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Agenda & Minutes

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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Monday, April 08, 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
Mark McKechnie, Chair
Joe Foley, Vice Chair
David Culbertson
Bill Mansfield
David McFadden
Jeff Thomas
Commissioners Absent
E. J. McManus, Excused Absence            
Jared Pulver, Excused Absence
Patrick Miranda, Excused Absence
Staff Present
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney
Karl MacNair, Transportation Manager
20.1        DCA-18-179 Level of Service (LOS) and Cross-Sections Amendments
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner reported that this was presented to the Planning Commission on March 11, 2019 during a study session.  Staff has made several changes to the draft based on comments from staff, the Transportation Commission, Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and Planning Commission.  Staff is seeking comments on proposed alternatives in place of requiring an Exception process with Legacy Streets and other language the Planning Commission wants clarified before the hearing on Thursday. 
This is a code amendment related to the Transportation System Plan specifically looking at three topics: 1) Level of Service standard; 2) Cross Sections; and 3) Adding a new section on Legacy Streets.
Legacy street is a street that is improved but may be missing one or more facilities (bike facilities, sidewalk etc.), or an unimproved street or alley predominantly surrounded by developed properties that constrain the right-of-way.
Chair McKechnie stated that there are some streets in Medford that are paved but does not have curb and gutter, they have a ditch.  Where do they fall?  Ms. Paladino reported those would be called unimproved streets.  To Commissioner McKechnie an unimproved street is not paved.  Karl MacNair, Transportation Manager stated that is not how the code defines it.  This is an existing definition in the code that an improved street has curb and gutter.  An unimproved street has no curb and gutter.  The reason for that is it is assumed to be improved to City standards if it has curb and gutter.  A lot of the streets Chair McKechnie is talking about were improved to County standards and the City has never accepted maintenance jurisdiction. 
Chair McKechnie asked, even though they are public streets?  Mr. MacNair stated there are a lot of County maintained roads in the City.  Commissioner Culbertson commented that Stanford is from Cherry Lane to Hillcrest.
Commissioner McFadden asked, what is Valley View?  It is unimproved even though it is black top.  To him that fits the category of a legacy street because it has been there so long.
The Planning Commission wanted further discussion on the Adjustment of City Engineer’s Determination.  The current proposal is to apply for an Exception.  Some proposed alternatives:
1)            Keep Exception, Remove Fees/Application forms
2)            Subject to Exception criteria only
3)            Subject to new criteria: equal or better; does not increase safety hazards or increase delays
4)            Review Body authorized to make adjustments request
5)            Other options
Commissioner Mansfield asked Ms. Paladino what does staff think is best?  Ms. Paladino has not had an opportunity to group staff comments.  Her personal opinion is number 4. 
Commissioner McFadden is lost.  They are talking an unimproved street that is fully developed around it.  Where does someone come in to improve the street in that situation?  Ms. Paladino stated this is saying that someone is proposing a development and they are on a legacy street.  Commissioner McFadden asked, if it is already developed could it be triggered by infill or change the zoning from SFR-4 to SFR-6 and add another lot?  Ms. Paladino gave the example of someone comes in and there is curb and gutter and no sidewalk but the cross section requires a planter strip and sidewalk.  The City Engineer deems there is enough space to do that.  The person states everything around them is curb tight they do not want to do that.  They would have to file an Exception for that requirement of the planter strip.  Commissioner McFadden asked, does the other people already have sidewalks?  Ms. Paladino replied yes.  Commissioner McFadden asked, if everybody else did not have a sidewalk is the City going to require them to put in a sidewalk to and from nowhere?  Ms. Paladino commented that street improvements are required. 
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director gave several examples.  One is the foot and half dedication that has gone from 60 foot streets to 63 foot streets.  There is already curb, gutter, sidewalk and fully developed.  It may not meet the current standards but all the facilities are there.  That is one example of what to do with the foot and half of right-of-way.  Nothing.  The curb and sidewalk are not going to move.  Another example was a partition behind a church that had no curb, gutter and sidewalk.  They applied for an Exception because the entire neighborhood is like that.  There were many issues with putting in curb, gutter and sidewalk.  The Exception was granted. 
