JOINT BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
LANE COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION
April 10, 2002
Harris Hall Main Floor
Commissioner Bill Dwyer presided with Commissioners Bobby Green, Sr., Anna Morrison, Peter Sorenson and Cindy Weeldreyer present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, Assistant County Counsel Stephen Vorhes and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.
Lane County Planning Commission Members Present: Jacque Betz, Don Clarke, Marion Esty, Juanita Kirkham, Heidi Pollock
1. SECOND READING AND PUBLIC HEARING/Ordinance No. 4-02/In the Matter of Amending Chapters 10 and 16 of Lane Code to Revise and Add Telecommunication Facility Siting and Removal Regulations, and Declaring an Emergency.
Discussion on the Role Responsibility of the Planning Commission
Kent Howe, Land Management, explained that the Board of Commissioners sets the direction for the Planning Commission. He noted the Board is dealing with limited staff resources and changing and setting direction due to the external forces. He said the Planning Commission had worked in an environment that had been addressing planning issues and was responsive to citizen input in addressing Goal 1 of the Statewide Planning Program. He commented the Planning Commission’s role is to advise the Board on planning issues they are hearing. He explained this was laid out in the by-laws. He said the Planning Director plays a role as the conduit between the Board and the Planning Commission. He noted the issue is external changes that affect the Oregon Land Use Planning Program. He said it sometimes makes the Planning Commission uncomfortable due to their ability to address citizens’ concerns. He noted there are changing roles and responsibilities as the Statewide Planning Program is evolving as the external influences affect Lane County and its planning program.
Sorenson said it was paramount that the Planning Commission provide the Board of Commissioners with advice in an advisory role. He added the Planning Commission’s recommendations should be consistent with the law at the time they make their recommendation, including federal laws, the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Act and Measure 7. He didn’t think enough was given to the Planning Commission on environmental pressures and economic activity.
Clarke said the perspective of the Planning Commission is consistent with the current flux of whatever the law is. He said his frustration over the past year had been balancing the direction the Board gives (the minimalist approach) versus what they hear at public hearings. He said they spend an enormous amount of time in public hearings and work sessions in the community. He said he tries to determine the public perspective. He said he is sometimes at a loss to implement the public’s perspective when directed by the Board to do something else.
Dwyer stated the Planning Commission was under appreciated, as the public doesn’t know how much time and effort they put into their work. He appreciated what the Planning Commission does.
Esty noted they get the most heated opinions with the highest uncertainty because the topics are new. She thinks they get the brunt of citizen fervor. She said it is sometimes hard to deliberate with calmness.
Morrison reported that she reviews the tapes of the Planning Commission meetings and knows what is going on. She requested that the Planning Commission members speak louder and clearer at meetings.
Dwyer stated the Board might not always make the right decision, but the decision needs to be carried out. He said there shouldn’t be comments because they reach their decision in an honest fashion.
With regard to the McKenzie Watershed, Kirkham noted they had spent two years on it and thought it was a waste of time when part of their work was taken away. She said they are confused as to what their role is.
Weeldreyer said the relationship between the Board and the Planning Commission is critical because it provides a process for the testimony, experts, and evidence in the record. She said what has been most frustrating is a constantly changing environment. She noted that whenever any change is proposed, there would be citizens responding to the proposed change from fear and concern.
With regard to the cell phone tower issue, Weeldreyer said they had to prioritize in Land Management as to what could or couldn’t be done. She noted the telecommunication siting issue was not on the work plan of the department or the Planning Commission. She said citizens’ concerns are growing. She wanted to adapt plans used by other jurisdictions. She had tried streamlining the process but it didn’t work.
Betz hoped everyone could network together.
Green valued the Planning Commission’s work. He didn’t share the same frustration that others had. He said it was hard to find a Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners that agreed all the time on recommendations. He noted they are trying to interpret state laws that are sometimes gray and they have to determine what is reasonable, practical or significant. He said when the Planning Commission makes a decision, he wanted their best judgment or advice, and didn’t want them personalizing it.
Clarke said in listening to the heartfelt comments of citizens, it was difficult to not be able to implement their suggestions.
Sorenson said the Planning Commission is an advocate for protecting the environment and helping the Board with economic development. He suggested having the chair of the Planning Commission come to the Board for check-ins.
