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Britt upgrades to be re-examined after state land-use ruling

JACKSONVILLE — The City Council will revisit parts of its April ruling upholding upgrades to a Britt Festival parking area at a Jan. 6 meeting, when it reconsiders issues remanded by a state appeals board.

The Britt Festivals improved the parking area adjacent to First Street south of Pine Street, adding paved parking for three band buses and creating a paved, ADA-compliant eight-space parking area across from the main entrance. Work was completed just as the festival’s summer season began.

Carol Knapp, who lives directly behind the northern portion of the parking area, appealed the council’s ruling to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals. Of five issues Knapp raised, four were dismissed by the board while parts of a fifth were remanded.

Council will consider the issues during its regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 6 at 6 p.m. in Old City Hall, 205 West Main St.

“The council’s got to make a decision,” said City Administrator Jeff Alvis, who declined further comment. He expects City Attorney Kurt Knudsen to attend the session.

City Planning Director Amy Stevenson was out of the office this week and unavailable for comment.

Knapp did not return calls seeking comment. Her attorney, Dorothy Cofield of Portland, said Knapp would represent herself at the hearing. Cofield said she was not in a position to offer comment.

In  its ruling, LUBA stated that “from the site plan, it appears that fill will be placed in the terrace slopes further than 20 feet from the furthest edge of the (traffic) circulation area.” City development codes limits fill to within 20 horizontal feet of the edge of a driveway.

LUBA also cited the council for not adopting findings that the circulation area constitutes a driveway. An engineer in earlier oral testimony suggested that interpretation. But the city’s Historical and Architectural Review Commission did not include such language in its initial approval. The City Council adopted HARC’s rulings.

Knapp had also asserted that the city erred in not charging an application fee when the festival resubmitted an application for the project and did not require a pre-application meeting. LUBA ruled city codes provide for those options and the actions did not constitute jurisdictional errors that would call the approval into question.

LUBA also rejected Knapp's claims that the city should have considered pervious surfaces for the lot rather than impervious and that it ignored requirements to conform to the historic character of the neighborhood.

Knapp also said the city miscalculated the amount of the lot covered by parking surfaces. But LUBA ruled her new calculations raised at the meeting were rightly rejected at the April session because the body could only consider evidence in the record or the appeal. LUBA also ruled that the amount of fill did not need to be stated, only that it exceeded 30 cubic yards per city criteria.

Sara King Cole, Britt marketing director, said Britt Festivals representatives would have no comment on the remand at this time. She had conferred with Chief Executive Officer Donna Briggs, who was out of town. Attorney Timothy Jackle of Medford, who represented Britt before the state appeals board, did not return calls seeking comment.

Before it was improved, the lot was used for parking by the festival orchestra and volunteers. Britt’s upgrade of the lot came at the same time as a joint city and Oregon Department of Transportation project that provided a walkway from downtown to the main festival entrance on First Street. Previously patrons walked in the roadway and buses parked along the narrow street.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter at gmail.com.