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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Minutes

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The regular meeting of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at 5:32 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Commissioners Present                    
Michael Zarosinski, Chair                  
Robert Tull, Vice Chair                      
Bill Christie                                         
Norman Fincher                                 
Bill Mansfield                                      
David McFadden                               
Paul Shoemaker                                
Suzanne Myers, Principal Planner
Lori Cooper, Deputy City Attorney
Alex Georgevitch, Transportation Manager
Terri Rozzana, Recording Secretary
John Adam, Planner IV
Joe Slaughter, Planner II
Praline McCormack, Planner II
Commissioners Absent          
Alec Schwimmer, Excused Absence
Patrick Miranda, Excused Absence  
10.       Roll Call
20.       Consent Calendar/Written Communications. 
20.1     CP-13-032 Final (Written) Recommendation to City Council for consideration of a General Land Use Plan Map amendment to reclassify approximately 800 vacant or redevelopable acres (Internal Study Areas) within the City’s urban growth boundary (UGB) for the purpose of maximizing the current capacity of land within the boundary. (City of Medford, Applicant).
20.2     LDP-14-020 Final Order for a request to create two lots on a 0.27 acre parcel located on the southwest corner of Viewcrest Drive and Skyhawk Ridge in the MFR-20 (Multiple Family Residential, 20 dwelling units per gross acre) zoning district.  (Unis Family Trust, Applicant; Stephen Terry, Agent).
20.3     LDP-12-010/E-12-011 Consideration of a request for a one-year extension of expiration for tentative plat approval of a three-lot partition of a 0.51 acre parcel located on the west side of Wyatt Drive and the east side of Connell Avenue, approximately 130 feet south of Mellecker Way, within an SFR-6 (Single Family Residential – 6 dwelling units per acre) zoning district. The request includes Exceptions to the standards for flag lot frontage, “pole” width, and lot width requirements.  (Fred Wallace, Applicant; Neathamer Surveying, Inc. and Maize and Associates, Inc., Agents).
Motion: Adopt the consent calendar.
Moved by: Commissioner McFadden          Seconded by: Commissioner Christie
Voice Vote: Motion passed, 6-0, with Vice Chair Tull abstaining.
30.       Minutes. 
30.1     The minutes for April 10, 2014, were approved as submitted.
40.       Oral and Written Requests and Communications.  None. 
Chair Zarosinski reported that tonight’s public hearing agenda items are legislative hearings.
50.       Public Hearing. 
            New Business
50.1     DCA-14-027 Consideration of an ordinance amending Medford Municipal Code, Chapter 10 (Land Development Code) Section 10.012 removing School definitions that conflict with the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) groupings used in Section 10.337, amending Section 10.337 to permit elementary and secondary schools in commercial zoning districts with an approved Conditional Use Permit, and amending Table 10.743-1 to match School groupings used in Section 10.337. (City of Medford, Applicant).
Joe Slaughter, Planner II, summarized the proposal, read the approval criteria and presented the proposed findings and a recommendation.
Commissioner McFadden stated that not too long ago the Commission reviewed the long range planning documents from School District 549C.  Will these changes require other public or private schools to submit the same to the City for inclusion in the City’s Comprehensive Plan documents?  Mr. Slaughter replied that Charter schools are sponsored by a local district as well as the State.  Charter schools are a part of the local educational opportunities.  Mr. Slaughter does not see the need to amend the City’s Comprehensive Plan Element to deal with each and every school.  It is focused to deal with the two largest school districts.        
Suzanne Myers, Principal Planner reported that the reason for the inclusion in the Comprehensive Plan is in response to state statutes that talk about coordination with school districts over a certain size.  Small private schools would not fall into that category. 
Chair Zarosinski asked what specific type of elementary schools would be appropriate in a commercial district?  Mr. Slaughter replied that in this case the request was dealing specifically with Charter schools.  Traditional schools remain traditional.  Charter schools in nature are intended to be somewhat different and afford opportunities for a different educational approach.  Because of that they serve a larger geographic area.  Also, because of how instruction is delivered, students do not have to come to school every day or ever.  because it can be done online or teleconferencing.  In some cases teachers go to the student’s home and meet with them on occasion as opposed to students going to class on a regular basis.  Charter schools operate like a business because they have staff and are operating out of a location that the students might not be at on a regular basis.  This amendment does not only apply to Charter schools, any school could locate in a commercial zone.   
