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Pllanning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes
Monday, August 22, 2016
The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at noon in the City Hall Medford Room 330 on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Patrick Miranda, Chair
David McFadden, Vice Chair
Jim Huber, Planning Director
Eric Mitton, Senior Assistant City Attorney
John Adam, Principal Planner
Larry Masterman, City Emergency Management Coordinator
Chris Olivier, GIS Coordinator
Carla Paladino, Planner IV
Tricia Sears, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development
1. National Hazards Mitigation Plan
Jim Huber, Planning Director stated there are three items on today’s agenda. The National Hazards Mitigation Plan, Wetland Regulations and time permitting a discussion on the resolution that City Council adopted regarding transitional housing.
Mr. Huber introduced Tricia Sears, National Hazards Planner with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) and Larry Masterman, City of Medford Emergency Management Coordinator.
This subject is part of the public outreach program. This is a plan that will be adopted by the City Council. In the Comprehensive Plan is the Environmental Element. In the Environmental Element there is a section called Disasters and Hazards. The three areas that overlap are floods, earthquakes and wildfires. The Environmental Element also has a section on noise and airport hazards. The National Hazards Mitigation Plan will continue further such as severe weather, air quality, landslides, volcanic eruptions and disease outbreaks. In the future this section in the Comprehensive Plan may need updating to include some information from the National Hazards Mitigation Plan and may want to adopt it by reference into the Comprehensive Plan. It is not mandatory.
Larry Masterman, City of Medford, Emergency Management Coordinator reported that the National Hazards Mitigation Plans are a relatively recent opportunity from FEMA. It is as a lot of other emergency preparedness mitigation response program driven by funding. The National Hazards Mitigation Plan is a requirement for a number of mitigation grant programs and a condition for some federal reimbursement for emergency response recovery mitigation activities.
Medford did its first mitigation plan in 2004 under federal regulations. An approved plan has to be updated every five years. It was approved again in 2010 and that plan sunset last year. Staff has been talking with DLCD for approximately two years about their partnership and updating the plan. DLCD obtained a grant from FEMA to help Medford and several other jurisdictions in the State updating their plans.
The County has a separate version of the same plan. They will be updating their plan next year and the City will roll into that. The City of Medford will have an annex to that County plan. The City does not have a lot of hazards shared by the rest of the County and vice versa. The City does not have as much flood risks as many parts of the County.
Under the Federal guidance this needs to be an inclusive program with a lot of public input. The steering committee includes members of the public. There are people on the steering committee from the City. The US Army Corps of Engineers operates the Lost Creek Dam. The steering committee also includes the American Red Cross and Eric Dittmer, retired professor from SOU in earth sciences and seismology. He is the “go-to” person on earthquakes and geological issues. There is a nice cross section of participation.
Why do this at all? This will not prevent most disasters. Mitigation is all things one does for and during an event to reduce the impacts, loss of life, damage to property and economic impacts. Where the Planning Commission is concerned it might include changing land use especially when talking about repetitive loss areas that keep getting flooded. The federal funds are not going to continue rebuilding. They want to reduce or eliminate the long term risks and maintain eligibility for both the pre-disaster and post-disaster funding. FEMA will reimburse the City for a residentially declared disaster. They will reimburse 75% of the extraordinary expense costs over time.
One of the discussions regarding the land use was the amount of development that has occurred on slopes of 25% or greater between 2009 to present.
Tricia Sears, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development reported that it is important to DLCD element that local jurisdictions are integrating planning aspects through emergency management of the National Hazards Mitigation Plan.
Ms. Sears is responsible for collecting a lot of information and writing the Plan. The goals and mission is to accomplish this by June 30, 2017. The goals are from the 2010 Plan that is being used to update the Plan.
Ms. Sears emphasized that this updated National Hazards Mitigation Plan will keep Medford eligible for the pre and post mitigation funding which is valuable in terms of money provided to the City in times of need. It also helps the flood community rating systems. It keeps the City eligible for the flood plains which is also critical.
The first draft is expected in early October.
Commissioner D’Alessandro commented that he is happy to hear that this is a collaborative effort that Medford and Jackson County will be pooling their resources towards a common goal. In reviewing the list there is a great mix of people and diversity. He does not see public transportation as represented as part of the steering committee. It is his opinion that transportation would be a large part of the solution in a lot of the scenarios. Mr. Huber reported that currently the group is looking at the Transportation Element with the help of the Engineering Department. It would not be a bad idea to put RVTD on the steering committee.
