Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Special Meeting

Wednesday, May 26, 2010



May 26, 2010

Council Chambers

1175 E. Main Street




Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.



Councilor Voisin, Navickas, Lemhouse, Jackson, and Chapman were present.  Councilor Silbiger was absent.



1.  Does the Council approve the first reading of ordinances adopting Chapter 18.53 Croman Mill and related ordinance, Ashland Comprehensive Plan, and Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map amendments?

Planning Director Bill Molnar, Planning Manager Maria Harris and Senior Planner Brandon Goldman were present to answer questions.


Abstentions, Conflicts, Exparte Contact

The Council and Mayor had no conflicts of interest or Exparte contacts to declare.


Councilor Chapman referenced the 2007 Economic Opportunity Analysis that indicated the land should be industrial.  He did not think a large office park was ever going to work at Croman and that it should be small industrial sites.  He approved of the crossing for Washington Street, the plans for Central Boulevard and Hamilton Creek and retaining the path along the railroad tracks.  He did not support using the area for residences and was not sure the zone should change from M-1.   


Councilor Jackson was fine with the circulation system and more at ease using the land for office and light industry.  The code will provide more flexibility and streamline the approval process so the majority of the applications will be Type 1 instead of Type 2. 


Councilor Lemhouse did not support every aspect of the plan but recognized it as a vision going forward long-term.  The overall goal was economic development.  He preferred Type 1 applicants and ensuring flexibility for changes. 


Councilor Navickas explained housing along Hamilton Creek and the south side of the property accommodated a request from the Housing Commission.  The project provided enough regulation to ensure good building patterns throughout the area and made rezoning property a minimal process.  Green incentives would encourage green development without strict mandates.  The green street standards that are mandated were a nominal cost increase and would increase investments overall.  He was reluctant to support Type 1 allowances administratively and thought it was important to involve the Planning Commission and avoid unhealthy public perception.


Councilor Voisin wanted more Type 2 approvals with the Planning Commission’s involvement and public input as well as more sustainable efforts.  She expressed concerns regarding the lack of response to public comments and that the recession could continue and postpone the project.  She noted the Railroad District and North Mountain Street plans were underdeveloped and wondered if that would apply to Croman Mill Site.  She favored M-1 zoning with some exclusion.  She was not convinced the project would not cost the City a lot of money and not compete with the downtown area.


Mayor Stromberg acknowledged the criticism with the project as well as the level staff and the Planning Commission had brought the plan to.  The result was a flexible framework with the many possibilities in the M-1 zone.  There were serious complaints and concerns from citizens and he hoped the process would respond to those concerns.  Originally, Plexis Healthcare Systems Inc. was interested in moving there and that started the possibility of moderate to high paying employment in the area.  His first inclination was not to do housing but thought there was rationale for housing in specific areas and wanted additional clarification.


Councilor Jackson stated it was important to adopt a plan to go with the framework and used the Rail Road District as an example of a plan that was never adopted.  Street installation will occur gradually as the project develops and will not require a large amount of money initially.  The expectation is public and private partnership will pay for the improvements.


Staff explained there would be infrastructure costs with or without the plan; water and sewer were already there.  Funding could come from grants, City Funds, developer finance; there were no decisions yet.  This was a Council Goal on how the City will pay for the infrastructure on Economic Development related projects. 


Staff explained the Transportation Planning Rule broke down to specific pieces that have to do with the affect of a significant change to the transportation system like a zone change.  It went back to what was incorporated in the adopted Transportation System Plan (TSP).  Changing functional classifications of the street or intersection that decreases the performance standard from the State’s performance standards was a significant affect.  Staff reviewed items and felt the City was fine, most of the issues were addressed in the adopted TSP. The Transportation Planning Rule requires a vehicular-based transportation analysis and worse case scenarios if the town was not making headway.     


Mayor Stromberg discussed the following items with Council from the Croman Discussion Topics list:

1.      Changing from M-1 to office and light industrial

2.      Uses “compatible” w/office

3.      High density employment


Council discussed rezoning Croman from M-1 to office and light industrial.  Comments in support of changing the zone noted the need to restrict some of the uses under M-1 zoning to achieve higher density employment for office and light industrial only.  Opposing comments wanted to retain the M-1 zone with restrictions and were not in favor of mixed use.


