Agenda & Minutes

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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Minutes
Monday, January 28, 2019

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:
 
Commissioners Present
David McFadden, Vice Chair
David Culbertson
Joe Foley
Bill Mansfield
Mark McKechnie
E. J. McManus
Jared Pulver
Jeff Thomas
 
Commissioner Absent
Patrick Miranda, Chair, Excused Absence
 
Staff Present
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney
Alex Georgevitch, City Engineer
Kyle Kearns, Planner II
Roger Thom, Utilities Manager
 
Subject:
20.1        CP-18-185 Sanitary Sewer Collection Master Plan
 
Kyle Kearns, Planner II reported that staff is updating the Comprehensive Plan in order to incorporate the Public Facilities element with the Sanitary Sewer Collection System Master Plan. 
 
In November 2015 the City contracted Carollo Engineering to begin the Sanitary Sewer Collection System Master Plan update.  In September 2017 staff formed the Technical Advisory Group lead largely by Public Works.  In 2017 and 2018 the Technical Advisory Group met five times to provide comment, input and guide information of the Sanitary Sewer Collection System Master Plan. On December 6, 2018 the City Council initiated a Major Comprehensive Plan Amendment to incorporate the Sanitary Sewer Collection System Master Plan into the Public Facilities element of the Comprehensive Plan. 
 
In order to enable the annexation of newly approved Urban Growth Boundary lands the City must plan for category A facilities that include:
•             Water Service
•             Sanitary sewer collection and treatment
•             Storm Drainage
•             Transportation facilities
 
The focus of the Sanitary Sewer Collection System Master Plan is sanitary sewer collection facilities.  Treatment facilities will be analyzed in a forthcoming plan.
 
Items used to produce a comprehensive plan element:
•             Executive Summary
•             Introduction
•             Basis of Planning
•             Existing System
•             Hydraulic Model Development
•             Capacity Evaluation
•             Infiltration and Inflow Reduction Program
•             Capital Improvement Plan
•             Financial Analysis
 
Staff reviewed the applicable state Oregon Administrative Rules and determined the following elements are necessary in the Comprehensive Plan element:
•             Statement adopting the Sanitary Sewer Collection System Master Plan by reference
•             List of planned public facility projects
•             Map or description of projects
•             Policies or Urban Growth Management Agreements stating providers
 
In addition to the elements needed by Oregon Administrative Rule 660, staff included:
•             Goals and policies from the Sanitary Sewer Collection System Master Plan (focused on items relevant to plan development and land use reviews)
 
This is scheduled to go Planning Commission public hearing on Thursday, February 14, 2019 and their recommendation to the City Council on Thursday, March 7, 2019. 
 
Vice Chair McFadden stated that the study session can be left open for seven days for further comments.  If there was a change it would be nice to do today but how much longer could staff go before they could not make changes to what is going to be presented to the Planning Commission on February 14, 2019?  Mr. Kearns stated the Planning Commission could propose changes on February 14, 2019.
 
The proposed policies are on pages 13 through 16 of the study session agenda packet.  A lot already exist in the code or help with any particular land use action that could arise out of this new plan.  They are directly derived from what has already been a two to three year process.
 
Commissioner McKechnie asked, is this a study that has limitations on all development?  Roger Thom, Utilities Manager reported yes.  He is the project manager for the Sanitary
Sewer Collection System Master Plan. He has been the person that puts conditions on development for the last thirteen or fourteen years.  For instance, in the southeast area the City is not doing zone changes because there is no sanitary sewer capacity to allow the zone change.  In the last four to five years on the northeast side of town, Delta Waters area, because of the sanitary sewer that runs south of the airport has become maxed out, the City has discontinued an unconditional zone change for the properties that are served by the terminals.  Everything on Hillcrest going north to the airport is served by that sewer.  It impacts any development in that area.  This plan does not make it any better but it identifies where the issues are and what pipes need to be replaced to facilitate development. 
 
Alex Georgevitch, City Engineer stated that the plan does not fix any of the pipes in the ground.  Through analysis and empirical data collecting rain data shows some of the areas that the previous master plan showed failing, this one does not show a failing.  Through this process they will see some zone changes that previously had conditions limiting them and one right next to it could have no conditions limiting them because the analysis shows they are operating acceptably.  Public Works has changed some criteria.  Right now the pipe itself can be built and the manhole can backup within 3 feet of the rim. 
 
There is a recommendation for Public Works to raise the System Development Charges for the collection system.  That was supported by the Technical Advisory Group.  The Technical Advisory Group is made up of engineers, developers and planners that supported the increase.  The increase is critical to Public Works because they will be able to start building out some of the infrastructure needed to allow development to move forward. 
 
Commissioner Mansfield asked, is there any organizing opposition to the increase of the System Development Charges from the building industry or real estate brokerage industry?  Mr. Georgevitch stated that Randy Jones represented the building industry as well as Dan Mahar, engineers and planners representing developers that were all supportive of the increase.
 