Mr. Huber stated that regarding the schedule they are speaking to the news and City Council on Thursday, August 25, 2016. The community profile and risk assessment portion of the Plan will be done by the end of October. The mitigation strategy and plan maintenance will be completed by January 31 and a draft by the end of March. It is an aggressive timeframe.
2. Wetland Regulations
Carla Paladino, Planner IV, reported that in May of 2016, the Planning Commission reviewed changes to the Environmental Element of the Comprehensive Plan regarding wetlands. The report went to the State last November. It was reviewed by the State and sent back to the consultants for changes and updates. It was resubmitted to the State in July of this year. Staff is waiting for the approval of a Local Wetland Inventory for the entire Medford Urban Reserve.
The City Council in March agreed to the locations of the urban growth boundary expansion areas. Last week the City Council approved the findings and ordinance. As part of the requirements for Goal 5, reviewing natural resources, wetlands and historic sites, staff is conducting updates to the Comprehensive Plan and Wetland Regulations.
The existing riparian corridor regulations have been modified to include wetlands. Part of the discussion today is how this works when a development is submitted and the changes are proposed.
• Updated definitions
• Revisions to the purpose statements
• Extensions of riparian corridors along identified creeks
Commissioner McKechnie asked if extensions along riparian corridors are linear or width extensions. Ms. Paladino said linear.
• Additional submittal requirements when wetlands are identified on property
• Removal of the ability to reduce the 50-foot riparian setback
Commissioner Pulver asked if in regards to the setback reductions ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) is flexible or difficult to work with. Mr. Huber reported that he has the authority for the first 25 feet. If it goes beyond that it goes to the Planning Commission as a conditional use permit. Reducing it from 50 feet to 25 feet is not that common. The planting plan goes to ODFW and the City of Medford Parks Department. If the planting plan has a lot of detail ODFW and the Parks Department does not weigh in on the decision. They weigh in on the quality of the planting. The wording in the Code is “consult with”.
Commissioner Pulver asked if staff anticipated seeing a lot more of these with the urban growth boundary expansion. Ms. Paladino stated potentially. The City is updating this is because of the endangered species act and decisions coming down from FEMA. This is being ahead of the game.
John Adam, Principal Planner, reported on the Biological Opinion and how FEMA is going to react in the next couple of years; there will be new rules and it is going to be a lot more stringent. The Biological Opinion said that the NFIP, by allowing development in the floodplain, is creating endangerment scenarios for species.
Commissioner McKechnie commented to leave the ability of the Director to reduce the riparian setback in place.
• Submittal requirements and criteria for approval of a fence in wetland
There are three standards a wetland has to meet; the presence of water, presence of hydro-fitting vegetation and soil type.
• Development standards for transportation and utility facilities
Eric Mitton, Senior Assistant City Attorney, asked if the language “to the extent possible” borrowed from a State standard? The problem that he has is in a different context for time and benefits. Oregon Appellate Court says they do not know what “to the extent possible” means. In the Doyle vs. City of Medford case that phrase has been in litigation for six years and still does not know what it means. Another problem with the phrase is that it can be interpreted either as physical or economic possibility. Staff may want to specify which one of those it is.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that the language could be: (3) Materials removed or excavated during trenching boring or drilling shall be returned as backfill or removed from resource; finish elevation same as the starting elevation.
Mr. Mitton suggested staff may want to consider “finish elevation shall not be materially altered from the starting elevation.”
Vice Chair McFadden likes the returning of backfill but it does not always work that way. One does not always get the compaction.
Chair Miranda prefers to see as much of the native materials coming out of that section go back in. It has already adapted to that environment.
Parcelization of the wetlands discussion will be continued.
• A new section explaining the notification and coordination process with state agencies
Moving forward staff is waiting for State approval of the Local Wetland Inventory. Staff will send out property owner notice when approved. Refine wetland regulations. Review Comprehensive Plan sections and make any changes. Discuss and meet with the County. There will be public involvement and discussion regarding amendments.
Mr. Huber stated that on Monday, September 12, 2016, the Planning Commission study session will be discussion on transitional housing. The City Council has been struggling with this issue. It was brought on by Rogue Retreats’ tiny house village proposal. The City considered leasing them property at 3rd and Front Streets but voted against it. They are looking at other City properties. They may have selected the City’s service yard if there is enough room. Now it comes to a land use issue of following the traditional zoning districts and trying to fit it in one of them, or there is ORS 446.265 that seems to give cities authority siting two of these projects. There is no procedure so they are looking at the Planning Commission and staff to develop regulations for siting transitional housing. City Council is also interested in how to get people out of the transitional housing into permanent housing and financial plans, but that is beyond the land use questions.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:06 p.m.
Terri L. Rozzana