JOINT BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS'

 

EUGENE CITY COUNCIL MEETING

April 9, 2003

6:00 p.m.

Eugene City Council Chambers

APPROVED 4/30/03

 

Commissioner Peter Sorenson presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer, Bobby Green, Sr., Tom Lininger and Anna Morrison present. Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer was also present.

 

Mayor James D. Torrey presided with Councilors Bonny Bettman, David Kelly, Scott Meisner, Gary Pape, George Poling, Jennifer Solomon and Betty Taylor present.

 

1. SECOND READING AND PUBLIC HEARING/Ordinance PA 1187/In the Matter of Amending the Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan Area General Plan Diagram for Property within the Lower River Road Nodal Development Area, With Concurrent Automatic Amendment to the River Road-Santa Clara Urban Facilities Plan Land Use Diagram; and Adopting a Severability Clause (NBA & PM 3/19/03).

 

Mayor Torrey opened the Public Hearing for the Eugene City Council.

 

Sorenson opened the Public Hearing for the Board of Commissioners.

 

Alissa Hansen, City of Eugene, explained this is an amendment to the Eugene Springfield Metropolitan Area General Plan Diagram to add the ND (nodal development symbol) to the entire lower River Road area. She added that along with this is an automatic amendment to the River Road-Santa Clara Urban Facilities Plan and the Whittaker Plan land use diagrams to add the ND (nodal development symbol) to the entire Lower River Road area. She noted these plan amendments would not change the existing base land use designations. She said the City Council would be considering a concurrent zone change to add the ND (nodal development overlay zone) to the portion of the Lower River Road area that is within the Eugene City limits. She explained the zone change would not change the existing base zone of the parcels involved.

 

Hansen noted the criteria for evaluating the proposed Metro Plan amendments are from Section 9.7330(3) of the Eugene Code (page 5 of the council packet and page 3 of the Board Agenda Cover Memo). She said the criteria for evaluating the zone change is from Section 9.8855 of the Eugene Code on page 5 of the council packet.

 

Hansen stated this was the third nodal development area out of eight that will come before the City Council. She commented that it is the second of two that involves unincorporated property and requires involvement with the Lane County Board of Commissioners. She noted that both planning commissions unanimously recommended approval of these amendments. She stated the Lower River Road Nodal Development area is composed of approximately 73 acres of land and is located east of River Road from one lot south of Stults Street to one lot south of Thomason Street on the west side of the Willamette River. She noted approximately 91% of the area is located within the city limits, with 5.5 acres or 9% located outside of the city limits but within the urban growth boundary.

 

Hansen said a key factor for including the Lower River Road site as a nodal development area is the existing mix of uses in the area that consists of low and medium density residential housing, commercial and park and open space uses. She commented the dominant use is parks and open space, with 30 out of 73 acres dedicated to parks, including Rasor Park and a portion of Maurie Jacobs Park that are city owned parks.

 

Hansen noted there are two pockets of medium density residential housing. She said that existing low-density residential uses are along the southern half of the proposed node. She added commercial uses are concentrated in two areas along River Road. She said that another reason for selecting this area for a node is the amount of vacant land available. She noted there is approximately 10.7 acres of vacant land out of a total of 73 acres. She stated that 93% of the vacant land is within the city limits and 7% is within the unincorporated area. She noted the majority of the land is designated for medium density residential uses.

 

Hansen stated there were seven letters that had been submitted this week into the record regarding the proposed node.

 

Rob Handy, 455Ĺ River Road, Eugene, commented that while attending the TransPlan public hearings, he heard the citizens say they wanted to improve what they have before building new facilities. He added they wanted parklands protected along the Willamette Greenway and for a Valley River Bridge not to be built. He noted in one of the subcommittees at MPC, they worked on the alternate performance measures with Dwyer, Meisner and late counselor Hatfield. He added they came up with the alternative measures, part of which is nodal development. He stated in the policy subcommittee there was other details of TransPlan being worked out. He said it was a tricky issue of building trust when trust has been broken with forced sewer hook-ups and piecemeal annexation. He said they were left in a situation where the residents in the area wonder if they would have to go through the same experience that Bethel residents went through where there were trust issues. He suggested beginning by reinvesting scarce taxpayer money in existing taxpayer neighborhoods when those opportunities arise.