Staff explained M-1 zoning allows office; manufacturing, retail and restaurants, changing the zone would keep the focus on office and light industrial.  Separating office and light industrial was an attempt to create a fundamental distinction between the two.


Mayor Stromberg defined “compatible w/office” as buildings that co-exist, do not spoil the environment or impede the development of the portions that are office space.  Staff explained that light industrial was in the only place near the railroad for a spur; grade changes prevented using other locations.  The office park layout was created as a block for a potential park.  Staff responded to comments that the design was driven by a potential owner’s interest in a particular site by confirming that Plexis Healthcare Systems Inc. was still interested and a live prospect for the plan.


A majority of the council approved items #1 through #3. 


4.  Signature street/design/separated bikeway

Staff explained the current plan for the signature street was 90-feet wide with two lanes and a median.  Council discussed whether to have a protected bike lane, reducing the street width and the need for a connector across Crowson Road and ultimately connection to Tolman Creek Road, Siskiyou Boulevard and Washington Street.  Staff recommended removing street parking and retaining street width for future options.  Council agreed and suggested a pedestrian-bike connection on Crowson Road whether cars were allowed or not with a bike path on either side of the tracks. 


A majority of the Council supported the 90-foot 3 lane road alignment for Phase 1, a crossing on Washington Street and a pedestrian-bike connection on Crowson.


5.  Railroad spur

Staff explained there was a placeholder to put the railroad spur in the compatible industrial area that would not cross the boulevard.


Council reached consensus supporting the railroad spur.


6.  Corrections to and impacts on City circulation system

Staff explained the incremental differences did not bring up any significant issues.  Council reached consensus to approve this item.


7.  Impact of changes on existing development and property


Incorporating properties outside the Croman property in the Croman zone

Council discussed retaining Mistletoe Business Park property as M-1 zoning.  Staff explained the property would show on the Comprehensive Plan Map as a Croman Mill Comprehensive Plan Designation but on the zoning map, the Croman Mill Zoning District would cover everything except that property.  The criteria for a zone change was consistent with the Comprehensive Plan Designation and if Mistletoe Business Park rezoned the options for rezoning would fall under the Croman Mill Comprehensive Plan Designation that was C-I.  Mr. DiRienzo, the owner of Mistletoe Business Park wanted to retain the property as M-1 under the basic site review process the property is currently under and not the Detailed Site Review Zone.


Councilor Chapman suggested requiring the property owners of the lot next to the storage unit go back to grade and remove the fill; it would make using the railroad easier.


Staff clarified the Detailed Site Review Zone would maintain continuity of design along the Central Boulevard. The Mistletoe Business Park property was close to the percentage of use, changing the zone would be a minor amendment showing the proposal was equal or better and consistent with the purpose of the plan instead of a variance.


Mayor Stromberg read public testimony from Mr. DiRienzo on his concerns how the change on zoning overlay and the plan in general would have a detrimental affect on his property.   In his testimony, Mr. DiRienzo posed the following questions:

·         How much will the proposed infrastructure cost?

·         Can businesses adhere to the plans Use Restrictions regulating an allowable percentage for office, warehouse or production?

·         How will the plan address changes in use over time?

·         Why have lot and minimum building size restrictions that make it difficult for small businesses?

·         Why is his property included in the plan? 


Council voiced their support and concern on keeping the Mistletoe Business Park at M-1 zone.

The zone change would harm the property owner’s economic development.  Other comments did not think the restrictions were that prohibitive and suggested rezoning the Mini Storage property to office space in case the owner wanted to redevelop in the future.  Overall Council was not comfortable splitting the property or changing the zone with a 4-1 vote leaving Mistletoe Business Park at M-1. 


Council went on to extend retaining the M-1 Zone for the Kruesi-Hamlin property where the proposed Central Boulevard would bisect one building and the other alternative would go through a corner of their property.  


City Administrator Martha Bennett suggested moving the boulevard to Mistletoe and having Council direct staff to determine the appropriate alignment and retain a dotted line on the Master Plan on the Kruesi-Hamlin property as an alternative.   She stressed that the Master Plan was a concept plan only.   


