Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Special Meeting

Minutes
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

 

MINUTES FOR THE SPECIAL MEETING

ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL

August 30, 2011

Council Chambers

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.

 

ROLL CALL

Councilor Slattery, Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin, Silbiger, and Chapman were present.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS

1.   Does Council find that it would further the public interest to enter an agreement with the Mount Ashland Association (MAA) that would dissolve the existing lease agreement, replace the lease with new terms, convey the property currently owned by the City to MAA, and require the City to relinquish the Special Use Permit for the Ski Area so that MAA can directly obtain the SUP?

 

Public Hearing continued from August 16, 2011.

 

Kim Clark, General Manager Mt. Ashland Association/693 Washington Street/Explained MAA requested the Special Use Permit (SUP) for the fiscal and operational health of the Mt. Ashland Ski Resort.  It would satisfy the 1991-1992 condition the SUP went to the MAA once they achieved 501c3 Non-Profit status.  MAA did not think the City should receive payment for assets since it had not contributed funds towards the purchase of the ski resort. Nor did they intend to sell to an outside investor once they obtained the SUP.  Per 501c3 status, they could only give the operation to another non-profit or a municipality.  The City would receive all assets in the event of dissolution.

 

Colin Swales/143 Eighth Street/Read a document submitted into the record comparing the MAA with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, their lease from the City, subsequent expansion issues and urged Council to retain the SUP.

 

Shahi Catranides/321 Clay Street/Shared her enjoyment of snowboarding and hiking on Mt. Ashland.  She wanted the ski lodge to be more accommodating to children and families.  Ashland was a gem with unique biology.

 

Katharine Flanagan/110 East Main Street/Supported the City relinquishing the SUP to MAA who were the true stewards of the land.  She explained her affiliation with Mt. Ashland and described how it was a recreational and educational asset to Southern Oregon.  

 

Dana Fortmiller/498 Clinton Street/Shared the skills she acquired growing up skiing Mt. Ashland.  She asked the Council to relinquish the SUP to MAA so they could further develop the area for recreational and education purposes.

 

Ray Cato/425 Morton Street/Supported MAA obtaining the SUP and explained why MAA did not receive the SUP originally.  The City could incur liabilities by retaining the SUP.  MAA was committed to providing the finest service for winter recreation. 

 

George Badura/3334 Payne Road, Medford/Read a document submitted into the record that explained the damage due to runoff, down cutting and erosion the expansion would create.  

 

 

Vanston Shaw/180 Lithia Way/Skied Mt. Ashland frequently and based on information he reviewed, thought Council should relinquish the SUP to MAA.  He did not see the need for the City to maintain the SUP and giving it to MAA would allow them to attract donors for operations, enhancements and the expansion.

 

Luke Reudiger/17607 Elliot Creek Road/Having the City retain the SUP allowed them to manage in an ecological, economical, and socially responsible manner and hold the resort owners accountable to the people.  In contrast, the expansion was controversial and had polarized the community.  Transferring the permit to MAA would violate the trust the people bestowed on the City.  The discussion that it would reduce liability was fictional.

 

Catie Faryl/1670 Ashland Street/Protecting resources was important and it was highly unlikely Mt. Ashland would experience the heavy snow pack it has in the past.  She thought the ski area was adequate as is. She had concerns retaining forestland in its current state and that 90% of forestland was owned privately or federally.

 

Ada Rivera/7779 Rapp Lane, Talent/Commented on the disinformation campaign that had been in effect for years regarding the expansion.  The City was supportive in keeping the ski area operational in the early 1990s.  MAA had an excellent compliance record in all aspects of ski management.  The MAA should hold the SUP.  She encouraged Council to consider the facts when rendering a decision.

 

Lindea Kirschner/360 Merrill Street/Asked Council to retain the SUP.  There was a need to find out if new information supported MAA’s old conclusions or if they were endangering the watershed and town.  MAA had sued the City and subsequently cost taxpayers $400,000.  The public will not benefit from MAA altering the fragile middle branch of the watershed.  She trusted the City would protect the watershed.    

