City Council (View All)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
January 20, 2009
1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Navickas, Lemhouse, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.
MAYOR'S ANNOUNCEMENT OF BOARD AND COMMISSION VACANCIES
Mayor announced the appointment process for the annual recruitment of volunteers and that the deadline for applications is March 13, 2009.
SHOULD THE COUNCIL APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THESE MEETINGS?
The minutes of the Regular Council of January 6, 2009 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
Mayor Stromberg introduced Larry Langston, Interim Fire Chief.
1. Does the Council accept the Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees?
2. Does the Council wish to confirm the Mayor's appointment of Alice Hardesty to the Housing Commission with a term to expire April 30, 2011?
3. Does the Council have questions regarding any of the projects submitted under various Federal Economic Stimulus venues?
4. Will Council accept an Oregon Water Resources Department Water Conservation, Reuse and Storage Grant in the amount of $160,419 and authorize the City Administrator or her designee to sign the grant agreement?
5. Will Council approve the purchase of a 3.5 liter 6 cylinder Dodge Charger to replace a4.6 liter 8 cylinder Ford Crown Victoria, to be used as a police patrol car?
6. Should the Council continue the public hearing on adoption of ordinances adding Chapter 18.63 Water Resource Protection Zones to and modifying Chapter 18.62 Physical and Environmental Constraints of the Ashland Land Use Ordinance (ALUO), amending the Ashland Comprehensive Plan to include a Water Resources Map and revising the Floodplains Map, and adopting the Local Wetlands Inventory (LWI) as a technical study from January 20, 2009 to March 3, 2009?
Councilor Chapman/Navickas m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Council agreed to hear public input on Consent Agenda item #3 after the scheduled Public Hearings.
Mayor Stromberg explained that due to Public Testimony Rules concluding at 9:30, they would take public testimony first and postpone deliberation on RPS, hear public testimony and decide on the Welcome Center then deliberate on RPS.
1. Should the Council approve an ordinance executing an Intergovernmental Agreement, the "Greater Bear Creek Valley Regional Problem Solving Agreement" (the "Agreement"), for the Bear Creek Valley Regional Problem Solving (RPS) Program, which establishes a process for the participants to implement the Bear Creek Valley Regional Plan?
Mayor Stromberg explained Oregon Land Use law that protects agricultural and forest land from urbanization. The mechanisms used are urban growth boundaries (UGB) and urban reserves. Cities that want to increase their geographical size for urbanization conduct a quasi-judicial Land Use process in the City involving their Planning Commission and City Council to approve the desired expansion of their UGB and/or creation of urban reserves. It requires public input and is subject to an appeals process that can go to the Land Use Board of Appeals, State Court of Appeals and eventually the Oregon State Supreme Court. When the City's plan has been approved, it is submitted it to the County. The County puts it through the same quasi-judicial Land Use process with the same set of appeals. Once the County plan is approved and appeals have been exhausted, it goes to the State to ensure it is consistent with the Statewide Goals for Land Use Planning. State Land Use Planning law then requires the County and the City to adjust their Comprehensive Plans and ordinances accordingly.
Regional Problem Solving (RPS) consists of Jackson County Cities that work together on a combined plan that allows their populations to develop based on population projections. When they want to reserve County land, the proposal goes through each City's individual Land Use process prior to combining with other Cities to forward to the County. The County can make changes that will not go through the individual Cities Land Use processes again but citizens have the opportunity to provide input.
City Administrator Martha Bennett stated that one of the upsides to the City signing the agreement is it gives the City some certainty where regional growth will go. The City would participate in a process where the jurisdictions work together when one jurisdiction wants to take a particular action. The integration of the transportation planning will help the City plan for traditional and alternative transportation. Because Ashland did not designate any growth area at the beginning of the process, the agreement will make it difficult for the City to add land to the UGB.
City Attorney Richard Appicello explained that the Public Hearing is about a legislative decision to adopt an ordinance. This is an agreement where parties submit a draft RPS Plan to the Jackson County Comprehensive Plan Amendment process. The agreement also creates a legal framework for RPS and contains all the technical elements required by 197.652.
