Medford City Council and Planning Commission
Joint Study Session
January 28, 2014
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Medford Room, City Hall, 411 W. 8th Street, Medford with the following members present.
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers John Michaels, Eli Matthews, Daniel Bunn, Tim Jackle, Chris Corcoran, Bob Strosser, Dick Gordon; Planning Commissioners Bill Mansfield, Robert Tull, David McFadden, Bill Christy, Michael Zarosinski, Alec Schwimmmer, Patrick Miranda.
1. Great Places in America and Medford: Planning Director Jim Huber addressed the group and presented on overview of information on what makes Medford a "great place". This is from the American Planning Association program where they recognize great neighborhoods, streets and public spaces with unique and authentic characteristics that have evolved from years of thoughtful and deliberate planning by residents, community leaders and planners. He reviewed the characteristics of great neighborhoods. He showed information from the Garden District, Baton Rouge Louisiana as an example of a recognized community and corresponding examples from Medford. He provided examples from other communities and corresponding examples from Medford for great streets and great public spaces.
He spoke to how to keep this moving into the future by "placemaking"; focus on community appearance, promote visually interesting design and architectural standards; connections among trails, Bear Creek; promote wayfinding; additional historic districts, and the potential for future urban renewal disticts.
2. Planned Unit development Infrastructure Issues: Mr. Swanson noted that recently there has been some discussion and concerns regarding approved planned unit developments that are subsequently sold and original the original planned unit development commitments are requested for changes or are changed. The changes are often driven by economic impacts as we have seen in recent years but the effect these have on the developments is causing concerns for property owners. The question is how to deal with this issue.
Mr. Huber spoke about large master-planned projects, with off-site improvements, that are approved and then divided into smaller phases. The off-site improvements are not being done until the last phase and then the requirement for off-site is being challenged as a Dolan taking.
Councilmember Gordon spoke to the Cherry Creek/Berkeley Way development. When approved a one large project, Berkeley Way was to be connected to McAndrews. He would like the Planning Commission o look at code language to help with this issue. Members discussed how to obtain the funding for the infrastructure. Bonding, reimbursement districts and local improvement districts were discussed.
Members discussed issues with connectivity. Councilmember Michaels noted he would like to see development of streets on a grid basis to provide neighborhood connectivity. Commissioner Tull noted that he would like to see a full set of neighborhood connectivity plans for the overall city. Public Works Director Cory Crebbin noted that there are ordinances that restrict block length, intersection alignments but this is harder to put in place in existing neighborhoods.
3. Internal Study Areas: Councilmember Gordon requested that the notice area be broader. Members discussed recent Planning Commission standing-room only meeting on this topic. The need for more education of the general public was discussed. Commissioner Miranda noted that this is only a proposal and many in attendance thought this was further in the process than it was, feels more education would be good.
4. Urban Growth Boundary Expansion Policies and Priorities: Commission Tull noted that he requested this topic and was curious on how the City is proceeding. He is concerned regarding how the City will be determining what properties to include and in what order. He expressed concern regarding the dissolution of the Boundary Advisory Committee. Planning Director Huber noted that the Committee was dissolved due to a conflict of interest. He noted that the Regional Problem Solving plan sets forth how the City will be moving forward. He spoke to the need to accomplish the Internal Study Area work and then the External Study Area to provide necessary information for the next steps. Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director addressed the group and provided further details of how these studies will contribute to the recommendations for growth areas.
Councilmember Michaels spoke to the need for density throughout the City and that by the establishment of design standards, density developments can be attractive.
5. West Main Transit Oriented Development (TOD): Group discussed the presentation of this plan to the neighborhood and the conflict that was received. Public Works Director Cory Crebbin spoke to the difficulty in drawing functional lines in this type of planning in that property owners see those functional lines as actual streets.
Commissioner Tull noted that the Planning Commission has study this in depth and forwarded a recommendation to move forward but it appears this has stalled. Councilmember Gordon spoke to the anger directed at staff during the informational meetings and understood why they may be reluctant to take on this item.
Group discussed the need to move forward and that this was a starting point to begin the process. This item will be scheduled for a future study session to bring the Council up to date on the project.
6. Code Enforcement: This topic was brought forward by the Planning Commissioners. They were questioning the ability of staff to deal with blighted properties. Police Chief Tim George noted that the Code Enforcement division is working on these issues on a regular basis with assistance from the Building Safety Dept.
7. Design Standards: Councilmember Michaels spoke to the need to implement standards that will proactively encourage development that is higher in density and will fit into existing single family neighborhoods. He spoke to other communities that have had neighborhoods define representative elements that can be required for any new development within the neighborhood.
Meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.