 

Auro-Free Vanderwerf/530 Maple Way/Moved to Ashland for the pristine area and water.  She loved skiing Mt. Ashland and liked that it was small and contained.  The proposed ski runs would destroy trees 700 years old.  She implored Council to keep the area precious and small.

 

Rivers Brown/1067 Ashland Street/Read a document submitted into the record that stated it was risky business to scar up the source of drinking water.  The business model and the MAA Board of directors were inept and the Mountain unstable.  He urged Council to retain the SUP.

 

Steve Pierce/700 Butler Creek Rd/Urged Council to turn over the SUP to MAA and noted the City originally never intended to become the operator.  Under the City’s lease, the City had no control over ski operations or the expansion, and continuing to hold the SUP could lead to liability.  It made sense to have MAA hold the SUP.

 

Brian Comnes/444 Park Ridge Place/MAA explored three other options that had no impact on the watershed. He described the damage and loss of 70 acres of old growth trees the expansion will bring.  The integrity of Ashland’s water supply was the one public interest that trumped all others.  If MAA wanted the SUP, they should do it in a way that did not affect the watershed.  

 

Barry Tillmar/2301 Siskiyou Boulevard/Recently moved to Ashland because he thought it was a model community.  Instead, there was trash on the mountain, politics, a split community, and the potential to lose old growth forest.  There were ways to make money in the community.  One was looking at how money was leaving the community.  Currently the nation was looking at the destabilization of the American economy.  Water and stability were very important. 

 

Dot Fisher-Smith/945 Oak Street/It was obvious transferring the SUP to MAA was in private interest and not public interest.  It was economics versus preserving the environment.  The public interest was different from private and it was Council’s job to uphold the public’s interest.  Relinquishing the SUP removed oversight.  Removing trees would not improve the watershed.  She supported the testimony from Mr. Swales, Mr. Reudiger, Ms. Kirschner, and Mr. Comnes.  

 

 

Suzanne Savoie/17607 Elliott Creek Road, Jacksonville/Opposed the City relinquishing the SUP to MAA.  Given the intense community concern regarding issues surrounding MAA, it would be a grave mistake to give them the SUP.  MAA was not and would not be accountable to the citizens and therefore not possible to hold them accountable for the egregious plan to clear-cut ancient forest for the benefit of a few.  If the City gave up the SUP, it would allow a legacy of environmental destruction and community division. 

 

Linda Merryman/631 Spring Creek Drive/Questioned if the Council had the legal authority to transfer the SUP without a vote of the people.  Additionally she wondered why a private company would have the right to expand when it could compromise the base of the town’s watershed.

 

Diane Werich/563 Walnut Street/Retaining the permit was more than a symbolic gesture.  It would speak volumes of who Ashland was and show Council would do whatever it could for the common good of the community, protect the water supply and not a let a narrow interest group supersede the vital interest of the community.  She urged Council not to yield the permit or dessert the irreplaceable watershed.

 

Frank Rote/1042 Tamara Circle, Medford/Supported the transfer of the SUP, it would help the MAA survive and make fundraising easier.  He noted the use of the words expansion and control during public testimony.  Retaining the SUP did not give the City any authority or control over the expansion or ski area.  Giving up the SUP relieved the City of potential liability and the City would retain some financial control. 

 

Angelika Thusius/897 Beach Street/Spoke for the Grandmothers and Friends in Green.  Transferring the SUP to MAA showed direct support of an expansion that would clear cut 70 acres through Ashland’s water source.  Giving back the SUP to MAA would give them significant control over City property.  She asked Council to put retaining the SUP on the ballot.  Council should wait and submit the new research on the area to the US Forest Service for their response.  No matter who holds the permit the City ultimately will be liable for any cleanup.

 

Theodore Killian/753 Siskiyou Blvd/Spoke against the ski expansion and transferring the SUP.  In an age where there were increasing shortages of natural resources, it was absurd and unconscionable the City would approve a project that would clear cut forest areas and poison the water system.  He asked Council not to forgo ethics for the sake of capital and private interest and instead adhere to public interest to which they were ultimately accountable.  He did not believe hedonistic enjoyment and recreation was a legitimate reason to destroy a portion of the watershed and urged Council to think of future generations.

