JOINT BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'/

PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING

May 19, 2009

1:30 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 7/21/2009

 

Lisa Arkin, presided with Lane County Planning Commission Members: Stephen Dignam, Todd Johnson, John Sullivan, Jozef Siekel-Zdzienicki, Bob Noble, Tony McCown and Nancy Nichols

 

Commissioner Pete Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bill Fleenor, Rob Handy and Faye Stewart present.  County Administrator Jeff Spartz, County Counsel Liane Richardson and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

1. PUBLIC COMMENTS

 

Warren Weathers, Mayor of Lowell, stated the entire Lowell City Council was present along with representatives from their Planning Commission, School and Fire Board and the City Park Committee. He said they are unanimous in their concern about repeating past mistakes by underestimating population growth today, while they simultaneously promote and plan for the growth they need to maintain school enrollment and to restore basic commercial services and jobs to the community.  He recalled during the 1990ís, they underestimated population growth and failed to anticipate changing federal regulations regarding their wells and as a consequence, they experienced water shortages and sewer capacity shortages in building moratoriums.  He said it took years to fix the problems caused by their lack of foresight.  He added that growth returned when the public became aware that Lowell was a nice place to live.  He said they donít want to repeat their past mistakes, they need to plan for growth and they need a population forecast to recognize their community development efforts.  He indicated that tonight at the city council meeting they will approve a local improvement district to build a 750,000 gallon water tower to serve the upper elevations of Lowell including Mia Nelsonís property.  He added that she has approved this and as majority property owner in the LID, it means it will happen and there will be 250 homes.   He said they have also approved an urban renewal district.  He indicated that they submitted a plan that will go to the voters in April.  He said they want to get the growth they need to keep their school healthy and to recruit jobs and industry for their community.  He said the population forecasting they are asking the Board to recognize for Lowell is insignificant in terms of Lane County population as a whole.  He added there is no downside for recognizing Lowellís growth expectations and allowing them to plan for it.  He said that failure to recognize their population forecast will harm their ability to finance sewer and water improvements and to take advantage of economic restoration and development opportunities.  He asked the Board to adopt the Lowell growth projections recommendations by the Lane County Planning Commission and by the city of Lowell and by the Lowell Planning Commission and supported by their School Board.

 

Michael Galvin, Lowell, stated that he is a member of the Lowell School District,  President of the Lowell Rural Fire Protection District and he served on the Community Advisory Committee that advised the Lowell Planning Commission in developing their population projects.  He said none of this is an exact science.  He said they are working with best guesses.  He commented that the impact of estimating too low is very severe.  He thought it was better to err on the high side than on the low side because consequences are damaging.  He asked the Board to help Lowell help themselves.

 

Maureen Weathers, Lowell, stated that she represented the Lowell School Board.  She said they have families that want to come to the area to raise their kids and to be able to stay after the kids graduate.  She said they need job opportunities and commercial businesses so kids can work part-time after school.  She asked the Board not to put a big road block in their way.  She commented that the numbers are insignificant to the County but they are big to the city of Lowell.

 

Ken Hern, Lowell, asked the Board to approve the population projections for the city of Lowell.  He indicated that he has served on the Lowell Planning Commission for the past five years and helped re-write the Comp Plan and the Land Development Code.    He said the methodology used by the city is reasonable and legal.  He reported that the citizens of Lowell overwhelmingly support the cityís population projection.  He asked the Board to honor the will of the citizens of Lowell and to approve the population projections the city of Lowell has asked for.

 

Bill George, Lowell, said he is a developer and he has no problem getting people to rent his duplexes.  He said the Board needs to support them.  He stated they are doing everything they can.  He commented that it is important for them in their future plans to have this population forecast approved by the Board so they can progress into the future.

 

Don Schuessler, City Administrator, city of Coburg, stated he was present on behalf of the city.  He wanted to propose an amendment to the population growth numbers projected by Portland State University for Coburg.  He reported the PSU report says with the smaller the population, the harder it is to develop an accurate forecast.  He said PSU suggested the Board of Commissioners monitor future development and change coordinated projections when more is known about growth.  He said circumstances and the law require that public officials make choices and spend funds based on projections.  He recalled in 2003 Coburg hired  ECONorthwest to develop a population projection.  He indicated it was based on the construction of sewers, large employment based in Coburg and the experiences of cities like Creswell.  He indicated that  ECONorthwest projected a population for Coburg of 4,200 in 2030.  He said Coburg is now committing its financial future to build a $24 million wastewater system based on that population projection.  He said the projections developed by PSU show Coburgís population growing but not quite as quickly as those that were adopted in the Coburg Urbanization Study.  He said PSU assumes the RV industry is going to disappear from Coburg. He commented that everything they know at the present time suggests that is not correct.  He said Coburg believes it is improper and unfair to assume that there will be no come back of the RV industry or no other employment development in Coburg.  He said Coburg is concerned about preserving the population projections because of the investment it has made in the wastewater system based on those projections. He added that Coburgís population projection is also a statement about what the County expects and plans for employment in the County.  He indicated that PSU is saying they donít see a future for this part of Lane County.  He thought the easiest solution would be to replace the PSU projections of the 2030 of 2,322 with Coburgís adopted population number of approximately 4,200.  He added that it would not require any modification of the Portland State numbers and they have assumed a moderate growth rate for the County as a whole and there is a range to their estimates.  He said the additional 2,000 people for Coburg would not significantly alter the County total.  He indicated that it would be well within the margin of error for the PSU population projection.  He said because all the work had been done by ECONorthwest, the numbers could be prepared quickly for June.