Public Hearing Open: 7:35 p.m.
Tom Giordano/2635 Takelma Way/Voiced his support for signing the RPS Participants Agreement as an equitable way to look at land use issues in the County. There will be opportunity for input with Public Hearings and citizen participation at the State, County and City level. Every community will have the opportunity to look at this because it affects their Comprehensive Plan. If the City does not participate with the rest of region, it will not be effective at a regional level.
Cate Hartzell/881 E Main Street/Submitted written comments to the Council for their consideration. She urged Council to participate in the agreement but not to sign until public hearings were held and there was a final plan. The proposed plan does not include a point where participating Cities have an opportunity to agree or disagree with the final plan. The City could ask to be let out of the process but it was unlikely RPS would consent because of the consequences to the RPS process if Ashland did. Second, Ashland could withdraw but the City would be subject to the disincentives listed on page 10 of the agreement. The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) added language to the agreement prior to signing that Ashland should use as a model. It is important to collaborate with other jurisdictions in a way that protects the City's and the Rogue Valley citizen's interest. She questioned how public the process would be if the City was forced by the Plan to adopt changes.
Aaron Benjamin/749 Emigrant Creek Road/Submitted a statement to the Council that was read into the record by Mayor Stromberg. Ashland is a significant anchor to a 15-20 mile long development corridor that runs along I-5. Ashland has opted wisely for a policy of infill in contrast to expanding its UGB and currently is not interested in urban reserves. However, conditions might change in the future. Changes in the UGB would require a change in the Comprehensive Plan and establishing an urban reserve would require another complicated procedure. He strongly urged the Council to approve the RPS ordinance.
Dave Dotterrer/538 Sutton Place/Urged council to approve the RPS agreement noting that recently the Council revised the Planning Commission's roles and responsibilities and the primary purpose of that revision was to provide long range comprehensive land use planning. This initiative affords Ashland the opportunity to do just that. Any planning or coordination process is a two-way street between equal partners and should not have a pre-ordained outcome. The City should not throw away this opportunity to participate in long range comprehensive planning.
Porter Lombard/2425 E Main Street, Medford/Explained he was interested in protecting farmland and had worked on the RPS process from the beginning. He felt the RPS process needed to be refined before signing the agreement.
Mary-Kay Michelsen/2810 Diane Street/Quoted Goal 1 from the framers of Oregon's Statewide Planning Goals and Guidelines and commented that the RPS plan was a draft that neither the County nor the City has had a public hearing on. During earlier presentations, concern was raised that too much good farmland was included and there was no plan to reduce miles driven, address alternative transportation, global warming and peak oil. The present draft continues to ignore these important issues. The final draft has not been written yet and it is unwise for the City to sign the agreement at this time. She encouraged Council to sign the agreement if the final plan is acknowledged and responded to the issues the public had brought forward.
Barbara Jarvis/1159 Emma Street/Noted that she had spent 10 years planning for the City with 8 as the Planning Commission Chair. During her time on the Planning Commission, there were some significant problems with Jackson County. The County tried to do urban planning in Ashland's UGB that was in opposition to the City's long-range plans for that land. The City sued the County to stop the progress. There was no process to collaboratively plan at that time but today that process is in front of Council as the RPS. Type III Hearings will allow for changes to the plan. It would be a tragedy if the City did not participate and make decisions on how the Rogue Valley will grow and safeguard the unique identity of the communities in the valley. She urged the Council to sign and approve the statement.
Michael Cavallaro/2786 Parkwood Village Lane, Central Point/Read a statement from Commissioner Dave Gilmore to clarify misconceptions regarding the County's commitment to the RPS process noting there would be public hearings on the draft plan as mandated by State law. Mr. Cavallaro spoke on the history of how Ashland joined the initial RPS discussions. Every jurisdiction within a couple of years of designating urban reserves will go through a conceptual planning process for each area, estimating the build out and determining the major infrastructure corridors. A benefit as a member is that the region will support the community.