 

Steve Koskella/215 Scenic Drive/Read a document submitted into the record that explained the wetlands studies were out of date and that a joint fill and removal permit was required by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Department of State Lands (DSL) prior to any ground disturbing activities.  Additionally, the Memo of Understanding (MOU) between the US Forest Service and the Corps regarding timber harvest activities did not apply due to change of use from forestry to recreation.  The current ski resort had violated the State Water Pollution Permits 19 times from the wastewater treatment facilities and that was concerning.

 

Braxton Reed/4300 Hwy 99 South/Noted the pristine natural beauty of the area made people want to move to Ashland.  His observation over the past twenty years was when the City made a rash political decision that affected the watershed a part of what made Ashland unique was lost.  Ashland was special because it was not over developed.  The watershed was perfect as it currently was and he wanted it to remain that way.

 

Chris Hald/275 Cambridge Street/Explained he had skied and worked at Mt. Ashland for many years and commented on the quality of work the ski area did for the environment.  He felt the opponents had litigated the issue too much and added the City of Ashland would retain influence after transferring the SUP.  He supported the permit transfer.  

 

Mary Wooding/727 Park Street/Supported the expansion but thought they could move it to the other side of the mountain.  The City should retain the permit no matter what.

 

Tom Marvin/245 Timberlake/It was a logical fallacy that MAA needed to own the permit to serve public interest better.  The MAA could make direct requests to the City as the permit holder.   Conversely, there may be actions that MAA or a future successor wanted that required the permit but fell short of the public interest. In that case, it would be prudent if the City retained the permit.  The City understood the public interest better than a subset or external organization with special interest.  If it was a matter of trust, the SUP was a tool best kept in public hands.   

 

Deb VanPoolen/78 4th Street/Loved skiing but opposed the City transferring the SUP to MAA.  The City needed to make a Finding that it was in the best interest of the public.  Based on public testimony it was not in the best interest.  She noted the natural disasters depriving people of clean drinking water across the world.  If there were any chance that erosion could occur because the expansion, it should not happen.

 

Chris Cook/780 Oakway Circle/The SUP and expansion were two different things and holding the SUP put the City at risk for liability.  It was time for the City to surrender the SUP to MAA.  Regarding concerns of losing control, nothing would change.  Ultimately, the US Forest Service had authority regarding expansion plans and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) would monitor sediment in the watershed.  It was time for MAA to get back to the business of running a ski area and the City back to governing for the good of citizens, businesses, and visitors.

 

Chris Hardy/774 B Street/The US Forest Service post signs in the watershed prohibiting camping, fire and asking all to protect the watershed.  His concern with the City turning over the SUP was the potential loss of 70 acres of forestland for the expansion and the ability to manage the watershed.  It would be irresponsible to put special interest over the interest of natural resources.   He asked the City to retain the SUP and referenced Ms. Fisher-Smith’s testimony not to put money over natural resources.

 

Nancy Nelson/149 Clear Creek Drive/In Pasadena CA she was the organizer of the Eco-Community Dialogues, a list of topics were submitted to the record.  She referenced a former speaker who presented a topic entitled Water as the Most Important Civil Rights Issue of the Century.  The City should not relinquish the SUP. Mt. Ashland was the residents’ water rights and people can only live three days without water.  The biologists, soil scientists, engineering geologists and the Sierra Club, had presented facts regarding impact to the watershed. People can survive without an expanded ski area but cannot survive without water.

 

Will Wilkinson/2940 Old Hwy 99 South/This was Council’s moment to provide leadership that did not support either side but voted for all.  This was not a case of the best plan for a few but a need to plan for the worst case for everyone.  He suggested removing the option of developing in the watershed period then focus on creating a successful ski operation.  Voting to retain the SUP was a vote to keep the City involved and providing the high level of leadership that no one else could.   

 

Bruce Wright/301 Wimer Street/Explained he was a devoted skier, instructed and understood why MAA wanted to expand.  The real issue was the watershed, not the survival or enrichment of MAA, or potential liability to the City.  Did Council serve the citizens or private business?  If Council served the citizenry of Ashland and the future of the community, they would retain the SUP and protect the resources that were so vitally important to the future. 

 

Jill Mackie/941 Mt. Meadows Circle/Shared her experience handing out water to people during the July 4th festivities and that out of 150 individuals they provided water to, none wanted the ski expansion in the proposed area.  Any other place was fine, but not in the watershed.  She strongly encouraged Council to understand that the citizens care about the water and the city.

 

Andrew Kubik/1251 Munson Drive/Recently attended a presentation on 3-D Topo-Morpher Software that was enlightening and disturbing.  He strongly recommend Council table their decision until they had viewed this presentation and spent time at the expansion with someone knowledgeable in the geology of the area.

Laura Towers/78 North Mountain Avenue/Walked through the proposed expansion site and described orange spray paint tagged trees with an empty spray paint can on the ground and a sign stating it was an avalanche area.  She could not imagine the affects that construction would have and did not trust MAA’s erosion control methods. She urged Council and community to meet at the proposed site along with Forest Ecologists and ski resort officials to discuss the expansion.  Before giving away the assets, she encouraged everyone to see where the water comes from and then decide if they want to condemn the mountain to a commercial enterprise.

 

Ryan Navickas/2060 Mill Creek Drive, Prospect/Shared his contribution to help bail out the ski area in 1992 and noted it was a bail out, not an approval of the expansion.  The community helped purchase the ski resort and deserved to retain oversight regarding future development and the watershed.  Handovers of public property without compensation violated Oregon statutes.  The liability of restoring a defunct ski would remain with the City whether they transferred the SUP or not.  The City was not obligated to grease the wheels of the expansion.

 

Madeleine Sklar/810 Garden Way/Believed that people needed clean water instead of ski slopes.  This was a unique opportunity to save Mt. Ashland by preserving the health and quality of the watershed by not transferring the SUP to a private organization.

 

JoAnne Eggers/221 Granite Street/Expressed her gratitude to all the things Ashland Creek provided and to past and present Councilors.  She along with others believed the SUP and expansion were connected.  She doubted the request to transfer the SUP would have come up if there were not a proposal to develop in the middle branch area.  She requested Council to consider carefully new findings from local experts and the latest recommendations from the Oregon State Department of Geology.

 

Lija Appleberry/704 Willow Street/Her family enjoyed skiing Mt. Ashland but she did not support transferring the SUP because of building the expansion in the watershed. She wanted Council and staff to review the new information then make a decision.

 

James Neely/61 Palm Street/Had heard valid ecological and financial concerns during the public testimony and added there were more than people affected by the expansion.  He traveled far to speak because the land was sacred to him and asked Council to let the land be.

 

Julie Norman/596 Helman Street/Recently filmed a panel of scientific experts presenting new maps of the proposed expansion and the geological formations on Mt. Ashland.  She will make the DVD available to anyone interested. She referenced a letter Bill Hicks submitted into the record earlier and commented on new software that produced detailed 3-D images of terrain previously unavailable produced by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.  She urged Council to review this information prior to making a decision. 

 

Vanessa Nowitzky/1244 Calypso Court/Sang a speech by Chief Seattle to the music of Lou Harrison.

 

Amy Godard/711 Faith Street/Thanked Councilor Chapman for meeting with her regarding this issue and Councilor Voisin for attending.  The SUP and the expansion were related.  She had collected 600 signatures for the US Forest Service who will make the decision regarding the appeal on whether the expansion was legal.  She agreed with earlier testimony for Council to retain the SUP and have MAA expand outside the watershed.

 

Rene Lafaure/821 Hillview Drive/Shared her experiences of living in the desert and in India, with limited water and described how people suffered after they sold their rights to water.   She asked Council to visit the sacred area and think carefully.  Money can never precede a higher truth.  

 

Eric Navickas/711 Faith Avenue/Spoke on the history of watershed management and the increased sedimentation due to multiple managed use after the 1964 and 1974 floods. The expansion would allow logging in riparian and roadless areas as well as the research natural area that prohibited logging.  The project will have severe impact to sedimentation as well as the fire reduction project.  Transferring the SUP would ultimately give up oversight.

