m.

Councilor Silbiger/Hartzell m/s to adopt Resolution #2006-03. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Amarotico, Hardesty, Jackson, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Motion Passed 6-0.

Bryan Holley/324 Liberty Street/Spoke regarding the removal of the "Tree of Heaven". Mr. Holley noted an article on this issue would be published in the Daily Tidings and encouraged the community to take notice of the tree before it is removed. He clarified that a removal date has not yet been set.

Ambuja Rosen/Spoke regarding a dog-tethering ordinance and stated that an article regarding this issue would be published in the Ashland Free Press as well as posted to the websites and Ms. Rosen commented on how this ordinance should be initiated and noted that Ashland already has some animal control ordinances in place.

Charles Carreon/33 3rd Street/Voiced his concerns with the Council's selection for the IT Director.

1. Airport Master Plan Update Review.
City Surveyor/Project Manager Jim Olson and Administrative Assistant Dawn Lamb presented the staff report to the Council. Ms. Lamb explained this was an opportunity for Council to offer input before the document is finalized by the FAA; after which it will be returned to the Council for their approval.

Ms. Lamb clarified that the airport can only facilitate small aircrafts and the length of the runway will not be able to be extended. Because the runway is locked into its length, this limits the size and the amount of aircraft that can utilize the airport.

Ms. Lamb explained how noise complaints are handled by staff and suggestion was made for the City to consider developing a communication plan. Ms. Lamb stated that she would forward this request to the Airport Commission and noted that the Commission would be presenting an update to the Council when the Airport Master Plan comes back for adoption.

2. Planning Division Operational Audit Presentation.
Interim Community Development Director Bill Molnar introduced Paul Zucker, President of Zucker Systems, who was responsible for the Planning Division Operational Audit. Mr. Molnar noted that no Council action is required at this time.

Mr. Zucker delivered his presentation to the Council, which provided an overview of the following:
    *Complete presentation was submitted into the public record.

Specific Activities Performed
Strengths and Positives
Problem Areas and Opportunities for Improvement
Key Priority Areas
Work Program
Staffing & Organization
Ordinance Issues
Development Processes
Process Software - Eden

Mr. Zucker recommended that the City Administrator and Community Development Director review the study and agree on an implementation plan, with confirmation by the Council.

Discussion was had regarding the current and proposed staffing levels in the Planning Department. Mr. Zucker stated that bringing in additional support staff for the planners rather than adding new employees at the planning level would not solve the City's problems. He stated that some of the clerical tasks could be handled more efficiently through the use of current technology and explained the option of a "blended staff"; where the City could staff to a certain level and additional workload would be handled through consultants. Mr. Zucker noted that the majority of the cities he has worked with have blended staff and suggested that Ashland consider this option.

Mr. Molnar commented on the planning staff's preparation of minutes for the various commissions and committees and stated that this is one of the tasks that could be streamlined by preparing the minutes in a summary fashion.

Council questioned whether an assessment was done on how time consuming some of the proposed tasks would be on staff. Mr. Zucker noted that the report recommends that the City bring on additional staff, but ultimately it is the Council's decision. He stated that some of the current tasks could be handled in a more efficient manner, and explained why he believes all phone calls and emails should be replied to the same day, even if only to state that it will take staff additional time to fulfill the request.

Request was made for the Table of Recommendations to be provided in an Excel table or other sortable fashion.

Colin Swales/461 Allison Street/Stated that the City's planning process was broken into two parts, and this evaluation was only half the issue. He reminded the Council of the number of recent appeals and the importance of the upcoming ordinance review. Mr. Swales suggested that the Council not make too many decisions at this point and suggested that the Planning Commission as well as the new City Administrator and Community Development Director be allowed to provide input.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith Avenue/Stated that the Comprehensive Plan Review has not been done and the Riparian Plan and Downtown Plan also need to be completed. He commented on the recommendation for additional housing staff and the need for more affordable housing and work force housing in Ashland. Mr. Navickas also commented the issue of slow growth and how this relates to the Mt. Ashland Ski Area expansion.

