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Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes
Monday, November 13, 2017
The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at 12:00 p.m. in the Lausmann Annex Room 151-157 on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Patrick Miranda, Chair
David McFadden, Vice Chair
E. J. McManus
Kelly Akin, Assistant Planning Director
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney
20.1 GF-17-149 Citizen Initiated Request – Residential Care Facilities
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner, stated that a letter was received from John Chmelir requesting a Development Code amendment to allow residential care facilities of any size with the Multi-Family Residential zoning districts. Mr. Chmelir has built and operated several facilities in Grants Pass and Ashland.
Residential facility in the Medford Code is defined as a licensed residential care, training, or treatment facility that provides, in one or more buildings on contiguous properties, residential care alone, or in conjunction with treatment or training or a combination thereof, for six to fifteen individuals who need not be related. Six to fifteen individuals is not referenced in the State statute.
The State Administrative Rule and Oregon Revised Statute defines residential care facility as a building, complex, or distinct part thereof, consisting of shared or individual living units in a homelike surrounding, where six or more seniors or adult individuals with disabilities may reside. Residential Care Facility offers and coordinates a range of supportive services available on a 24-hour basis to meet the activities of daily living, health, and social needs of the residents as described in these rules.
In the Rogue Valley the population is aging and living longer. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Over five million Americans are living with the disease; potentially sixteen million by 2050.
The residential care facilities provide bedrooms and shared dining and living rooms. Parking is needed for staff and visitors. They are low traffic and noise generators.
The current allowance in the Code is residential facilities are allowed in all residential zones. The size is limited to a maximum of fifteen residents. They are also allowed in commercial zones, except Neighborhood Commercial (C-N), for facilities with over fifteen residents.
Similar uses are retirement or congregate living facilities and nursing home or long term care facilities. Nursing home or long term care facilities are broken down as follows:
• Permanent facility with inpatient beds that provides medical services and/or treatment for two or more unrelated patients;
• Includes skilled nursing facilities, which primarily provide skilled nursing care and related services for patients who require medical or nursing care or rehabilitation;
• Intermediate care facilities, which provide health related care and services to individuals who do not require the degree of care and treatment that a hospital or skilled nursing facility is designed to provide, but require care and services above the level of room and board;
• Adult foster care homes with resident over sixty years of age;
• Residential Care Facilities with over fifteen residents.
The changes to the current Code would be to revise definitions to align with State definitions. Clarify residential care facility over fifteen residents are allowed in the Multi-Family Residential zoning districts. Retain the fifteen or less residents in Single-Family Residential zoning districts.
The amendment would be presented to the Planning Commission on December 14, 2017, on the consent calendar to decide if they want to initiate the amendment now. Staff is currently working with the Housing Advisory Committee to identify regulatory reform that will aid in the construction of more housing in Medford. Mr. Chmelir is a member of the committee and has identified this type of housing as being needed in the valley. Staff would prefer to have the Housing Advisory Committee include this code amendment in their list of changes but is not opposed to having the Planning Commission initiate the amendment ahead of the recommendations from the Housing Advisory Committee.
The amendment work would not begin until 2018.
Commissioner Mansfield asked, is there a good reason this should not happen? Ms. Paladino reported that there is a need for more of these types of facilities in the Rogue Valley. The Code does allow for what Mr. Chmelir wants to do now. It can be cleaned up so that it is very clear.
Commissioner McKechnie asked, is there were any residential care facilities specifically limited to Alzheimer’s or is it residential care that allows for other things? Ms. Paladino stated that it allows for other things like addiction and other things. She does not know if the large ones are.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that it seems to him that for Alzheimer’s, fifteen or more is one thing but for addiction and treatment, fifteen or more is different. Ms. Paladino reported that she does not know what that specific type of use is; if it is residential care facilities under a different need, that part she does not know but she can find out. Commissioner McKechnie stated that should be part of the research. The Planning Commission is being presented with Alzheimer’s but it seems to him the residential care facilities could be something broader than that.
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney, stated that in the City’s Code, residential care is a broad definition. It does look like to him that residential treatment includes, among other things, treatments not just for physical disabilities but also for alcohol and drug addiction issues.
Kelly Akin, Assistant Planning Director, reported that they are broken out in the Code. Currently, residential facilities up to fifteen beds then sixteen or more there is a separate class for residential alcohol and drug treatment. It is already separated once you reach fifteen beds. The Statute may have changed. The current code was updated in 2012 to reflect the Statute. When they are sixteen or more beds they are conditional for drug and alcohol treatment in multi-family residential zoning districts. Over sixteen beds are not permitted in single-family residential zoning districts.
Commissioner Foley is trying to understand the difference between the categories. Are there differences without a distinction or is there a real distinction among them that is important? Ms. Paladino reported that these definitions were written for long term care. They are slightly different. Congregate care facilities are specific for elderly or disabled.
Ms. Akin reported that the long term care provides skilled nursing. Congregate living does not. That is the distinction between the two.
Commissioner Mansfield stated that the bottom line is that none of these people will create trouble for the neighborhoods.
Commissioner Pulver reported that a concern he has heard is that someone converted a house in the Arnold Palmer Way arena into an Alzheimer’s care facility. Some of the neighbors were upset that all of a sudden a residential neighborhood that a house is being used for a higher intensity use.
Commissioner Pulver stated that he thought at last Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting there was a citizen request of a like process. He thought some of the justification for not initiating it was the limit of so many per year and the work load. It seems that this issue can be handled based on staff’s presentation of cleaning up the Code and make it clearer. He is floating the idea it would be safer dealt with in 2018. Ms. Paladino reported that in recommending the initiation is that this is part of the potential changes that the Housing Advisory Committee will be working on and part of long range workload anyway. Commissioner Pulver stated that further supports his comment that the Planning Commission does not need to initiate it because the applicants request can be handled with the existing code.
John Chmelir stated that they have just opened a facility in Ashland and they have two facilities in Grants Pass. Their study in Ashland was from the southern border of Medford south to California. There were 120 beds needed. They did a study for Medford, Central Point and the rest of the county that showed over 1400 beds needed. There is a huge need and it is getting bigger. He thinks the reason for the break at fifteen is that federal law across the country states every jurisdiction has to allow a residential care facility up to fifteen people in any zone that allows residential. They had the same issue with Grants Pass that their code broke at fifteen. The County’s code did not address above fifteen because nobody thought about it when they were writing the code. He does not think it would go wrong to make the Medford Code definition consistent with the State definition because there is a difference between a nursing facility, residential care facility and assisted living. It would be great if it was clarified in the code so that a logical decision could be made.
Mr. Chmelir thinks that in the State Statute drug and alcohol treatment centers are a separate facility from a residential care facility. Mr. Chmelir’s license is through DHS for the elderly and people with disabilities. They take care of people with brain trauma and all kinds of dementia.
In assisted living facilities the residents can have a vehicle. Residential care facilities that is also a memory care community is the only facility in Oregon where people are locked in. They do not drive.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that it would also be nice to have the code keep up with state and federal law. Chair Miranda and Commissioner Foley concurred.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:20 p.m.
Terri L. Rozzana