Rick Kirschner/360 Merrill Street/Commented on how the citizenry counted on Council to make the best possible decisions on its behalf.  He supported a viable and successful ski area but wanted the watershed protected.  He participated in saving Mt. Ashland in early 1990s but what not have if he had known it would lead to an expansion in the watershed.  He wanted Council to delay making a decision until they had reviewed the new scientific information.    

 

Gregg Marchese/533 Fairview Street/If Council transferred the permit he suggested making the City member on the MAA Board a voting member with veto power.  The City should also receive tax money from the MAA.  There would be the cost of mitigation when it became apparent there was ongoing sedimentation.  His water rates increased last year and he expected them to go up again with the expansion.

 

Catherine Larkin/641 Walnut/Read excerpts from B.J. Hicks letter to US Forest Service that stated the US Forest Service did not have sufficient data or study to justify any plans for the ski expansion.  The risk of unexpected events affecting the basin and damaging the West Fork of the Ashland Creek and Reeder Reservoir was too great and unpredictable.  Any changes made to the watershed had the potential of destabilizing the equilibrium causing massive damage below.  In the past, Mr. Hicks did not think the expansion would affect or damage the watershed but new data and information changed his opinion.  He recommended Council not approve the ski area expansion and retain the SUP.

 

Councilor Lemhouse/Slattery m/s to extend the Public Hearing until 9:30 p.m. Voice Vote:  Councilor Slattery, Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin, and Chapman, YES; Councilor Silbiger, NO.  Motion passed 5-1.

 

Kiwina De Soto/Ashland, OR, Honaunau, HI/Thought the Council was reviewing a summary of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) instead of the comprehensive version the US Forest Service had.  He introduced new information that the land proposed for the expansion area actually belonged to the descendents both living and ancestral of the Takelma and Athabascan Indians under the National Native American Sovereign Lands Act. The EIS used to determine impacts to this area was incomplete, in violation of law and did not contain cultural considerations or the cultural impact on economic considerations.

 

Peter Gross/489 Euclid Street/Transferring the SUP had every appearance of trying to be an end around in the democratic process.  He thought Council should hold onto the SUP and let MAA’s expansion plan rise and fall on its own merits.  Water was the crucial issue for the future, mitigation was not preservation and always more expensive.  All the claims the MAA was making about their ability to mitigate or even their success in the expansion seemed based on speculation.  He urged Council to retain the SUP, keep the issues separate, and let the expansion succeed or fail on its own. 

 

Nikita Norton/2330 Colestein Road/Grew up skiing Mt. Ashland, was on the MARA ski Team and attended two Junior Olympics with an ultimate goal of competing in the Olympics.  She did not see a problem with building the expansion in the watershed, bottled water was plentiful and this was the only place the expansion could go. It would provide an area to train for the MARA Ski Team.  Mt. Ashland offered the best powder snow for skiing as well.  She wanted to train for the Olympics at Mt. Ashland. 

 

Jean Fyfe/215 Sherman Street/If the three scientists who originally worked on the initial planning reversed their opinions it was prudent to investigate the new information and protect this fragile ecosystem.  Citizens elected Council to be responsible for the best interests of the City and she asked Council not to ignore the new data that the upper watershed was a high risk for catastrophic geological failure such as destruction of Reeder Reservoir and potentially to the Water Treatment Plant.  Council should keep the SUP, work with all parties involved, and seriously investigate the implications of the new data.  Skiing was important but optional.

 

Marcus Scott/1205 Talent Avenue/Noticed 86 people spoke against the transfer of SUP and only 15 in support with half of those speakers’ members on the MAA Board of Directors.  He thought Council might be in violation of the Valdez Principles.

 

Elias Alexander/435 Granite Street/The expansion was a public issue and he thought that the public should retain the SUP.  Additional ski runs would make tickets more expensive and that could be prohibitive for younger skiers.  The science was clear, the soil was erodible, and cutting down the trees would dump more sedimentation into the water source.  This could cost Ashland a lot of money if there were sedimentation issues in the future. 

