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Planning Commission Minutes
Thursday, July 10, 2014
The regular meeting of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at 5:36 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Robert Tull, Vice Chair
Michael Zarosinski, Excused Absence
Norman Fincher, Excused Absence
Patrick Miranda, Excused Absence
Jim Huber, Planning Director
John Adam, Senior Planner
Lori Cooper, Deputy City Attorney
Alex Georgevitch, Transportation Manager
Dennis Hart, Design & Construction Manager
Craig Howe, Engineer Technician III
Terri Rozzana, Recording Secretary
Joe Slaughter, Planner IV
Aimee Staton, Planning Intern
10. Roll Call
20. Consent Calendar/Written Communications. None.
30.1 The minutes for June 12, 2014, were approved as submitted.
40. Oral and Written Requests and Communications. None.
Lori Cooper, Deputy City Attorney, read the Quasi-Judicial Statement.
50. Public Hearing.
50.1 TF-14-050 Consideration of plans to build street improvements on Lozier Lane, between West Main Street and Stewart Avenue, and Prune Street, from Lozier Lane to Vick Lane. Construction of Lozier Lane will be to Major Collector street standards with the following two modifications: (1) there will be no planter strip (the standards require a 10 foot planter strip); and (2) the sidewalk width will be increased to 6’ (the standards require a 5’ sidewalk). Construction of Prune Street will be to Standard Residential street standards with the following exception: the planter strip will be reduced to 6’ (the standards require an 8’ planter strip). (City of Medford, Public Works Department, Applicant).
Vice Chair Tull inquired whether any Commissioners have a conflict of interest or ex parte communication they would like to disclose. None were declared.
Vice Chair Tull inquired whether anyone in attendance wishes to question the Commission as to conflicts of interest or ex-parte contacts. None were disclosed.
Joe Slaughter, Planner IV, presented the existing conditions, the proposed improvements, requested exceptions, read the transportation facility criteria and gave a staff report.
Commissioner McFadden asked would the look of East Prune Street be what one would see after this project is complete? Mr. Slaughter replied that the video that Public Works will be showing shows both the existing conditions and then an overlay of the proposed development. The major difference between the existing street section and what is proposed is that there will be planter strips on the portion of Prune Street that is yet to be developed.
Commissioner McFadden asked if the proposed Lozier Lane street section would be the same as what is seen now on North Ross Lane or will it be narrower? Mr. Slaughter deferred Commissioner McFadden’s question to the Public Works Department.
Commissioner McFadden clarified to the audience that this project will be forwarded to the City Council with the same presentation for them to make the final decision. Mr. Slaughter reiterated that the Planning Commission will make a recommendation that will be forwarded to the City Council. The City Council will have their public hearing with staff’s presentation and the public will have an opportunity to give testimony at that hearing before City Council makes a final decision based on the Planning Commission’s recommendation and public testimony.
Alex Georgevitch, City of Medford Transportation Manager, addressed Commissioner McFadden’s question as to how this project would relate to the existing Ross Lane to the north that was built by the County. It will be an identical cross-section from curb to curb. It will have the same center turn lane, the same travel lane and the same bike lanes in width. The slight difference is that the County put in 5 foot sidewalks and Public Works is proposing 6 foot sidewalks. There are some locations of undeveloped land that Public Works is proposing to put 5 foot sidewalk and a 10 foot planter strip that will meet City standards. Both sections meet the Code and the Transportation System Plan requirements for a major collector.
Commissioner McFadden asked what is the reason Public Works is varying the width of the sidewalk? Mr. Georgevitch replied that Public Works is proposing a 6-foot wide sidewalk in order to meet federal funding. They are also proposing an extra foot and a half behind the sidewalk to the property line to allow for utilities. He mentions this because it will allow Public Works to have a free-flowing sidewalk the entire length without having power poles in the middle of the sidewalk. There are some locations where there is no development and Public Works can take a 6-foot sidewalk, move it back 10 feet from the curb and then their standard is only a 5 foot sidewalk. That is why the 5-foot-to-6-foot variation occurs. The standard is for a 5-foot sidewalk 10 feet back, but they do not have the ability to build that without buying all the houses through this corridor, so they are recommending that the sidewalk be placed adjacent to the curb.