It is difficult to ask for more money but the reality is if Public Works does not do this they are going to have moratoriums with no way out.  It is a non-sustainable system.
 
Anytime Public Works upsizes a pipe they are also considering the next urban reserve areas.  They are considering all of the RPS lands when they install a pipe.  The cost of the pipe is one-twentieth of the cost of installation, cutting the road, patching, excavation, and traffic control is far more than the plastic pipe they put in the ground.  Upsizing it to accommodate future development is important. 
 
Commissioner Foley asked, assuming this gets adopted by the City Council on March 7, 2019, what happens to the people that have restrictions now.  Can they come back and apply to get it lifted?  Mr. Georgevitch replied yes.  The code requires they go to the Planning Director and he will seek guidance from Public Works.  Public Works will verify if there is adequate facilities.  Just because there is capacity in areas does not mean they will get full development rights. 
 
Commissioner McKechnie asked, are they having capacity issues with the treatment plants?  Mr. Georgevitch replied they are not having any capacity issues now.  They are getting ready to start a master plan within the next two years.  They will do the same update.  The bigger issue is the interceptor line owned by Rogue Valley Sewer Services going to the treatment plant.  All of Medford flows into this interceptor line.  This master plan is for the collection facilities that the City controls.  The City serves approximately two-thirds and Rogue Valley Sewer Services serves the other one-third.  Rogue Valley Sewer Services has their own area in southwest and northwest Medford.
 
Vice Chair McFadden asked, has the City urged Rogue Valley Sewer Services to do a similar master plan of their facilities to include in the City’s plan?  Mr. Thom stated that it would not necessarily be included in the City’s plan.  They have a master plan for their collection system.  Vice Chair McFadden stated that the City has included the airport master plan, Rogue Valley Manor master plan, master plans from different entities.  If they have one then the City could refer to it at some point.  Mr. Thom has never been left with the impression Rogue Valley Sewer Services has any capacity issues in their interceptor lines.
 
Commissioner Pulver asked, what projects does this undertake?  Is the funding source in place or with the approval of the increase in SDC fees?  Mr. Thom reported that the master plan has identified a funding plan that if everything came together perfectly with SDCs, rates and homes being built, a slow controlled rate in the right spot, they have this perfect thing that works out where the funding comes together and everything pays for itself through time and SDCs over the twenty years it takes to do this.  The reality is there needs to be a funding plan that identifies projects specifically to get capacity where needed and the developments bring in SDCs faster.  Without building the lines and doing another analysis of the system they do not know where they really are.  It is a progressive system. 
 
Commissioner Mansfield asked, are any of these projects going to be financed with SDCs or assessment districts?  Mr. Thom stated there are no assessment districts mentioned in the plan.  Mr. Georgevitch reported that the City collects SDCs now.  Assessment districts were used previous to SDCs.  It could be challenging to do both.  If the SDCs are not adequate they are supposed to raise the SDCs through creating a master plan showing project needs and a financial statement showing projected revenue.
 
It is important to understand there is no way to know what pipe to fix next.  It is developer driven.  One moment there is a lot of development happening in one part of town and the next application can be in a completely different part of the community.  They do not want to be project specific but meet the needs of development.  Currently, there is not enough revenue.  This is a twenty year plan that looks at the number of homes projected and the need.  It is calculated by multiplying the number of homes being developed times the SDCs to figure out if there is enough funding assuming there is some commercial. If there is no commercial then they bump up the funding.  If the City does not create capacity then development cannot occur to give the SDCs to build the capacity.  They have some money banked that will seed some projects now.  There is a good chance that they will have to borrow from their gas tax as opposed to a general obligation bond.
 
Commissioner Mansfield asked, can they borrow from the highway fund?  Mr. Georgevitch replied yes.  They are responsible for paying it back.  There is a limitation to all the SDC fees.  Storm drain SDCs cannot be spent on sewer but if they borrow against it with means of paying it back it is no different than doing a general obligation bond. 
 
Commissioner Pulver asked, is the increase in SDCs on new development or in the general tax payer monthly charges or both?  Mr. Georgevitch stated they are both being increased but the monthly fees go towards operations and maintenance and SDC’s goes towards capacity increases.  In the plan they are programming to spend both dollars.  If there is a pipe in the ground it needs maintenance.  So they can spend some maintenance dollars and some SDC dollars to replace it.  The increase in the plan is SDCs for new development only. 
 
Commissioner Pulver stated that the Planning Commission has talked a lot about affordable housing and continues to.  One of the ideas is to eliminate or minimize barriers for development.  If building in east Medford where there is capacity issues he assumes there will be healthy SDC costs if the capacity of that line needs to be increased.  There needs to be a balance.  Mr. Georgevitch commented that for a single family residential unit for System Development Charges per sanitary sewer collection system is approximately $730 and they are increasing to the $1040 range.  They are increasing approximately $300 for a single family unit.  It is not that much in the big picture.  Transportation and Parks are the big ones. 
 