 

Julie Fisher, 778 Elm Dr., Eugene, stated she is a 15-year resident of River Road and is on the board of the Community Organization. She also co-chaired the Urban Services Committee. She thought nodal development was an innovative land use planning concept and it would serve the city well. She wondered what the future of the area would be. She noted the last planning document they had for the area was in 1986. She said since that time, Eugene had implemented new land use regulations and it had an impact on density and transportation. She stated the standards have an impact on their neighborhood because of all the vacant land. She commented that designating Lower River Road as a node would help. She stated that patchwork annexation has caused challenges for them. She said some residents of River Road are likely to view nodal development as another top down regulation. She thought that nodal development should be part of a bigger vision for River Road developed by both the residents and the city working together. She asked the elected officials to consider a nodal designation as part of a bigger strategy to build trust between the residents and the city by directly addressing existing land use and planning problems. She stated after two years of work, the Urban Services Committee recommends that the city use excess sewer fund money to update the neighborhood plan and create a strategy for transitioning from a rural to an urban community. She said the city and county had both embraced the concept and the city staff had submitted a budget proposal to begin implementing their suggestion. She hoped the budget committee would support a budget for planning in River Road and Santa Clara that is sustainable, efficient and fulfills the major goals of the committee within five years.

 

Mara Wile, 1347 Dalton Dr, Eugene, stated she was a member of the River Road-Santa Clara Urban Services Community and a Board Member of the River Road Community Organization. She noted a majority of the community has no representation or voice in local government. She said in the process of working on this, she thought she was treated like a victim. She heard the same sentiment from others. She suggested working together to fix a bad situation. She added approving the Lower River Road Nodal Development is a good start. She added it was a rare opportunity to invest scarce tax dollars in not only their neighborhood but for the good of their future.

 

Becky Riley, 202 Hawthorne, stated she had been a resident of the River Road area since 1990. She lives outside the proposed lower River Road Nodal Development area. She had been involved in the planning and restoration of Rasor Park that is in the proposed area. She urged the elected officials to support the proposed amendments to the Metro Plan and the River Road Santa Clara Urban Facilities Plan, as needed to designate the area as a nodal development area. She believed the proposed amendments are compatible with statewide planning goals. She also believed that the nodal development overlay zoning would be beneficial for their neighborhood. She said the nodal development is planning for a better neighborhood. She wanted to see a comprehensive plan for the area and strengthen zoning and incentives to make sure that it really happens. She noted in recent years there had been interest in neighborhood planning issues in the Lower River Road area round Rasor Park and Valley River Bridge issues. She thought many residents would like to be involved in a real coordinated comprehensive planning process, similar to what occurred with Royal and the Chase Gardens nodes. She said that community involvement is essential to ensure there is long-term community support for this. She commented that the boundary of the node is only on the east side of River Road and doesnít include the road itself on the west side. She said everything she read about nodal development and neighborhood planning suggests that it is important to have a main street in the node. She hoped the County lands on the east side of the road get developed in such a way that it is compatible with the node.

 

Julie Hulme, 455Ĺ River Road, Eugene, stated she had lived in the Lower River Road neighborhood for over 20 years. She said despite all the challenges they have, their neighborhood is an incredible community of diverse citizens where they solve problems together. She asked the elected officials for their support because their neighborhood had taken hard hits over the years. She said the elected officials could help them by endorsing them as a viable community that could be used as a model community in the Eugene area by designating them as a node. She said nodal development would benefit them as an urban village and revitalize the neighborhood. She hoped the elected officials would support them.

 

Nathanson asked staff how the boundary was chosen at the eastern edge of River Road Avenue. She noted there was a design principle for streetscapes, zoning and building design that calls for addressing both sides of a street so a boundary is an alley or midpoint of a block. She didnít know if this was appropriate in applying this type of zoning district.

 

Childs responded that in this case, there is some degree of concern when the city gets involved in planning activities. She said in developing the boundaries for this particular nodal development area, they thought of it as a way to make a first small positive impact, they focused on property that was already within the city limits of Eugene. They didnít want to go to the west of River Road at this time because it is an unincorporated area. She thought it would be preferable to start by doing a good job with a smaller area and look into the future for expansion.