Carlos Debritto/158 Meadow View Drive, Phoenix/As Mayor of the City of Phoenix he hoped that the Council would join the other Cities who have already signed the agreement. It is a positive step to take and he urged Council to sign the agreement.
Conde Cox/705 E "C" Street, Jacksonville/Directed Council to look at paragraphs 11 and 12 commenting it is a complete abdication of this body and all other Cities in the County to have the right to vote on anything. The City would be unable to amend the agreement or anything about the plan proposed unless every jurisdiction agreed to the change. The agreement completely cuts out the public hearing portion and makes it worthless. Paragraph 12 states a City cannot pull out unless a majority of all the jurisdictions in the valley allows them to do so. Five jurisdictions would have to agree in order to make a change. The RPS agreement is another attempt by big dollar interests to railroad a proposal through the system before anybody has a chance to provide input, deliberate or understand it. It would be a travesty of democracy to be railroaded in this fashion. He strongly encouraged the Council to read paragraphs 11 and 12 of the agreement.
Trish Bowcock/705 E "C" Street, Jacksonville/Explained she was the President of the League of Women Voters of Rogue Valley and they are opposed to this agreement. The League of Women Voters in Ashland considered whether to take a stance on this agreement, voted 3-3, and made a determination to stay out of the discussion. The League of Women Voters of Oregon agrees with the League of Women Voters of Rogue Valley's decision regarding this agreement. RPS should go forward however, the Participant Agreement is a heavy-handed binding contract, and not legally required at this stage of the RPS process. Whether Ashland signs the agreement or not, legally mandated public land use hearings will take place. The citizens of Ashland may decide it is not within their best interest for the entire valley to give away its population, possibly enabling other communities to expand into prime farmland. The plan may need to be revised to better suit the entire community. If signed at this stage, other communities or the County could refuse to consider reasonable suggestions put forth by Ashland on modifying the plan. Land Use Planning laws require public input and the City should not sign on the underlying plan before receiving that public input. Getting out of the agreement will not be easy as explained in paragraph 12 and 7. The League of Women Voters of the Rogue Valley suggests Ashland hold the hearings first, incorporate legitimate public input then sign the plan.
Dennis Slattery/1405 Pinecrest Street/Commented that any decision to work together is a good one and encouraged the council to participate and sign agreement.
Susan Rust/42 N Wightman/Explained that RPS has given stakeholders throughout the valley an important opportunity to demonstrate collaborative land use planning that could serve as a model for other communities in Oregon. Ashland needs to be a committed partner even if the decision has been to go with infill at this time. It is extremely important for Ashland to be a partner at the table. Public comment and participation was solicited all along and the process has been transparent. The municipalities and the public organizations that provided outside input have specific agendas and goals that often collide. The outcome is never what one entity would like but usually a compromise that hopefully works for all. She strongly encouraged the Council to sign the agreement.
Robert Tull/1126 Skyline Drive, Medford/Explained he is a member of the City of Medford Planning Commission and the RPS policy representing the interests of the City of Medford. In 1995, he joined what became "Our Region" and over several years, people representing the interests of the valley met and shared concerns on how the area would grow over the next several decades and the importance of protecting agricultural land that laid the groundwork for RPS. RPS is a plan for dealing with those needs together on a continuing basis. He urged support for this agreement.