As far as the alternatives from a business perspective she is not fond of number 1.  The City Council has directed the Planning Department to increase cost recovery and so giving away fees is something she struggles with.  Especially if it is a stand-alone application.
Commissioner McKechnie asked, what is the fee for an Exception?  Ms. Evans replied $700.  If it goes with something else it is half the fee. 
Commissioner Mansfield asked, what is the scenario if there is a legacy street and someone wants to build on it?  Is that how it comes to the Planning Department?  Ms. Evans stated it is usually a land use action.  It is something coming for an approval from the Site Plan and Architectural Commission or the Planning Commission to build or develop. 
Commissioner Mansfield asked, is the Planning Commission in the process of advising staff about what kind of standards to use in requiring legacy streets to be brought up to date or not?  Vice Chair Foley reported they are dealing with the Exception.  The first cut is going to be with the City Engineer.  If an applicant does not like the City Engineers requirement then it comes to one of the above proposed alternatives.  Commissioner Mansfield thinks if it goes to a review body the review body needs to have standards drafted therein.  Ms. Evans replied that is correct.                           
It is helpful for Chair McKechnie to do some hypothetical scenarios.  There is an infill lot already platted with nothing there.  There will be a single family house constructed on the lot.  It is on a Legacy street that does not meet the current criteria.  Does that require an Exception?  Ms. Evans stated no.  Chair McKechnie asked, are they in for something already?  Vice Chair Foley replied yes. Chair McKechnie does not have a problem with keeping it the way it is. 
According to Ms. Evans, sidewalks are already addressed in the code.  There is already relief.  If the development pattern is curb tight then it can continue curb tight.  This addresses developing a property with something other than single family.
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney emphasized that the fees are set to reimburse staff time involved in working on the project.  It is not a penalty or judgement.
Commissioner Thomas asked, is staff charging $700 when knowing there will be an Exception?  Ms. Evans reported that they would have already gone through the process with the City Engineer and cannot come to terms.  They will come to a Commission for the Exception.  Mr. Mitton added that currently they are using a hypothetical where there are no other house around that has a sidewalk.  That is an easy hypothetical.  There are a lot of neighborhoods where there is a sidewalk then gaps.  There is a lot of shades of grey between the one extreme where no one has sidewalk except for the applicant.  The other extreme is where the applicant is the only one on the block without one.  The grey area is where given the circumstances and Commissioner’s feelings it could go either way in front of a Commission.
Vice Chair Foley commented that Black Oak is a good example of that. 
Commissioner McFadden reported that the empty lot north of Country Club Drive south of Acorn with a sidewalk but no section of sidewalk on Black Oak from Country Club Drive to Hillcrest.  The other side of the street has a sidewalk. The vacant lot at some point will be developed.  Will the City say the only thing missing is the sidewalk?  To him that is past the issue of legacy.  He views the upper part of Black Oak that has no curb and sidewalks legacy. 
Chair McKechnie pointed out that a case came before the Planning Commission where the applicant submitted for an ADU on a legacy street and the Commission required them to do a right-of-way donation and install curb, gutter and sidewalk.  It was an infill situation.  Ms. Evans clarified that it was a partition. 
Mr. MacNair pointed out that there is an existing section in the code that is separate from the legacy street that gives criteria when to defer street improvements.  Even if it is a partition where street improvements are required if the applicant can show so much of the block is unimproved then they are allowed to defer the street improvements.  Chair McKechnie commented that the applicant has to pay for that.  They have to put 125% of the value up front. 
This will be presented to the Planning Commission on Thursday, April 11, 2019. 
Vice Chair Foley is confused.  Ms. Paladino stated that the applicant would submit a site plan for development on a street that is deemed legacy.  The applicant needs to speak with the City Engineer and if the applicant does not agree with the City Engineer the applicant would have to file an Exception.  They are changing the City Engineer’s determination. 
Vice Chair Foley asked, what do the alternatives provide that are different other than removing the fees?  Doesn’t the applicant have to go through that process anyway to bring it to the Body?  Ms. Paladino replied yes.  The proposed alternative number 3 has criteria that would need to be met.  It has to be equal or better than City Engineer’s determination and not increase safety hazards or increase delay.  It gives criteria but not through a formal exception process. 
