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Agenda & Minutes

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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Monday, June 08, 2020

The study session of the Planning Commission was called to order in a Zoom webinar at 12:00 p.m. 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
E.J. McManus (joined 12:05 p.m.)
Jared Pulver
Commissioner Absent
Jeff Thomas, Excused Absence
Staff Present
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney
Kyle Kearns, Planner II
20.    Subject
20.1 GF-20-052 Transportation Planning Rule (TPR0 Subsection (11)
Kyle Kearns, Planner II reported that Ordinance 2019-108 amended the Medford Land Development Code to incorporate the Transportation Planning Rule (TPR) in reference to the City’s transportation concurrency and zone change requirements.  The City’s zone change approval criteria have provisions requiring certain public facilities be provided for, or can be provided for, prior to approval.  One such public facility is adequate streets and street capacity.  Generally, transportation facility adequacy is measured by level of service at an intersection of higher order streets.  With the use of TPR as the determinant of adequate streets and street capacity and through amending the land development code the City has enabled provisions that previously were unavailable for transportation mitigations.
Previously, in order to ensure adequate street capacity, all projected transportation impacts had to be mitigated in order to allow for development of a rezoned property.  The Transportation Planning Rule includes the provisions of Subsection (11). 
Subsection (11) is one of several mitigation options within the Transportation Planning Rule.  Staff has concluded that this process is available for use in the City without creating a new process.  To further investigate the application of Subsection (11) staff reached out to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD), Business Oregon and an email group called the Oregon Planner’s Network (OPN).  Substantive responses were received from Mike Baker of ODOT and Bill Holmstrom of DLCD. 
Both ODOT and DLCD reviewed their records and concluded that Subsection (11) is used infrequently, on a “one-off basis,” or has not been applied in the State.
Mr. Kearns presented a flow chart showing how the TPR Subsection would be applied to a land use application, shown to impact transportation facilities, while proposing “industrial” or “traded sector” jobs with the development and proposing use of TRP (11) to mitigate transportation impacts.  Then pre-application meetings and/or informal meetings to discuss proposal are encouraged.  A transportation impact analysis is performed.  City provides concurrence that the benefits of jobs outweigh traffic impacts. If a state highway system is impacted ODOT must coordinate with Business Oregon to confirm job benefits of proposal.  If not confirmed, proposal can’t use TPR (11).
Then, a local government must notice (45 day notice) ODOT, Business Oregon, local MPO, area Transportation Commission and impacted municipalities for comment before hearing.  Applicants and the City must adhere to Comprehensive Plan process (i.e. Goal 2), and confirm direct benefit to traded-sector/industrial jobs, and a zone overlay to limit retail uses in development to 5% is required.  Public hearings may proceed, proposing TPR (11) use. 
Commissioner McFadden feels that the process should start with a pre-application and not a land use application that is limited by the 120 day rule.  Should this all happen before the City accepts a land use application? Mr. Kearns reported that the pre-application meeting is not required by code.  They are heavily encouraged.  Commissioner McFadden commented that giving the agencies 45 day notice and all the steps mentioned in the flow chart seems to him needs to happen at the pre-application meeting.  The complete land use application should fall before the public hearing proceeds.  Mr. Kearns understands what Commissioner McFadden is talking about.  The pre-application is not required by the code.  The flow chart follows the way it is outlined in the TPR.  The applicant can choose not to do a pre-application. 
Commissioner Mansfield asked, what input from the Planning Commission does staff want?  It sounds like Subsection (11) says it does good transportation planning unless jobs are involved in which case balancing needs to be done.  Mr. Kearns stated that this code provision goes into balancing.  Staff is asking whether the Commission agrees with staff’s conclusions that he will get to shortly.         
Staff has concluded two key points.  First, the use and process for Subsection (11) is already established within TPR.  Creating a separate or distinct process for Medford would add ambiguity and barriers to the zone change process.  Second, application of Subsection (11) could present liability in funding and mitigating transportation projects.
