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Agenda & Minutes

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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Monday, April 27, 2020

The regular meeting of the Planning Commission was called to order in a Zoom webinar at 12:00 noon in Medford, Oregon on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Commissioners Present
Mark McKechnie, Chair
Joe Foley, Vice Chair
David Culbertson
David Jordan
Bill Mansfield
David McFadden
Jared Pulver
Staff Present
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney
Commissioners Absent
E.J. McManus, Excused Absence             
Jeff Thomas, Unexcused Absence          
Greg Lemhouse, United Strategies
Michael Pate – Amarok Ultimate Perimeter Security
20.    Subject
20.1 DCA-19-010 Electric Fence Amendment
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner reported that staff is seeking direction from the Planning Commission on draft language for electrified fences and consideration for a preferred option where electric fences are permitted and prohibited. 
Amarok (formerly Electric Guard Dog) initiated the amendment seeking code changes in expanding the zoning districts where electric fences are permitted.  The company has been approached by local Medford businesses to install this type of fencing and is finding limitations based on existing code provisions.
The current provisions permit electric fences around outdoor storage areas, including vehicle storage areas in C-H (Heavy Commercial), I-L (Light Industrial), I-G (General Industrial, and I-H (Heavy Industrial) or where needed to control livestock.
The proposal seeks to modify the title of Section 9.561 from Electric Fences to Electrified Fences.  A definition for electrified fence has been added.  A person seeking to install an electrified fence must receive a permit from the Building Safety Department, and if an alarm is included, then a burglar alarm permit is needed.  Prior to turning on the fence, applicant or agent must contact the Fire Department for an inspection and add the location to the Fire Department to the electrified fence registration list.  The electric charge produced by the fence shall be non-lethal and comply with the IEC (International Electro technical Commission) standard, 2018 edition.  The fence shall be installed and used in accordance with the Oregon Electrical Specialty Code and the Oregon Structural Specialty Code and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.  Energizer for the fence shall be through use of commercial storage batteries, the use of an AC current is not permitted.
Warning signs will be in English and Spanish with international symbol for electrical hazard.  Signs to be placed at intervals or 30 feet or less on both sides of the fence.  Signs shall meet reflectivity standards, letter height with a contrasting background.  Fire Department access to the premises shall be in accordance with Fire Code OSSC requirements.  Automatic gates must open using a sending device approved by the Fire Department.  Power to the electrified fence excluding the gate opening controls shall be deactivated upon automatic Fire Department access. Knox key box or equivalent shall be provided at an exterior location for any keyed locks or gates for immediate emergency access.  The fence shall only be electrified during hours when the general public does not have access.  The fence shall be part of a functioning security system and monitored 24 hours per day.
The maximum height of the electric fence is 10 feet.  Non-electrified fence required is a minimum of 6 feet surrounding outer perimeter.  Fences must comply with setbacks, landscape yards and buffer yard requirements.
By adding the SIC codes and Zones within the text, it clearly identifies for the citizen and staff reviewing the regulations what the use is and where it is permitted based on Chapter 10 guidance. Staff suggests adding five new category of uses which expands the allowance for electrified fences into additional Commercial zoning districts.
Options #1 and #2 for where electrified fences are permitted are the same from the existing allowance (Outdoor Storage Areas and Control of Livestock).  The proposed additions are heavy construction equipment rental and leasing; auto dismantlers and metal recyclers; trucking establishments, towing companies; and auto repair, services and garages. 
Option #1 prohibits electrified fences in the Central Business overlay district; Liberty Park Plan area, Southeast Plan area; when adjacent to residential in Commercial zones; Neighborhood Commercial and Service Commercial Professional; SFR and MFR zones or when adjacent; and Public Parks zone or when adjacent. Option #2 prohibits electrified fences in the Central Business overlay district. 
Option #3 is the same list as one and two but proposes to add the allowance for electrified fences to the Community Commercial Zoning district.
Option #3 prohibited areas are the Central Business overlay district; Liberty Park Plan area; Southeast Plan area; Neighborhood Commercial and Service Commercial Professional; SFR and MFR zones; and Public Parks zone.