Greg Holmes/432 NW 6th Street, Grants Pass/Explained he was the Southern Oregon Planning advocate representing 1000 Friends of Oregon and has been involved with the RPS process since 2002. RPS is relatively untried in Oregon and only possible through a specific statute that was created for this purpose. One of the reasons that it is so attractive is RPS can slightly bend some State regulations and does not have to meet the letter of the regulation as long as the end results is consistent with the goals of the program. In exchange for that flexibility, it requires unanimous agreement by all participants. The Participants Agreement sets up process on how to move forward. A major flaw with the agreement and timeline is the jurisdictions do not have the opportunity to agree or disagree when the plan is finalized. The letter Mr. Holmes submitted to the Council showed questions and answers on what was required and potential results of actions the City might take. The LCDC states the Participant Agreement is not necessary at this time. The statute requires an affirmative agreement to the final plan and that is not specified in the Participants Agreement. LCDC voted to sign the agreement after inserting language that reserved their authority to review the final plan prior to signing. Mr. Homes did not agree that the community would lose its place at the table if the City did not sign the agreement. RPS statute requires that jurisdictions that started have to proceed to the end. He cautioned the Council to think carefully before signing an agreement that does not provide an "out" without potential consequences.
Public Hearing Closed: 8:28 p.m.
Council gave consensus to hold deliberation after the Public Hearing on the Welcome Center.
Councilor Chapman/Voisin m/s to continue the Public Hearing agenda items until 9:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
2. Does the City Council wish to provide comments to Jackson County as part of the land use hearing on an application for the Siskiyou Welcome Center?
City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified that testimonies heard in front of the City Council on the Welcome Center would not go into the record with the Jackson County Land Use action, the public would need to submit comments or appear before the County Commission for that to occur.
Public Hearing Open: 8:30 p.m.
Steve Lawrence/550 Crowson Road/Explained he lived close to the proposed Rest Area and was opposed to the Welcome Center. He believed that crime from vagrants and noise pollution from the freeway would increase. He lived outside City limits and did not have access to City water and did not understand why the Rest Area should have that service.
Ron Roth/ 6950 Old Hwy 99S/Explained the existing distance between the northbound Rest Areas are sixty miles. The Rest Center is good for travelers and the Welcome Center is good for the Ashland economy. Because there is not a northbound entrance at Exit 11 it is unlikely that people with criminal intent towards a Rest Area would drive up to the Mt. Ashland exit and back down. It was also doubtful that people wanting to commit property crimes against nearby residents would park their cars at the Rest Area. Mr. Roth understood the concerns of those who live near the proposed site but did not see it as a major issue. He agreed the City should provide sewer because ODOT has had concerns regarding ground water issues from septic tanks at other Rest Areas. However, he did not agree to supplying water, ODOT could drill a well. Ashland does not have the water to supply unless they provided it to the residents in the area.
Donna Staggs/737 Siskiyou Blvd/Opposed the Welcome Center's proposed location. Her main concern was crime in the area and thought the focus should be on sustainable agricultural land. She noted there were a few Exits further north that might provide a better location for the Welcome Center.
Ron Tracy/1138 Augusta Court/Explained he was an Investment Banker and Consultant for businesses and thought the Welcome Center would have a negative impact on their activities and tourism. In addition, Ashland does not have the capacities to provide water and sewer. He noted the Rest Area previously located at the proposed site had been dangerous. This Welcome Center is not a full service center and will have a negative impact.
Dana Baker/Explained she was a student at the Southern Oregon University and agreed with the idea for the Chamber of Commerce to expand but did not think the location chosen was a good area. The proposed site was not an effective or an attractive area to stop at. Ms. Baker suggested having the Welcome Center just off Exit 14 where gas and hotel services made it a more convenient and interesting place and people would be more likely to pick up a brochure.
Joseph Tilson/840 Cypress Point Loop/Noted his professions, education and explained that dynamic analysis was how bodies come together and conflict with each other. The location of the proposed Welcome Center is a problem for vehicles exiting the Rest Stop and trying to merge onto the freeway. The merge point is approximately 400 feet from Crowson Road. Mr. Tilson gave an example of what would happen due to vehicle impact or emergency breaking and submitted a copy of his certification as a registered Safety Professional Engineer prior to his retirement. He submitted charts from the metaphysical university volumes at Georgia State University. He explained coefficient of friction how vehicles traveling 75 miles per hour can stop in 269 feet on level ground if the coefficient of friction is 0.7. If the coefficient of friction is 0.1 due to rain, sleet or snow on the pavement, the vehicle will stop in 1,808 feet.