Staff is asking the Commission whether they support staff’s conclusion to take no further action on this topic and to provide direction to staff.
Commissioner Mansfield commented that he agrees with staff’s conclusion.
Vice Chair Foley asked, if the City utilizes Subsection (11) and it affects ODOT or County Roads does the City’s cost get precluded if they agree jobs outweigh the impacts?  Mr. Kearns replied that was the impression Mr. Baker gave in his email.  The finer details of Subsection (11) have not been flushed out since nobody has used it.  The City of Medford would be the first to allow it. 
Vice Chair Foley asked, when will the City deem the application complete and begin the 120 day rule in the graphic Mr. Kearns provided a flow chart of how TPR Subsection (11) would be applied to a land use application?  Mr. Kearns responded it would start at land use application submittal.  Again, the pre-application by TPR Subsection (11) is not required.  Projects that would be able to use Subsection (11) would be large so more than likely substantial discussion would happen.  Pre-applications for other land use applications would be encouraged. 
Commissioner McFadden asked, does staff want to include the flow chart into the code as a local way of handling Subsection (11) issues with large industrial type customers?  Statewide ODOT and DLCD has never seen anything done with this.  Would the City be able to charge the industry the cost of improving the roadway?  Mr. Kearns responded that staff is proposing to do nothing.  Staff created the infographic to explain the existing process.  Staff is not looking to create a local process.
Commissioner McFadden asked, what prevents staff from deleting Subsection (11) out completely?  Mr. Kearns stated that it is not prohibited in the code.  It is available to land use applicants as a provision in the Transportation Planning Rule.
Commissioner McFadden commented that if no one has used it and provides a liability for the City why not eliminate it from the code?   Mr. Kearns responded that is one avenue.  They prohibited the use of Subsection (9) in the zone change criteria of the TPR.
Chair McKechnie asked, is Subsection (11) new?  It is Mr. Kearns understanding. 
Chair McKechnie asked, is the reason for Subsection (11) primarily comments received from CSA Planning, Ltd.?  Mr. Kearns responded yes and comments from The Chamber of Commerce.  Chair McKechnie stated that one of the things they were worried about was a manufacturer or trade company coming in with jobs.  The traffic study indicates with traffic added to the facility some intersections that are already maxed out fail.  Without Subsection (11) they would be required to bring that intersection up to the designated level of service.  Mr. Kearns replied that is correct.  As it is now the applicant, in their findings, choose this as a mitigation option.
Chair McKechnie commented that leaving Subsection (11) alone the current rule does not give ODOT or the County a pass on road improvements.  If played with it might give them a pass on something.  Is that what they meant by their conversation? Mr. Kearns stated that the pass Chair McKechnie speaks of would occur if the City accepts the partial mitigation and impacts a state or County roadway.  That means the City is relieving the responsibility to mitigate accepting the benefit of the jobs.  Jobs are more important than changing the capacity at intersections to meet the new demands from the jobs.  Allowing an applicant to make that finding and accepting that finding at a local level the City relieves other municipalities or roadway providers having to provide their share of mitigation.  This would play out at the intersections of North and South Medford Interchanges. 
Chair McKechnie’s understanding is that if their traffic studies indicate an impact south of the North Medford Interchange the developer would have to fix it not ODOT.  Mr. Kearns reported he does not know the finer details of that intersection.  He deferred the question to other staff members in attendance.  Chair McKechnie thought that a new development has to pay for any impacts that occur water, sewer, traffic or something else.  Mr. Kearns replied that is correct.  State facilities are grayer in his understanding. 
It seems to Commissioner McFadden that The Chamber and CSA Planning would not be making this change if they thought the industry would pay for it.  They want ODOT or the City to pay for it.  Chair McKechnie’s understanding is that Subsection (11) is already in the system and the infographic shows how it works.  The question is whether the Commission wants staff to add their own process in addition to this.  Staff states they do not need to add their own process because there is enough information already.   Mr. Kearns agreed. 