Commissioner Mansfield asked, is the industry requesting Option #3 and is staff recommending Option #1? Ms. Paladino replied, that is correct.
Commissioner Mansfield asked, why does staff object to Option #3?  Ms. Paladino reported that the issue with Option #3 for permitting is that Outdoor storage does not permit that use in Community Commercial.  Staff feels that if an electrified fence is adjacent to a commercial or residential area it is not compatible.
Vice Chair Foley asked, would a solid wall come into play if the Commission chose Option #3?  Ms. Paladino responded that it would.
Commissioner Pulver asked, are the proposed allowed uses not permitted in Community Commercial?   Ms. Paladino replied just in Option #3. 
Commissioner Pulver asked, if the uses were permitted in Community Commercial but not allowing electric fences, would it create an inconsistency in the Code?  Ms. Paladino stated that it would. It would need to be called out specifically.
Commissioner Mansfield commented that he does not think safety is an issue.  The issue is choosing either Option #1 or Option #3.  Ms. Paladino responded that the next step would be to hear from the Commissioners on the entire draft. 
Ms. Paladino reported that the draft will be presented to the City Council at their Thursday, April 30, 2020 study session.  Presented to the Planning Commission at their May 14, 2020 public hearing and City Council public hearing on June 18, 2020.  What Ms. Paladino hears today from the Planning Commission will be passed on to the City Council. 
Vice Chair Foley asked, is the Central Business overlay district included or excluded in Option #3?  Ms. Paladino responded that in the Central Business overlay an electric fence is prohibited.
Commissioner Mansfield asked, with Option #3 would it be difficult to modify Chapter 9 in order to avoid the awkwardness she described?  Ms. Paladino stated staff would add language talking about electric fences being permitted in the Community Commercial zone.
Chair McKechnie asked, are electric fence details in the code or is it new language.  Ms. Paladino replied that it is modified language.  The difference is to expand the uses.
Chair McKechnie asked, has staff heard from the Police Department or anyone else that need electric fences that were being overrun with theft and mayhem on properties that needs consideration of this option or is it being driven by the  applicant?  Ms. Paladino responded it is at the applicant’s request.  She has not heard from the Police Department.  Fire has a concern to update the language so they can access appropriately.
Chair McKechnie asked, does staff think the language in the code are sufficient for electric fences?  Ms. Paladino stated that the new changes are appropriate.  It is benefiting Building and Fire.
Commissioner Pulver commented that having electric fences in some areas may discourage crime.  He does not think residential uses in commercial areas needs to be an exclusion.  He could see electric fences along the Greenway.  Ms. Paladino responded that Commissioner Pulver’s comments regarding electric fences providing a security feature and helping to deter unwanted activity is what the applicant would say.  From an aesthetics and livability standpoint staff is trying to control where electrified fences are going and for specific uses.
Chair McKechnie thought staff’s proposal for the electric fences were only in Heavy Commercial and the three industrial zones.  Ms. Paladino responded that staff’s proposal is Option #1 that electrified fences are permitted in the existing allowance (Outdoor Storage Areas and Control of Livestock).  The proposed additions are heavy construction equipment rental and leasing; auto dismantlers and metal recyclers; trucking establishments, towing companies; and auto repair, services and garages.  This expands into some of the commercial zones.  In conjunction staff is proposing to prohibit them in certain areas and adjacent to certain zones so that the limitation is more. 
Chair McKechnie asked, can it be done in such a way that electrified fences are not permitted in Community Commercial zones?  Ms. Paladino replied that uses would have to be removed or specifically state in the code it is not permitted in that zone.  That is Chair McKechnie’s preference. 
Commissioner McFadden commented that there is an auto repair shop on the corner of Jackson and North Central that goes to North Bartlett Street east.  He is not sure of the zoning.  Ms. Paladino believes it is Community Commercial.  Commissioner McFadden continued that they currently have an electric fence.  He is concerned with the visibility of those types of uses in some areas and Community Commercial might be one of them.  Ms. Paladino responded that in that case it would be difficult because there used to be an auto dealership then converted to auto repair.  The requirements for the buffer yards do not apply when changing the use. 