Ginny Porter/Expressed her opposition to the proposed Welcome Center and shared insights from her extensive research on Rest Areas. Discussions with directors of Rest Areas in other States brought up two key points. One was Rest Areas are not located near Cities due to its being a hang out for crime, drugs, and negative economic impact. Two, none of those will site Rest Areas in close proximity of existing Exits where current services are available because it harms businesses near by. The current Rest Area project is flawed with minimal benefit to Ashland. Financially, socially and environmentally it is a failure. The City and community needs to create a sustainable visitor solution and learn from the mistakes other States have experienced regarding Rest Areas. The City should consider a meeting place for seminars and conferences where financial justification funding will always be available. She noted the Windmill Inn and money lost due to the City no longer having a meeting center. In the North Carolina audit of Welcome Centers, they discovered people stopped long enough to grab a map and the average time spent was 32 seconds. She suggested the City create a Welcome Center that provided a financially justifiable facility that brings people into the City and creates a welcome that people will not forget. She asked the Council to oppose the project.
Gloria Kramer/720 Salishan Court/Explained she moved to Ashland five years ago and purchased a home in the Oak Knoll area because it felt like a small safe community within a large community. She will not feel safe if the proposed Rest Area is built and noted the time it would take for police to respond. She volunteers for the Chamber of Commerce and works in the Kiosk one day a week in the Plaza. Most of the visitors she encounters found their information on the internet. Decisions made ten years ago are not always relevant today and she felt this was not a good location. She would support a Welcome Center in another location but not in the present snow-zone area.
Jerry Stein/806 Cypress Point Loop/Focused on what he felt was a shortcoming of rationale in the Welcome Center's proposed location. He suggested signage that encouraged visitors who stop at Exit 14 and 19 to realize that Ashland's Main Street runs parallel to I-5 and they can easily rejoin the freeway at the other end of town. He felt that the Chamber of Commerce could cooperatively develop handbills or signage to notify travelers to stop in Ashland. This would help strengthen the economy rather than the Welcome Center that would likely encourage people to drive past Ashland. He recommended Council not support the Rest Area at the proposed location.
Don Anway/212 E Main Street/Explained he was the General Manager for the Ashland Springs Hotel and shared scenarios that supported the proposed Rest Area and Welcome Center. The Ashland Springs Hotel receives daily walk-ins from individuals who saw the Historic Signs located at both Exits. Ashland is a natural place to stop between Portland and San Francisco. The key is education and this is what the Welcome Center will do. The Welcome Center would expose and educate people on the amenities Ashland offered. He disagreed that a Welcome Center would keep people from stopping in the community. In order to sustain tourism in Ashland, the community needs to be diverse and realize tourism comes from multiple areas. The Welcome Center will have a positive impact on the community.
Allen Baker/1042 Oak Knoll/Explained the project would cover 18 acres of prime farmland with 6 acres of asphalt and 1.5 acres wetlands. This is not sustainable or progressive and has no connection with public transportation. He suggested moving the Welcome Center to Exit 14, which has huge advantages because it receives travelers from the north, south, and Klamath Falls. Possibly use the money for the Welcome Center to purchase Windmill Inn's meeting center or incorporate a Welcome Center when the City reconfigures Exit 14.
David Runkel/586 E Main Street/Explained he was the President of the Ashland Bed & Breakfast Network and supported the Welcome Center. Small businesses are not large enough to advertise individually and they would take advantage of the Welcome Center to promote their businesses. The Ashland Bed & Breakfast Network strongly supports a new accessible Welcome Center at the southern entrance to town. They share in the concerns raised but believe the Transportation Department working with Travel Oregon have taken substantial steps to reduce noise and lighting concerns at this site. The center will be off limits to large Trucks and the State Police will have a sub station at the Center. The Ashland Bed & Breakfast Network urged the Council to support the project.
