Services Departments Government

Planning Commission Minutes
Feb. 6, 2017
6:30 p.m., DSB Auditorium

Commissioners present: Michael Wilson, Gail Holmes, John Drentlaw, Michael Wagner, Thomas Peterson, Mark Fitz, John Gray.

Commissioners absent: Brian Pasko

Staff present: Karen Buehrig, Jennifer Hughes, Mike McCallister, Darcy Renhard.

  1. Commission Chair Drentlaw called the meeting to order at 6:35 p.m.
  2. Karen Buehrig began the staff report. This public meeting is to review the proposed 2017-2018 Long Range Planning Work Program. The Board of County Commissioners will have a study session to discuss the Work Program on February 28th and will give their decision at the business meeting on March 16th. This year, in an effort to align projects with the goals and outcomes of DTD’s Managing for Results (MFR) program, we have included transportation system plans which are a part of long range planning. MFR is the strategic business plan for the entire DTD that supports the Performance Clackamas strategic measures. Within the strategic plan, there is a long range planning program. It is a little different this year because we are including land use development items. Funding sources are different for transportation plans and land use & zoning plans. Table 1 has a draft of the 2017-2018 Work Program. Transportation Planning projects are listed in this year’s Work Program as well, which is a different approach from prior years. Because funding sources are different for land use planning activities and transportation planning projects, we cannot increase the land use planning staff time by reducing the transportation planning time. Some projects do overlap, and overall there are 26 projects on the list. Three CPOs submitted project ideas. Some project ideas were specific to the ZDO, some were relative to the Comprehensive Plan. Some project suggestions fell under construction plans, which are outside the scope of long range planning. 
  3. Jennifer Hughes continued the staff report, explaining that the first thing we need to do is a summary of where we are with our current Work Program. There are 5 projects on the approved work program. The reserves project is complete because the Board of County Commissioners has terminated additional review of the reserves. Work on the ZDO audit was suspended in 2015 due to the marijuana land use regulations project. We are still hoping to bring an audit amendment package to the Planning Commission at some point this fiscal year, but the date is not yet final. Another major project that we did was related to disincorporation of the former City of Damascus. We applied our zoning code to areas formerly in the city and are proceeding with reviewing the urban growth management agreement with the City of Happy Valley, which has an interest in planning part of the area. The revisions to the marijuana regulations will be heard next week. Staff is in the process of putting together the amendment package for the natural resource zone updates which will align our natural resource ordinances with State law. That package will be heard on February 27.

    Jennifer continued with an overview of the staff-recommended long-range land use planning work program for 2017-2018. Staff would like to make significant progress on the ZDO audit in the 2017-2018 fiscal year to bring us closer to where we originally anticipated being at this point with the project. There is concern that due to possible retirements in the near future, we may be losing staff who have the expertise and skills needed to do all of the necessary work on the audit. The second project that staff is recommending for the next Work Plan is to update our floodplain regulations. This project is on the list because of a recent lawsuit brought against FEMA which requires us to make amendments to our floodplain ordinance. There are time constraints that are outside the County’s control, so it is a high priority project. The third project that staff is recommending for next year’s Work Program is transitional housing. The BCC has expressed an interest in this project as a means to address the homeless issue within Clackamas County. There are a number of options that staff has begun doing research on, but we are not sure at this point where the Board will want to go and what the scope will be. The fourth project that staff is recommending is the Park Avenue Station Area Plan. Two different plans have been submitted by representatives of the area, one for the station area and one for the entire McLoughlin area, but staff is recommending a scaled down proposal. We are recommending that there be outreach to the local property owners regarding specific revisions to development standards that might cause community concern. There are some potential opportunities for MAP-IT to obtain grant funding through the State of Oregon or Metro and staff is recommending that we support them in their efforts to obtain such funding.

    Karen Buehrig continued with the staff report, discussing the recommended transportation planning projects for the 2017-2018 work program. Karen pointed out that the transportation plans that are in orange on the table are carry-over from last year’s plan. Other projects are listed after those. Over a year ago, we did receive funds from Metro to do a Stafford area infrastructure feasibility study.

