MINUTES OF THE CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
February 7, 2001
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hartzell, Fine, and Morrison were present. Staff present included City Administrator Greg Scoles, Administrative Services Dick Wanderschied, City Attorney Paul Nolte, and Marketing & Communication Manager Ann Seltzer.
PRESENTATION OF ATTITUDE SURVEY TO MAYOR AND COUNCIL BY SCUDDER AND ASSOCIATES
(Complete survey is attached to original minutes and is available in the City Recorder’s Office)
Administrative Services Dick Wanderschied gave brief background regarding how the survey was conducted and the reasoning behind the timing on conducting the survey. He explained that the second survey was to serve as a basis of comparison to the survey conducted in 1998. He stated that several questions regarding Green Power and the Ashland Fiber Network were removed, and new questions about parking and city taxes and fees were added. There was a total of 500 telephone interviews completed between November 13, and December 10, 2000.
Tammy Scudder from Scudder and Associates presented research objectives, along with the pros and cons from previous survey in 1998 compared to current survey. These objectives are: 1) Measuring the community’s level of satisfaction with the quality of life in Ashland; 2) Measuring the community’s satisfaction with the current level of key City services; 3) Identifying how the community views City Government; 4) Exploring the community perception regarding parking downtown (note: only pros and cons were discussed as this was not on previous survey); 5) Measuring the incidence of RVTD transit use among respondent as well as family; and 6) Identifying methods the community uses to gather information about the city.
The council discussed the need to compare our city’s survey to other similar surveys from other cities. It was determined that comparing similar surveys from other cities would be helpful, and staff agreed to look into this.
The council discussed the survey results regarding the use for obtaining information from the City Web Page and felt that the 1998 survey results may have been incorrect. Wanderschied stated that there is information from 1997 regarding the Ashland Fiber Network that may be useful for comparison.
The council discussed how the demographics were established and it was noted that the survey may be a little skewed because of the weighted sample and over representation of older female citizens. Scudder explained that this has become an increasing problem associated with telephone surveys. The council discussed the merit of requesting a more refined data report of the survey.
A data table was provided which broke down the responses according to gender, age, kids at home, housing, years of residency, and household income. Scudder noted her perceptions regarding the survey, and commented that the community seemed to be more concerned with growth overall and how it is affecting the community. She noted that the younger, renting citizens commented on the need for services closer to home, and were not as concerned with the growth issue.
Councilor Morrison left the meeting at 1:15 p.m.
DISCUSSION OF LAND USE APPEALS PROCESS AND PROCEDURES
City Attorney Paul Nolte explained that the proposed ordinance would provide a form for land use appeals that would require that the specific grounds for the appeal be identified, and that the council would be limited in its review of the action to only those specific items. The purpose for this is to allow both sides of the issue, as well as the city, to have the opportunity to know the issues in advance, and to provide adequate information for the council to use in making a decision. It was noted that limiting the issues for appeal might keep the council from delving into other issues, which they want to address, or on which they wish to accept testimony. There is also difficulty of limiting public testimony to only those specific items under appeal.
Nolte explained that at the recent OSF appeal, the appellants did not specify either the issues they felt were in conflict with the city’s land use ordinance, or a procedural irregularity.
Reid noted her concern with the council not having the ability to discuss information that may be brought to their attention at the time of the appeal, which would affect their decision. She commented that the Planning Commission does not have the same broad view of the community as the council does.
Law commented on the "fairness" of a quasi-judicial decision and believed that both the appellant and applicant should be treated equally fair and when new information is presented that either should have the opportunity to respond. It was noted that the public has the right to all information.
Fine requested that the form include a place to return the form and to add a place for a date.
Colin Swales commented that he was comfortable with the proposed form, but had several concerns regarding the proposed ordinance. He was not in favor of deleting the evidentiary hearing for a de novo hearing. He was confused with the meaning of cross-appeal and the exception for appeals filed by the council itself.
Laws suggested that the council allow additional evidence to be submitted within a certain time frame, which both the applicant and appellant would have access. Nolte explained that the reason the council is excepted for appeals filed, is because the council is not suppose to have any prior knowledge to the de novo hearing. The council is only suppose to be allowed to view what is in the application and this could include the information submitted within an allowed time frame after the planning commission hearing. Fine suggested that the council allow information that has come up since the planning commission hearing to be heard at the de novo hearing. The council discussed both suggestions and how to incorporate these into the proposed ordinance. The importance of allowing both sides an equal amount of time to view new information and public access to this information was noted. Nolte stated that the method of de novo hearings is very different in a number of cities.
DeBoer commented on his concern of the cost associated with a cross-appeal. Fine supported Nolte’s recommendation that a cross-appeal may be filed after notice of an appeal is filed.
Staff was directed to revise forms with suggested changes and to bring back proposed ordinance for council approval, which incorporates the suggestions as made by the council.
Meeting adjourned at 2:55 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder/Treasurer