Katharine Flanagan/110 E Main Street/Explained she was the Director of the Ashland Visitor and Convention Bureau and managed the marketing for the Chamber of Commerce. Approximately 60% of the visitors for the State come through Ashland's gateway, there should be an adequate Welcome Center to serve them. Travelers do use the internet for travel plans but there are many last minute bookings. A Welcome Center would help showcase Southern Oregon and invite them to stop and experience Ashland. The lodging industry is indicating a steady stream of walk in traffic that shows visitors are arriving in Oregon without prior vacation plans. The Ashland Visitor and Convention Bureau and Chamber have been working to reestablish a Welcome Center since the close of the original in 1996. As a representative of the Ashland Visitor and Convention Bureau, she asked the Council to support the development of the project that will support local business, the tax base and jobs.
Chris Skriptos/4424 Hwy 66/Explained he lives near the proposed site and will be affected by it. He did not oppose a Rest Area or Welcome Center however the site is an inappropriate use of land zoned for exclusive farmland use. It contains prime Class 1 and 2 soils where only 1%-2% of Oregon's land mass is in the prime unique classification. One of the issues being considered is water and sewer. The sewer line permit previously approved has expired. State statute and goals preclude reinstatement of a non-conforming use once it has expired pursuant to ORS 215.130 and County ordinance LDO 11.2.2. It would require a reasons exception in order to extend water and sewer beyond the UGB. Granting water to this site has serious consequences to the citizens of Ashland. He noted a memo from prior Public Works Director Paula Brown of 7/27/01 that indicated rate increases during drought years for citizens who exceed allocated. Ashland businesses have done well without a Welcome Center for the past twelve years. He had provided alternative sights to the County Commissioners. A Welcome Center within Ashland would be appropriate ensuring that all of Ashland benefits. He suggested bringing the people into Ashland to entice them with what the City has to offer. In response to the critical snow zone, he provided a picture of Exit 14 taken 12/22/08 showing where vehicles were chaining up and raised concern regarding traffic safety. He urged the Council not to grant sewer and water and allow ODOT to identify another location.
Dan Folliard/1032 Oak Knoll/Commented the ongoing 12 year discussion regarding the Welcome Center indicates there has not been any solutions to satisfy the present residents and merchants along with the future needs of Ashland. The residents of Oak Knoll are not adverse to a Rest Area or Welcome Center. The location will introduce noise pollution, transients, trespass, prostitution, and traffic safety problems into their neighborhood. Safety, lighting, restrooms, pet areas, police protection, water and sewer lines all can be found at Exit 14 and 19 and the port of entry. Exit 19, has plans approved by ODOT for a Rest Area and a Welcome Center but the site would have to generate revenue to make a Rest Area financially viable. Ashland has water and sewer concerns, having only one source of water. Ashland has to find a way to reduce the effluent temperature before introducing it into the local creeks. This is a land use issue and the proposed site is on exclusive farm use that has been prime and paramount. If the Council approves the project, it will be used throughout the State for granting access to land that has been declared EFU.
Scott West/16121 SE Oatfield Road, Milwaukie/Explained he was the Chief Strategy Officer for Travel Oregon. In Oregon, tourism is an $8.3 billion industry that employs over 91,000 people and is the largest traded employee sector in the State. Having a Welcome Center at the south end of town was important not only to the Ashland community but for the State of Oregon. According to a recent survey by the US Travel Association, 60% of the travelling public use Welcome Centers or Information Centers. Jackson County tourism is a $372 million industry that employees over 4,000 citizens in Jackson County. The Welcome Center would help the Southern end of the State, Ashland economy and brand Oregon to its largest market, California.
Noreen Tubbs/792 St Francis Circle/Voiced her opposition to the Welcome Center location. She was not opposed to having the Welcome Center at Exit 14. Her concern was the decrease in homeowner value. She expressed concern about criminal and drug activity and pollution. It would be better located at Exit 14 or 19. Water and sewer were issues as well. She strongly urged the Council to vote against the Center at the proposed location.