The public hearing was opened and the following testimony was given. 
a. Joe VonDoloski, 1794 E. Dutton, Eagle Point, Oregon, 97524-7985.  Mr. VonDoloski stated that he is the Executive Director of Logos Charter School.  Logos is the largest Charter school in the state.  They are going into year four of operation.  The Mail Tribune article, included in the agenda packet, alluded that schools in the 21st Century are changing.  Logos does not bus students or need to be within walking distance in a neighborhood, this is coupled with the lack of available buildings in residentially zoned areas.  They are requesting that the Planning Commission support this amendment.  They believe the conditional use permit process will account for any noise or atmosphere concerns, and certain businesses or clinics that are not able to be located within certain distances from schools as well.  The schools are already permitted in commercial zones under the SIC Code.  They are simply asking that potential locations have the option for review and consideration that similar schools have such as Hedrick on East Jackson that shares a fence with a grocery store.  In no way are all future public schools likely to end up in commercial zones.  They are simply requesting some flexibility in locating land and/or a facility in which to locate.     
The public hearing was closed.
Motion: Based on the findings and conclusions that all of the approval criteria are either met or are not applicable, initiate this amendment and forward a favorable recommendation for adoption to the City Council per the Staff Report dated April 14, 2014, including Exhibits A through E.  
Moved by: Commissioner McFadden      Seconded by: Commissioner Fincher
Commissioner Mansfield stated that the public is seriously divided on the question of whether or not Charter schools are in the public interest.  There are people that are very opposed to it and of course obviously there are people that are in favor of it.  Apparently the majority are in favor of it because that is the legality.  Charter schools are now embedded in our state law whether some of us like it or not.  He does not think it is appropriate for the Commission to debate the question of whether or not Charter schools are in the public interest or not.  He plans to vote for this because he believes that battle has been completed.  Assuming that it is legal and it is, he thinks the Commission needs to cooperate and accommodate their need.     
Chair Zarosinski stated that since this is voting on including a conditional use permit process, he is fine with that.  There are certain uses in commercial areas that he does not think are appropriate with schools.  He is going to vote for it, not necessarily that all schools that come through will he be in favor of, but simply for the option.
Roll Call Vote: Motion passed, 7-0.
50.2     DCA-14-028 Consideration of an ordinance amending Medford Municipal Code, Chapter 10 (Land Development Code) Section 10.012 creating a definition for Portable Storage Containers and Section 10.840 permitting Portable Storage Containers as a temporary use in C-R, C-H, I-L, I-G and I-H zoning districts (City of Medford, Applicant).
Joe Slaughter, Planner II, presented the summary, approval criteria, and recommended options.
Vice Chair Tull asked if there was anything in the proposed Code amendment that would apply City standards to the sort of signage that is standard on container trailers and so on that are advertising for the business and if parked there, could very well serve as oversized signage, advertising the business?  Also, is there anything in the proposed Code amendment that speaks to the maintenance of the condition of the storage units?  It seems to him that if the units were parked there and neglected for 90 or 120 days they could end up being a negative visual impact.  He does not know whether they want to address that issue in the proposed amendment.  Mr. Slaughter replied that the answer to both of those questions is that there is not anything specifically addressing those issues.  There is a portion of the proposed Code that would require that these containers be completely screened from view from neighboring properties or public right-of-way.      
Commissioner Shoemaker asked if there will be standards for what constitutes screening?  His concern is an attempt to hide something ugly can lead to something uglier.  Mr. Slaughter read the proposed code section dealing with screening.  Portable storage containers shall be screened from view from all public rights-of-way and neighboring properties.  Notwithstanding Section 10.840C.(1) the required screening can be accomplished by using enclosures made of solid wood, brick, or masonry block which conceal them from view; by placing the containers out of view behind existing structures; by placing the containers out of view behind existing landscaping; or by using a combination of any or all these three methods.  Such enclosures must meet applicable fencing and structure standards and may require building permits.  
The public hearing was opened and the following testimony was given. 
a. John McBride, 3615 Crater Lake Highway, Medford, Oregon, 97504.  Mr. McBride reported that he is the store manager of the north Medford Wal-Mart.  This issue came about because two years ago when the south Medford location opened they owned a side lot wqhere they put ground containers on gravel in that lot.  It did not work very well for them that year. What they have done since then is use containers on wheels that gave the appearance of being mobile even though they were there for the ninety day period.  In talking with the City Council the biggest contention was that they did not like the ground containers and preferred Wal-Mart to have the raised ones on trailers.  The challenge that Wal-Mart has with the containers is that once they call for them to be removed, the removal company does not have very many drivers so the container could be empty for a month to a month and a half.  It is very difficult to get these people to come pick up the containers.  Wal-Mart is not in favor of putting a wall up because that creates a bigger eyesore than just having the trailers there.  The trailers that Wal-Mart has had in the past have had no advertising on them.  Mr. McBride requested getting more input from other retailers in the Valley.  Some of them have containers year round.           
