Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

January 16, 2007
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, Navickas, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger, and Chapman were present.
Mayor Morrison announced vacancies on the Airport and Public Arts Commissions. The City is also seeking a SOU Student Liaison to the Forest Lands Commission.

Mayor Morrison noted the appellant has withdrawn their land use appeal of Planning Action 2006-00612 and the public hearing removed from tonight's agenda.

The Regular Council meeting minutes of January 2, 2007 and amended Executive Session minutes of December 19, 2006 were approved as presented.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman nominated Councilor Silbiger as Council President for the year 2007. Voice Vote: all AYES.

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Appointments to Housing Commission.
3. Approval of ODOT Agreement No. 23840 for a Bicycle and Pedestrian Crossing at E. Main Street.
4. Appointment to Street Financing Task Force.
Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1. An Appeal of Planning Action 2006-00612 - Request for Site Review approval for a mixed-use development compromised of general office space and six residential condominiums for the property located at 160 Helman St. A Tree Removal Permit is requested to remove two trees on site that are sized six inches diameter at breast height and greater.
Appeal was withdrawn.
Ambuja Rosen/Commented on the tethering ordinance public hearing that was held at the last Council meeting. She stated twelve of the seventeen people who spoke or submitted comments opposing the tethering law were from out of town, and all twelve had some connection to the dog breeding industry. Ms. Rosen claimed breeders from as far as Eugene traveled to Ashland to oppose the law because they feared this type of legislation would spread to their communities. She stated that in general, animals are not family members to these individuals, but are viewed as merchandise. Ms. Rosen shared her suspicion that the Southern Oregon Kennel Club organized much of the opposition that was heard by Council and noted the thousands of signatures she has gathered from Ashland residents supporting this ordinance. Ms. Rosen requested the Council not only restrict the tethering of dogs, but other animals as well; and asked the Council to consider what the people of Ashland want.
1. A Request for authorization to proceed with a land use application involving approximately 1.37 acres of City-owned land included in the Dog Park.
Senior Planner Bill Molnar presented the staff report and explained the property owners have tentatively made a land use application for a residential development at the current location of the Ashland Greenhouse property. Mr. Molnar stated part of the land use proposal involves an exchange of approximately 1.5 acres of City owned property leading to the City dog park, for roughly 2.5 acres of the property owner's private property. Because the application involves City property, the applicant must obtain authorization from the Council in order to proceed with this land use action.

Mr. Molnar clarified this request does not involve a land use decision and stated this would be a separate action that comes before the Planning Commission and the City Council. He added the property exchange would also require a separate public hearing held at a later date to evaluate the merits of the transaction.

Mr. Molnar stated the Parks & Recreation Commission have reviewed this proposal and voted to support, in principle, the request to move ahead with the land use application. Staff recommends approval of the request and Mr. Molnar noted the suggested motion listed in the staff memo.

Comment was made questioning if this action could potentially weaken the burden for annexation by surrounding the property with City land. Mr. Molnar gave his opinion that it would not weaken the burden because the timing of the land swap could be structured so there is no official change to the property prior to the land use decision being made.

Mr. Molnar noted the Comprehensive Plan designation of the land is single-family residential and clarified the land is currently outside the City limits, but within the Urban Growth Boundary.

Chris Hearn/515 East Main Street/Representing the applicants Valerie and Greg Williams. Mr. Hearn stated this is an opportunity to achieve something that the Parks Department has been trying to do for some time. He displayed the Parks and Trails Open Space Plan, which was adopted by the Council in 2002, and explained it is essentially a wish list of parcels the City wishes to acquire. Mr. Hearn stated the Williams' property that is the subject of the possible land swap is on this list. He explained with the acquisition of this parcel by the City, the bike path could be redirected to follow the creek and the applicants would pay for this. Mr. Hearn noted the City's current property that provides access to the dog park is burdened with the demand that it be used for recreational purposes. He stated an appraiser would likely consider this restriction and it could diminish its fair market value. Mr. Hearn submitted charts depicting the land exchange comparison and stated this is a win-win situation.