Sandra Slattery/1405 Pinecrest Terrace/Explained she was the Executive Director at the Chamber of Commerce and has been directly involved in the project for fourteen years since ODOT closed its previous location. Over the years, they worked with numerous stakeholders from every City in the region, Visitor Convention Bureau and Chamber of Commerce, including SOREDI and SODA who all recognize the Welcome Center would enhance the economy by highlighting businesses and communities to the traveling public. Statistics show people stay longer when they stop at Welcome Centers. Not only has the Chamber Board supported this from the beginning, there is also support from previous and current State Senators. She hoped the representatives from ODOT would have an opportunity to present information to the Council.
Public Hearing Closed: 9:30 p.m.
Comments submitted and considered by the Council were received and included into the record from David Wilkerson, Lois Langlois, Suzanne Frey, Bob Rasmussen, Shoshanah Dubiner and Will Sanner.
Tim Fletcher from Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) explained the distance between the proposed site and neighboring houses is approximately half a mile to the nearest residence. A traffic analysis was performed with several components. They looked at other areas with similar geometry through out the State, reviewed crash data, and discovered there was no evidence supporting accidents occurring more than at other locations. A speed zone study showed that 85% of the speeds monitored were 71 and 59 miles per hour. Crash statistics evaluated from 1985 to 2006 revealed that no crashes have occurred within the vicinity of the proposed Rest Area due to trucks with failing breaks; however, these types of accidents have occurred closer to the summit 4 miles away due to steep grades at the old Rest Area, curve in the alignment, and curvy and steep road. Traffic volumes at the proposed site are the lowest adjacent I-5 traffic of any Rest Area on I-5. The average daily trip (ADT) northbound was 7,800 to 8,000 vehicles a day. ODOT is predicting 1,000 vehicles per day will stop at the Rest Area. Applying an occupancy factor of 1.5 vehicles per day is approximately 1,500 visitors a day will enter into the Rest Area.
A long ramp exits the Rest Area and merges back with the freeway that at its steepest point is 1.25% which is close to flat. The volume capacity ratio on I-5 at this location is 26%, meaning only 26% of the capacity on I-5 is utilized, providing acceptable gaps for merging traffic.
There are several components to address safety at the Rest Area. The site will have a six-foot chain link fence for an outside parameter. The service road will be gated and secured at each end. Another six-foot chain link fence will separate the service road from the general use area of the Rest Area. Close circuit cameras will be set up within the Rest Area and the landscape design will have very little low-lying vegetation. There will be desk space inside the Rest Area for the Oregon State Police (OSP) and additional hours have already been approved. The Welcome Center will be staffed during the day and located close to the Ashland Maintenance Center and ODOT personnel.
ODOT contacted the OSP regarding criminal activity that occurs at Rest Areas. The OSP explained the type of criminal activity is local to the site and there is not a tendency to flow over into adjacent properties. ODOT reviewed crimes at two different Rest Areas situated fairly close to residential areas and there was nothing to substantiate.
For the Oak Knoll neighborhood, there will be the entrance ramp coming out of the Rest Area, guardrail, a concrete barrier on the shoulder then down the slope, a six-foot chain link fence and the service road. A six-foot chain link fence on the north side of Crowson Road will border the open trail and back yards of Oak Knoll for 330 feet, beyond that are blackberry bushes.
There are significant operational problems already being experienced at Exit 14 and that area is not conducive to a Welcome Center. The intersection has the worst Level Service rating, F and the Volume Capacity Ratio for that intersection is greater than one. It is not good to have a Welcome Center near an interchange because it affects the businesses and general operations. An Interchange Area Management Plan (IAMP) was developed
for Exits 14 and 19. The traffic analysis report looked at crash statistics and in a 4-year period, there were 11 accidents. Adding the Rest Area and Welcome Center and routing an additional 1,000 vehicles through that intersection will continue to degrade the operation of that particular intersection. An interchange like that should have an access of 1,325 feet of that intersection; access into Windmill Inn is 500 feet. Having the Rest Area at the Point of Entry would create engineering difficulties and significant safety issues.