Commissioner McFadden asked if the current speed limit through that corridor was 35 or 45 miles per hour? Mr. Georgevitch replied he believes it is 30 miles per hour. Commissioner McFadden asked if it was projected to stay at that level with the proposed improvements? Mr. Georgevitch reported that Public Works is not making any recommendations to change the speed. Speed is controlled through the State speed control board through the Oregon Department of Transportation on all higher order streets. Public Works has the ability to determine certain areas in town for speed but for the majority of it is handled through the Oregon Department of Transportation. Unless someone from the community recommends a different speed there would be no change in the speed.
Commissioner McFadden asked if the changes in the sidewalk and the planter strips are to buffer the pedestrians using the sidewalks from the traffic in the street? Mr. Georgevitch stated that the planter strips have multiple purposes. They will separate the pedestrians from the motoring public. Having a bike lane adjacent to travel lanes also provide some buffer.
Mr. Georgevitch praised the Planning Department’s presentation; it covered the majority of the issues along this facility. He drew attention to Prune Street’s role in this project. The County and City have received a federal grant through the Metropolitan Planning Organization as well as from the Oregon Department of Transportation to build this facility. With the federal dollars, following federal guidelines, the money can only be spent on higher-order roads. Normally, Prune Street would not qualify, but it serves several different purposes on this project. Lozier Lane is 4,100 feet long; improving Prune Street lets Public Works split the project area into north and south segments, thereby avoiding some of the traffic issues that came up during the Ross Lane project. Secondarily, Prune will relay stormwater eastward from the south with new 36-inch pipes. Project design is at 30 percent currently—sufficient for the Commission to assess and recommend and the Council to decide. Public Works is confident they will be doing a lot of improvements on Prune Street one way or another on the section that is west of the barricade. This is an important factor in both the Planning Commission’s recommendation and how Public Works stages the project. Georgevitch presented a “fly through” simulation of the existing and proposed street improvements.
Commissioner McFadden asked how any trees need to be removed? Mr. Georgevitch replied that there are approximately 77 trees planned to be removed.
Vice Chair Tull asked what purpose does the center lane serve in the stretches where there is no intersection? Mr. Georgevitch replied that there are a significant number of driveways along this corridor. On average there are two driveways per lot. The purpose is to allow residents to get out of the way and keep traffic moving on a street that will eventually carry 10,000 vehicles a day. Public Works will make recommendations of a reduction of driveways.
Vice Chair Tull asked if the trees were going to be removed from the right-of-way or from private property? Mr. Georgevitch replied that Public Works is looking at buying 10 feet on each side. Through that negotiation any trees that were part of private property originally would be part of the negotiation to purchase the property as well as fences or any type of other improvements that may be out there. In addition, if a tree is close to the right-of-way they may not be able to save the tree due to construction near or under drip lines.
Commissioner Mansfield stated that Mr. Georgevitch touched briefly on how this project is going to be paid for from federal funds. Is that 100%? Vice Chair Tull stated that was outside their jurisdiction. Commissioner Mansfield replied that he would go to the Public Works Department in person to ask his questions.
Vice Chair Tull asked Mr. Georgevitch if he could speak to the timeline on this project. Mr. Georgevitch stated that assuming this project moves forward to City Council and they give Public Works an approval to move forward at their August public hearing, Public Works would start on design and eventually right-of-way acquisitions and several other components of environmental work. That will take them through to Spring of 2016 when one would see construction starting on the project. Residents may be contacted as early as the end of this year regarding right-of-way impact and things like that. There are 74 locations where Public Works will be purchasing right-of-way.
The public hearing was opened and the following testimony was given.
a. Marjorie Murch, 825 Lozier Lane, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Ms. Murch read her testimony that is on file in the Planning Department. Ms. Murch has no issue with the widening as he believes it is warranted. Her concern is the extent of the project.
Vice Chair Tull asked Ms. Murch since she has been at her residence since 1991 has there been significant development and change in the neighborhood while she has been there? Ms. Murch replied no, only on the other side of Stewart. Vice Chair Tull asked Ms. Murch if she saw herself being there for an extended time. Ms. Murch replied that she was not planning on going anywhere. Vice Chair Tull asked Ms. Murch if she had any expectations for her neighborhood ten to twenty years from now. Ms. Murch replied that she can see that eventually twenty years from now as the older residents perhaps move to other places where perhaps flag lots will be sent in like off Jeannette Avenue. Vice Chair Tull stated that his questions reflect the fact that the City is always trying to plan ten to twenty years ahead and prepare and infrastructure that will support the kind of development that is logical in an area like Ms. Murch’s.
b. Shawn Gillispie, 455 Lozier Lane, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Mr. Gillispie stated that he is okay with the project. He hopes that the Public Works Department will be lenient in their widths. In respect to Lozier Lane there has never been parking on that street so eliminating the U-shaped driveways will cause the resident to have to back out of their driveway. He has a concern with the traffic on Prune Street. It is irresponsible to not improve Prune Street all the way from Columbus to Lozier Lane if the Public Works Department is going to make the statement “it is needed”.
