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Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes
Monday, September 09, 2019
The regular meeting of the Planning Commission was called to order at 12:00 noon in the Medford Lausmann Annex, Room 151, 200 S. Ivy Street, Medford, Oregon on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Mark McKechnie, Chair
Joe Foley, Vice Chair
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney
Sarah Sousa, Planner IV
Kyle Kearns, Planner II
20.1 DCA-19-004 Emergency Shelters
Kyle Kearns, Planner II reported that the City Council adopted Temporary Shelters on September 20, 2018. Complaints received were that the Conditional Use Permit was onerous. On March 21 2019, the City Council directed staff to prepare policies for emergency shelters during “…severe weather emergencies…” with the following directives:
1. Create “Shelter Site Pre-Authorization Plan” (planning staff is not addressing)
2. Address Chapter 10 code language (planning staff addressing)
3. Address Chapter 12 code language for declaring emergency (not proposing with this project)
4. Fire/Life/Building Safety policies for shelters (planning staff addressing)
5. Administrative policies for severe weather events for shelters (planning staff addressing)
6. City staff should seek out shelter providers (planning staff is not addressing)
Temporary uses are often difficult to regulate. Conditional Uses Permit limits short-term action and definitions are limiting or non-existent.
The proposal creates new definitions for severe event and severe event shelter. They are permitted outright in all zones. Accessory to institutional uses in residential zones. It mirrored temporary shelter section removing unnecessary language from the code. Relies on City of Medford Shelter Policy.
Staff is seeking direction from service providers to aid in drafting policies on what a severe event is (outside Chapter 10). Staff will also seek out providers to set more shelters up for severe events. The proposal will be presented at the Thursday, September 26, 2019 Planning Commission hearing and is scheduled to go before the City Council on Thursday, November 7, 2019.
Does the Planning Commission want to review the policies that are outside the scope of Chapter 10 as part of the code amendment process or does the Commission feel those can be left out? Does the Planning Commission need more information before making a decision on September 26, 2019?
Vice Chair Foley asked, are fires, floods and earthquakes in this proposal? Mr. Kearns responded that they could be.
Commissioner McFadden asked, are there locations already identified for those issues? Mr. Kearns replied no. That would be in the scope for Emergency Management Plan. The discussion today is weather related.
Vice Chair Foley understands that but what about a wildfire that displaces 50 people. Red Cross opens a shelter. Can they do that in the City? Mr. Kearns stated that is outside the scope of this project.
Eric Mitton, City Deputy City Attorney commented that this is aimed at private organizations like a church or school who wants to set up for cold weather.
Vice Chair Foley stated it would not be as high as FEMA. The Red Cross gets calls from a fire department asking if the City could setup a temporary shelter. Does that type of instance fall into this category? If this is just for weather events he does not want it to preclude the City from other events that happen like tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, not big enough to trigger FEMA. Mr. Kearns read the current definition of Severe Event: “An act of nature or unforeseen circumstance that constitutes an uninhabitable living experience for individual or groups, as defined in the City of Medford Shelter Policy”. It depends on what it states in that policy. Given past experience there is latitude for the City Manager to make that decision. Commissioner McFadden and Commissioner Mansfield commented that seems to cover Vice Chair Foley’s concerns.
Chair McKechnie is confused. They just spent a lot of time on the shelter policy which was basically for the homeless. If that is still the group this is trying to serve why go through this proposal? Mr. Kearns responded that they have to get a Conditional Use Permit. Chair McKechnie suggested to fix that rather than coming through this proposal. The City has dealt with that population and has a policy. If it does not work, fix the policy. Mr. Kearns responded that they could recommend that.
Commissioner Pulver commented that he does not think they are being asked to approve the policy or not. It seems to be shoved down their throats because the City Council has decided this is necessary. That is not the question they are being asked. Personally he agrees with part of what Chair McKechnie stated. Conditional Use Permits are not made to be easy. If an organization decides to provide a shelter then they need to go through the process so neighbors are notified, they are set up appropriately and operate. What he read is that the organizations are willing to do it for a couple of nights but beyond that is too much of a burden. He is not in favor of this proposal.
Vice Chair Foley commented that when discussing temporary shelters originally there was the long term that was pushed to the side and then there was the immediate need for cooling that they are trying to address with this proposal. Chair McKechnie’s statement is the correct one. Instead of creating a new policy is there a simpler fix to the current policy that allows for short durations versus approval of 180 days? The Conditional Use Permit makes sense for the longer term but for shorter term there needs to be a way to certify those places to be able to do that without going through the Conditional Use Permit process. It seems to him this is going about this the wrong way. Mr. Kearns replied that is the way they are proposing to do this. Currently, there is the temporary shelter policy. As proposed now, they are changing it to the Shelter Policy that are items outside of Chapter 10. There is no definition in Chapter 10 for the three to four day shelters. They have to refer to the temporary shelters that have to go through the Conditional Use Permit process or the SIC code the points to emergency shelters that is only permitted in four City zoning districts. It is not allowed in residential zones that are largely where churches are located. They are the ones wanting to do the temporary shelters. The shelter policy dictates when, how and the length of time these shelters can be opened.