Commissioner Pulver stated those are all additional costs.  Everything has to line up for it to work.  To fund a major line, capacity increase has to be huge dollars that are probably not covered by a dozen homes in some areas of town.  He does not know how the capacity issue is solved.  He believes that as a resident not doing any development they are still having to foot the bill for having a functional sewer system.  It cannot just be operations and maintenance.  Sometimes capacity has to be increased if one wants to live in the City of Medford because of growth.  He does not know if those dollars and fees are being allocated accordingly but it is an issue.  The City will not get any development if the developers have to pay expansion throughout.  Mr. Georgevitch commented that they would not be paying the bill for those types of things. 
 
Commissioner Pulver asked, how does the math work?  Mr. Georgevitch stated that the projects in the plan is approximately $30 million. 
 
Commissioner Pulver stated that all the new projects is where the City gets the SDCs with increasing the expansion and new development funds all expansion increases.  Mr. Georgevitch replied that is the way it is supposed to work under SDCs.
 
Mr. Georgevitch reported that these are good discussion topics to have.  It is important to understand that the City Council has approved Public Works to move forward with approximately $300 increase per unit.  Randy Jones spoke with the Builders Association and everyone was in support.  When staff notices their 90 day notice of the SDC fee increase that is when they will find out if there are concerns. 
 
Commissioner Pulver understands no one wants increased fees.  It is his opinion that if it is all on new development the math will not let up.  Mr. Georgevitch stated that there is $30 million in projects, there is only $15.5 million in SDCs that goes towards that.  The rest is from monthly fees.  
 
Commissioner McKechnie asked, are there any pipes that are both sanitary and storm?  Mr. Thom reported none that they know of. 
 
Commissioner Foley stated that the study indicated a lot of that happening downtown.  Mr. Thom stated that there are some sanitary sewer systems that the manholes line up with storm drain systems.  They use the same manhole for the sanitary sewer system.  The top of the sanitary sewer pipe was cut off in some of those so the pipe was backing up and overflowing into the storm drain below.  As far as they know all of those have been corrected.  They are not using the storm system for sanitary disposal except in very rainy events.
 
Commissioner Foley thought what he read was the reverse; more of the rain water getting into the sanitary system.  Mr. Thom stated that is what they call inflow and infiltration.  Inflow is a direct connect to the roof drain or parking lot drain that is connected directly to the sanitary sewer.  Public Works has done what they can to eliminate those.  Infiltration is a broken pipe. 
 
Mr. Georgevitch commented that he is sure there are some out there.  The question is how big of an impact versus disconnect all of them.  They are having a challenge with I and I.  I and I was a huge issue in this study.  North of downtown there is a pipe that flows heavy and it is primarily due to I and I.  Is it cheaper to line the pipe?  Does that do anything with all the laterals that the City does not control past the right-of-way?  If there is a broken lateral going into a home it may be working fine but could be letting in tons of ground water.  It would cost approximately $90M to provide capacity for the entire City of Medford.  That is a challenge.  It is more of a challenge for the interceptor and the treatment plant.  Currently, the treatment plant is processing storm drain water and that is not what it is designed for.  There are some jurisdictions that have a combined system.  Someday depending on environmental laws the City may be doing the same thing.  In the meantime the City does not want to be processing storm drain water.
 
Commissioner Mansfield stated that Mr. Georgevitch mentioned several times lining the pipe.  Is that to eliminate leakage or extend the life of the pipe?  What does it do?  Mr. Thom reported that it does both.  They do not say it is to eliminate leakage.  They are not trying to keep the sewer from going out.  They are trying to keep rain from coming in.  It is a quarter-inch typical lining in an eight-inch sewer.  They say it is as strong as putting in a new PVC pipe.  It should last another one hundred years.  Mr. Georgevitch stated that it is cheaper to line a pipe.  The dilemma is that there is no capacity increase.                                
                                    
Commissioner Pulver asked Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director, what is the Planning Commission really being asked on Thursday, February 14, 2019?  To forward a favorable recommendation for inclusion of this master plan into the Comprehensive Plan?  Is the criteria consistent with the State goals?  Ms. Evans replied yes.
 
Commissioner Pulver asked, is the Planning Commission being asked to review the amendment?  Ms. Evans stated that at this point the City is just adopting the master plan into the Comprehensive Plan.
 
Vice Chair McFadden commented that it is high level because it has not been in the Comprehensive Plan before.  It will help in time giving them a basis to work from.           
    
 
30.          Adjournment
The meeting was adjourned at 12:44 p.m.
 
 
Submitted by:
Terri L. Richards
Recording Secretary
 
 

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