Council consensus was to move the boulevard line to Mistletoe, retain a dotted line going through the Kruesi-Hamlin property with a note it was Council’s intention the route will only be used by means of a negotiation with the property owner.


8.  Appropriateness of locating such a development near the edge of town

Comments from Council included the need to stimulate business in the downtown and railroad areas, the Croman Mill Site was privately owned and the City was trying to direct development and higher density job growth.  The project would create economic opportunities, was flexible and a different type of industry from the downtown area.  Non-supportive concerns were the project would compete with the downtown area, should be light industrial only and the site was inappropriate for this type of project. 


A majority of the Council supported this issue. 


9.  Commercial & residential areas

Staff explained the area between the existing Mistletoe Road and Hamilton Creek, the south end around the pound and  trailer park currently show as E-1 zoning in the Comprehensive Plan Mixed Use (M-U) as 100% commercial office or light industrial with residential above.  Hamilton Creek created a good transitional zoning from the single residence area and the greenway would allow a more coordinated design.  The south section has grades up to 15%, creeks and wet lands and an M-U type building with ground floor office and upper floor residential would add to the transition.  There were 15 acres that could house 450 residential units.


Council was divided on having M-U residential in the plan.  There was concern regarding the amendment process for changing zones and a suggestion that it be limited only to compatible industrial and office.  A majority of the Council agreed on leaving the commercial and residential areas as proposed.


10. Parking & Open Space, Public Amenities and Private Use – Postponed for further discussion


11. Cost of Infrastructure

Council stated a concern that options for raising money had not been discussed.  Staff explained Council would determine funding once there was a specific developer.  Mayor Stromberg removed the item from the issue list.


12. Green Requirements (vs. sustainability?) – Not addressed


13. Transitions at the Borders

Staff described the transitions south of the Mixed Use (M-U).  In addition to the grades, the transitional area to county-rural, the M-U zoning was a better transitional zoning than the C-I.  Six acres in the southern area are Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and included in the plan.  The property owner would have to apply for annexation and not be subject until that area was annexed. Another transitional area was a residential buffer zone that correlated to the Hamilton Creek area, included the neighborhood center on Tolman Creek Road and would have specific requirements to insulate the neighbors across the street.


A majority of the Council agreed on the border transitions.


14.  Design and Layout Issues – Not addressed


15. Streamline Process – Postponed for further discussion


16.  Flexibility

A majority of the Council agreed the plan had flexibility.


17. Incremental Development


18. Off-site Impacts on Transition - Addressed – Mayor crossed off list


19. Brownfields

Staff explained Brownfields was the voluntary contamination clean up level by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  The DEQ will not allow anyone to sell any portion of property that is not cleaned up.  This is a Federal law implemented at the State level and not a land use issue.  Based on Field Meetings with DEQ, there is an idea where contamination already exists on the property.  The property owner pays for the clean up and the City will have the opportunity to participate and comment on proposed clean ups as they occur. 


Council reached consensus that Brownfield’s was not an issue to the plan.


21. Site Design and Use Standards

Staff used similar design standards for the office area surrounding the central plaza for Ashland Street, Siskiyou Boulevard and along the signature street to create continuity to Ashland Street.  In the compatible industrial, the basic level of site review was comparable to Applegate and Benson Way, buildings are oriented to face the street with parking in the back and required to meet the Cities landscaping standards.  Office buildings will have pedestrian spaces in front of the buildings that generally light industrial does not.


Council expressed disappointment that the same level of detailed standards in the downtown area were being applied to an industrial area.  The proposed minor and major amendment process was flexible enough to allow property owners to make changes.  Other comments noted Design Standards for minor and major amendments were not that difficult and fit in with the Council Goal to have a streamlined process.  Concern was discussed regarding transparency through the process.


Staff acknowledged the criteria for approval in Type 1 site designs could be difficult, the applicant must show demonstrable difficulty as to why they cannot meet the standard.  The new process would make it easier by allowing the applicant to show an equal or better design that still met the purpose and objectives in the plan. 


Councilor Jackson/Lemhouse m/s to continue deliberation on the Croman Mill Master Plan to the June 1, 2010 City Council meeting.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.



Meeting was adjourned at 8:59 p.m.


Dana Smith, Assistant to the City Recorder  
John Stromberg, Mayor


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