Alex Forrester/545 A Street/Applicant's agent and planning consultant. Mr. Forrester agreed that this is a win-win situation and stated it would allow the development of the area to proceed in a more coherent and practical way.

Mr. Hearn emphasized approval of the applicant's request in no way obligates the City to any future course of action; it just allows the applicant to come forward with their land use proposal.

Mr. Hearn clarified that he had spoken with the Assistant City Attorney and it is likely that the recreational purpose requirement would remain with the land even after an exchange. He also provided further explanation of the maps that were handed out and commented that the Parks & Trails Committee specifically made the wish list somewhat amorphous.

Mr. Forrester provided further explanation of the property that would go to the City, and clarified the property line for the riparian area was derived from the new draft ordinance which requires 65 ft. from the centerline of the creek and has an additional 10 ft. setback added. Mr. Forrester explained that they had proposed to the Parks & Recreation Commission the possibility of moving the bike path to follow the creek, instead of continuing the way it does not along the City's sewer treatment plant. He stated the applicant's are willing to provide the path in whichever direction the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Council want.

Colin Swales/461 Allison/Voiced his surprise that this action has gotten to this stage and stated it seems like the "cart is before the horse". Mr. Swales stated it is essential that this issue be handled correctly since the applicant is an ex-city councilor and is being represented by another ex-city councilor. He stated the City's portion of property is very important and suggested the City consider the use of easements along the riparian property. He also stated he does not believe the recreational purpose requirement would diminish the value of the land, since the subdivision would likely be requirement to provide open space for the residents and this land could be used for that purpose. Mr. Swales stated the value of the City's land has greatly increased since it was first purchased and questioned if the recreational use requirement could be removed if the City repaid the grant. He commented that the applicant should not have to go through this process without knowing if the City will approve the land swap and requested the Council delay this issue until there is a full disclosure on the appraised values of the properties and other creative options have been considered.

Art Bullock/Stated the two reasons to approve this action are: 1) it makes sense from a development point of view because it allows for flexibility in terms of the layout of streets, and 2) the bike path could be moved closer to the creek and have a better crossing at Nevada Street, which would be safer than what currently exists. Mr. Bullock stated there are also reasons to not proceed, including: 1) the land has not been appraised yet, 2) the City may be in violation of the Federal grant requirements if they approve the use of this land for something other than what was agreed to with the Federal Government, and 3) the chances are very low that both the land swap and planning application process can be completed within the 120-day timeline. Mr. Bullock urged the Council to not approve the applicant's request until these three issues have been resolved.

Councilor Hartzell questioned if Council discussion regarding the land swap could have an impact on their ability to hear a possible appeal of the land use application. City Attorney Mike Franell stated it would not have an impact to hear an appeal since these are two separate issues and each has their own criteria that must be met. However, he suggested the Council try to avoid getting into the merits of the land use action during their discussions of the land swap.

Regarding the 120-day rule, Mr. Franell clarified that if all the property for which the development is being applied for is within the current city limits, then the 120-day rule applies. However if the development application is dependent upon approval of an annexation, as with this case, then the 120-day rule is not applicable to that portion of the project.

Mr. Franell encouraged the Council to keep in mind that this is two separate applications. He stated the land use decision can be made without making a decision on the land swap. He stated it would be prudent to have the decision made on the land swap prior to final decision on the land use application, but because they are two separate issues, a favorable decision made for one will not bind the Council in making a similar decision for the other.

Assistant Attorney Richard Appicello clarified the Federal Government would have to approve the conversion. He stated if this process is not completed by the time the Council is ready to make an exchange, they could either postpone the decision or approve with a condition contingent upon the Federal Government's approval.

Mr. Appicello stated he does not believe there is a way to remove the recreational use burden from the property; however, staff will explore this further. He also clarified the majority of the applicant's property is outside the city limits and is contingent on annexation; therefore staff is not extremely concerned with the 120-day rule.