Commissioner Mansfield asked, what is Commissioner Pulver against? Commissioner Pulver responded that the idea of the temporary shelter with a Conditional Use Permit was that it gave the ability to be opened for 180 days not that they necessarily intend to be. It is an important distinction that if an organization wants to offer this service it should be difficult. When churches are approved as a conditional use and it comes before the Planning Commission, the Commissioners look at what they are providing. If they are going to change the scope of what they are doing it should be a new application. His objection of what is being proposed will utilize a lot of resources of the City’s for a legitimate problem. He does not think this is how taxpayers want their resources used. Mr. Kearns responded that there are three or four churches that are ready to go. Commissioner Pulver does not think three or four will suffice. The City continues to enable the homeless and not solve the problem. This is another means of enabling.
Commissioner McFadden does not want to review policies outside of Chapter 10. Chapter 10 is what the Planning Commission goes by. There is no reason for the Planning Commission to review other chapters.
Commissioner Mansfield agrees with Commissioner McFadden. It was a consensus of the Planning Commissioners not to review other chapters outside of Chapter 10.
It feels to Commissioner McManus they are trying to create a parameter for other operators to provide this type of emergency service where there are other entities (i.e. Red Cross) that have already built these policies. They did it according to what the code allowed. Now, other private organizations are asking to do the same thing. He agrees that it is in their wheel-house to try and accomplish what the City Council is wanting to do. He does not think it is the right path.
Commissioner Thomas agrees with Commissioner Pulver.
Mr. Mitton asked, would it alleviate some of the concerns if the definitions were clarified that this is focusing primarily on the homeless population for short term weather events opposed to Red Cross emergency situations?
Commissioner McFadden does not think churches are set up to shelter long term. If it is short term for a specific reason it does not need a Chapter 10 review.
Commissioner Culbertson agrees with all the sentiments voiced. If a church has the facilities and capacity to have a warming shelter they know the process because they filed for a Conditional Use Permit in the past for 90 days, in that case they know and are prepared for the process. Maybe a streamline could be created for the people that have the capacity. As long as they follow the guidelines, have the emergency plan in place, made an application in the past, that their application is automatically expedited for the next season. His fear is allowing a church that is ill equipped to handle the circumstance and something happens in a short three day period they point to the City that they allowed them do it on a short term basis.
Mr. Kearns reported that the Shelter Operations Plan covers those concerns. It makes sure the building meets the code requirements. Staff has been directed to get this completed before winter.
Commissioner McFadden asked, could the City in an emergency situation have a liability waiver for a two or three day situation? Mr. Mitton responded that if a shelter catches fire and people die a waiver is not going to protect anyone. There is not another option between the warming /cooling shelters that require a Conditional Use Permit and the Mayor declaring a state of emergency that means anything in the code can be suspended at the Mayors discretion. Currently, there is no middle ground for a cold week and the existing warming shelters do not have the capacity and other places want to offer shelter for a few days.
Commissioner Mansfield agrees that liability waivers do not work.
Mr. Kearns asked, is it correct that the Planning Commission does not want to review the policies? There was not an audible answer.
Mr. Kearns asked, is the hearing date fine or does the Commission want two more weeks. Chair McKechnie stated it would be helpful if the Commission could get more information and clarity. Mr. Kearns responded that the only difference would be the policy that the Commission has stated they did not want to review. It would be more refined with reasons why the shelters could open and standards that service providers want incorporated.
Commissioner McFadden commented that those issues are outside of Chapter 10. If the policies were incorporated into Chapter 10 then the Commission should review it.
Chair McKechnie responded that if this is specifically for the homeless having a church on the east side of Medford would not be helpful. More than likely it will affect church organizations closer to the downtown area. If the idea is that there is an unusual cold snap and the shelter ran out of space and wanted to use a neighboring facility for several days to take care of the overflow a better way to do that is to put in something that allows the shelter administration to be responsible instead of the policy. Mr. Kearns reported that they have to work the policy regardless. The policy requires them to get an operational permit through the Fire department regardless of three days or ninety. They have to go through building inspections to meet the codes.
Mr. Mitton stated that the Kelly Shelter’s permit has a limit on beds and which buildings on campus can be used. There are specific rules. Currently, cooling/warming shelters cannot suddenly open up a building that Fire and Building have not been through already. The permits are specific to a particular floor plan and layout. One cannot be ad-hoc adding more square footage that has not been reviewed outside what was approved for cool/warming shelters. If the intent is to be able in the short term add a building to an existing cooling/warming shelter the cooling/warming code would need to be rewritten.
Mr. Kearns reported staff’s direction was to keep Chapter 10 with minimal changes and work through the policy in regards to temporary shelters whether they be three or ninety days. If the Commission wants the opportunity to review the policy staff is happy to provide that. Getting into the details of occupants and how many buildings the Commission needs to review the policy.
Vice Chair Foley would like to review the policy.
Commissioner McManus asked, when talking to private organizations has there been correspondence with Red Cross? Vice Chair Foley reported Red Cross does not have these types of facilities, they just administer. Red Cross is for disaster services.
