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Planning Commission Study Session Minutes
Monday, December 08, 2014
The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at 12:03 p.m. in Room 151 of the Lausmann Annex on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Commissioners: Michael Zarosinski, Patrick Miranda, David McFadden, Bill Christie, Robert Tull, and Bill Mansfield.
Staff: Jim Huber, Bianca Petrou, Terri Rozzana, Lori Cooper, Carla Paladino and John Adam.
Subject: 1. Year-end Citizen Involvement Report.
Carla Paladino, Planner III, presented the Citizen Involvement Program Year-End Report. Ms. Paladino reported that the Statewide Planning Goal 1 states “To develop a citizen involvement program that insures the opportunity for all citizens to be involved in all phases of the planning process.” Earlier this year staff updated the Citizen Involvement Element that was adopted by City Council and incorporated into the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission is charged with evaluating the program annually offering new strategies, provide time for citizens to speak on this topic at Planning Commission meetings and discuss ways to increase citizen participation. A report is completed annually that outlines the citizen involvement program and the accomplishments made over the year. The completed report is presented to the City Council and made available to the public.
Ms. Paladino reviewed the 2013 and 2014 accomplishments and recommendations for improvement for 2015. Ms. Paladino suggested including the results from citizen involvement at this year’s Farmers’ Market, set aside at least two meetings per year with the Planning Commission to discuss citizen involvement and the University of Oregon Sustainable Cities program and their projects.
Commissioner McFadden suggested listing the other committee and commissions that are a part of citizen involvement in the paragraph (1) Citizen Involvement. On the following page, delete the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee and on the first page under History, minimize the discussion of the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee because it no longer exists. He agrees that it should be acknowledged that it did exist at one time.
Chair Zarosinski asked if it was possible to have a meeting or study session to give people the same opportunity that the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee was based on. He realizes that every Planning Commission meeting has that listed under Oral and Written Requests and Communications but very few people use it.
Commissioner McFadden stated that the Oral and Written Requests and Communications are the same format that City Council has on their agenda. Chair Zarosinski stated that he knows that people use that opportunity at City Council meetings.
Commissioner McFadden stated that at meetings it is hard to discuss the concerns of citizens with issues that are not on the agenda.
Chair Zarosinski reported that he takes the word “testimony” very seriously. The Planning Commission listens to the citizen’s concerns but not vent out the problem. He does not give the citizens an opportunity to go back and forth with the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Miranda asked if Oral and Written Requests and Communications are a template designation? Communication indicates dialogue. It indicates two way communications.
Chair Zarosinski commented that the communication is who of staff the concern would need to be referred to.
Jim Huber, Planning Director reported that staff could arrange, if the Planning Commission is interested, when staff knows there will not be much on the public hearings agenda, inviting people to a meeting.
Commissioner Mansfield stated that he is concerned with advancing planning concepts. He believes it is part of the Planning Commission’s job to advance the planning concepts and to educate the public. The majority of the people the Planning Commission sees at their meetings are people concerned about low income housing next to them or in their area. They are not interested in concepts. He recommended that staff go to the high schools and Rogue Community College and introduce the students to planning concepts. Perhaps speaking on public radio.
Ms. Paladino commented that some of those suggestions do happen. It may not be publicized or staff may not share it enough. Last week, Chris Olivier, Planning Department GIS Coordinator, went to Abraham Elementary and spoke to the fourth grade class about maps and GIS.
Mr. Huber mentioned that staff, once a year, goes to the Grower’s Market for approximately four hours. People take the time to talk to the Planning staff. Mr. Huber has found them to be good discussions. He is hearing from the Planning Commission that there needs to be more outreach.
Vice Chair Tull commented that there is also what does the community understand about the way the City does planning. It is his opinion that people have no idea of how staff coordinates with the Planning Commission, who the people are and what their responsibilities are to the City Council. Vice Chair Tull suggested that when staff participates at the Grower’s Market that a Planning Commissioner be assigned, on a rotating basis, to be present to answer questions and provide transparency to the process that the Planning Commission is working with and is responsible for. People do not have a sense of how ideas originate and the process to completion.
Commissioner McFadden suggested incorporating at the beginning of a public hearing meeting a few minutes to talk about how the system works. Keep it short and sectionalized.
Vice Chair Tull suggested that periodically advertising a community meeting to be held with planning staff, Planning Commission, Fire, Engineering and City Council representatives to discuss East Medford. Have their ideas for what they see in the future for East Medford and what kind of problems it presents. Invite dialogue. Possibly three months later have a discussion on West Medford.
Commissioner McFadden commented to have the meetings at a place in the neighborhood of the discussion area.
Chair Zarosinski stated that the general consensus of the Planning Commission is to have some sort of an open dialogue meeting and more accessible education of the planning process. Chair Zarosinski suggested that a tab on our website “If you attend a public hearing meeting”. It tells what happens at a meeting and what one should do if testifying.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:50 p.m.
Terri L. Rozzana, Recording Secretary