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Molloy: Views of residents, business owners should count

Posted: September 24, 2013 - 6:39pm  |  Updated: September 24, 2013 - 6:52pm

Kenai residents and business owners tell me they want better long term planning for Kenai’s future physical and economic growth, together with better protections for their quality of life; earlier notice about City plans that might affect their neighborhoods and businesses; and to participate in the City’s decision-making process, without artificial restrictions, and they want their views to count. They want City regulations that make sense and don’t harm their lives and businesses. WE CAN GIVE Kenai residents and businesses confidence that their concerns will be respectfully addressed – it’s just good government.

BETTER LONG TERM PLANNING. The City needs a real long-term plan for growth that supports local businesses and brings in new business and housing, but we must be careful that these plans don’t hurt existing businesses or residential neighborhoods. The City is a major landowner, and we should set aside enough land for our future residential, public and commercial needs. We need to improve our planning.

MORE PUBLIC PARTICIPATION. We should be engaging with the public on City projects and initiatives well before Council voting night, and well before work starts. I’m proud of my work on the City Council to improve procedures for the benefit of the Council and the public, such as publishing agendas earlier and webcasting Council and commission meetings. I also worked to develop a new model for an interactive town hall meeting, which the City used successfully in 2010 and 2011. As Mayor, I will work with the City Manager and City Clerk to ensure earlier and better notice to the public, as well as a wider variety of opportunities for the public participation. We should use more town hall meetings to provide informal opportunities for public participation, and build community support for City plans.

RESPECTING THE WISHES OF THE COMMUNITY. It’s unprecedented: two (2) ballot propositions in only four years seeking to repeal Council decisions on land use and comprehensive planning. By Proposition A in the 2009 election, voters repealed Council’s decision to re-zone from residential to limited commercial private properties on the Spur Highway in the MAPS neighborhood. The fact that there is a second ballot proposition for this October election – Proposition 1, asking voters to repeal the new Council-adopted Comprehensive Plan – is a clear message from many Kenai residents that they lack confidence in their City Council’s decisions on land use policies.

Our local government works best when there is widespread community support for the Council’s decisions. When hundreds of voters sign petitions to overturn what we on the Council voted for, that indicates that we need to a better job of representation.

REASONABLE REGULATION AND BIDDING PROCEDURES. We need to review Kenai code requirements that affect small businesses, including the purchasing code, and our local bidding preferences, and remove unnecessary barriers. We also need to bring businesses into the decision-making process earlier, so that we can hear from them how our new rules or regulations will affect their businesses, so that we can avoid causing unnecessary, unanticipated business costs.

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