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Agenda & Minutes

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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Monday, March 14, 2016

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, Vice Chair
David Culbertson
Norman Fincher
Joe Foley
Bill Mansfield
Mark McKechnie
Jared Pulver      
Staff Present
Jim Huber, Planning Director
Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director
Chris Reising, DCM/DS
Kelly Akin, Principal Planner
Commissioners Absent
Patrick Miranda, Chair, Excused Absence             
Tim D’Alessandro, Unexcused Absence
1.            Code amendment initiation request: craft distillery.
Jim Huber, Planning Director, reported that staff received a letter requesting opening a micro-distillery (also known as “craft distillery” and “boutique distillery”) in a commercial zoning district with on-premises sales by the drink.  However, beverage production is not an allowed use in any commercial district.
The petitioner wants to produce 52 thousand cases of liquor a year, which is about 124 thousand gallons.  Oregon does not define craft distilleries by annual production limits, but several other states do:
                State                     No. of gallons
                Indiana                  10,000
                Ohio                      10,000
                New Jersey            20,000                  
                New York               35000   
                Iowa                     50,000
                Kansas                  50,000
                Michigan                60,000                  
                California              100,000
                Washington           150,000
The comprehensive planning division has a heavy workload right now.  They are working on the Urban Growth Boundary amendment, wetlands inventory project, public use zoning amendment, multi-family design standards and downtown design standards.  Staff agrees it would be good to allow more manufacturing and retail to comingle in business districts, staff does not recommend initiating the code amendment at this time.  They may have more time after the summer.
The policy on handling private party code amendments petitions is that:
•  All inquiries should be directed to the Planning Department.  Staff will direct the person to write a letter to the Director outlining the petition and their reasons. 
•  Planning management will discuss the request, accounting for how long it may take to develop a code amendment (owing to complexity), and developing a recommendation to the Planning Commission.
•  Next available Planning Commission study session staff will prepare a mem explain the pros and cons of the proposed change, staff’s recommendation on whether or not to proceed, and how it may delay other  items on the department’s legislative agenda.  Petitioner will be encouraged to attend the study session so Commissioners can query the petition directly.
•  At the conclusion of the study session, the Planning Commission will discuss the merits and deficits of proceeding on the petition.  As a general rule, the Planning Commission will initiate no more than two private-party petitions in a calendar year.
•  A memorandum formally initiating a code amendment will be placed on the consent calendar of the next available regular Planning Commission meeting, which the Commission will vote either up or down.
•  If initiated, staff will begin scheduling work.  Note that an initiation does not alter the priority of the existing workload; other projects underway or just beginning may take precedence.
•  If the decision is not to proceed, or to withhold it for future consideration, a memo documenting the decision will be kept in the file.
•  For either situation staff will document the reasoning of the Commission.  Staff will contact the petitioner and let them know of the result, informing them of possible timeline.  Staff will give a copy of the decision to the City Manager to share with the Council as he or she sees fit.
If subsequently the petitioner shows up at a Council meeting with the same request, or writes to one or more Councilor with the same request, staff will be able to provide documentation of the facts and the due consideration already given to the matter for the Council to take into account before deciding on a course of action.
Vice Chair McFadden has a concern with the nature of the product when it comes to fire and public safety.  He recommended that it be in a stand-alone building.
Commissioner McKechnie asked if that was a Building Code issue?  He does not think it would be addressed in a zoning ordinance.
Mr. Huber stated that when doing a text amendment a draft is routed to different departments and agencies for their comments.
Commissioner Mansfield would like to hear from Chris Reising, Deputy City Manager/Development Services, about the dangers.  Mr. Reising stated that the Building Code and Fire Code are specific on processes using flammable materials depending on the proof level of the alcohol being manufactured.  Building and Fire Codes take into account proximity to other buildings, type of destruction, fire sprinklers, etc.
Commissioner McKechnie asked how difficult would it be to modify the brewing public house section?  Are micro-distilleries licensed by the state of Oregon?  Is it specific to brews?  Staff could not find anything comparable to distilleries.
Commissioner Pulver asked that with the current workload of the comprehensive planning division does the petitioner have to revisit this or does staff keep it on a list?  Mr. Huber replied that it would remain on the list.
Micro-distilleries will be on an upcoming Planning Commission public hearing agenda so that they can vote to initiate the code amendment or revisit it at a later date. 
Commissioner McKechnie suggested a list of the comprehensive planning division staff and what is on their priority list and what is unassigned.
Mr. Huber stated that the comprehensive planning division recently took over the flood plain management program that was in the Building Department.  Also, management has been struggling with how to handle the front counter.  Historically, all planners were assigned front counter approximately 7 ½ hours per week.  Someone calls in ill and cannot cover their front counter shift; it falls onto another planner that thought they had that day off the counter so they could work on other projects.   There is a lot of follow-up work with research, phone calls and emails.  Staff came up with the system of one planner at the front counter.  Praline McCormack from the comprehensive planning division is now at the front counter.  There is still a backup schedule if she is out sick or attending meetings.
Commissioner McKechnie thinks that is a wonderful idea.  He has worked through it and it works great.  Ms. McCormack is a good fit for the job. 
Also, current planning has picked up a lot with development applications.  Mr. Huber is not complaining; he is informing the Planning Commission of what is going on.
 The meeting was adjourned at 12:35 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana
Recording Secretary

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