John Fields/845 Oak Street/Chair of the Planning Commission/Stated that he is encouraged by the report and commented on the issues facing the Planning Commission, including how to weigh competing rules. He stated that the City needs to clarify what its goals are and the direction for the City. He stated that time is of the essence in implementing the Zucker recommendations and hopes that the Planning Commission can be of assistance in fulfilling the recommendations.

Mr. Molnar clarified that the Land Use Ordinance Review being performed by Siegel Planning Services will come before the Council in April and it will take roughly six months to implement the ordinance changes.

Mr. Grimaldi explained the next step from here would be for Interim Director Bill Molnar to prepare a draft work plan, which would likely be reviewed by the incoming City Administrator rather than himself. Mr. Grimaldi recommended moving forward with Mr. Molnar as the Interim Director and not delaying action for the new director. He added that staff would communicate with Council regarding the implementation activities.

3. AFN Options.
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi provided the staff report. He noted the work of the AFN Options Committee and provided a brief explanation of the four options being considered, which are: Sale, Spin-off, Spin-Off to Jefferson Public Radio Foundation, and Open Carrier. He also commented on the option evaluation criteria provided in the council packet.

Councilor Silbiger submitted information into the public record regarding the Open Carrier Model. He explained that with this option, the City would provide base-level internet and base-level television for a flat fee charged to all businesses and residents, with an exception for low-income households and those that cannot currently receive AFN service. He explained that this model would cover AFN's operational expenses as well as its debt payments. Silbiger stated that instead of charging everyone a $7.50 surcharge to cover the debt (which was previously approved and then repealed by the Council), and not offer anything in return; this option institutes a charge and also covers AFN's debt, but in return citizens will receive basic internet and television service.

Councilor Silbiger offered an explanation of how the tables on page 4 of the packet materials were prepared. He stated that if every household paid $20 per month, the City would be able to pay off AFN's entire debt and everyone could receive internet as we have it now, as well as basic television. To get this figure to a place where the citizens would be more comfortable with this idea, he suggests a $10 fee per residential connection and $20 fee per commercial. He added that with the JPR spin-off option, the City would still be left with AFN's debt and a fee would need to be charged to the citizens without offering anything in return. Councilor Chapman added that with this option, the City could partner with a cable television provider, who could deliver cable channels over the city's wire.

Mayor Morrison provided an overview of the Open Carrier Option before taking public input. He stated that with this option Ashland would retain the infrastructure and the City would provide internet and basic television. ISPs and outside cable companies could offer elevated service to any household that is interested in more than the basic connections offered by the City. Everyone would be charged a flat fee, with the exception of low-income households and those that cannot receive service, however the City would expand the service so that all households could hook up to AFN within 2 two years. The Model proposes a fee of $10 per household, which would cover AFN's operating costs, debt payments, and system improvements.

Councilor Jackson noted the advice of the AFN Options Committee who felt that the Spin-Off option would be a more effective way to run AFN. She stated that the Open Carrier System is a way of operating, but does not address the organizational structure issues brought forward by the Options Committee.

Councilor Silbiger explained that the type of decisions that would be difficult to make in the public environment would be handled by the ISPs and cable vendors and stated that the Open Carrier option would resolve many of these concerns raised by the committee.

Colin Swales/461 Allison Street/Voiced his interest in the Open Carrier Option and suggested that the Council seriously consider this possibility.

Ron Roth/6950 Old 99 S/Read an excerpt from a Daily Tidings article and stated that it is time for the Council to make a decision. Mr. Roth stated that the JPR model could serve the community well and recommended that the City continue its conversations with the JPRF staff.

