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Kenai plan gets a peek

Posted: October 26, 2012 - 12:04pm  |  Updated: October 27, 2012 - 9:13am

In a nearly three-hour City of Kenai Planning and Zoning work session, the planning commission reviewed 14 pages of resident-submitted critiques on the early stages of the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

When the work session closed, the commission still had 39 pages to review. They will host another work session Nov. 14 to finish reading the comments.

Thirty-three residents submitted comments during the 30-day public comment period ranging from the city’s options for affordable housing to zoning issues. An additional six comments made the list after the public comment period closed, and City Planner Marilyn Kebschull said she is adding to that list as further comments arrive.

“We’ll just keep adding the other ones until the commission is satisfied that they have gone through enough,” she said.

Many residents wrote in comments that the public comment period was too short, however, and, in a separate city council meeting, council member Bob Molloy requested the commission extend the period.

“I feel I didn’t have enough time,” said Kristine Schmidt, one of the four residents in attendance.

After hearing Schmidt and two other residents request for more comment period time, commissioner Clifford Smith suggested the commission extend the comment period.

The commission, however, did not extend the comment period.

City Manager Rick Koch said in the past 17 months, the city hosted 18 public meetings and hearings to solicit public comments on the plan. During that time, the city also posted comment forms on its website, in City Hall and various other locations, he said.

“I have been involved in several updates to comprehensive plans,” he said, “and in my experience the attention focused on public participation and input for this comprehensive plan is far greater than previous updates in which I have been involved.”

Appendix A in the plan also describes the nearly two-year process when the commission drafted the plan, Kebschull said.

She said the plan is in only its early stages, and residents will have more time to critique it in the future as it undergoes revisions.

In one of the submitted comments, Beverly Crandell said the plan favors wealthy demographics in the community.

“Why do I say this?” she wrote. “Because with a number of my friends who are struggling to make ends meet, the city’s focus in this plan puts a medium priority on frivolous things like making landscaping requirements for all types of zones, and beautifying the city.”

Under this phase of the draft, the plan would reclassify the Highland Pride Mobile Home Park as rural residential.

The classification caters to “large-lot, single-family, low-density” developments. Sandra Lashbrook, the mobile home park owner, said the new classification would render mobile homes as non-conforming.

Crandell said, instead, the city needs to plan for more affordable housing. The rural residential classifications in the plan do not accommodate lower income families, she said.

Comments from Jacquie Stauffer, Jerry Thornton, Mr. and Mrs. James Patten, Janet Weir, Don and Lori Leritz, Angela O’Brien and Lashbrook echoed Crandell’s concerns.

As a solution to Crandell’s comment, Kebschull said the commission will create strategies to ensure the city accommodates adequate affordable housing and determine if adequate property is zoned multi-family.

She said the city can not remedy the situation beyond that, because it can not finance affordable housing.

“Through land use planning,” she said, “what we can do is ensure there’s a sufficient supply of land zoned that would accommodate multi-family, and the reason I suggested that is I know a lot of folks, when they’re starting out, they live in apartments — and apartments are multi-family.”

Another resident, Christa Cady, suggested the commission reprioritize plans for Millennium Square to further develop the area.

Schmidt said the plan needs to address development of the square, regardless of the commission’s intent to develop it.

“Just something so people in the community have an idea of what’s going to happen with that,” she said.

After deliberation, Kebschull said the commission will draft a new strategy to promote development of the square.

“People had some really good suggestions,” she said in an interview after the meeting, “and changes were made that I think were really good.”

The changes the commission proposed will go the city council and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission for final deliberation.

 

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com

 

This story has been revised to correct a typographical error.


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bigbadbob
54
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bigbadbob 10/27/12 - 11:16 am
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Kudos to the COK planning

Kudos to the COK planning department. A difficult process with a sucessfull outcome on the way. Planning commission is taking all public comments under advisement. Win win for everyone. The city residents are lucky to have such awesome and qualified professionals leading the way.