 

Dennis Banks, Veneta, said he had an economic development proposal that was supposed to have been presented to the Board in January by St. Vincent de Paul.  He indicated that it was a mission statement and a plan for a piano recycle business his family has.  He said that St. Vincent de Paul stopped giving them pianos and that has affected his business.

 

David Clyne, Junction City Administrator, Junction City, represented Junction City, Creswell, Oakridge and Veneta.  He said the communities he represented were content with the outcome.  He said they believed in the numbers they submitted in the small cities PAPA and the Planning Commissions endorsed them.  He added they were content with the PSU numbers.  He said the most pressing piece of work they need is prompt action by the Board of Commissioners. 

 

2. COMMISSIONERS' RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS AND/OR OTHER ISSUES AND REMONSTRANCE

 

Handy asked Dennis Banks to get the information to Mike McKenzie-Bahr.  Handy didnít know if McKenzie-Bahr was aware of Banksí proposal.

 

Stewart said Lowell and Coburg were concerned about their future and how this will affect them.  He hopes the Board takes note of it.

 

Noble thought there was room for discussion and debate but there is the need to have prompt action.  He said whatever they do; they need to come to a conclusion as soon as possible so people can move forward.

 

Sullivan commented that since the beginning, they have had LCOG numbers used for 2030 and the numbers have not varied.  He said they have had a series of different numbers and different letters of input through the process.  He encouraged staff to identify the numbers that are the final numbers.  He added that they need to progress with this quickly.

 

3. REPORT/PA 08-5042/Considering Methods and Process for Adopting a Twenty Year Countywide Coordinated Population Forecast for Lane County and the Urban Areas of the County.

 

Matt Laird, Land Management, reported that May 19, 2009 was the day that had been previously appointed for holding this joint meeting.   He said the meeting is not a formal land use hearing, but is a public meeting to allow discussion and information sharing regarding the topic of population forecasting in Lane County. He indicated that comment today will be incorporated into the record.  He indicated that notice of this meeting had been published in the newspaper and sent to the stakeholdersí list.  He noted under Oregon Administrative Rule 660-024-0030, counties are directed to adopt and maintain a coordinated 20 year population forecast for the County and for each urban area within the County consistent with the statutory requirements for such forecast. 

 

Laird indicated in adopting a population forecast, local governments must follow applicable procedures and requirements in Oregon Revised Statute 197.610 to 197.650 and coordinate with all other local governments in the County.  He said the population forecast must be adopted into the Comprehensive Plan or in a document referenced by the plan.  He recalled on August 5, 2008, the Board directed Land Management staff to begin a countywide coordinated population forecast effort for Lane County and the urban area for ultimate consideration as a Post Acknowledgement Plan Amendment (PAPA) to the Lane County Comprehensive Plan.  He indicted since that time, Lane County staff has held several public meetings on the topic, contracted with the Population Research Center at Portland State University and coordinated with stakeholders and all of the cities within Lane County.  He said while the County was conducting this coordinated population forecast effort, Land Management Division was also processing two separate PAPA applications on population figures:  small cities and Eugene Springfield Metro PAPA.

 

Laird recalled on April 7, 2009, the Board requested todayís joint meeting with the Lane County Planning Commission to discuss the possible approaches for adopting a 20 year countywide coordinated population forecast for the urban areas of the County into their County Comprehensive Plan.  He noted that the agenda packet for that item was actually distributed to the Planning Commission and Board last week, laying out several options for discussion.  He said on May 12, 2009, (in an effort to be responsive to all of the cities in Lane County by providing timely population figures) the Board had given direction to combine the record of the Lane County Coordinated Population forecast project into the small cities PAPA application record.  He noted that this action will allow the Board to consider the PSU population report and compare it to figures used in the small city PAPA application prepared by LCOG, similar to what the Planning Commission did with earlier drafts of the PSU data.  He added that this direction will allow for a more efficient analysis of the issues surrounding population forecasting and will minimize the possibility of multiple population forecasts with different figures potentially being adopted into different parts of the Comprehensive Plan.  He said the direction the Board has taken seems to address the core issues that have been raised throughout the process:  timeliness, accuracy, legality, having separate figures for the metro jurisdictions and having an amendment process built in.