Commissioner Mansfield asked, can staff live with alternative 3?  Ms. Paladino responded that personally she could.  She is not the only staff person.
Ms. Evans commented on the Exception criteria stating that one of the criteria is that the situation is unusual and does not generally occur elsewhere in a zoning district across the City.  That could be challenging because there are a lot of legacy streets.  The foot and half dedication requirement is problematic.  It would be hard to make the case it would meet the criteria.  Ms. Evans is a fan of alternative 3 because it is traffic and location specific. 
Vice Chair Foley also likes alternative 3.  Having criteria to work with is a good thing.  The Commission can apply judgement. 
Mr. Mitton struggles with unique and unusual circumstances.  The point staff wants the applicant to make if they are trying to justify not having sidewalks is that no one else in the neighborhood has sidewalks.  The legal standard is the opposite of what factually they should have to prove to justify it.  Having criteria is important.  Those criteria make more factual sense than the exception criteria. 
There is new language of pedestrian crossing and improvements for all streets based on a Transportation Commissioner’s comments.  It requires the City Engineer’s review of existing pedestrian crossings along the street of the development and determination if new or upgraded crossings are needed based on impacts.  Improvements may include cross walks, pedestrian islands or rapid flashing beacons to enhance pedestrian safety.                    
Vice Chair Foley likes it.  However, there are places that need these right now.  If it is part of an existing issue how much exacerbation do they have to create before they are asked to put in the improvement?  Part of the Liberty Park recommendation will be a number of crossings.  If a developer develops near there do they get the bill for that?  Ms. Paladino replied that maybe they would have to pay a portion.  It was written for proposed development.  This may not be the perfect fit for this amendment. 
Vice Chair Foley asked how would Mr. MacNair look at this?  Mr. MacNair has struggled with how to implement the comment.  He understands the concern but how does the City require this of a development?  It does not seem like a good fit for legacy streets. 
Commissioner Thomas stated that he does not see the criteria for the new language.  The text is fine.  It is an aspirational thing to put in but not into the code. 
Chair McKechnie commented that the wording: “Requires City Engineer reviews of existing crossings…” presumes staff time will be take out sometime between now and some date specific looking at every intersection and identified as good, bad or otherwise.  To him that seems a little unrealistic.  Commissioner McFadden replied that is what the City Engineer is supposed to do.  Chair McKechnie thinks it should be deleted. 
A comment was received from Commissioner Pulver clarifying use of arterial cross sections.  The new language denotes cross section with separated bicycle facilities shall be used first on new streets and evaluated first on existing streets.  Chair McKechnie asked, does the bicycle people has issues with that?  Ms. Paladino reported that it depends on the personality of the cyclist. 
Commissioner McFadden thinks the drawing is an example of the bicyclist on the bicycle route and depending on the tree he does not get seen until a vehicle turns in front of him.  Mr. MacNair responded that sort of thing is why the Transportation System Plan is being appealed.  They wanted more of this and how is the City going to get it everywhere.  It is lower traffic stress.  Separated facilities have shown to be safer in studies. 
There are reworded sentences in Minor Arterial, Major Collector, and Minor Collector related to street designs.  There was an added sentence about landscape medians on Minor Arterial (staff will request this to be removed at the hearing).  Mr. MacNair reported that it does not need to be in the standard cross section.  The cross section tells how wide it is, how many lanes, and not every design treatment of the street.  
There have been discussions with the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Transportation Commission on minor collectors.  Language provides the City Engineer flexibility to allow for reconfiguring the parking lane and the bicycle lane, or separating the bike lane from the roadway.  There is added wording about sight and distance at intersections and evaluating parking.
Mr. MacNair is not in favor of the change to the cross section language as a standard cross section.  Ms. Paladino commented that there are other mechanisms to modify the cross section. 
Commissioner Thomas thinks if you do not put criteria on why you would do it then it becomes political. 
Ms. Paladino reviewed minor graphic changes such as revising the drawings to say Easement not Right-of-Way, and dimensions.
Ms. Evans reported that they would have a decision from LUBA tomorrow on the TSP.  Ms. Paladino updated the date to April 23, 2019.        
30.          Adjournment
The meeting was adjourned at 12:50 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Richards
Recording Secretary

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