 

Pape had the same concern. He didnít want to delay making this a node because of the jurisdictional boundaries. He asked if there was any problem in working with the County planning staff and moving this forward.

 

Childs responded they could not as part of this process change the boundary because people would need to be noticed and they would have to have another public hearing that would speak to the remaining area. She thought the first step would be to designate this portion of the area and rezone the city owned property. She added after people see that it does have a positive benefit, they could look at the possibility of expanding it in consultation with the River Road Community Organization and the residences and businesses.

Taylor commented the area had community spirit considering all the bad things that had happened to that area of the city. She agreed that there should not be a Valley River Bridge and thought that discussion had ended on that matter. She asked if there was a way to guarantee that they would not have the bridge.

 

Kelly stated that he did not want to delay applying the overlay, as it is a good interim step. He didnít want to lose the momentum and wanted to look at the community with the Board of Commissioners as they get to a site-specific plan, as both sides of the main thoroughfare would reflect the nodal design principles.

 

Bettman echoed concerns about the boundary issue. She said when they look at the map of the node, it is notable that there is no internal street connectivity. She noted there is a small road that goes north south, but not through the whole node so that there is connectivity lacking. She noted the only corridor that connects the node from one end to the other is River Road and the pedestrian and bike path along the river. She said the corridors become important. She asked since River Road was in the jurisdiction of the City of Eugene, to make sure that it is pedestrian friendly and amenable to pedestrians who are using transit to be safe. She asked if there was a way to address River Road as it goes through the node without having to expand the boundary of the node.

 

Childs responded the question had not arisen before and she would find out the information.

 

Bettman wanted staff to find a way to address River Road in the context of the site-specific plan without expanding the boundary to include it. She said they wouldnít have to approach any other landowners and there are no complicating issues.

 

Childs considered it a question they would respond to and they would get back to the elected officials with the information.

 

Bettman asked what percentage of the 11.3 acres of commercial property was vacant. On other properties that are vacant land, she asked if there was an optimal as opposed to maximal commercial to residential ratio in the node. She also asked how much it would increase for the site-specific area.

 

Meisner concurred with the concerns about the road itself for the boundary both as a matter of pedestrian safety and access to the node, since there is no internal road connectivity. He noted there is great bike and pedestrian connectivity but pedestrian safety is a risk. He said for planning they need to examine the nature of uses along the west side as well. He wanted to include designing for the west side of River Road and additional pedestrian safety options.

 

Bettman asked what type of impact having a node in the greenway would be.

 

Childs responded that any intensification of use within the greenway would have to go through the Willamette Greenway review process including a public hearing and opportunity to evaluate the impacts. She noted since the nodal development overlay does not change the base zoning and does not allow an increase in either density or intensity of the use beyond that which is allowed in the current base zoning, it is unlikely that the impacts would be greater with the overlay zone than without it.

 

Bettman supported the ordinance, as it is consistent with the plan. She thought they were headed in the right direction. She wanted to see what the site-specific plan looked like. She encouraged staff to work closely with the members of the community who are interested. She said they were fortunate that people were interested.

 

Jim Seaberry, 3294 Stark St., Santa Clara, commented he sees implementation of the Urban Services Study Committee done in a piecemeal manner. He recalled a county commissioner asked at a joint meeting for a public hearing on the River Road Santa Clara Urban Services Study Committee workbook and that was denied. He didnít think it was fair for this particular plan to move across River Road without going back and having a public hearing on the Urban Services Study Book itself.

 

There being no one else signed up to speak, Mayor Torrey closed the Public Hearing for the Eugene City Council. He announced the action on this ordinance would take place on Monday, April 28, 2003, during the 7:30 p.m. council meeting.

 

There being no one else signed up to speak, Sorenson closed the Public Hearing for the Lane County Board of Commissioners.

 

MOTION: to approve a Second Reading and Setting a Third Reading and Deliberation on Ordinance PA 1187 for April 30, 2003.

 

Morrison MOVED, Dwyer SECONDED.

 

VOTE: 5-0.

 

Mayor Torrey adjourned the meeting of the Eugene City Council at 6:40 p.m.

 

Sorenson adjourned the meeting of the Lane County Board of Commissioners at 6:40 p.m.

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary