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Mayor & Council (View All)

City Council Study Session

Thursday, March 14, 2013

 Medford City Council Study Session Minutes
March 14, 2013
The study session was called to order at 6:00 p.m. with the following present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Karen Blair, Daniel Bunn, Chris Corcoran, Al Densmore, Dick Gordon, John Michaels, Bob Strosser
City Manager Eric Swanson; Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke; City Attorney John Huttl; Finance Director Alison Chan; Planning Director Jim Huber; Deputy City Recorder Karen Spoonts
Commissioner Eli Matthews was absent.
Water Conservation Site Development Committee Update
Planning Director Jim Huber provided an update on the Water Conservation Site Development Committee. The purpose of the project is to reduce water use and waste associated with landscaping improvements. The Medford City Council initially approved the Scope of Work on December 1, 2009 and revised it on February 2, 2011 which provided four overall work directives for the committee:
  1. Recommend Land Development Code Landscaping Standards for water conservation
  2. Develop non-regulatory landscape and irrigation design guidelines for single-family residential homes to promote water conservation
  3. Explore and analyze the cost/benefits of new incentive programs for water conservation
  4. Investigate water conservation concepts, such as demonstration gardens on City properties.
Medford Water Commission (MWC) Public Information Coordinator Laura Hodnett stated that there is one expansion left for the MWC, and whatever we can do to delay that project and save water is to our benefit. She noted that peak usage is the key issue pertaining to expansion.
Commissioner Gordon questioned if the figures include the other cities and their growth; Ms. Hodnett noted that they used the official population projection which Jackson County uses. These figures also include industrial. She further stated that our population has not increased in five years.
Planning Department Planner II Desmond McGeough presented the project process, such as reviewing other citiesí codes, design codes, existing provisions and potential improvements.  The bulk of the changes to the New Landscape & Irrigation Standards are with landscape design standards, irrigation standards, certification process, and deferred landscape improvement.
Mayor Wheeler questioned what the 8/85 rule is; staff stated that you must have 85% in living ground cover within an eight year period.
Councilmember Michaels questioned new development with CC&R's.  Mr. McGeough noted that this would pertain to new CC&Rís; everything else would be grandfathered in. Councilmember Corcoran questioned if staff has expertise in landscape management; Mr. McGeough stated that staff would have to have the ability to review this, either by MWC or certification seal on the project. There could also be random checks or spot checks. Ms. Hodnett noted that MWC Conservation Specialist Dave Searcy or Parks and Recreation Department Park Planner Pete Young could review this. Mr. Searcy noted that it would be a verification plan that the contractor would have to fill out.
Councilmember Strosser questioned Ms. Hodnett about the free service and analysis that is provided by the MWC; Ms. Hodnett explained how the service works. Mr. Corcoran noted that his neighbor appreciated their service and he would be using this as well.
Mr. Strosser questioned how expensive is the surety bond; Mr. Huber noted it is a common practice that we use and was not sure of the cost. Ms. Hodnett noted that there are practices in place that you canít plant when the soil is wet; hence these issues have been anticipated.
Mr. Gordon questioned if the committee dealt with SFRs; Mr. McGeough noted that they did not except water intense landscape requirements from the contractor. Mr. Michaels questioned why we are not looking at SFRs; Mr. Huber noted that they went the charge per council. Mr. Hodnett noted that there are discussions for incentive programs from the MWC but stated that commercial property uses more than any home and we are starting with the big users. Mr. Strosser noted that the code needed to be adjusted especially with the 8/85 rule.
Mr. Michaels questioned if there is incentive for water wise; Ms. Hodnett noted the tasks presented to them include this and they are building on that.
Staff explained the tentative code amendment process yet to take place: Site Plan & Arch Commission Study Session on April 5; Planning Commission Public Hearing on April 25; City Council Public Hearing on May 16. The remaining tasks were noted as well such as a new demonstration garden.
Mr. Corcoran questioned the appeal process; Mr. Huber noted most of the time these will go to SPAC.
Mr. Swanson stated that the suggested location for new demonstration garden would be the Carnegie Building; and that we donít want to deal with issues that happened at the current demonstration garden.
Mr. Wheeler questioned what the other cities are doing; Ms. Hodnett noted that this is required by the state; there is a conservation grant that has been received and the MWC is working with the other cities. Mr. Strosser questioned tiered rates; Ms. Hodnett spoke of the tiered rate that is current with the MWC. Mr. Strosser noted that people will benefit from lower usage.
Landscape Architect John Galbraith of Galbraith & Associates noted that all landscape developers will be designing like this; Mr. Huber noted that we have all ends of the development covered in this.
The meeting adjourned at 6:55 pm.
Karen M. Spoonts, MMC
Deputy City Recorder

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