Commissioner Pulver agrees with Commissioner Mansfield and staff.  There are intersections that have failing components.  People that are pro-growth want the southeast to come in that will probably affect the South Medford and Phoenix Interchanges.  He speculates that CSA Planning and The Chamber are looking for avenues that will not kill a deal that could be good for the area. 
Commissioner Pulver’s understanding of the 120 day rule is an application is submitted stating they do not have to mitigate issues identified in the traffic study and cited Subsection (11).  Just citing subsection (11) is not enough to get a pass.  Mr. Kearns replied yes. 
Chair McKechnie is not too concerned about the timeline.
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney has hesitancy telling an applicant their application is not complete because staff is waiting on an outside agency that has not commented on it.  Unless an applicant voluntarily extends the 120 day rule staff could state they cannot support Subsection (11) if they did not have comments from the outside agencies. Chair McKechnie does not disagree with that.  To further address Commissioner McFadden’s comment of the 120 day rule, Chair McKechnie stated there is an additional 30 days at the front end to work with.  
Vice Chair Foley agrees with Chair McKechnie.  There are a number of spots that findings need to be made.  The City and the Planning Commission need to agree the applicant met the level of jobs versus the transportation impact.  Just because they cited Subsection (11) does not mean they get a free ride.  It means they are allowed to make an argument that their jobs override the need and the City and Planning Commission needs to make the decision whether they agree or not.  He is okay with it the way it is and not put something around it from their perspective.
Commissioner McFadden asked, where do they make that call?  Is ten new jobs in the Valley not worth $1 million worth of transportation improvements?  He feels they are sticking their necks in.  He is not against development in the area.
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director stated staff would not ask the Commission to make a decision in a vacuum.  The TPR requires at least a consultation if not a pre-application with staff.  Staff would not ask the Planning Commission to obligate the City because of a good idea.  ODOT has to consult with another State agency and staff would do the same internally.  It is important to keep economic development open.
Chair McKechnie asked, will this come formally at a Commission meeting?  Mr. Kearns replied that staff would not come back in a formal meeting.  It is a general file not an amendment unless the Commission provided direction counter to staff’s conclusions.  This will be the last the Planning Commission will hear of it except for maybe a follow up if the Transportation Commission agrees with the Planning Commission and staff is not moving forward.
Chair McKechnie requested a poll from the Commission on yes they agree with staff or no.
Commissioner McFadden commented that the Planning Commission has never made a decision in a study session.
Carla Paladino stated that staff is not asking for a decision.  Staff is asking whether or not the Commission wants staff to proceed with an amendment or not. 
Commissioner McFadden asked, why deal with Subsection (11)?  Chair McKechnie commented that is what staff is asking from the Commission.
Chair McKechnie agrees with staff.                                                 
Commissioner McFadden agrees with staff but it makes him nervous.
Commissioner Culbertson agrees with staff to drop it.  He is all for taking things off the books and simplifying the processes.  
Vice Chair Foley agrees with staff.  Leave it as is. 
Commissioner McManus agrees with staff.
Commissioner Pulver agrees with staff.
Commissioner Jordan supports staff’s recommendation.
Commissioner Mansfield agrees with staff.
Vice Chair Foley responded that they will drop this and wait to hear what the Transportation Commission has to say.
Ms. Evans reported that the Planning Commission will have their last virtual regular meeting Thursday evening.  On June 25, 2020 the Planning Commission will be in Council Chambers.  We have the Alba and Medford Room to social distance for dining.  Council Chambers is different.  There is a table set up in front of the dais so some Commissioners will be sitting at that table and some at the dais.
Staff has not found a place to host the Commission for study sessions and maintain social distancing.  Study sessions will probably still be virtual for the foreseeable future. 
Commissioner Culbertson asked, would the Commission be able to use Council chambers for study sessions just reverse it having the Commissioners sit in the gallery?  Ms. Evans responded that is a thought and they may be able to do that. It is not a bad idea.         
100.        Adjournment
101. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 12:44 p.m. 
Submitted by:
Terri L. Richards                                                                               
Recording Secretary

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