The cost for ODOT to build the Rest Area is $7.5 million. The cost for the Welcome Center is $2 million with funding coming from tourism.
PUBLIC FORUM (None)
1. Does Council want to delegate limited authority to staff to waive penalties and/or interest on delinquent Food & Beverage or Transient Occupancy Tax remittances?
Councilor Silbiger/Navickas m/s that Council wishes to delegate limited authority to staff to waive penalties and/or interest on delinquent Food & Beverage or Transient Occupancy Tax remittances. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
CONTINUED DISCUSSION ON THE WELCOME CENTER
Councilor Chapman/Voisin m/s Council send comments to Jackson County Commission requesting the denial of each of the three Statewide Goal exceptions in the ODOT Rest Area Welcome Center application suggesting that there exists alternative solutions with less negative impacts inside the Ashland urban growth boundary that do not require exceptions to site a transportation facility on exclusive farm use land.
DISCUSSION: Councilor Chapman commented that currently Crowson Road is a natural boundary between urban facilities and rural farmland and is exactly what the City is attempting to achieve through the RPS process. The fact that this project is looking for three exceptions to Statewide Planning Goals should be a red flag. It was not clear this was a new application when presented to the Council last spring. Councilor Chapman was not willing to provide water to this project until a comprehensive look at the City's water occurred.
Councilor Jackson noted this was not a Council decision and there is a benefit for Ashland and the State to have a Welcome Center. Having the Welcome Center at Exit 14 or 19 would generate enough traffic on the interchanges to significantly impact City traffic and interchange projects. She was interested in the concepts but did not see them as a viable choice at this time.
Councilor Navickas emphasized this is a County Land Use decision and did not have enough information to make a decision based on the facts applied to the law.
Councilor Lemhouse understood the issues and concerns raised and did not want to put the City in opposition with County. This was a water supply concern. Making a definitive statement could put the City in financial jeopardy and he was not willing to do that at this time.
Councilor Silbiger commented this was a State project to benefit the State and subsequently Ashland through tourism. He understood the concerns raised and stressed they needed to be taken up with the County.
Councilor Voisin agreed it was a County issue but believed the Council should send a message to the County that represents the citizens. She thought the motion was a way to show the City's disagreement with the County's direction and take a stand. Councilor Lemhouse preferred to send a message of partnership to the County instead that allowed for disagreement and encouraging people to speak before the County Commission on this issue was the right way to do that.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Jackson, Lemhouse and Navickas, NO; Councilor Chapman and Voisin, YES. Motion failed 4-2.
Councilor Jackson/Lemhouse m/s that Ashland provide sewer to the project and only provide potable water for the restrooms, no landscaping at all. DISCUSSION: Councilor Jackson explained that the extra use in summer is landscaping. In town, there are curtailment rates, and outside of town, users paid higher rates for water and sewer. There is a clear option for the City to provide water to public facilities that is different from extending water to private homes. The water is available and it is the City's responsibility to plan long term for water usage.
City Attorney Richard Appicello clarified the extension of water and sewer is an issue before the County. The County has not applied to the City for a water service agreement. He recommended the City communicate to the County that any approval the City grants is subject to the standard utility agreement with current rates including any water curtailment provisions that will be necessary. City Administrator Martha Bennett suggested the City applies the strictest curtailment policy in the event of water curtailment that would be presented to the Council as an Intergovernmental Agreement with ODOT.
Councilor Jackson/Navickas m/s amend motion to include that the contract with the ODOT would have the strictest possible curtailment provisions.
Councilor Jackson/Lemhouse m/s to move RPS discussion to the next Council meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS (None)
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Should Council approve First Reading of an Ordinance titled, "An Ordinance Amending the Ashland Municipal Code Chapter 2.36.030, Initiatives and Referendums - Deposit Required" and move the ordinance on to Second Reading?
Delayed due to time constraints.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
1. Does the Council with to amend Council Rules to allow the Mayor and City Administrator more flexibility in setting the order of business on the Council Agenda?
Delayed due to time constraints.
Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John Stromberg, Mayor