Resident accuses city of violating code for SAD

At Wednesday night’s meeting the Soldotna City Council heard more from a resident concerning a Special Assessment District.

Tim Cashman Jr. spoke to the council, a second time, accusing the city of violating multiple codes in the Porcupine Court Special Assessment District.

“This is, over the line, a criminal act,” Cashman said.

Cashman told council the information that was provided to property owners about the SAD described a public works project — a city funded project benefiting the community — not a SAD — a project primarily benefiting property owners in a limited area and partially funded by those owners.

Stephanie Queen, director of economic development and planning, said the project is both a community and neighborhood-specific project. With the city’s Waste Water Treatment Plant and Animal Control buildings located on Porcupine Court, and Animal Control generating a significant volume of traffic, the city opted to pay the 75 percent of the project cost. The additional tax is divided 12.5 percent per lot and 12.5 percent by parcel area, putting 86 percent of the total cost on the city’s tab.

“I feel like we achieved that balance where the private properties are participating in a meaningful way, but also putting enough burden on the city,” Queen said.

Cashman said none of the property owners asked for this project and owners of 10 of the 12 privately owned lots wrote letters opposing the project.

He said the city also did not give owners enough time to respond to the substitute resolution, violating a code that requires a new public comment period.

Property owners were given a 30-day comment period for the original resolution. Queen said the city waited for the comment period to close before staff altered recommendations to give everyone an opportunity to voice their concerns about the original SAD resolution.

“It really was our interest to get people involved in a meaningful way throughout,” Queen said. “The reason we didn’t do it was mostly because of the timing.”

The substitute resolution was available online July 19, five days before the meeting where council members passed the substitute resolution.

Queen said, in the future, she thinks it is a good idea for the city to allow for a longer comment period when the staff changes recommendations.

Cashman also claims the city is violating code that specifies minimum construction standards. He said code requires a 24-foot street; not meeting this street width should be enough to pause the project.

“I’ve done enough building around here. I’ve had them come by. I’ve been tagged. I know how seriously they take this stuff. I know what happens,” Cashman said. “You cannot proceed. (The city) should not have the ability to proceed like this either.”

Queen said the city is working in a narrower area than usual and Porcupine Court has overheard power lines on one side and a slope with trees that act as a buffer between the street and the Waste Water Treatment Facility. To keep all those improvements intact, the city opted for a 22-foot street.

It’s common in a lot of communities, if there is a situation where the standard isn’t appropriate, that the city has the ability to set different standards, she said.

Cashman said the city is violating at least six municipal codes by moving forward with this project.

“If a private citizen were trying to build something with this many code violations, they would received a stop work order and a citation if they continued regardless of any contracts they may have had in place,” Cashman said at the meeting.

Kyle Kornelis, city engineer, said the improvements to Porcupine Court are scheduled to be completed in the beginning of October.

The renovations for Porcupine Court include pavement, curb, gutter and drainage improvements. The substitute resolution estimated the cost of those improvements to be $360,333.

The council passed the substitute resolution for the SAD at a July 24 meeting, without directly notifying all of the affected property owners.

The substitute resolution cut the cost of the SAD to five property owners by 51 to 54 percent, while Cashman received only a 5 percent tax reduction.

Cashman was taxed a total of $18,405 for his five undeveloped lots valued at $42,500.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11 at 6 p.m.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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