Green noted the Board for the most part was in line with the Planning Commission’s recommendations. He noted the Planning Commission does most of the work and he reads the minutes of the meeting to see how each voted and what their comments were. He said he takes that into consideration when he makes his decision. He thought check-ins could be helpful.
Clarke noted that Kent Howe had been the go-between, but he thought there should be other opportunities for the Planning Commissioners to come to the Board when there is a concern.
Weeldreyer said in the decision the Board made to not apply the state standards to the F1 Rule the Board decided to have a higher standard than the state statutes. She noted whenever the state passes land use laws, most every other county has their staff working the state laws into their codes and it gets updated. She said planners don’t look at Lane County’s codebook because some codes have not been updated for several years. She said Lane County has room for improvement.
Howe explained the work session was for any questions the Board had about the draft ordinance. He said the Planning Commission wanted to offer this as an opportunity to get responses as to how the code was drafted.
Weeldreyer asked (because there was an emergency clause attached to the ordinance) if they had to have it letter perfect when they take action. She wanted to make wording changes.
Vorhes responded, regardless if there was an emergency clause, if they are going to adopt an ordinance, they want to adopt the correct language. He added before the Board adopted any ordinance they should be comfortable with all of the language in the code and that represented what the Board wanted to say. He noted if changes were going to be made in the ordinance and they are substantial, it would limit the ability to adopt the ordinance on the day they suggest the changes are made because there is a need for two readings 13 days apart.
Weeldreyer explained on the first page of the ordinance (under the purpose category) Paragraph 1 (c) Chapter 16.264, the word “minimize” sets the precedent that Lane County is going to minimize the number of towers. She noted that sometimes people would protest the siting of a tower and point to "minimizes." She suggested that after “tower” insert “minimizes the number of transmission towers” because that was task force and the planning commission's intent. She said optimizing the telecommunications system in Lane County would result in co-location of the tower.
Howe stated this was the exact language the Task Force recommended and that is identical to the language in the Eugene Code. He noted the interpretation of limiting where towers might go that otherwise are in compliance with the code might be overreaching what the statement was actually stating.
Weeldreyer thought the language change would improve the ordinance.
Green asked how the Planning Commission reached the 1,000 feet setback.
Kirkham explained each member wanted a different setback and they compromised on 1,000 feet.
Dwyer didn’t share Weeldreyer’s concern about (c) because (b) allows the appropriate level of service to be obtained throughout the County. He said it could be argued about what is appropriate.
Green thought the task force addressed federal regulations and how Lane County couldn’t deal with them. He asked how the 1,000 feet cell tower placement was measured from adjacent properties.
Howe noted that prior to the ordinance, the companies were placing the towers as far away as possible, possibly closer to a neighbor. He said this provision was specifically written to prevent that.
Vorhes reported the ordinance states 1,000 feet from nearby residences not on the applicant’s tract.
Dwyer asked if there was a provision about placement close to schools or playgrounds.
Clarke stated that Lane County couldn’t regulate the siting because of EMT exposure.
Kirkham noted the Planning Commission had a discussion about school zones and the majority of the commissioners voted not to have exclusions in school zones.
Howe passed out a supplemental packet to the Board and the Planning Commissioners.
Weeldreyer noted on paragraph 7, permit renewal and expiration requirements for telephone towers (page 5 of 6) (d) to ensure removal of the telecommunication facility, the applicant or landowner would clarify this. She added a performance bond would be issued and would be payable to Lane County. She suggested instead of a performance bond, a performance agreement attached to the property tower so if the tower were no longer functioning a lien would be placed on the property. She added as the property changes hands, there should be a fiduciary responsibility so when the tower is not being used; the property owner pays for removal by the County. She wanted it recorded with Deeds and Records.
Vorhes noted the next to the last paragraph reads that the property owners shall bear the ultimate responsibility for removal of facilities, and shall sign a document that is in the deed history of the subject property with Lane County Deeds and Records, recognizing such reasonability.
Weeldreyer noted that performance bonds were only valid for a certain period.
Vorhes stated that for a performance bond to be acceptable to the director it would have to allow for a longer period of time than the tower might be there.
There being no further business, Commissioner Dwyer recessed the work session at 7:00 p.m.