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Soldotna council votes 'no' to Lord Baranof SAD

Posted: December 12, 2013 - 8:40pm

After listening to public testimony from three residents and discussing the project, the Soldotna City Council voted down resolution to form a special assessment district for Lord Baranof Street at its Wednesday night meeting.

The council voted unanimously against the resolution to pave the about 330-foot gravel stretch of road and further improve the road with a rolled curb and insulation for an existing water main.

Two Lord Baranof property owners and one other Soldotna resident testified about the project.

Dan Poppin, owned three undeveloped properties along Lord Baranof when the project was initiated in August.

His three lots have since been replatted to two lots, but code requires the city to treat the lots how they were when the project was initiated.

Poppin said he does not think its fair to ask the property owners to pay for a portion of the project.

When the subdivision was developed, the property owner paid to put the roads in and subdivide the property to city and borough standards, he said.

“Now you want to cap the roads with pavement to up the city standards, which is great, but now you’re asking the property owners to go above and beyond what they’ve already done to code to put the roads in originally,” he said.

Tim Cashman Jr., who doesn’t own property on Lord Baranof but was previously assessed for an SAD project on Porcupine Court, spoke against the project.

He said Lord Baranof gets a “huge” amount of city traffic because it is used as a drop off point for Soldotna Middle School students.

He said the SAD projects should be based on the neighborhoods asking council for the improvements.

“These things need to be moved slowly and cautiously … let (the property owners) bring it forward,” Cashman said.

Bill Anderson, Lord Baranof resident voiced his desire to see the project move forward. He said drainage is “serious issue” on the street and the improvements would help to fix the problem.

“Would I rather that the city paid for it themselves? Well, of course,” he said. “But I still speak in support of it,”

Project cost was estimated at more than $210,000 and with the city to pay 75 percent of that cost, according to the resolution.

The remaining 25 percent was to be divided evenly at $5, 271 per lot, according to the resolution.

Council member Linda Murphy said she is “a bit uncomfortable” without seeking neighborhood support before starting the process.

“If there’s a real public interest or a real public need to pave these streets then I don’t know why we’re going the SAD route. … If there are drainage issues, if it’s a commercial area, I would certainly vote to have those streets paved at city expense,” Murphy said.

Poppin and another property owner sent letters to the city disapproving of the project.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough has an outstanding lien against one of the properties on Lord Baranof, which council member Pete Sprague estimates puts the property owners at 50 percent against the SAD, so he said he was not in favor of passing the resolution.

He said he would like the administration to come back to the council with cost estimates for improving the drainage and freezing water pipes issues without paving the street as well as estimates that include costs for sidewalks and lighting.

Council member Regina Daniels agreed with Sprague stating she went down the street and saw a lot of school-related traffic using the road.

Mayor Nels Anderson asked the council if it would like to have a work session after it votes on the resolution to discuss the SAD process before making recommendations to the administration about the project.

Murphy said she would like to have a work session to go over the SAD procedure and discuss possible changes to the code to clarify it.

After voting down the resolution, the council also voted down the ordinance to appropriate money for the Lord Baranof project.

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

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