Councilor Navickas/Hartzell m/s to not move forward with allowing this application to proceed. DISCUSSION: Councilor Navickas stated he wants to be clear with the developer that what they have proposed is not a fair exchange. He stated the City could have easements through their property for bike lanes regardless of whether the City owns the property. He stated he is willing to work with the development to discuss a repartitioning of the property, but does not see why the City should give up 1.37 acres of usable park land. Councilors Silbiger, Jackson and Chapman voiced support for moving forward with obtaining appraisals so that an informed decision can be made. Councilor Hartzell voiced support for discussing the merits of the land swap prior to the land use application being brought forward. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Navickas, YES. Councilor Chapman, Silbiger, Hardesty, Jackson and Hartzell, NO. Motion failed 5-1.

Councilor Hartzell/Hardesty m/s for City staff to be directed to investigate and provide a recommendation on the proposed land use exchange and properly notice and conduct a public hearing on a potential land swap. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hartzell clarified her desire to handle the land swap portion separately from the land use application, with the land swap first. Councilor Hardesty voiced support for the motion. Councilor Chapman stated the applicants are well aware of the risks and if they wish to make the application concurrently, this is fine with him. Councilor Silbiger agreed with Chapman. Councilor Hartzell gave her opinion that it would be cleaner if done separately.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to amend motion to authorize the land use application to proceed. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hartzell voiced her objection to the motion. She stated handling these separately would be cleaner and could potentially add value to the City's property. Councilor Jackson stated it does not make sense to have the land swap investigation if they are not talking about this particular proposal. Councilor Navickas voiced his opposition to the City giving up public land to a private developer. Roll Call Vote on Amendment: Councilor Navickas, Hartzell and Hardesty, NO. Councilor Chapman, Silbiger and Jackson, YES. Mayor Morrison, YES. Motion passed 4-3.

Roll Call Vote on Amended Motion: Councilor Navickas and Hartzell, NO. Councilor Chapman, Silbiger, Jackson and Hardesty, YES. Motion passed 4-2.

2. Discussion of City Charter.
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer presented the staff report and explained the Council is being asked to review the draft language to be placed on the May ballot. She noted the ORS requirements for the ballot measure language are included in the packet materials and requested the Council review the draft language and determine it if accurately reflects what is being put forward. Ms. Seltzer noted there are two measures, the first asks whether the City should adopt a new charter and the second asks whether Ashland should change to a council/manager form of government.

Ms. Seltzer clarified the ballot language will be placed on the ballot itself, and the voters pamphlet will contain the entire text of the revised charter, plus an optional explanatory statement.

City Attorney Mike Franell explained the current charter is not illegal, but there are provisions in the charter that have been superseded by state law. Councilor Hartzell voiced concern with the wording of the first ballot question and stated it could be misleading to the voters. Suggestion was made for the first question be revised to read, "Shall the City of Ashland adopt the revised new charter." Support was voiced for using this wording.

Councilor Hartzell questioned if the City Attorney could come up with more descriptive language for the question of the first ballot measure. Mr. Franell suggested it could read, "Shall Ashland adopt a revised charter to remove outdated and obsolete provisions, and eliminate specific dollar references."

Ms. Seltzer noted that an explanatory statement could be included which would give further detail. She stated this statement could be up to 500 words in length and the content would likely be taken from the Charter Review Committee's executive report. Mr. Franell reminded the Council that all statements need to remain neutral in order to not violate the elections law.

Councilor Silbiger offered a suggestion for the wording of the first ballot question. City Administrator Martha Bennett noted the wording must be limited to 20 words, and suggested they use "Shall Ashland adopted a revised charter modernizing language and removing outdated section that have been superseded by state law." Support was voiced for using this revision.

Mayor Morrison questioned if the Council had any changes to the ballot language for the city manager item.

