Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, May 02, 2006

MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
May 2, 2006
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
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ROLL CALL
Councilors Hardesty, Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present. Councilor Amarotico was absent.
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APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council meeting of April 18, 2006 were approved as presented.
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SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Mayor's Proclamation of May 7 - 11, 2006 as "Building Safety Week" was read aloud.

The National Arbor Day foundation and its sponsor, the Oregon Department of Forestry, recognized the City of Ashland as a "Tree City USA" for the 21st consecutive year.

Tree Commissioner Bryan Holley presented five types of trees that the Commission is asking the community to vote on to replace the "Tree of Heaven" which was recently removed. He also noted the need for two additional members on this Commission.

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CONSENT AGENDA
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Liquor License Application - Miguel's Family Mexican Restaurant.
3. Liquor License Application - Hong Kong Bar.
4. Annual Appointment to Commissions/Committees.
5. Ratification of Separation Agreement - Mike Bianca.
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Councilor Hartzell requested Items #1, #4 and #5 be pulled from the Consent Agenda.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to approve Consent Agenda Items #2 and #3. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Hartzell requested that staff submit minutes from the Committee and Commission meetings in a more timely manner. Regarding Item #4, she requested that: 1) the packet information list how long re-appointed members have served on the commission, and 2) that the Mayor discuss the appointments with the Council Liaison and Staff Liaison prior to making his recommendations, which was the process used in the past. It was clarified that a list of how long appointed members have served is included in the packet materials and the process used by the Mayor is unchanged to what was used in the past.

Councilor Chapman/Hartzell m/s to approve Consent Agenda Items #1 and #4. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Hartzell requested that Mike Bianca be given the opportunity to comment on Item #5. Police Chief Mike Bianca addressed the Council, thanked the citizens for their support, and suggested that the Council be clear with their expectations with the next Police Chief.

Councilor Jackson/Hardesty m/s to approve Consent Agenda Item #5. Voice Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Councilor Hartzell, NO. Motion passed 4-1.

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PUBLIC HEARINGS (None)
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PUBLIC FORUM
Colin Swales/461 Allison Street/Commented on prescriptive easements that he believes exist on the railroad property and requested that Council instruct the Legal Dept. to look into this matter. He stated that the Council should make use of every legal avenue available to ensure that the City and citizens' rights for public use of that space are fully protected.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith Avenue/Spoke regarding the Downtown Planning process and voiced his support for Crandall & Arambula. He stated the City should be protective of current land use prescriptions, especially the Big Box Ordinance, and was encouraged by the attitude of the development community. He commented on the downtown business community's attack on the less fortune, and encouraged the City to look at sponsoring forums on tolerance.

Brent Thompson/582 Allison Street/Spoke regarding the sign code revision forwarded to the Council in the summer of 2005 by the Planning Commission. He suggested an additional language revision that would ensure business frontages in excess of two would not be as prominently "signed" as the two primary frontages. Mr. Thompson submitted the proposed language to the Council for their consideration.

Councilor Hardesty requested that staff review the proposed language and forward it to Council for consideration. Councilor Hartzell stated that at the time this issue was originally presented, several concerns were raised by the Council and does not feel that the information presented by Mr. Thompson addresses those issues and questions. She offered to meet with Mr. Thompson to discuss this issue further and Mayor Morrison noted that this would come before Council in the future.

Ambuja Rosen/Spoke regarding her desire to see our community adopt a tethering law that would better protect animals and noted other cities that have adopted tethering laws.

Neal Kinzie/35 Wightman Street/Commented on a project he is involved with on 180 Clear Creek Drive. He stated that he intends to use this site for the expansion of his business, West Vista Communications, and feels that this project would be an improvement to the neighborhood. He noted the Hearings Board has approved his application, but had seen an email that indicated this project might come before the Council as an appeal.

Council questioned whether they should be hearing Mr. Kinzie's testimony. City Attorney Mike Franell stated that unfortunately the Council has already received emails in regards to this, and therefore hearing the testimony is fair.

Mary Margaret & Bill Modesitt/540 South Mountain Avenue/Submitted into the record a statement regarding the appointment of former Police Chief Scott Fleuter to fill the position of Interim Police Chief. The City Recorded stated that copies of the statement would be given to the Council for their review.