Commissioner McManus stated it seems there could already be in place these agreements with all these shelters. If those agreements are already in place they have to be in compliant. Maybe staff is addressing an issue that has already been taken care of by operators who already do emergency preparedness but maybe focuses on disasters. Mr. Kearns responded that currently the City has temporary shelters for ninety days and declared emergency in the code but there is no middle ground. If the Commission feels they need more information staff needs to get the policy written by October but staff could bring the policy before the Planning Commission to review. Does the Planning Commission want to review the policy?
Chair McKechnie, Vice Chair Foley, and Commissioner McFadden replied yes.
Mr. Kearns reported the hearing would be early October for the Planning Commission and late November for the City Council.
20.2 Discussion regarding a Site Plan & Architectural Commission request to amend Chapter 10 of the Medford Municipal Code to require a conditional use permit for car washes and fuel stations adjacent to residential zones.
Sarah Sousa, Planner IV reported that Site Plan and Architectural Commission reviewed a commercial development that included a fuel station and car wash in a primarily residential area. They were concerned the car wash/fuel station uses were too industrial and intensive adjacent to residential. They found the conditions that can be imposed on permitted uses are insufficient to mitigate anticipated impacts.
Commissioner McFadden commented that they had this discussion with the Albertsons on Barnett Road and North Phoenix Road. Were code changes made after that based on their findings at the time? Was the six foot wall a condition of approval? Ms. Sousa does not know of anything as the result of that. There were conditions limiting certain things for the shopping center not so much the fuel station.
Commissioner Mansfield agrees they need to make those conditional uses.
Ms. Sousa continued that the Site Plan and Architectural Commission requests a code amendment to make car washes and fuel stations as conditional uses if adjacent to residential properties. The existing code allows fuel stations in all commercial and industrial zones. Car washes are not permitted in C-S/P zones, are permitted in the rest of the commercial and industrial zones except they are conditional in C-N zones. If changing due to the Site Plan and Architectural Commission request there would be a special use reference for fuel stations and car washes explaining that these uses would be conditional if adjoining or abutting residential.
Other options: 1) Allow car washes and fuel stations in the same zones as they are currently allowed but require a distance requirement of 500-1000 feet to residential properties. 2) Allow car washes and fuel stations in the same zones as they are currently allowed but require special standards such as requiring privacy walls, limiting the hours of operation, and increasing setbacks, etc.
On June 13, 2019 the City Council discussed auto-oriented uses as they relate to the downtown and to the Liberty Park Neighborhood. The City Council will be considering uses in the Liberty Park Neighborhood Plan in the coming months to promote a more mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, and livable area.
Commissioner Mansfield favors the conditional use permit and does not favor the other options.
Chair McKechnie is opposed to all of them. He thinks it is fine the way it is.
Vice Chair Foley asked, what zone is McAndrews and Springbrook? Ms. Sousa replied C-C. Vice Chair Foley does not think it makes sense to make C-S/P conditional but conditional for the other three regular commercial zones and leave industrial zones as they are. The least amount of change is best.
Commissioner Pulver thinks the Site Plan and Architectural Commission was wrong. They have a lot of tools in their toolbox that they chose not to use any of them and denied the application as City Council deemed inappropriately. City Council imposed a lot of restrictions which he is not sure they are allowed to impose but they did none the less and utilized all the tools and more to try and make the development compatible. There are requirements in the code for when commercial or industrial abuts residential and what needs to be done to try and help buffer that. Planning at the state and local level are advocating for these uses to be closer together. It is seen in all the UGB expansion areas that there is a mix of residential and commercial if not all mix all three. There is more of that coming. Outlawing certain uses is discriminatory. Staff should not waste any more time on this. He is not in favor of any of the changes. He echoes Chair McKechnie’s comment.
Ms. Sousa stated that the Site Plan and Architectural Commission (SPAC) technically does not have what the Planning Commission has for conditional use permits is that of limiting hours of operation. Site Plan and Architectural Commission looks at architecture, site compatibility and site design.
Commissioner Pulver responded that conditional use permits puts the Planning Commission in an awkward position depending on the application. Not only does it ask the Planning Commission to do SPACs job in regards to the architectural side. It circumvents SPAC and comes directly to the Planning Commission to review things that are not in their purview. For that reason he does not like conditional use permits. Additionally, how is one going to meet the criteria of causing no adverse impacts on abutting properties and/or it is in the public interest?
Mr. Mitton stated that if appeals were filed the Circle K project may be an ongoing process. He would like to keep this hypothetical.
Chair McKechnie reported there are two people wanting to keep the code the way it is, one wants to change it all, one interested in some change and three others have not heard from.
Commissioner Thomas would like to look at it.
Commissioner McManus was not in favor of the conditional use permit conversation. He agrees with Commissioner Pulver. No change.
Commissioner McFadden responded that permitted makes the Planning Commissions decisions easier. He does not mind it being a conditional use permit but needs to make sure the “toolbox” for conditional use permits has options.
Carla Paladino reported that code amendment requests will come before the Planning Commission on the consent calendar that they can either initiate or deny.
101. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 1:08 p.m.
Terri L. Richards