John Gaffey/637 Oak Street/Voiced his desire that at least one of the council members is considering the citizens in town who have already stated they cannot afford additional services. He questioned whether the City would allow some citizens a complete opt out and whether any potential buyers for the extra bandwidth have been identified yet. He added that for the same $10 debt payment charge, the citizens could be done with this issue and not have to worry about AFN anymore.

Lenny Neimark/380 Kent Street/Voiced support for the Open Carrier Option but suggested that the Council simplify the language so that it is easier for citizens to understand.

Charles Carreon/33 3rd Street/Commented on the various services offered by the City and sees a hidden value in the IT services. Mr. Carreon suggested that the Council consider how they are going to market and communicate the Open Carrier Option to the public and stated that this seems like a simple solution to the problem.

Leah Ireland/PO Box 284/Stated that this is a long-term and important decision that will affect the City for many years to come. Ms. Ireland stated that this is not just about debt, but whether Ashland is a progressive and special town that offers opportunities available nowhere else. She voiced her support for giving the new IT Director a chance and does not believe the community would approve of the JPRF Spin-Off option. She also expressed her concern about the rates Charter Communications would charge.

Ron Kramer/120 Wimer Street/JPR Foundation/Noted that they have had a number of conversations with City staff and stated that if this is something the City would like to pursue, they believe it would lead to a good result and are open to further discussions. He added that if the City decides to pursue a different option they are fine with that too. Mr. Kramer commented on the AFN channel agreements and stated that it is his understanding that the City has entered into contracts through 2014 and that they are unbreakable. He questioned how the City would deal with this issue if the Open Carrier Option is selected.

Paul Collins/1257 Tolman Creek Road/Noted that he served on the AFN Options Committee and expressed concern for the spin-off options. He stated that theoretically they are sound, however JPRF has never operated a television service. He voiced his support for the Open Carrier Option and stated that this alternative focuses on the succeeding internet service and shared his confidence in the City's ability to provide internet to the community.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to extend meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: All AYES.

Alan Oppenheimer/110 S. Laurel/Voiced support for the Open Carrier Option and commented on the benefits of selecting this alternative. He stated that this option would retain many of the things they did right with AFN, while fixing many of the things that were done wrong. He stated that they need to flush out the issues, and get behind this option and make it a reality.

Councilor Hartzell/Silbiger m/s that it is the intent of the City Council to implement the Open Carrier Option and direct staff work with the drafters of this model to refine the strategy, numbers, legalities, and to identify next steps and bring it back to Council. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hartzell stated that she would like to see this at the next Council Meeting, but recognizes time limitations. Mr. Grimaldi stated that this would likely return to Council in April. Councilor Silbiger briefly addressed the concerns raised during John Gaffey's testimony. City Attorney Michael Franell spoke regarding the concern raised about the AFN channel contracts and clarified that the City has engaged legal counsel who specializes in this area and he is reviewing the contracts and will be providing his opinion soon. Councilor Jackson voiced her support of handling the internet as a utility, however she is not ready to support this option due to the lack of financial details. She suggested if this motion does pass, that the new IT Director be allowed to evaluate this model. Councilor Hardesty suggested that the decision to operate this service as a utility should be placed before the voters. Mr. Grimaldi clarified that if this motion passes, staff would approach this option in an effort to make it work. If they ran into something that shows otherwise, they would bring it back to Council. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Councilor Jackson, NO. Motion Passed 5-1.

4. AFN Debt Service Alternatives for the City.
Agenda item not discussed due to time constraints.
1. Reading by title only of, "An Ordinance Amending Chapter 2.50 and 2.52 of the Ashland Municipal Code Relating to Rules of Procedure for Public Contracting and Personal Service Contracts".
Agenda item not discussed due to time constraints.
2. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution Setting Forth the City of Ashland's Plan to Correct Budget Deficiencies Disclosed in the FY 2004-2005 Audit".
Administrative Services and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg presented the staff report and requested Council's approval of the proposed resolution.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to approve Resolution #2006-04. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Jackson, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Councilor Hartzell was out of the room. Motion Passed 5-0.

3. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution Transferring Appropriations within the 2005-2006 Budget".
Mr. Tuneberg explained that it is necessary to transfer appropriations from Contingency to Economic & Cultural Grants to correct for budgeting less than required by Resolution 2004-32 and also to correct unanticipated costs within the Police Department. The total transfer amount is $117,000.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to approve Resolution #2006-05. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger, Chapman, YES. Motion Passed 6-0.

4. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution Adopting PGE's Earth Advantage Program Standards in Existence January 1, 2006, as the Standard for the City's Earth Advantage Program".
Electric Director Dick Wanderscheid explained that the Council previously adopted an ordinance granting density bonuses to developers who construct their homes to the Earth Advantage Standards; that ordinance required that the Earth Advantage Standards be adopted by resolution. Staff has prepared two resolutions for the Council's consideration. Option 1 requires that developers of more than 5 homes pay $1,000 per lot to the Conservation Division when the new subdivision is created. This money would then be paid to the builder of the home after it complies with the Earth Advantage Standards. Option 2 does not require the payment and the City's Conservation budget would provide the incentive instead of the developer. Staff's recommendation is to adopt Option 2 for at least one year. Staff could report back on the progress of this program at the end of the year and provide information as to who has been receiving the bonus. If they find that the $1,000 payment is necessary it can be added at that time.

Mr. Wanderscheid noted a correction to both resolutions; the title should not include 'PGE' before 'Earth Advantage Program Standards'.

Councilor Hartzell expressed concern with providing a double incentive to the developer. Council Jackson voiced her preference to follow staff's recommendation and give the program a try for a year; then change the resolution later if they find that the developers are getting away with too much.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to approve Earth Advantage Resolution #2, which does not require the $1,000 payment. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hartzell explained why she would be voting against this motion. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico and Jackson, YES. Councilor Hardesty, Hartzell, Silbiger and Chapman, NO. Motion Fails 4-2.

Council Chapman/Hartzell m/s to approve Earth Advantage Resolution #1 [Resolution #2006-06]. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Councilor Hardesty, NO. Motion Passed 5-1.

5. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution Repealing 2000-24 and Adopting New Community Development Fees".
Interim Community Development Director Bill Molnar presented the staff report and stated that this resolution would approve an increase in the current Community Development Fee by approximately two tenths of a percent. He noted the Council Communication provides some history and requested Council's approval of the resolution.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to approve Resolution #2006-07. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger, Chapman, YES. Motion Passed 6-0.

1. Request from Councilor Hartzell to discuss consideration of a request from Ashland Independent Film Festival regarding Economic and Cultural Development Grant.
Agenda item not discussed due to time constraints.
2. Request from Councilor Hartzell to discuss a citizen's request for Council interpretation of ALUO 18.68.050 per procedures laid out in 18.108.160 - Ordinance interpretations.
Councilor Hartzell noted that Council had received email communications about this issue from a concerned citizen.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s that Council instruct staff to interpret Ordinance 18.68.050 to determine that a 20 ft. deep yard facing the arterial specified in the ordinance is required regardless of whether it is a front, side, or back yard. DISCUSSION: City Attorney Michael Franell requested clarification. He stated that the ordinance itself lists specific streets that require specific setbacks from the centerline of the road. The ordinance also refers to a front yard setback for all other arterials. He questioned if the motion refers to just the unnamed arterials or if it also changes the specific street setbacks named in the ordinance. Councilor Hartzell stated that it was not her intention to change the setbacks for the named arterials. Mr. Molnar was called forward and gave his opinion that this action would require an ordinance change. Mr. Franell concurred and stated that the language in the ordinance was not subject to interpretation and offered to go over this in more detail with the Council. Councilor Hartzell withdrew her motion and requested that this item come back at the next Council meeting.

ADJOURNMENT: Meeting adjourned at10:34 p.m.

April Lucas, Asst. to City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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