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UNFINISHED BUSINESS
1. Appeal of Planning Action 2006-0069 - Request for a Variance to the rear yard setback requirement for a second story addition to the garage located at the rear of the property for the property located at 758 B St.
City Attorney Mike Franell clarified the Findings for the East Main project are included in the record; however there are additional Findings referred to in the memorandum by Beth Lori Assistant City Attorney, that are not part of the record. Given this situation, Mr. Franell reviewed the minutes from the previous council meeting and Mr. Lang was the only one to testify during the public hearing. Mr. Franell stated it would be prudent to grant Mr. Lang five minutes to address the memorandum prepared by the Assistant City Attorney, since she did bring in some information that was not in the record. Mayor Morrison asked if Mr. Lang would like to rebuttal this information. Mr. Lang declined due to the meeting not being noticed as a public hearing.

Council discussed whether there were any legal issues with this not being listed as a public hearing and whether this item should be re-noticed and scheduled for a special meeting. Mr. Franell stated that the Council has provided Mr. Lang the opportunity to speak and he has chosen not to, therefore he would have difficulty showing prejudice before LUBA. He added that there would be insufficient time within the 120-day rule to re-notice and differ this to a special meeting. Mr. Franell clarified that Mr. Lang has been given the opportunity to review the memorandum and he has also met with the Legal Dept. to discuss it. Mr. Franell stated his opinion that it is prudent for Council to continue its deliberations and come to a conclusion.

Interim Planning Director Bill Molnar provided a recap of Council's actions at the prior Council Meeting. He noted that there was some indication raised that the previous City Attorney, Paul Nolte, had possibly made an interpretation that could impact this application. Mr. Molnar stated that staff reviewed the files and found there was no written interpretation made regarding the DeLuca application on East Main St. He stated that staff's opinion is the language in 18.68.110 (Front Yard General Exceptions) only applies to front yards. He added there is language in the code that allows for flexibility for rear and side yards if the following three criteria are met: 1) the building is less than 15 ft. in height, 2) it is separated by no more than 10 ft. from the primary structure, and 3) it is 50 ft. from a public street. In this case, the applicant could not take advantage of the rear and side yard exception because it does not meet the first two criteria. Staff's conclusion is that Council should judge the merits of this request based on the variance approval criteria.

Mr. Franell clarified the Council needs to address two separate questions: 1) does 18.68.110 apply to front yards only, or does it apply to any yard as suggested by the Applicant, and 2) does the application meet for criteria for the variance. If the Council determines that 18.68.110 applies to all yards, then the variance request is not necessary; however, it is the Legal Depts. opinion that 18.68.110 has not been applied to anything other than front yards in the past and the Planning Dept. has cautioned that the consequences for interpreting the language this way are unknown. Mr. Franell stated staff's recommendation is for Council to state that 18.68.110 applies to front yard setbacks, and then go back and determine whether this application meets the criteria for the variance.

Mr. Franell explained that the Applicant stated the Council previously determined the unique charter of the Historic District in general satisfies the unique or unusual variance criteria. The Legal department has looked into this and found that the same reasoning could be applied in this instance to meet the criteria, however Council's previous action does not bind them to make the same decision.

Mr. Molnar clarified that 18.68.110, the Front Yard General Exception, is the only section that allows for the averaging of yard areas. Mr. Franell stated the Applicant's contention is that since sections A and B of 18.68.110 do not specifically state these exceptions only apply to determine front yard setback, that Council could take this language and apply it for determining a side or rear yard setback.

Councilor Chapman and Jackson stated that section 18.68.110 does not apply to this application. Jackson further clarified this would not apply because front yards are treated differently and there is an existing set of setbacks for rear yards and an option for dealing with side yards.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s that 18.68.110 does not apply to this application. DISCUSSION: Mr. Franell clarified for Council that section 18.68.110 is located in the General Regulation section of the Ashland Land Use Ordinance, and 18.68.110 is the "Front Yard--General Exception". Mr. Franell read section 18.68.110 aloud in its entirety. Councilor Hartzell commented that the context in which this language lies specifically delineates that it is meant to deal with front yards. Councilor Chapman stated he could expand his motion by saying "...because it is not a front yard." Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Jackson, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Councilor Hardesty, NO. Motion passed 4-1.

Council discussed whether this application meets the variance criteria. Councilor Jackson disagreed that the entire Historic District meets the unique or unusual circumstance criteria, and stated there is already a different set of setbacks that applies to the Historic District that are different to what is applied to the rest of town. Mayor Morrison agreed and does not think that just because the parcel lies within the Historic District is satisfies this criteria. He stated the purpose of the criteria is to look at the individual parcel and determine whether there is something that makes it unique or unusual.

Councilor Chapman/Jackson m/s to deny the appeal on the grounds that the criteria was not met. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Jackson, Silbiger, Hardesty and Hartzell, YES. Motion passed.

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NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Update on the City's Water Conservation Activities.
Electric Director Dick Wanderscheid and Conservation staff Robbin Pearce presented the update on the City's water conservation activities. Mr. Wanderscheid commented on the two tables included in the packet materials and stated the Annual Use per Capita table is accurate, however the Conservation Program Savings table is only a projection. He noted that since 1999, Ashland has grown from 7,000 water accounts to 8,000 accounts, but water usage has remained the same. He commented on the Carollo Plan, which projects the summer daily water demand in 2050 to be 20% less due to conservation programs and stated they are working towards that goal.

Mr. Wanderscheid briefly commented on the showerhead projection and program. Ms. Pearce addressed weather-based irrigation systems and explained the majority of households do not have the space needed for catchment systems.

Mr. Wanderscheid noted the Conservation Element of the Comprehensive Plan is 15 years old and an update is not in progress at this time. He stated that staff would need direction from Council in order to update this element of the Comp. Plan.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to ask Director Wanderscheid to come back to Council in the near future with a schedule for updating the Conservation Element of the Comprehensive Plan. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hartzell noted this would not have a budgetary impact on the department. Mr. Wanderscheid stated they could begin this project during the next fiscal year, deliver a first draft, and start the commission process. He explained this would need to go through the Conservation Commission and Planning Commission before it came to Council. Mayor Morrison stated there are a number of elements in the Comp. Plan that are not up to date and expressed concern with singling this one out. Councilor Silbiger stated this was just asking for an outline of a plan and there are no time constraints. Councilor Jackson suggested there be further discussion and stated she would like to see the Electric Dept. complete the Photovoltaic Solar Project. Mr. Wanderscheid clarified that this is in the budget for next year, staff has applied for funds, and are just waiting for a response from the IRS. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Hardesty and Silbiger, YES. Councilor Jackson and Chapman, NO. Motion passed 3-2.

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Finance Director Lee Tuneberg advised the Council on the items left on the agenda and the time allowed.
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2. ALUO 18.68.050 Interpretation.
Item delayed due to time constraints.
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3. Authorization to Dispose of Surplus Property in Excess of $10,000.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained the disposal of surplus property in excess of $10,000 requires Council's approval, and noted that the property list and pictures are provided in the packet materials.

Councilor Jackson/Silbiger m/s to approve authorization to dispose of surplus property in excess of $10,000. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

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4. AFN Discussion.
Information Technology Director Joe Franell stated that staff's recommendation is to pursue Option 1, which is outlined in the May 1, 2006 Council Communication. He clarified he had not had the opportunity to meet with Ron Kramer of JPRF and was open to this possibility, but asked that the Council approve his recommendation to move forward with Option 1.

Paul Collins/1257 Tolman Creek Road/Read aloud a letter from Lenny Neimark which urged the Council to adopt Option 1. The letter stated Option 1 would preserve the infrastructure and is the only option that has a hope of contributing more than 1/3 to the debt, which is the most JPRF will contribute. Mr. Collins also voiced his own support for Option 1.

Alan Oppenheimer/110 S. Laurel Street/Commented on the Common Carrier Option and the transition to the Open Carrier Model. He stated that Mr. Franell affirmed the key concepts of the Common/Open Carrier Options, including the importance of maintaining internet access as a City service, eliminating the money losing high risk TV service, and including an open system on which others could provide service. He stated that Mr. Franell was hired to run AFN and the Council should let him do it.

Paul Westhelle/2668 Takelma Way/JPRF Associate Director/Stated that JPRF is still interested in further developing its proposal to operate AFN if invited to do so by the Council. He clarified that the initial proposal was a general outline submitted as a starting point, and they were never given the opportunity to develop it with Council.

Ron Roth/6950 Old Hwy 99 S/Commented on the JPRF Option and voiced his disappointment that there was almost no discussion of this option by the Council. He stated that JPRF is very successful and suggested that the City engage in discussion with them before selecting a different option.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Expressed the following concerns with Option 1: 1) the cost model overstates the savings; canceling cable TV saves some direct cost but it is unlikely that it will reach the figures listed in the model, 2) the guessed savings need to be weighed against the risk of losing internet customers as a result of a Charter packaging deal, 3) the central service charges are not eliminated, and have not been dealt with adequately, and 4) this option would shift the costs from the City to the community. Mr. Bullock requested that Council not make a decision on the AFN Debt issue tonight.