Vice Chair Tull stated that his concern is that we do not agree to provide Wal-Mart or any other store with a convenient place to store trailers and storage units whether or not there is a commercial use for them for the holiday season or something of that sort.  He is quite ready to agree to understandings in the Code that allow retailers to put on their site equipment that they need to facilitate their business, particularly that portion of the business that is seasonal. He is not interested in the Commission agreeing to something that essentially allows storing trailers or other kinds of storage units on their site.  That seems to him a different kind of need that ought to be accommodated in another way.    
Mr. McBride stated that in the past three years they have used the raised trailers that they store on the side or back of the building where they were not affecting the customer traffic flow.  That made it easier for them to access instead of having to go out to the outer parking lot.  Again, it is from October 1 to December 31 when their inventory goes from $7M up to $17M in inventory and the store does not have the room to accommodate that amount of merchandise.  Also, they do a lay-away program that takes up several trailers as well.  There is no place else besides on site to keep those because they would have to keep customers waiting two to three hours to go to an off-site location.
Vice Chair Tull asked that when their 90 or 120 day season rush is over where do these storage units go?  Mr. McBride replied that they return them to a company that they rent them from.  They typically have all the containers emptied by December 15th.  There have been opportunities where there is one or two remaining after December 31st simply because that company does not have enough drivers.  
The public hearing was closed.
Motion: Based on the materials presented in the Staff Report dated April, 14, 2014; testimony provided at the April 24, 2014 Planning Commission hearing; and discussion of the Planning Commission, adopt the findings and conclusions that all of the approval criteria are either met or are not applicable and forward a favorable recommendation for adoption to the City Council per the Staff Report dated April 14, 2014, including Exhibits A through C.
Moved by: Commissioner McFadden      Seconded by: Commissioner Tull
Commissioner McFadden spoke to his motion stating that sometimes there is a Code that has long lasting effects on things.  This amendment could have long lasting effects but by its temporary nature it will not.  The City can see how this works and if changes need to be made to an amendment like this that can be done.  He encourages people in the business who utilizes these facilities to talk to the City Council since this will go before them for final adoption.  They may have other concerns that the Planning Commission does not see.           
Vice Chair Tull asked Commissioner Christie if this approach makes sense to him?  Commissioner Christie replied that the problem that he has with this is that he agrees with everything except for the part about screening them with solid wood, brick or masonry block.  To him that creates a permanent structure.  How do you take it down?  What do you do with it when the trailers are gone?  There is a wall there, what do you do with it?  He would not use the structures if he had to do this.    
Vice Chair asked Commissioner Christie what is a better approach?  Commissioner Christie stated that the trailers do not have any kind of signage on them and most of them go away.  He has some that are permanent and they do not screen them and they are going to have to with this amendment.  This amendment creates a problem for smaller retailers like him to be able to bring these boxes in like they do and be able to adhere to this Code.    
Commissioner McFadden asked Commissioner Christie whether he thought an option would be to just make sure the coloration of the units was compatible with the surrounding environment?  Commissioner Christie replied that most of them are.  
Vice Chair Tull asked Commissioner Christie typically how long are the units on his store sites?  Commissioner Christie replied that they get several full boxes starting in October and they do not get them pulled out until about the end of November or December.  Like Mr. McBride stated earlier, trying to get them to come pick these units up is really tough.    
Chair Zarosinski asked staff the dimensions of the units.  Mr. Slaughter replied that the non-wheeled standard shipping container is forty feet long by eight feet wide by eight and a half feet tall.  A trailer is going to be close to the same size.  Chair Zarosinski stated that he was trying to picture how 12,400 square feet of storage unscreened looks on a parking lot.  Some cases it would look huge and other cases it would not be very big.  Commissioner Christie replied that if you took into consideration that Sherm’s Thunderbird store probably has fifteen or twenty trailers and some are there all the time.  That is not good to him.  How do you take care of that?  That can be considered storage.  They are normally empty but they are there and they have signage on them and are in the public view.  Chair Zarosinski replied that now he is back to where screening is a good idea.  Commissioner Christie asked how do you screen them if you want to pull them out?  How do you screen the Goodwill trailers that are out there?               
Vice Chair Tull stated that it seems to him when the Planning Commission had a study session discussion, one of the things they spent some time on is how do you differentiate between the equipment that is basically delivering and taking away merchandise and on the other hand, the equipment that is being used for storage and in order to keep merchandise safe and secure.  He is not sure if they ever really worked that through very well in their study session.  He thinks the issue is still there.  It is not that any of these uses are not appropriate it is how do they craft an ordinance that applies broadly enough to cover all the bases the Commission has concerns about? 
Commissioner Shoemaker asked if it would be appropriate to differentiate between a wheeled cargo container versus one that is more stationary?  When one drives by Sherm’s, the Grange, Wal-Mart and sees a detached tractor trailer one does not look at it and say they are using that for storage.  It is his opinion that one would assume that it is used for a normal part of commerce.  Would the public perception be different based on the perceived use of what is there?       