    Commissioner Wagner asked about the status of doing the safety audit on Passmore Road in Mulino that the BCC committed to doing 4 or 5 years ago. Karen answered that she will check with Joe Marek as to the status.

    Commissioner Fitz said that the biggest thing that came up a year ago was the people who have kennels in the Damascus area. When they become neighbors to Happy Valley there may be problems.

    Commissioner Peterson asked if there was any opportunity to plan for fill-in in advance of staff retiring. Mike McCallister replied that as far as staff goes, we are actually up about 1.5 FTE from where we were a year ago, but that 3 of those staff are entry level planners. The retirement that was referred to earlier is a senior planner who has spent the last 4 or 5 years focusing on the audit. Because of the expertise needed, it will be very hard to replace the institutional knowledge that this planner has. From a staff perspective, it is important to get the audit work done before other staff with long term institutional knowledge retire and we lose their expertise.

    Chair Drentlaw opened the public testimony.

    Karen Bjorklund-10824 SE Oak St., Milwaukie / Walt Gamble – 1786 SW Greenway Ct., West Linn: Ms. Bjorklund and Mr. Gamble explained that the CPO Summit is a group of CPO representatives that started meeting in November to discuss issues that they share. The group created a list of their top priorities, some of which can be addressed with ZDO amendments. Mr. Gamble: the first proposal is that ZDO comment periods are too short for the citizens to respond with comments. He would like it if when an application is deemed complete, it be sent immediately to the CPO so it can be distributed to the appropriate residents. The second idea is that when the notice actually goes out, it gets emailed to the CPO chair as well. Ms. Bjorklund: with regard to appeal of hearings officer decisions, she would like to keep the appeal process on a local level. Currently the requirement is that HO appeals go to LUBA, which is a financial barrier because you have to hire an attorney to represent you at LUBA. It is also a barrier to local land use planning. She feels that the appeals should go to the BCC because they are local and their interests are local. They have a better idea of what is needed than LUBA does. One of the top issues discussed at the CPO forum is that there is such a lack of citizen involvement within the County. She recommends that the PC put effort into the coming year to find solutions for this lack of citizen involvement. People who are interested in the CPO Summit can send Karen Bjorklund an email, care of Jennings Lodge CPO. Commissioner Wagner said that having appeals go to the BCC may actually backfire because the BCC may find it easier to approve things when there is a crowd of angry people facing them. Also, you are not required to hire an attorney to go to LUBA. Commissioner Peterson pointed out that there are timeline issues that must be addressed, and that extending timelines for comment may affect this. He asked if having the ability to do an appeal at the local level would impact these required timeframes. Ms. Bjorklund replied that parameters could be set up so that only certain things are appealable at the local level. Things keep being brought up because there are underlying issues, which could potentially be resolved if there was the ability to look into it at the local level. Mr. Gamble stated that some things should not be a local appeal because of the technicality involved. Maybe there could be a tiered system. The CPOs are all asking that local appeal be at the BCC. Commissioner Peterson asked if they are wanting to have things appealed to the BCC that have gone only before the hearings officer and not things that have already gone through the PC and BCC process. Mr. Gamble affirmed that this was correct.