Comment was made questioning if the current charter could be amended to have a city manager form of government if the new charter does not pass. Mr. Franell clarified they could have three separate measures instead of two. The first would ask whether Ashland should change to a council/manager form of government, the second would ask whether Ashland should change to a council/manager form of government if the revised charter is not approved, and the third would ask whether the City should adopt a revised charter. Mr. Franell clarified he would check on whether it is possible to ask if the City should change to a city manager form of government and then have alternatives depending on which charter we are actually amending.

Ms. Seltzer clarified the ballot language needs to be finalized by March 8th and submitted to Jackson County by March 15th. She noted this is scheduled to come back to the Council on February 6, 2007.

Pam Vavra/2800 Dead Indian Memorial Road/Stated the City Manager amendment as it is written puts voters in a dilemma in that they must vote for the charter to get the city manager form of government, however adding the third amendment as mentioned by the City Attorney would solve this. Ms. Vavra recommended that the Council also include an ethics provision, instant runoff voting, and the top three voting system.

Art Bullock/Does not agree with the term "modernized" and stated it is not a neutral word. Mr. Bullock voiced his concern regarding the ballot language proposed by staff and stated the revised charter would shift power from citizens and the Council to staff. He suggested that the ballot measure language include the items that are most important to voters. He also asked the Council to consider the issue of the water language and stated this part of the process has not been finalized.

Councilor Hardesty voiced her disappointment that instant runoff voting and the top three method of voting were not included in the revised charter.

Ms. Seltzer commented that there is a slight disadvantage to the newer councilors because there has been so much discussion and work done over the last few years. She explained the Council has held many discussions on the Charter Review Committee's report and decided which recommendations they would move forward with. Ms. Seltzer stated the Charter Review Committee did not recommend instant runoff voting because they had concerns about budget and the expense it would cost the City. She added there is nothing restricting the Council from placing this or any other charter amendments on a future ballot.

Councilor Navickas voiced his preference to include strict language about protecting the water and stated he also supports the concept of paying city councilors. Ms. Seltzer noted the Charter Review Committee had made a recommendation to evaluate and review council compensation.

Comment was made questioning if the Mayor would continue to present the annual State of the City address if this measure were approved, and recommendation was made to retain this function for the Mayor. Mr. Franell stated he would remove the reference to the annual address from the measure statement, although the language would not preclude the Mayor from making this address.

Ms. Bennett suggested the following changes to the council/manager statement language: 1) include the word "position" after "City Administrator", 2) remove the word "While" from the beginning of the last sentence, and 3) include "and" in the last sentence.

Mayor Morrison requested the explanatory statement for this item include a direct statement establishing elective officials as being policy makers and staff being implementers of policy.

Mayor Morrison announced that Pioneer Hall is available for individuals who need shelter from the cold weather. Jennifer Hans of Pacific Domes noted they are offering temporary use of the dome for shelter for the homeless.
1. Budget Goals Discussion.
John Stromberg, Jim Moore and Randall Hopkins presented suggested changes to the City's budget process.

Mr. Stromberg explained the key idea is to have staff bring forward baseline budgets for every department, plus add on requests for additional items. He stated a baseline budget is distinguished as a budget that adhere to last years revenues. Staff would be asked to explain why any add-ons are good for the City, identify where the revenue source could come from, and what the impact on the public would be. Mr. Stromberg stated the budget is so complex and sophisticated, the department heads understand how it works, but it is almost impossible for anyone else to figure it out. He stated this proposal would shift the process so the people who are the experts (staff) are making a case to add things into the budget, instead of the Budget Committee trying to decipher and build a majority to have an item removed. Mr. Stromberg requested the Council put together a draft set of assumptions that embody this approach to give to the department heads and to use in formulating this years budget.

Mr. Moore noted he served on the Budget Committee for nine years. He stated it was very frustrating and feels this could be a better process.

Mr. Hopkins stated under this proposal it is Council's decision as to whether there are increases in taxes or rate hikes. He commented that every tax increase would have to be vetted by the Budget Committee and this proposal puts the Committee in the driver's seat. Mr. Hopkins explained how the suggestions of all six council members and the Mayor were used to form this proposal.