Paul Mace/345 Clinton Street/Noted the spreadsheet he submitted to the Council at the Study Session meeting. M. Mace stated the JPRF Option would save the individual households 50% more than Option 1, and claimed that eliminating cable television would shift the cost burden directly to the households. He stated that if the JPRF offer were selected, the community would retain public control, retain community television and retain a competitive entity.

Councilor Chapman/Hartzell m/s to affirm that funding for the obligation of the existing AFN debt must be separated from the continuing operation of AFN. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Hardesty, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.

Councilor Chapman/Hartzell m/s to adopt staff recommendation to pursue Option 1. DISCUSSION: Councilor Jackson commented that this is the most prudent way to go. Councilor Silbiger stated that the internet product is the utility and is what they need to concentrate on, and commented on the success and reliability of the internet product. Mayor Morrison commented on why AFN was initiated and stated that Option 1 allows the City to take advantage of the infrastructure, provide the business development, and move ahead with the operational efficiencies. He added that Option 1 would also address the need for ongoing investments with the internet product. Councilor Hardesty voiced his support for Option 1, but suggested that some of the profits from the internet service be used to pay down the debt.

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

Roll Call Vote: Councilor Jackson, Hardesty, Chapman, Silbiger, and Hartzell, YES. Motion passed.

Councilor Chapman/Hartzell m/s for Council to work with the IT Director to write and adopt a set of department goals to guide the direction of the IT Department. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hartzell suggested they discuss this issue and provide direction to staff at the Special Meeting scheduled for June 8. Councilor Jackson noted the AFN Options Committee concern of the Council continuing to interfere with how the department and system in operated and would rather charge the IT Director with informing the Council of how he is going to accomplish this. Hartzell clarified her suggestion and stated that it is responsible for Council to work with staff, validate the goals and direction, and then trust that process; but not to be completely hands off from the beginning. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Jackson, Silbiger, Chapman, Hartzell and Hardesty, YES. Motion passed.

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5. AFN Debt Services Alternatives for the City.
Councilor Hardesty voiced his concern with moving forward on this item and requested additional time for public input. Councilor Hartzell stated they should move forward, even if they do not get through all of it, in order to give staff some guidance. Councilor Jackson and Silbiger agreed that they should move forward with the discussion and provide guidance to staff.

Finance Director Lee Director addressed the Council and noted the AFN Debt Service Alternatives listed in the Council Communication. He noted the budget concerns and asked what the Council would like to do for next year. Mr. Tuneberg stated that staff has looked at various scenarios that would generate revenue, but this would not happen immediately. He suggested that Council have a discussion on levying a property tax to pick up a portion of next years $866,000 debt service, or implementing a surcharge. He stated that Council could choose to use part of the property tax, place a surcharge on accounts, and/or use some or the entire BPA surcharge and shift it to the Telecommunications Fund. Mr. Tuneberg noted the figures listed on the last past of the staff report and suggested there be a discount for low-income families.

Council discussed the options provided by staff. Comment was made supporting AFN's debt being addressed through property taxes in the long run. With this option, the property owners could deduct this from their income taxes. It was questioned if the Council could reduce the City's overall budget and then use the savings to address the debt. Mr. Tuneberg stated that the idea is good, however logistically it may not work. Interest was expressed in the property tax option, but also implementing an entertainment tax and reducing internal charges. Comment was made voicing support for a property tax for this year and then looking at other options for future debt payments.

Mr. Tuneberg clarified how AFN's debt payment is listed in the budget and explained that Council needs to identify a revenue stream. He stated that tomorrow nights AFN budget discussion could be cancelled in order for this issue to be worked out and suggested the Council continue this discussion at the Study Session.

Council reached consensus to continue the AFN Debt Alternative discussion at the May 11, 2006 Study Session and to reschedule tomorrow nights Budget Committee Meeting to May 24, 2006.

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ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Reading by title only of, "A Resolution to Support the Inclusion of the City of Ashland in a Public Vote and Formation of the Jackson County Library District"
Item pulled from agenda.
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OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
1. Request from Councilor Jackson and Mayor Morrison to discuss letter of support for a grant for Community Works.
Item delayed due to time constraints.
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ADJOURNMENT
Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor


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