Commissioner McFadden asked, could the fence visibility be dealt with on a new application? Ms. Paladino replied yes.  She thinks it is noted in the commercial standards that outside storage requires site obscuring fence.  Ms. Evans can correct her if she is wrong.  Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director stated that it varies by zone.  In Industrial zones items can be outside behind a site obscuring fence.  In commercial zones all uses except those customarily conducted outdoors must be located within an enclosed building.  Outdoor storage is limited in commercial zones.  The code does not allow slates for screening purposes.  It is an interesting balance being able to see in.  If one can see into an area where things are desirable does it make sense to put an electrified fence behind a view obscuring fence?  It is an interesting question especially in a commercial zone. 
Commissioner Mansfield favors Option #3.  He does not share the belief that the site of the fence is that objectionable. 
Chair McKechnie thinks electrified fences should not be allowed in community commercial zones because the lots can be particularly small.  Whereas, in heavy commercial and industrial zones they have a larger minimum size requirement.  The chance of having an electrified fence up tight to something else is more likely to occur in a community commercial zone.  If it is not too much trouble for staff to have it in the four heavy industrial and commercial zones and not in the community commercial zone.  Personally he does not see the need for electrified fences.
Commissioner Pulver asked, would there be an option to say no to the changes or recommend an option or an option with changes when this comes before the Planning Commission public hearing?  Ms. Paladino replied absolutely.  These are just three options staff came up with. 
Vice Chair Foley agrees with Commissioner Mansfield.  He is leaning towards Option #3. 
Commissioner McFadden agrees with Chair McKechnie however, in terms of the visibility of the fence he agrees with Commissioner Mansfield.  If there more of a need he could go with Option #3 but that is not a big call for electrified fences. 
Commissioner Pulver would choose Option #2 with modifications and not allow in community commercial zones.       
Commissioner Jordan asked, is the additional industries of heavy construction equipment, auto dismantlers and others coming from the industry?  Ms. Paladino stated that came from looking at the applicant’s website and where they cater most.
Commissioner Culbertson is leaning towards Option #3.  He is not entirely convinced the community commercial zoning is that problematic about being permitted.  He would like to see visuals of what the fences look like going forward. 
Greg Lemhouse, United Strategies reported that in his experience in law enforcement property crimes are crimes of convenience.  Harder targets with security systems deter crime.  If there is an area secured and deters crime that keeps the criminal element from coming in that area which enhances livability in that area.  They can provide a great deal of information on what the product looks like.  This is a security system that is inside and existing fence line.  Most people do not see them when driving by. 
Michael Pate, Amarok (formerly Electric Guard Dog) stated that they do not care about the outdoor storage zoning designation.  United Rentals contacted Amarok to install the electric guard dog at their property.  United Rentals is allowed in the C-C zones.  They only care about the C-C zone and whatever is allowed in that zone at this time, not expanding the allow-ability of types of businesses within that zone.  They would like to see these types of businesses use the devices but that is doing an exclusion of some groups that may like to secure their property. They just want to include one more zone.  The devices are difficult to see. Solid walls make it hard to see someone hiding behind.  It is better, as a security issue, that there is an open space that can be visually inspected.  They are requesting Option #3.  They can supply a list of properties that have the device that the Commissioners can drive by and see.
Ms. Paladino summarized that she heard Option #3 from Commissioner Mansfield, Vice Chair Foley and potentially from Commissioner Culbertson.  Option #2 with modifications to the C-C zone from Commissioner Pulver.  Chair McKechnie is no in favor of anything in the C-C zone.  She did not get an option from Commissioner McFadden and Commissioner Jordan. 
Commissioner Jordan has interest in Option #3.
Commissioner McFadden does not have a preference at this time. 
Ms. Paladino reported that City Council will hear this Thursday.  Does the Planning Commission want to hear back from what the City Council decided or have staff put everything together and present it at the Planning Commissions public hearing on May 14, 2020?  Chair McKechnie responded that he would be interested but Ms. Paladino could send it in an email.         
100.        Adjournment
101. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 12:56 p.m. 
Submitted by:
Terri L. Richards                                                                               
Recording Secretary

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