Vice Chair Tull asked Mr. Gillispie what would he recommend the Planning Commission tell the City Council? He sees that the City will need to improve Prune Street. Vice Chair Tull stated that the Planning Commission is taking testimony that is going to help them deliberate on the recommendation that they are asked to make to the City Council. They want to listen to those who know the situation well. Mr. Gillispie does. What is his best judgment as to what the Planning Commission ought to tell the City Council? Mr. Gillispie replied to make sure it is built to the standard that can accommodate twenty years down the road.
c. Leonie Netherland, 2230 W. Prune Street, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Ms. Netherland reported that she is the person responsible for getting the barricade installed on Prune Street. Since it has been installed it has slowed the traffic immensely. She does not want this project to go through because she has a tree that has been grandfathered in and she does not want to see that tree eliminated. It provides shade for her. The project on West Prune in front of her house will be much narrower and for her to back out of her driveway will not work for her because she goes in and out a lot. The work will create more problems for her.
Vice Chair Tull stated that the Planning Commission’s concern specifically is the City is proposing to improve Prune Street and substantially improve Lozier Lane taking a long-term view on the infrastructure that supports that neighborhood and its future.
What would Ms. Netherland advise the Planning Commission to recommend to the City Council? Ms. Netherland replied to leave them alone. Vice Chair Tull asked if they could do that for ten to twenty years? Ms. Netherland replied yes. They would be happy with that.
d. Mary Partsafas, 914 Lozier Lane, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Ms. Partsafas read her testimony that is on file in the Planning Department. Ms. Partsafas asked if anyone had contacted the irrigation district. They have not heard if they had or not.
e. Daryl Barre, 2262 W. Prune Street, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Mr. Barre has lived on Prune Street for the last forty years. If the City does the projected improvements does that make their County designation become City property? Vice Chair Tull replied no. Mr. Barre asked if he was sure because with the graphics he has seen he is not sure.
Vice Chair Tull stated improving the streets is not the thing that will determine when and if it becomes part of the City.
Mr. Barre asked a number of questions about cost and whether Prune Street was included in that.
f. Kirk Dietz, 819 Lozier Lane, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Mr. Dietz asked if there was any federal mandates on what the width of sidewalks and the roads have to be? Vice Chair Tull stated that his understanding is that when there is federal investment in streets like this there are standards that have to be met. Mr. Dietz stated that this is their property the City is taking. Vice Chair Tull reported that the City will need to buy some property from the property owners in order to widen the street. Mr. Dietz had concerns with the widening of Lozier Lane. His recommendation is widen Lozier Lane to two lanes but not the third lane. There is absolutely no need for that. One sidewalk and one bike path would be good, not two. Crime rate is going up.
g. Donald Kelly, 2240 S. Stage Road, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Mr. Kelly has rental property at 2235 W. Prune Street. Mr. Kelly agreed that a center turn lane is not needed. Keep the sidewalks at a minimum without a planter strip. He would like to see on West Prune Street no planter strip and no increasing the street width. East of the barricade there is no planter strip, there is just a sidewalk. He suggested that if the project is approved to install a stop sign where the barricade is to slow traffic. He is also in favor of Prune Street improvements close to Columbus as well.
h. Dan Severson, 1226 Foots Creek Road, Gold Hill, Oregon, 97525. Mr. Severson stated that he had property on Sunset Court which is the dirt road with all the potholes. If this project goes through he would like to recommend that Sunset Court be improved to the County standards. Vice Chair Tull commented that they are trying to move past the County standards and improve streets that were developed within the County and do not meet Medford standards.
Vice Chair Tull stated that the expectation is that as that neighborhood generally develops and improves, streets get repaired and redone as property develops on them. Some of those areas are still not very far from the rural background. Mr. Severson stated that he is thinking of the future twenty years down the road that is within the urban growth boundary if the project goes through working in that area that it could be improved. Vice Chair Tull commented that is a reasonable expectation.