Chair Zarosinski asked what is the definition of portable storage units in the proposed Code amendment?   Mr. Slaughter read that portable storage containers is a portable, weather-resistant receptacle designed for storage or shipment, and utilized or intended to be utilized for the storage of household goods, wares, building materials, merchandise, and similar items.  “Portable Storage Containers” shall include all shipping containers, cargo containers, tractor trailers (with or without wheels), and other like items not intended to be placed on a permanent foundation.
Commissioner Shoemaker asked that in Commissioner Christie’s mind from retail point of view is there a difference between wheeled storage containers versus a non-wheeled storage container?  Commissioner Christie replied no because they use both of them.  They use sea trains and trailers.     
Mr. Slaughter pointed out several exceptions that are built into the Code differentiating between permanent storage and commerce.   These regulations do not apply to: 1) Truck trailers parked on a street for 24 hours or less; 2) Portable storage containers that will remain on a property for no more than five days; 3) Portable storage containers that have been approved as a permanent portion of an approved site plan; and 4) Portable storage containers as a primary use in the Standard Industrial Classification groupings.  
Commissioner McFadden withdrew his motion and requested to have further discussion in a study session before sending it to City Council.  Vice Chair Tull withdrew his second to the motion.   
Motion:  Not to forward this item to the City Council and request staff to bring this back before the Planning Commission in a study session for further discussion and deliberation within the next two months. 
Moved by: Commissioner McFadden      Seconded by: Commissioner Fincher
Roll Call Vote: Motion passed, 7-0.
50.3     DCA-14-011 Consideration of an ordinance amending Medford Municipal Code, Chapter 10 (Land Development Code) Sections 10.1010 and 10.1022 regarding Temporary Signs including patriotic or religious decorations or displays, real estate signs and political campaign signs to permit them in residential, commercial and industrial zones without a sign permit and to establish clear, objective and content neutral standards for such signs (City of Medford, Applicant).
Praline McCormack, Planner II, presented the background, process to date, approval criteria, conclusions and recommendation. 
The public hearing was opened and there being no testimony, the public hearing was closed.
Motion: Based on the findings and conclusions that all of the approval criteria are either met or are not applicable, initiate this amendment and forward a favorable recommendation for adoption to the City Council per the Staff Report dated April 15, 2014, including Exhibits A and B.
Moved by: Commissioner McFadden      Seconded by: Commissioner Christie
Commissioner Mansfield stated that he considers all political signs to be in poor taste including those for the candidates that he approves of.  Free speech trumps taste.  Commissioner Mansfield commended staff for removing the three sign limit from the proposal. 
Roll Call Vote: Motion passed, 7-0.
60.       Report of the Site Plan and Architectural Commission.  None.
70.       Report of the Joint Transportation Subcommittee.
70.1     Commissioner Christie reported that the Joint Transportation Subcommittee has not met.
80.       Report of the Planning Department.  
80.1     Suzanne Myers, Principal Planner, reported that the Planning Commission study session for Monday, April 28, 2014, has been canceled. 
There will be a Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, May 8, 2014.  Currently there is only one business item on the agenda.  For the Thursday, May 22, 2014, Planning Commission meeting there are seven business items.
At the May 1, 2014, City Council meeting the Planning Department will submit a proclamation for National Historic Preservation month.  The Chair of the Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission will present a report.  On May 15 2014, the Planning Department has City Council hearings for three Code amendments.  Two of them the Planning Commission heard tonight.
Interesting new projects coming up include a proposal for a 120 room hotel on Hospitality Way that will be heard by the Site Plan and Architectural Commission in June.  Also, there is a pre-application for a ninety bed Alzheimer’s Care Facility on Table Rock Road.            
90.       Messages and Papers from Chair of Planning Commission.  None.
100.     Remarks from the City Attorney.
100.1   Ms. Cooper reported that she went to LUBA last Thursday for oral argument on the Spring Meadows case.  It went pretty well.  The LUBA judges seemed skeptical of the Spring Meadows argument that they should not have to put the road in that they stipulated to put in six years ago.  It was not real complicated because the applicant was arguing four different takes on the takings issue.  It is her opinion that it did not get any traction with LUBA.  The decision is slated by statute to come out by May 19, 2014.  The judge asked if the Legal Department would be okay with another week if they needed and the Legal Department had no issue with that.       
110.     Propositions and Remarks from the Commission.  None.   
120.     Adjournment. 
            The meeting was adjourned at 6:47 p.m. The proceedings of this meeting were digitally recorded and are filed in the City Recorder's office.       
Submitted by: 
Terri L. Rozzana
Recording Secretary
Michael Zarosinski
Planning Commission Chair
Approved:  May 8, 2014        

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