 

Laird recalled at the May 12, 2009 meeting, the Board of Commissioners provided clear direction to staff regarding file PA 08-5873 (the small cities PAPA application) and the Lane County Coordinated Population Forecast, file PA 08-5042.  He said in an effort to bring these proceedings to a timely and satisfactory conclusion, the Board of Commissioners made and approved a motion to direct staff to perform the following actions:  place the Portland State final report and record into the small city PAPA, where it will be considered alongside the original proposal, along with any other testimony that enters the record; schedule and prepare materials on the small city PAPA for a first reading and hearing on June 3, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. with the Second Reading and potential decision on June 17, 2009.  Prepare a table of the PSU numbers for the Board to consider as part of the small city PAPA process.  He said the numbers should include separation of the Eugene Springfield metropolitan urban area to reflect an allocation of 72 percent of the forecasted urban transition area to fall west of I-5 and 28 percent of the forecasted population to fall east of I-5.  He added that staff is building that table and it will be in the packet for the Board on the June 3 hearing. He added that the Board requested they continue to hold the May 19 meeting and to send letters to all cities and other participants in both the PSU and small city PAPA proceedings explaining the current process and inviting everyone to participate.  He indicated that they are adding the record of the PSU process into the small city record and the PSU process will be put on hold pending the outcome of the small city process.  He said staff looks forward to completing the tasks given by the Board and providing useful population figures for the use of their partner cities within Lane County.

 

Siekel-Zdzienicki asked how the PSU numbers were added.  He asked if it was a separate report that has conflict with LCOG.

 

Laird responded that there are two separate sets of numbers. He noted that LCOG produced a table that was used in the small city PAPA application and PSU Population Research Center did an extensive modeling of the population in Lane County and they came up with their report that includes their numbers in five year estimates out to 2035.  He said the Board has the discretion to compare the numbers and land on the numbers they think are right Lane County.  His recommendation was to stick with one of the reports because it keeps the methodology of what created the report sound.

 

Dignam stated that the Planning Commission reviewed the small city application and they thought it was a valid application.  He added their application was approved.  He thought with the new PSU data being added to the mix, that it was a solution in search of a problem.  He thought they should move forward with the valid application from the small cities.

 

McCown asked if there was a standard for what coordination is.  He asked how they meet the OAR standards or if they are required to use a comprehensive study.

 

Laird didnít believe there was a specific definition for what coordination is.  He said that the process that Lane County has used included conducting two public meetings, two coordination meetings and this meeting.  He indicated that there were a total of five opportunities for the County and cities to discuss and coordinate among each other in a public forum.  He added that in-between those, they were also accepting information into the record and giving it out to PSU.  He thought no matter what standard they look at, they would meet the definition of coordinated.

 

Sullivan said not only is the law important, they relied on a letter that Commissioner Stewart received on April 28 from the acting deputy director of DLCD,  where they didnít believe Lane County needed to change any of the forecasts as currently proposed.  He said they were relying on law and expert interpretation of the law by the governing body.

 

Nichols said she voted to move this forward.  She thought it was a good way of getting accurate numbers continuing with the original process.

 

Siekel-Zdzienicki indicated in the opening of the small cities PAPA, they stated the County had not done its job of coordinating population forecasts.  He voted against the application on the basis that the statement is false.  He said the city had, and by the time they got it at the Planning Commission, the County had proceeded with its population forecast.  He asked if it invalidated the small city application based on the one statement.  He said they were basing their application that the County wasnít doing anything.

 

Vorhes hadnít read the statement.  He said when it was made; the County had not adopted the coordinated population forecast into the Comp Plan.  He said as of today, the County still has not.  He said it is moving forward to get to a point of adopting it into a comp plan as the OAR describes and following through with the rule. 

 

Arkin voted against the small city PAPA. She didnít think it was consistent in its methodology.  She didnít think anyone brought up the issue of the shadow affect.  She said no one has asked the question of what is the result of urban expansion that diminishes the Countyís rural land.  She said the expansion of an urban growth boundary for a city would be the reduction of rural land to natural resource land.  She asked what the interfaith was between urban expansion, development, uncoordinated transportation and the preservation of natural land that could provide other types of tax revenues for forestry and agricultural management.  She voted no because staff made it clear that the Board of Commissioners in their pursuit of the report from PSU could amend the population numbers at any time.  She thought it was premature to approve the PAPA when the report from PSU and the coordinated population study was nearly completed.

 

Mia Nelson, Lowell, recalled for the past two years she encouraged the Board to interpret their code to require forecasts to be located in special purpose plans because it would maintain Board control over the forecast initiation and would have made the adoption process unbiased and fair to all parties.  She said because of the unexpected delay of the PSU forecast hearing, she stepped aside on the issue but it does not make the process problems go away. She said the small cities applied for the forecast under code provisions normally used for a quasi judicial application involving a piece of property.  She quoted  Lane Code 14.050(1).   She said later some of the cities went on to demand that the application be processed under the normal quasi judicial procedures.  She commented that the County could have been in violation of its own code.

 

Chuck Spies, Lowell City Administrator, indicated there were two valid sets of population figures.  He said the small cities PAPA have been acknowledged as acceptable and now PSU is coming up with a set of numbers to satisfy jurisdictions, except for Coburg and Lowell.  He thought they could merge numbers.  He commented that the difference between PSU and the PAPA is insignificant.

 

4. OTHER BUSINESS

 

None.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Sorenson and Chair Arkin recessed the meeting at 2:35 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary