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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Minutes

Monday, October 26, 2015

The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at noon in the Lausmann Annex Room 151-157 on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Commissioners Present
David McFadden, Chair
Patrick Miranda, Vice Chair
Tim D’Alessandro
David Culbertson
Norman Fincher
Joe Foley
Bill Mansfield
Mark McKechnie
Jared Pulver
Staff Present
Jim Huber, Planning Director
Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director
Kelly Akin, Principal Planner
John Adam, Senior Planner
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney
Praline McCormack, Planner II
1.            DCA-15-088 Article II Reorganization Amendment
Praline McCormack, Planner II, reported that frustrated by the disorganization in Article II, staff is proposing an amendment to reorganize it.  Ms. McCormack reviewed the summary of the proposed major changes to Article II. 
1.   Change the words “plan authorization” throughout the Code to either land use action or land use review depending on how the word is used.The reason for the change: “Plan authorization” does not mean anything to most people and it is not defined in the Code.
2.   Change the five procedural types that are currently classified as Class A through E to Type I, II, III, etc.  The reason for the change: It is standard practice to classify procedures as Types.
3.  Reduce the number of procedural types from five to four.  The procedural types are proposed to change as follows:
• Class A and Class B become Type IV applications.  These types of applications go before the Planning Commission for recommendation to the City Council.  City Council makes the final decision.  The decision can be appealed to LUBA. 
• Class C becomes Type III applications that decisions would be appealed to City Council. 
• Class D becomes Type II applications that are administrative decisions with notice.  The decision can be appealed to the Planning Commission.
• Class E becomes Type I applications that the decision is ministerial.  These applications are usually not appealable except for final Planned Unit Development plans. 
4.  Remove Section 10.146, the referral agency distribution table.  The reason for the change: This would add two and a half pages to Article II.  Also, if there are any changes to the table it requires a code amendment to update the table.  It would be easier to maintain and update the table if it is done administratively, when necessary, by staff. 
5. Under each application type there is a section that lists the application submittal requirement.  Staff is proposing to remove these from the code.  The reason for the change: Anytime there is a change to the number of copies required, or there is an additional submittal requirement to add, it requires a code amendment.  It would be easier to maintain and update the applications if it is done administratively, when necessary, by staff.
6.  Currently, land partitions are a Class C quasi-judicial procedure and the approving authority is the Planning Commission.  Staff proposed to change land partitions to a Type II, Planning Director decision, with notice to adjacent property owners.  The reason for the change: Land partitions are straight-forward and merely requires an analysis to ensure that the resultant lot(s) meet code requirements for the underlying zoning district.  By making these a Type II Planning Director decision, with notice, it removes an unnecessary local regulation and streamlines the partition process.
Commissioner Fincher asked if an application is denied, what is their course of action?  Ms. McCormack reported that it would get appealed to the Planning Commission.
Commissioner McKechnie asked if this is basically a lot split; one lot turned into two?  John Adam, Principal Planner stated up to three.  That is the definition in State law for a partition.  Four or more is a subdivision.
Commissioner McKechnie asked if it would still go through Land Development?  Kelly Akin, Principal Planner, reported that the process would be the same.  There would not be a public hearing.  There would still be the 21-day, 200 foot notice to surrounding property owners, unless there is an appeal.
Ms. McCormack reported that the notice would not be for a public hearing but for an application received and that there will be an upcoming decision.  After the decision is made there would be a notice of the decision. 
Commissioner Mansfield stated that he thinks they all agree that they want to make this as simple as possible.  Anytime there is an appeal from an administrator to the Planning Commission or from the Planning Commission to the City Council the scope of review needs to be carefully specified.  Business licenses are misnamed in the Code.  They are not licenses at all.  They are taxes.  They have no regulatory function.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that he likes leaving in the Code what is required for a specific application.  Leave out the certain number of copies.  Mr. Adam reported that staff continues to have that debate.  They may consolidate it into a table. 
Vice Chair Miranda stated that when reviewing the description of the Planning Commission on the website it quotes Section 10.111 and speaks to Class A, B and all of Class C.  Would that be updated?  Ms. McCormack reported that she would update anywhere in the Code and website that refers to the different Classes.
Mr. Adam asked the Planning Commissioners what was their comfort level of making partitions an administrative decision?
Vice Chair Miranda and Chair McFadden stated that it makes sense. 
Commissioner Foley stated that he agrees with the earlier comment on the table.  It makes more sense.  He gets a little nervous about taking all that out.   
Commissioner Pulver reported that on the first three proposed changes he defers them to the other Planning Commissioners.  Terms should be defined.  When making changes to the tables would they let the Planning Commission know or would staff take it to Jim Huber, Planning Director, for his approval or disapproval?  Mr. Huber stated that staff’s thoughts were how much of the specific items should be land use decisions?  Should staff take several of the unnecessary submittal requirements and create administrative rules that go along with the Code?
Ms. McCormack commented that the City is moving towards a paperless system.
There was discussion regarding making zone change decisions administrative or have the City Council make the decision.  Other cities have city council make the decision because they consider it a legislative decision. 
Commissioner Mansfield reported that the last time he reviewed the Oregon Revised Statutes it requires zone changes to be made by the Council.  The Planning Commission does not have the power to make a zone change.  It would have to go to the legislature unless it has been changed in recent years.  Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney, stated that he would have to research that.  Annexations are the same way. 
Commissioner D’Alessandro stated he agrees that simplifying the process will pay in dividends for most involved.  As long as there are mechanisms in place for oversight in the event it is considered appealable.  He is hearing from constituents in the southwest area regarding planter strips between the curb and sidewalks.  Once they are installed there is little responsibility of who deals with them and how.  It is unsightly. 
Mr. Huber replied that it is a topic on the City Council’s agenda.  They have a full agenda and is not considered top priority.  Part of the problem is authority.  There are approximately ten different references in the Code that states it is part the responsibility of Public Works and other part is the Parks Department.
Mr. McConnell stated that this issue came to the Legal Department of who is responsible for the park strips.  It looks like Public Works and the Parks Department are treating this differently.  Mr. McConnell recommended that they change the Code to make it clear of who is responsible for those park strips.  Appearance, water free and who is responsible for the maintenance needs to be addressed.
Commissioner McKechnie asked if they could discuss eliminating all the ridiculous things in the Code that have to do with landscaping?  Can they get that on the agenda?  Some of his concerns are: 1) How composition of structural soil is to be put together; 2) Who in City staff goes out and looks at that; and 3) Details on irrigation systems.
Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director, stated that she thought that was just added to the Code.  Ms. Akin replied they did.  Commissioner McKechnie stated to get rid of them.  It does not belong there.  It is a construction specification that does not belong in a zoning code.
Mr. Huber replied that if the Commission wants to discuss this issue they could get some people from the Water Commission to speak to the Planning Commission.  Approximately five years ago they appeared before the City Council and asked that the City Council revamp all of the landscaping ordinance provisions.  They addressed that during winter months there is a certain water usage but in the summer months it sky rockets.  They attributed it to the inefficiency of soil, slopes, inefficient irrigation systems and wrong materials.  There was a Water Conservation Site Development Committee that met for four years that came up with the code amendment.  It is complex.  
Commissioner McKechnie stated that it is the most complex one that he has seen anywhere, regardless of where he has worked in the country.  Mr. Huber commented that they are not wed to it but the goal is to stop wasting water.                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana, Recording Secretary

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