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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Minutes

Monday, January 12, 2015

The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at 12:00 p.m. in Room 151 of the Lausmann Annex on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Commissioners:                  Robert Tull, Alec Schwimmer, Bill Christie, David McFadden, Bill Mansfield, Norman Fincher and Patrick Miranda (arrived at 12:10 p.m.).
Staff:  Jim Huber, Bianca Petrou, Kelly Akin, John Adam, Aaron Harris and Kevin McConnell.
Subject:                 DCA-14-133 Process for plan authorization amendments.
Jim Huber, Planning Director, reported that today’s study session would be on a proposed text amendment for minor revisions to plans that have already been approved. 
Aaron Harris, Planner II, stated that he will be presenting the Medford Land Development Code amendment proposal to allow the process for plan authorization amendments for Site Plan and Architectural review and conditional use permit.  Currently, the Code allows revisions for Site Plan and Architectural review (SPAR) but there is no criteria provided to identify when a revision shall be deemed a minor and major revision.  The Code currently does not allow for Conditional Use Permit (CUP) revisions and applicants must restart the land use application process from the beginning.  The process is inefficient and time consuming for staff and applicants. 
The proposed amendment would adopt criteria to identify circumstances in which permit revisions shall be allowed.  The public benefit is that it simplifies the land use process for applicants.  Minor modifications would be approved by the Planning Director and completed as a Class ‘E’ ministerial process.   
There are five criteria proposed for a minor modification to a SPAR and CUP: 1) No relocation of vehicle access points where the change may generate an impact that could adversely affect off-site or on-site traffic circulation or might adversely affect the community; 2) No reduction or elimination of any project amenities such as recreational facilities, significant natural resources, fencing, and other screening material; 3) Modifications to facilities and utilities conform to the adopted facility plans; 4) Modifications to any other components of the plan conform to standards of the Code; and 5) No modification to any condition of approval.  In addition to these five shared criteria there are three additional criteria for SPARs and three additional criteria for CUPs.  These criteria differ to the nature of each type of land use application.  The additional criteria for SPAR are: 1) Meets the exemption criteria of 10.031; 2) No increase in the number of dwelling units; and 3) The amount of open space or landscaping is decreased by no more than 10% of the previously approved area, provided the decrease does not drop below the minimum standards as required by the code.  The three additional criteria for CUP are: 1) Meets the requirements of the Code and other legal requirements; 2) Does not significantly affect other property or uses; will not cause any deterioration or loss of any natural feature, process or open space; nor significantly affect any public facility; and 3) The amount of open space and landscaping is not decreased.  
Commissioner Fincher asked what would be an example of a minor SPAR revision.  Mr. Harris reported an example of a minor revision would be such as the amount of open space an applicant wants to reduce or move the screening for disposal to another area on the site.  
Vice Chair Tull asked how does this differ from the deminimus things that the Planning Director can already approve?  Mr. Huber reported that is limited to Planned Unit Developments only. 
Vice Chair Tull asked who is going to determine that it may generate an impact that could adversely affect off-site and on-site traffic.  Does that become the discretion of the Director?  Mr. Huber stated that he would refer back to the original approval to see if the change was significant.  
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney, stated that he discussed this language with Ms. Akin.  The legal department thinks there are too many “may”, “could”, and “might”.  There is too much discretion to one person.  Section D needs to be reworked.  He also sees an issue with 1 (b) under conditional use permits.  There needs to be a firm understanding.       
This will be presented to the Planning Commission at their public hearing on Thursday, February 12, 2015. 
Commissioner Mansfield expressed his regret that Vice Chair Tull is not going to be on the Planning Commission any longer.  He has relied on Vice Chair Tull a great deal for his expertise, knowledge and judgment. 
Vice Chair Tull thanked Commissioner Mansfield but said enough is enough. He is in his 19th year and there are others that can slip into his spot and do it very well for the next 19 years. 
Vice Chair Tull stated that one of the things the Planning Commission has accomplished over the years that he has been on the Planning Commission is that they have changed the nature of the relationship between the Planning Commission and staff.  When he first came on the Commission the Commission generally was distrustful of initiatives coming from staff.  There were some unpleasant confrontations at Commission meetings.  Commissioners challenged staff as to why a project had been done a certain way and who said to do it that way.  There were times when he wished they had not been in public session.  There was fine staff at that time.  Generally speaking, this City has equipped itself with very professional planners and has done a good job bringing people into the department and training them to increase responsibility.  Mr. Huber is responsible for what they have seen in the last couple of years.  The other thing that has changed is that there is a far better trustful relationship between the Planning Commission and the City Council.  It is his opinion, that the City Council highly regards the judgment that comes from the Planning Commission regarding land use issues.  
Commissioner McFadden reminded the Planning Commission to RSVP, if they have not already done so, for the Boards and Commission luncheon on Friday, January 23, 2015. 
Mr. Huber commented that if there are things that annoy the Planning Commission or see areas they would like to change or room for improvement, please let staff know.  
Commissioner Miranda stated that he finds the staff reports very thorough and detailed. 
John Adam, Senior Planner, noted that at today’s meeting Commissioner Miranda joined at 12:10 p.m.
Mr. Huber thanked and complimented the Planning Commission for their volunteer work that they do. 
Vice Chair Tull stated that the Planning Commission is one of the key focal points of citizen input into the operation of the City’s government.  Those who come give testimony before the Planning Commission need to be commended for coming forth and they need to be listened to.  They come because they have a concern that they feel needs to be added to the process that the Planning Commission is working on.  There are neighbor citizens who want to talk to the Planning Commission about things that as neighbors, are focusing on because, the City has asked the Planning Commission to do.  That is a good relationship that gets reflected in the Planning Commission meetings.  People are treated with respect and thanked for their contribution.  The Planning Commission is a focal point of citizen input. It needs to be an open and welcoming process.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:31 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana, Recording Secretary


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