Mayor Morrison thanked Mr. Stromberg, Mr. Moore, and Mr. Hopkins for their efforts and suggested Council forward the proposal to staff for evaluation.

Mr. Stromberg provided clarification of the baseline revenue figure and noted there is a newer version of the proposal, which contains a 2% growth figure.

Comment was made questioning the best way to build assumptions. City Administrator Martha Bennett noted that she and Mr. Tuneberg have discussed this and stated Council would need to determine the base or starting point for the budget. She noted there are other issues that also need to be resolved, including the budget calendar itself. Ms. Bennett stated staff would prepare and deliver a preliminary set of instructions to the Council.

2. Overview of Library Issues.
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer and former Ashland Mayor Cathy Shaw addressed the Council. Ms. Shaw provided a history of this issue and commented on her contact with County officials. She submitted a transcript of the comments made by Jackson County Commissioners C.W. Smith and Jack Walker and read aloud their statements.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to extend meeting until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Ms. Shaw stated she does not believe there will be a resolution from Jackson County and recommended the Council consider placing an income tax measure before the voters. She stated it is incumbent upon Ashland and the City Council to consider what they will do if Jackson County fails to take action to keep the libraries open. Ms. Shaw stated the City could consider a property tax or an income tax, but noted a property tax at the next election would require a double majority.

Ms. Shaw clarified the County has indicated they would protect the books, keep the building heated and cooled and keep the computer system specialists employed.

Comment was made questioning if there was a way to levy a property tax using the boundary of the school district. Ms. Shaw stated they would have to form a special district, which can only be done during even year elections. She added any city can pass a property tax, and stated a city is more likely to turn out a double majority than a county.

City Administrator Martha Bennett recommended the City go forward and research an Ashland-only solution and that staff prepare potential ballot language. She suggested they not place a measure on the ballot if the County does, but wants to be ready to go if the County fails to take action. Ms. Bennett stated although a special district could not be formed at this time, staff could investigate the logistics of doing this in 2008.

Ms. Shaw suggested the City also put pressure on the County Commissioners to resolve this issue and urged the Council to attend a rally on January 31. Councilor Silbiger also noted a meeting in Ashland at the Armory from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on January 29.

Mayor Morrison agreed with Ms. Shaw that they should lobby the commissioners, but stated they also need to move ahead as a community.

Councilor Hartzell/Navickas m/s to direct staff to prepare ballot language for a property tax levy to support the libraries, in case it is needed, and bring this back to Council in February. DISCUSSION: Councilor Chapman suggested including language that states it would not take effect if the County's measure passes. He stated the City measure should go on the ballot in any case. Councilor Jackson clarified we would need a double majority for a property tax. Ms. Bennett stated that staff could also look into an income tax, but warned that the City does not have any experience with these. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Silbiger, Jackson, Hardesty, Chapman and Navickas, YES. Motion passed 6-0.

3. Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and Long Range Financing.
Item delayed due to time constraints.
1. First Reading of a Resolution Titled "A Resolution Establishing the Methodology to Pay Annual Debt Services for the Ashland Fiber Network Full Faith and Credit Bonds, Series 2004."

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve Resolution #2007-01. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Silbiger, Chapman, Jackson and Hardesty, YES. Councilor Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

2. First Reading by title only of an Ordinance Titled "An Ordinance Amending AMC 3.08.020 to Apply Ethics Provisions to Employees, Appointed Officials and Elected Officials."

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve first reading of ordinance and place on agenda for second reading. Motion was withdrawn.
Discussion delayed due to time constraints.

3. First Reading by title only of an Ordinance Titled "Ordinance amendments to the multi-family zoning designations (R-2 and R-3), Sections 18.24.020K, 18.24.030J, 18.24.020K and 18.28.030J. The proposed amendments modify the criteria of approval for the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit for the conversion of existing rental units into for-purchase units (condominium conversions)."
Please note: this item has been postponed to the February 6, 2007 meeting.
1. Joint Study Session Meetings. (suggested next meeting date 2/15/07)
Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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