Allen
596
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Allen 10/27/12 - 02:55 pm
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Let the government spin

Let the government spin begin!

granny
160
Points
granny 10/27/12 - 11:25 pm
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Awful is more like it. One

Awful is more like it. One new planning commissioner wondered why the comments contained such push-back to the draft review. Simple, it reflects a minority view. Hopefully one especially telling part of the work session was caught on tape.
The city planner and one of the commissioners insisted on leaving a segment of Beaver Loop colored purple (for mixed-use) even though it was pointed out that the segment is deed restricted to conservation (not the storage of land kind!) and should be colored green. An unbelievable display of stubbornness. I don't understand that level of determination to thwart the will of the people or even to honestly deal with reality. I believe the quote was "well if it has to be conservation what does it matter what color we make the map." Those may not be the exact words, but honest to God, that is what was said. Stay tuned, there's more to come. Mark Schrag

bigbadbob
54
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bigbadbob 10/28/12 - 02:24 pm
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1
granny- why do you think this

granny- why do you think this process is simple- it is made difficult because of people like you who find it easier to sit in the audience and roll your eyes and smirk at commssioners/planners comments. I challenge you to be more than the person who charges into the room at the end of the process and bayonets the wounded. Be part of the process rather than the grim reaper. If you try- I think you can. Some of us are impressed your comments are starting to be about the whole city and not just your neighborhood..its a start.

granny
160
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granny 10/28/12 - 10:52 pm
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bob bob bob The use of the

bob bob bob
The use of the word simple in my post was in reference to the commissioners question, not the comp plan process. Sorry if that wasn't obvious enough for you. I agree with you that the process has been very difficult. Since you seem to know so much about me (I'm not afraid to sign my name) explain to me how I can be the person who charges in at the end and the person who sits in the audience rolling eyes and smirking. And if you want to see rolling eyes, watch the mayor!
Who are the wounded I'm bayoneting? And Bob, when you say I haven't been involved in the process you discredit yourself and are being about as honest as the city manager when he says there were 18 public meetings. Go ahead and get the last word in, I'm done responding to you unless I see a willingness to actually discuss the real issues at hand. Mark Schrag

bigbadbob
54
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bigbadbob 10/29/12 - 03:55 pm
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granny- the commissioners

granny- the commissioners question(s) is part of the process. come on... are you serious? be a part of it. Are you really so absorbed with yourself that you dont see the big picture? Cherry picking one liners, name calling and portreying snapshots of a very long planning process tells me you are like a wanna-be--- sitting on the edge of the arena yelling at those who worked so hard to get through this to play harder, to play your way. Pointing out each time an error is made in the field.There ought to be a rule that says put up or shut up. Everyone has worked really hard. You seemed to think they are out to get you. Why dont you throw your name in the ring and then try to get things done the way you want them to be done. Have you ever considered this? nevermind- At least people might respect what you say. got to go-my coffee break is up.

corinnep
249
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corinnep 10/29/12 - 05:46 pm
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bigbadbob, how do you know -

bigbadbob, how do you know -

"A difficult process with a sucessfull outcome on the way."
"Planning commission is taking all public comments under advisement."
"awesome and qualified professionals leading the way"
"it is made difficult because of people like you who find it easier to sit in the audience and roll your eyes and smirk at commssioners/planners comments"
"Everyone has worked really hard"

Are you the author of the Kenai plan? Did you attend any planning commission meetings? Or are you just repeating what you have heard others say? If so, you shouldn't comment about what you do not know.

bigbadbob
54
Points
bigbadbob 10/31/12 - 08:20 am
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no i am not- but i am a tax

no i am not- but i am a tax payer in the city and that qualifies me to speak as it does others. if i just repeated what i have heard others say, my words would be no different. my point has been all along that the the NIMBY attitude of the authors above gets very old and why they think its OK or justified is beyond reason...its selfish and narcissistic. bbb

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