Vice Chair Tull reported that it was stated earlier that this will go before the City Council with the Planning Commission’s recommendation, for or against, and there will be a public hearing that is scheduled in August. This is another opportunity for the audience and/or neighbors to voice their opinions on this project that affects them.
i. Cindy Dietz, 819 Lozier Lane, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Ms. Dietz stated that they have a huge hedge that helps provide a sound barrier and protection from the road. Unfortunately that will go away if this project is approved. Tonight is the first time she has heard of the planter strips. It is a country road. They do not need planters. They can make their own landscapes.
Vice Chair Tull stated that over the last ten to twenty years as Medford has improved its design standards for residential neighborhoods one of the important things has been the development of planter strips along the residential streets particularly. Partly it is a landscaping thing and partly it is a safety thing rather than have sidewalks up against the curb particularly if there are not bike lanes to provide some buffer. The City design standards that include planter strips whenever possible have been carefully thought through over a couple of decades. Sometimes it does not work.
j. Connie Day, 903 Lozier Lane, Medford, Oregon, 97501. Ms. Day and her husband purchased their home on Lozier Lane because it was in the County and that is where they wanted to live. They do not need all this widening. All they need is two bike lanes for pedestrians, bicyclists and people in their motorized wheel chairs. The City has not considered their irrigation rights. What are we going to do with those? Vice Chair Tull stated that it is his understanding that those will not be affected by what is being purposed. Does Ms. Day have better information than that? Ms. Day asked if the City was going to cover the ditches? Vice Chair Tull replied that he did not know. But the City has had many neighborhoods where they had to rethink and redo the irrigation systems and the water rights in order to make infrastructure improvements. That seems to work. It is one of the factors that get taken into consideration when neighborhood improvements are proposed. He does not expect their irrigation system is going to be disadvantaged by improving the infrastructure in her neighborhood. Ms. Day asked the Planning Commission to tell the City Council not to go to such extremes they would appreciate it.
There being no further testimony, Mr. Georgevitch was called to rebut.
Mr. Georgevitch addressed some of the testifiers’ concerns specifically regarding the irrigation ditches. There is comment in the staff report from the irrigation district. They are planning on meeting with City staff. City staff has budgeted for the entire length of irrigation to remain if necessary. There will be no change in irrigation rights but the City will be relocating and installing pipes underground.
There were a lot of concerns regarding speeding. These facilities are urban facilities that have speed limits and 85% of the people follow those speed limits. The Engineering Department works with enforcement as much as they can in education to help solve community issues. There is a lot the can due to minimize impacts to this community. The project will enhance the community providing bike lanes and sidewalks.
Regarding funding, the $9 million cost is projected for the project year. They hope it will be less than $9 million. These projects have a lot of components especially with right-of-way impacts.
In regards to construction impact on trees, the City has an arborist that helps guide Public Works; if need be they can also have an arborist on site if City staff is not available to determine when Public Works will impact trees with the construction of this project.
There was a question about if Public Works does this project on Prune Street does it make County property become City property? Mr. Georgevitch pointed out that the City would annex the right-of-way to take over jurisdiction of the roadway.
There were several comments about no center turn lane, and bike lanes and sidewalks in one direction. That is not the type of facility that Public Works can support through the Code or support through engineering. Providing a bike lane on only one side of the roadway can be a very dangerous option. Public Works would be supportive and requests that the Planning Commission request a favorable recommendation for what Public Works has proposed with bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides. Under federal standards Public Works is required to maintain a 4-foot sidewalk for Americans with Disabilities and two feet for mailboxes. That is the reason they went the 6-foot sidewalks as opposed to the normal City standard of 5 feet. If the Planning Commission does not see fit for the planter strips at this time that is a recommendation they can make. Public Works is only considering the planter strips on the larger sections of land that are highly probable to redevelop.
Regarding the comment about hedges in front of the house at 819 Lozier Lane, Public Works has made adjustments to the alignment to minimize impacts. They cannot guarantee they will not do that until construction or at least until they get further along in design. They have moved the road to the west to minimize impacts to their hedges.
Commissioner Christie asked if it would be possible to put raised medians in parts of the center turn lane? Since they are talking about speeding through that area it has been his experience that medians calm traffic considerably. Mr. Georgevitch replied that he agrees with the statement and that it could help with the speeding issue. At the same time Public Works is trying to find a balance. The Commission has heard a lot from the community tonight that there are a lot of driveway issues. He is not sure where they could fit the raised medians but if this is something the Planning Commission feels strongly about then he recommends that they make those recommendations to the City Council.