    Mike Connors – 520 SW Yamhill St., Suite 235, Portland: Mr. Connors is testifying on behalf of Embry Asset Group. They are asking for reconsideration of the size exception in rural commercial zones. This is shown as item #15 on the table. State law specifically allows for certain exceptions to these size limitations. Pre-2015 code allowed for a 4,000 sf size limitation. In 2015, staff recommended that the BCC defer the exception issue to a later process, but here it is 2017 and the issue still has not been addressed. He feels that it is a pretty narrow issue that would not take up a lot of staff time, but staff feels that providing notice and the actual staff time required for the notice process would require more than what we are able to provide at this point. Mr. Connors argues that outreach is not legally required and was not done in the 2015 process. Property-specific notice was not required or provided in the first process, so why would it be required now? He is worried that this will morph into a permanent size restriction, which is not consistent with other counties or State law. He is asking that item #15 be included and that staff not be required to provide property-specific notice. Commissioner Wagner asked what size Mr. Connors client needs. Mr. Connors stated that State law allows up to 8,000 sf, but that is more than his client needs. Jennifer Hughes pointed out that we did, in fact, do a property-specific notice to all zones that were being touched by the proposed amendments in 2015. In fact, the Planning Division sent several thousand notices to the applicable property owners as is legally required, although the requirement was not due to the issue raised by Mr. Connors. Her concern with this request is that it potentially has some wide-ranging implications to some of our rural communities. There is nothing in unincorporated communities that limits the size of the building, as long as you can demonstrate that it serves the local community. If you start to allow these larger commercial installations in these smaller communities, how is it going to impact them and is it something that they even want? There was no exception language prior to 2015, although she understands why Mr. Connors thinks there was an exception. What staff was actually proposing in 2015 was to offer an exception, but then we realized that we should do more community outreach first. Commissioner Wagner is concerned that the zoning code may be interrupting the free market. Mike McCallister explained that this is really a policy level discussion. If the PC wants it as a project on the Work Program, then it should be considered with property owner notice and weighed against the other projects to see what should be taken off the list. Commissioner Fitz asked if we could allow for some flexibility, for example adding a second floor instead of taking up more ground space. Jennifer explained that we can’t do that under the current code but we could with amendments.

    Grover Borenfeld – 4308 SE Boardman Ave., Jennings Lodge: Mr. Borenfeld is a member of the Jennings Lodge CPO board. ORS 660-105 specifically calls out that counties shall coordinate with citizen involvement committees. He expressed his frustration with being a citizen who has been involved for 16 years, but does not feel that he has been heard at all. How do you get people involved if you repeatedly have people who are trying to be involved but are not listened to and end up feeling like they have made no difference?

    Nancy Gibson – 5884 SE Jennings Ave., Jennings Lodge: Ms. Gibson is a board member for Oak Lodge Water Services. She is specifically concerned about tree mitigation. Our urban forest is of much more value to us as a standing forest than as one that has been razed. Every mature tree helps to mitigate storm water. We are currently experiencing excessive storm water, and every one of the mature trees requires 700 gallons of this water. We need to maintain our urban canopy not just to maintain the CO2 absorption, but to mitigate the heat islands that are caused when all of the trees are removed. There is a lot of data which shows how much energy usage is reduced per household when there are trees providing mitigation against heat and other conditions. Commissioner Peterson asked how long she has been trying to promote this tree mitigation idea. Mr. Borenfeld said that they had been working on it since 2012. Mitigation is the best that can be done if development is going to be allowed to remove all of the mature trees. Commissioner Fitz asked why they don’t go through the water district for assistance. Friends of Trees will aggressively sell you the trees to replace what was removed. He asked if they were working with any of these types of groups that are proactively trying to replace trees. Ms. Gibson and Mr. Borenfeld feel that the responsibility for mitigation should fall on the developer.

    Joseph Edge – 14850 SE River Forest Drive, Oak Grove: Mr. Edge is the chair of MAP-IT, who is trying to get the County to take on the Park Avenue Station Plan. He would like the PC to recommend the work program as presented by staff. He thinks the County will need to apply for the grants rather than assist MAP-IT in applying. He wants to see a lot more family wage employment in the area, and density is really limited in the area. The whole area is over-retailed. We need to take a look at the current plan and possibly provide some sort of incentive to provide more diversity with what is available for development. They don’t’ need more infrastructure, they just need to leverage what is already there. MAP-IT has a lot of overlapping concerns with the Jennings Lodge CPO. They would like to see a comprehensive plan for the area in the future.

