Council hires city attorney

Nearly all of the Ashland City Council approved as the city attorney during Tuesday night's meeting.

Councilor Cate Hartzell, the lone dissenter, said, "I think he's done a good job as the interim city attorney. I'm just not comfortable approving this confirmation."

When asked after the meeting if she could expand on her reason for voting against the confirmation, she said, "I won't comment on that because it's a personnel issue."

Ashland resident Art Bullock voiced his concerns at the lack of resident involvement in the hiring process.

"This was never brought to the public. There's not even anything in the minutes. My question to the council is how can citizens have a say in the selection of these high-profile, personnel decisions?"

Mayor John Morrison explained that the process between hiring someone from within and someone outside is different.

"When a candidate comes from outside the city, we involve them with the public so the people can meet them. It's also so the candidate can meet the people and learn about our town," he said. "When someone from the inside is a candidate, both those criteria have already been met."

Land-use changes

In other news, Community Development Director Bill Molnar presented the City Council with recommendations to amend the city's current land use ordinance.

The process began in 2005 when the Zucker Systems Report the Siegel Planning Report were commissioned to address concerns raised by the City Council and the community regarding conflicting or unclear portions of the land use ordinance and the planning process.

From June 2006 until February 2007, a committee made up of Molnar, planning commissioners John Fields, Mike Morris and John Stromberg and City Councilor Kate Jackson, identified issues within the code that needed clarification.

Former Community Development Director David Stalheim made recommendations and proposed a public hearing for September 2007. Two hearings were held in September and October.

A subcommittee was formed to study all the recommendations in greater detail and come up with its own recommendations for the planning commission.

The commission unanimously approved the subcommittee's recommendation in October.

Molnar presented nearly 70 pages Tuesday night summarizing and explaining the subcommittee's recommended code changes and procedural amendments.

"The main elements in the recommendations are that it will provide useful and practical improvements to the permit and appeal procedures and improve the readability of the ordinance," he said."

The recommendations can be viewed from the city's Web site under the Dec. 18 council agenda.

After about an hour of discussion, the council agreed that they would leave the record open until Jan. 15 and that they will receive written comments until that time.

Hartzell recommended the City Council should hold a study session regarding the recommendations due to the complexity of the issues.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x226 or .

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