 

Wendy Resnick/842 Garden Way/Urged Council to keep the SUP.  Water was the most important resource and needed protection.  Water was being degradated in some ways already.  The City should not give the assets away and noted Council had a fiduciary responsibility to the citizenry.  The jobs Mt. Ashland ski resort created were part time and did not provide a living wage.  If Council relinquished the permit, they should include terms that MAA set aside funds to protect the water.

 

Public Hearing Closed:  9:21 p.m. 

 

Mayor Stromberg asked that Councilor Silbiger share his experienced view on the matter.  Councilor Silbiger explained that the primary goal was to protect the water supply and forests while understanding that people also wanted the benefits of a ski resort.  Elected officials did not have the power to make most of those decisions and the SUP and lease did not give Council that power. MAA had presented three arguments for returning the SUP: 1) The legal liability issue that was correct and unchanged since 1992; 2) That the arrangement was temporary, although there is nothing written that indicated it was temporary.  One of the loans locked the City in and the lease itself was a 25-year extendable lease that stated just the opposite and was the document the City followed; and 3) that retaining the SUP held power against the expansion and that was false.  The lease prohibited Council from interfering with the operations of the ski resort and that included the expansion. 

 

Councilor Silbiger went to explain that the City had tried to intermediate in the past when they heard MAA planned to cut first then raise the money for the expansion.  MAA in turn sued the City and won.  The SUP authorized the use of constructing, operating and maintaining a winter facility, covered 1,180 acres, and allowed specific improvements that included ski runs, terminals, roads, etc.  The lease conveyed the permit to MAA.  The lease gave the City some power by requiring MAA to hold money in reserve for the expansion but also prevented the City from opposing the ski resort or expansion.

 

Legal counsel Bob Steringer from Harrang, Long, Gary, Rudnick P.C. explained that the SUP stated MAA could sublease or sell their rights only with the City’s approval.  The City would need a reasonable basis to object to MAA subleasing.  Both the SUP and agreement with the City were binding.  City Administrator Martha Bennett added if MAA wanted to sublease and the SUP allowed them to, but if the City had a valid reason to say no, the U.S. Forest Service or MAA could not trump the City’s refusal.  The City could mediate then litigate under the situation.  In court, the City’s contract agreement with MAA would have precedence over the SUP. 

 

The current lease gave the City a voice in who would replace MAA if they failed and required MAA to have a minimum liquidation amount in the bank.  The new lease would explicitly state MAA comply with the City’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for sediment in Reeder Reservoir, have a non-voting seat on the Board per MAA approval, and let the City review expansion documents in advance of construction.  The agreement would ensure the SUP amount was available in the form of unencumbered assets.  MAA also agreed to reset the dollar amount set by the SUP through the US Forest Service and restated their commitment to inflate that amount yearly.  If MAA did dissolve, any remaining assets after the creditors would go to the City.  Finally, MAA would pay the first $7,500 in legal fees incurred by the City.

 

Council noted a previous discussion with the MAA during the February 2, 2011 Study Session on establishing a Memo of Understanding regarding monitoring that both Mr. Clark and Donna Mickley from the US Forest Service agreed to.

 

Mr. Clark explained City staff recommended the non-voting member based on what the City had with the Chamber of Commerce and Ashland Community Hospital.   He was aware of Mr. Hick’s comments to the US Forest Service in the appeals process but had not seen the presentation.  The MAA Board of Directors would review anything potentially catastrophic in the proposed expansion area and doubted DEQ or the US Forest Service would allow them to expand if there were.

 

MAA did not owe the City any money regarding assets.  The City was the fiscal agent and had not invested money to gain property.  One bond had already expired and another 20-year bond would expire April 2012.

 

Mr. Clark went on to explain reducing the sedimentation on existing runs was part of the expansion requirement through the original 2004 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).  

 

MAA Board President Tom Mayer added MAA would review any information the City liaison brought to the board.  Mr. Clark confirmed the City liaison would receive the same information MAA Board members received.  Mayor Stromberg expressed concern the MAA Board of Directors had the option to reject any representative the Council chose as liaison and wanted to change it.  Mr. Mayer agreed with the request.

 

Staff confirmed if MAA went bankrupt and severed the lease, and the City had given up the SUP, because the assets would return to the City, the US Forest Service would most likely ask the City to become the operator or find another since the land was designated as a ski area in their planning.

 

Donna Mickley the US Forest Service District Ranger for Siskiyou Mountains with the Rogue River National Forest and Steve Johnson Recreational Specialist for the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District clarified if MAA failed and the City wanted to appoint a successor it would be a negotiation process with the US Forest Service as long as the City retained the SUP.  Ms. Bennett added that since the City maintained the operational assets, as proposed in the new lease agreement, the US Forest Service would work with the City.  Mr. Johnson confirmed if the City kept the SUP, it would be responsible for restoration if MAA failed.  Adding language to the SUP to restrict recreational use from the middle fork water shed area would actually be an amendment to the Forest Plan separate from the SUP.  Additionally, if MAA failed and the City had the SUP and no one to run it, the US Forest Service could give the SUP to another entity.

 

Councilor Voisin wanted to retain the SUP in order to review the new data that exposed the risk to the watershed.  Councilor Silbiger responded delaying transferring the SUP was not relevant to the new information.  In the end, it was not a Council decision but a US Forest Service decision.

 

Ms. Bennett explained retaining the SUP did not prejudice the City’s right to engage in the need for process or follow litigation.  However, the lease had some restrictions.

 

Councilor Chapman/Lemhouse m/s that Council find that conveying the Permit Property, as defined in the draft Agreement, would further the public interest, and that Council approve the agreement as presented with the addition of a Quality Control Team and providing that we request and receive State approval for the property conveyance.  DISCUSSION: Councilor Chapman added the Quality Control Team because Council and MAA supported the idea during the February 28, 2011 Study Session. Additionally the State would need to sign off on conveying the property since the City purchased it with a grant.  He thought the City was in a better position to work with MAA if it did not retain the SUP based on Councilor Silbiger’s earlier statement.  Councilor Morris agreed with the motion, it would afford Council better protections with the new agreement than the current SUP and lease provided.  The provisions regarding sediment, quality assurance-quality control were to the City’s benefit in protecting the watershed.  Councilor Lemhouse thought forging a new partnership with this agreement gave the City a real voice to protect the watershed, provide some stability to Mt. Ashland, and help the economy.  Retaining the SUP did not give the City the power that people perceived it did.

 

Councilor Lemhouse/Silbiger m/s to amend motion to change the Council Liaison to a voting member that is appointed annually by the City Council.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Silbiger questioned whether a voting member could create conflicts of interest.  Mr. Steringer did not think it would create a problem and that it happened frequently due to the non-profit status and appointed authority but was not prepared to advise that was the case.  Councilor Lemhouse commented if it turned out to be an issue they could amend the agreement.  Councilor Slattery was uncomfortable with the voting precedence and preferred an ex-officio member instead.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Lemhouse, Chapman and Morris, YES; Councilor Slattery and Voisin, NO.  Motion passed 4-2.

 

Councilor Morris/Silbiger m/s to amend motion that before MAA could proceed with any construction or structural changes in the expansion area they have to fulfill their fundraising requirements for Phase One.  DISCUSSION: Councilor Morris explained the worst thing would be MAA starting the expansion and running out of funds and wanted to ensure if they start, they had the funds to complete the expansion. 

 

Councilor Voisin/Slattery m/s to amend amended motion that MAA have the entire amount of funds prior to construction or structural changes in the expansion area.   Councilor Voisin withdrew the motion with Councilor Slattery’s consent.

 

Councilor Voisin motioned to amend the amendment that the full amount for expansion is secured in cash.  Motion die for lack of second.

 

Continued discussion on the amendment:  Councilor Chapman thought requesting the entire amount prior to construction conflicted with MAA’s building phases.  Councilor Silbiger suggested changing the amendment to pertain to Phase 1.  Ms. Bennett explained the motion would cause a new term in the agreement and thought the intention was not to log the ski run until MAA had funding.  Councilor Lemhouse was uncomfortable with the motion.  It was getting into the actual operation of the mountain and funding.  Councilor Voisin wanted to ensure cutting the trees would not create erosion and that MAA had the funds to continue.  Councilor Slattery supported the motion but thought MAA, as a non-profit would already have funds in place before starting construction.