    On behalf of the North Clackamas Watershed Council, he would like to see a richer plan for the Phillips Creek project. He would like to see green space in the area, as it is really parks and nature deficient. Another project they would like to see is a study to identify the hot spots where wildlife conflicts are taking place and what kind of mitigation can be done to reduce not only the ecological element, but the economic costs. He feels that, specifically from the transportation side, there is opportunity to increase road safety in rural areas. He is also proposing that the County have a full-time staff member to keep track of the various regulations that are changing because of the ESA. He feels that with someone in charge of these regulations the County would be ahead of the curve when it comes to lawsuits like the one brought by the Audubon Society this last year, which incidentally also results in having to allocate County staff and resources unexpectedly. Finally, he would like to comment that the tree ordinance does not require that you show how you considered alternatives and techniques before you conclude that tree preservation is not feasible. He suggests that applicants be required to submit a narrative explaining how their proposal meets each criterion.

    Paul Savas: County Commissioner Savas explained that he was testifying as a citizen, not a Commissioner. He feels that our land use system and what the community wants are somewhat conflicted. He has observed over his 20 years of involvement that we are losing our trees because our land use system accommodates development. What we need to talk about is preserving what we have. 

    The other big issue is affordability. Wherever we put a lot of government investment, the cost of living increases exponentially. So the question then, is how much density is the right density? This is a question that we don’t have the answer to tonight. MAP1 and MAP2 created the goals, strategies, principles, policies, and programs of the McLoughlin Area Plan. MAP-IT is the body created to help implement those goals. Staff is correctly concerned about increasing the density in this area because historically there has been such backlash and resistance to the idea from the local residents. If you don’t get to the guiding principles of the MAP, the same backlash and resistance will continue. The original plan that was approved by residents assured that current densities would be maintained. He would encourage that some work from project #16 be included as part of the Work Program, but that assurances that were in the original McLoughlin Area Plan be incorporated. Commissioners Wagner and Fitz said that urban renewal is a great tool for projects like this. Commissioner Savas noted that it would be extremely difficult to get it passed by the entire County as is now required.

    Chair Drentlaw closed the public testimony portion of the hearing and opened deliberations.

    Mike McCallister discussed some of the procedural recommendations that were submitted. Staff is committed to looking at some of the recommendations on procedural issues (emailing notices, etc.). Regarding appeals being made to the BCC, there are some ways that this may be able to happen, but it would require an extensive amount of time from the BCC and would really tighten process deadlines. Commissioner Fitz commented that it sounds like they are asking for a small claims court for land use. Commissioner Peterson thinks that there may be a variety of ways to approach this and wondered how big of an effort it would be to come up with some alternatives. How much staff commitment would it really take?

    Commissioner Wagner recommends the 2017-2018 Work Program s submitted by staff with the addition of project #15 and would like to do more for the McLoughlin area, even if it means hiring another senior planner. Commissioner Holmes commented that we need to ensure that we have heard the public and that we value their input. Commissioner Wilson thinks that with growth in the community, it seems that there should be more budget available for staff to get the work done. Commissioner Peterson pointed out that it is easy to say that we should add things, but if there is no staff to do it, then we aren’t really doing anything to help this. Commissioner Drentlaw thinks that there was a lot of focus on budget and FTEs, but we need to focus on what the land use aspect is and decide what the priorities are. Commissioner Fitz asked staff what the highest priority project is that would make the rest of the projects easier to complete. Jennifer Hughes responded that it would be the ZDO audit. Mike McCallister explained that the ZDO audit that has been completed thus far has significantly increased efficiencies for the public as well as staff. It is important to keep the momentum going. Also, the floodplain ordinance is not something that can be put off.

    Commissioner Wagner made a motion that the PC recommend to BCC that staff’s proposal for the 2017-2018 Work Program, plus project #15 and as much of project #16 as the County can come up with resources for, be approved. Commissioner Peterson seconded the motion.

    Commissioner Fitz requested an amendment to the motion to add code to allow for permitted use of dog kennels, but would put it on the project list as the lowest priority. Ayes=4 (Holmes, Wilson, Wagner, Fitz) Nays=3 (Peterson, Drentlaw, Gray). Motion is amended.

     Ayes=7, Nays=0. Motion passes.

  4. Our next meeting will be on Feb. 13.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:24 p.m.

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