Tensions rise on Beaver Loop plans

Since the City of Kenai introduced the first draft of its Comprehensive Plan in early October, residents have been questioning the city’s priorities — particularly with the proposed mixed use designations along most of Beaver Loop Road.

“Why can’t we just have a residential neighborhood the way we want it,” Mark Schrag said at Wednesday’s Planning and Zoning work session. “Are you guys not listening to us?”

Schrag said no residents want the “commercial sprawl” that he said the mixed use designation would usher in.

But Schrag and the other four regular attendees — Patria Falkenberg, Kristine Schmidt, Jim Richardson and Laura Sievert — do not necessarily represent the entire Kenai body of residents, Commission Chair Jeff Twait said.

Also, City Planner Marilyn Kebschull said the mixed use designation does not invite large-scale businesses like Walmart or Safeway to break ground. Instead, she said the classification tailors to smaller businesses like a doctor’s or lawyer’s office.

Sievert, who lives off Beaver Loop Road, said designating the margins of the road as mixed use would burden the other families that live on the road with new businesses and traffic.

“So the (plan’s) vision is that the 50 or 60 houses that are along the road and people that just bought property there and built a house shouldn’t have an expectation of living in a rural area anymore?” she asked.

Twait said the commission expects an increase in traffic on the road in the future, and families will likely not want to live on the road.

“I guess what I’m more worried about is a car dealership, or something like that, because the mixed use designation would open it up to something like that,” Sievert said.

But that is wrong, Kebschull said.

For a carwash business to build on Beaver Loop Road, the city would have to rezone its plots industrial or commercial, and that would be incompatible with the predominately rural residential-zoned areas of Beaver Loop Road, Kebschull said.

“Now if a professional office came in, a doctor’s office, I’d say that would be compatible,” she said.

After about an hour debating, Commissioner Clifford Smith said he wanted to keep Beaver Loop Road residential, but no other commissioners commented further.

The commission decided to put the issue on hold, until the next meeting Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

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

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