Vice Chair Tull stated that people raised questions several times about their driveways and turnarounds. Is there any policy that Public Works works with that affects that issue? Mr. Georgevitch replied that there is City Code that they try to follow when making improvements. The City Code also allows for Public Works to consider existing facilities in making improvements. Right now they have a facility that has a significant number of driveways, on average over one driveway per parcel. Public Works is trying to minimize the number of locations of driveways to make it as safe as possible. They recognize there is also concern as they widen the road that there needs to be adequate space to be able to maneuver on-site and get turned around to get onto this facility facing forward, not backing out into traffic. Public Works will work with each property owner to make sure there is an on-site turnaround or else Public Works will be supportive of two driveways.
Commissioner McFadden asked that if people along Lozier Lane have concerns for a recreational vehicle or trailer backing up Public Works would encourage those people to come see Mr. Georgevitch and the project designers to see if it could be included in the plan since it is only 30% designed at this time? Mr. Georgevitch stated that they always encourage people to talk to them about their concerns. They are trying to make improvements for the community and any changes are difficult to deal with. Public Works is trying to balance the needs of the community, the needs of the traveling public and the needs of the individual homeowner. He wants to make sure that each homeowner knows that Public Works is willing to work with them but because he says that does not necessarily mean that by working with them they will get everything they want. Public Works is going to go through an extensive process through design of having a right-of-way designer talking to each individual property owner several times throughout the design process through construction.
Mr. Slaughter clarified that this project does not include any annexation of any properties adjacent to the right-of-way. Any application for annexation would have to be brought before the Planning Commission and City Council. The planters on Lozier Lane will only occur in front of large undeveloped lots. It is important to do that now so when those properties are developed the Code requires that the right-of-way adjacent to those properties would be developed to full City standards.
The public hearing was closed.
Motion: The Planning Commission finds that the approval criteria are either met or are not applicable and forwards a favorable recommendation to the City Council for TF-14-050, per the Staff Report dated July 2, 2014, including Exhibits A through I. The Planning Commission also recommends to the City Council to try and maintain existing circular driveways on properties, installing 6 foot sidewalks, minimization of planter strips and possibly the substitution of side parking areas or turnouts, and including the use of raised landscape medians where possible to soften the streetscape, provide shade and cooling, and help with speed control.
Moved by: Commissioner McFadden Seconded by: Commissioner Christie
Commissioner Schwimmer made a friendly amendment: The Planning Commission recommends to City Council to encourage the City to wherever they can to make necessary road alignment adjustments to accommodate the people’s concerns regarding trees and the preservation wherever possible. To preserve existing trees and natural habitat of existing homes.
Roll Call Vote: Motion passed, 5-0-1, with Commissioner Mansfield abstaining.
Commissioner Mansfield spoke to his abstention. He may be in favor of the motion in due time but he does not know enough about it yet. He needs to go out and look at the project site and needs to look at the finances.
60. Report of the Site Plan and Architectural Commission. None.
70. Report of the Joint Transportation Subcommittee. None.
70.1 Commissioner Christie reported that the Joint Transportation Subcommittee has not met and the July 23, 2014, meeting has been canceled.
80. Report of the Planning Department.
80.1 Jim Huber, Planning Director, reported that Suzanne Myers wanted to thank the Planning Commission for the resolution that they passed. It was framed and sent to her.
Mr. Huber introduces Aimee Staton. She is a new intern that will be working with the Planning Department this summer. She is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon. She will be helping staff work on projects that the Planning Department was involved in with the University of Oregon in the City’s Sustainable Years program and other duties as assigned.
Marilyn Primm from the Planning Department is retiring. Staff has hired a young gentleman, Tracy Carter, who is currently working in the Building Department. He will begin with the Planning Department on July 16, 2014. Staff also hired a planner, Aaron Harris who begins August 1, 2014.
The Planning Commission has a study session scheduled for Monday, July 14, 2014. Discussion will be on bee hive keeping in residential areas. Currently they are not permitted.
There is business scheduled for the Planning Commission meetings on Thursday, July 24, 2014 and Thursday, August 14, 2014.
City Council on July 3, 3014 heard the street vacation on West McAndrews and North Ross Lane. There is no Planning business for City Council’s meeting on Thursday, July 17, 2014.
90. Messages and Papers from Chair of Planning Commission. None.
100. Remarks from the City Attorney. None.
110. Propositions and Remarks from the Commission. None.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:35 p.m. The proceedings of this meeting were digitally recorded and are filed in the City Recorder's office.
Terri L. Rozzana
Planning Commission Vice Chair
Approved: July 24, 2014