 

Councilor Silbiger suggested adding the words “for Phase One” to the amended motion with the approval of Councilor Morris.  Councilor Voisin wanted to know what Phase 1 entailed.  Councilor Morris explained Phase 1 entailed new ski lifts and runs, water and power facilities, environmental restoration costs, parking expansion, snow tubing/winter play amenities but was unsure if the list was current. Councilor Silbiger added the amount for Phase 1 was approximately $3,500,000 and included a new chair lift with lower and intermediate novice runs, a warming hut, composting toilets, 60 parking spaces, widening existing runs and 23 watershed projects.

Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Slattery, Morris and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Voisin and Lemhouse, NO.  Motion passed 4-2.

 

Councilor Silbiger did not think the City needed to keep the assets, however they were partially paid for using public and tax-deductible monies.  He questioned the restoration sum of $300,000 and suggested using the $700,000 asset figure discussed in the February 28, 2011 Study Session for restoration.

 

Councilor Silbiger/Voisin m/s that restoration amount be $700,000 to encumber restoration and mitigation purposes to the watershed.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Silbiger stated his concern with the current amount set aside and wanted to use the asset dollars for restoration purposes.  Councilor Chapman noted the problem was how the US Forest Service defined restoration.  Councilor Silbiger thought the US Forest Service was more concerned with restoring the runs and if Reeder Reservoir was damaged this amount would cover the reservoir.  Councilor Voisin added dredging the reservoir would cost more than $700,000.  Councilor Slattery was uncomfortable with any sedimentation issues regarding Reeder Reservoir, there had to be some mechanism that was a causal relationship.  Mayor Stromberg stated the intention for the amount was restoration caused by damage from the operation and expansion of the ski resort.  Ms. Bennett commented the problem was proving the ski area caused damage to the Reeder Reservoir.  The US Forest Service would set a standard and the City would be unable to prove it.  Councilor Chapman noted sediment-monitoring stations below the ski area would trigger and subsequently implicate the ski resort.  Ms. Bennett explained the restoration sum was there in the event MAA failed, not to cover incidents that occurred during operations.  There were other provisions in the agreement like the TMDL and remedy processes that would address issues that happened while the ski resort operated.

 

Councilor Silbiger withdrew the motion with Councilor Voisin’s consent.

 

Councilor Silbiger/Voisin m/s that keeps Paragraph 4(d) the same and adds: “maintain a restoration amount of $700,000.”  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Slattery, Silbiger, Lemhouse, Voisin, and Chapman, YES.  Motion passed.

 

Councilor Voisin/Slattery m/s amend Section 4(g) to delete: “which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld,” and add, “MAA agrees to not sublease,” as a third bullet.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Voisin thought it was important to be clear that MAA cannot sublease.  Councilor Slattery would not support the motion.  There could be a time in the future when a sublease through MAA would benefit the City.  Councilor Chapman preferred the current language.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Voisin, YES; Councilor Chapman, Slattery, Morris, Silbiger and Lemhouse, NO.  Motion failed 1-5.

 

City Recorder Barbara Christensen read the main motion and amendments:  “That Council find that conveying the Permit Property, as defined in the draft Agreement, would further the public interest, and that Council approve the agreement as presented with the addition of a Quality Control Team and providing that we request and receive State approval for the property conveyance.

With the following amendments:  To change the Council Liaison to a voting member that is appointed annually by the City Council, That before MAA could proceed with any construction or structural changes in the expansion area they have to fulfill their fundraising requirements “for Phase One,” and keep Paragraph 4(d) the same and add maintain a restoration amount of $700,000.”

 

Continued discussion on main motion with amendments:  Councilor Voisin would not support the motion for two reasons: 1) Relinquishing the SUP furthered the viability of Mt. Ashland to expand; and 2) By not acting in the public’s interest and protecting the watershed by retaining the SUP.

 

Roll Call Vote on main motion as amended: Councilor Chapman, Slattery, Morris, Silbiger and Lemhouse, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO.  Motion passed 5-1.

 

 

ADJOURNMENT

Meeting adjourned at 11:46 p.m.

 

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John Stromberg, Mayor

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