The Alaska Division of Parks wants to rebuild a boat launch ramp at Deep Creek that was destroyed by flooding in 2002, but has been blocked by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission.
In August the commission denied a conditional use permit needed by Parks before it can construct the 22-by-150-foot concrete ramp, as well as to repair a 8-by-350-foot pedestrian walkway. Parks also wants to shape and stabilize the riverbank within 50 feet of Deep Creek’s mean high-water mark.
State Parks appealed the planning commission’s decision.
That normally would go to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Adjustment. However, borough code includes provisions that allow borough officials to recommend a commission reconsider a case where it is likely that the Board of Adjustment would send the case back to the commission, as well.
In this situation, borough Planning Director Max Best and Deputy Attorney Holly Montague made such a motion Oct. 19, arguing that planning commissioners had failed to make findings in support of their decision denying the conditional use permit.
Best and Montague also noted that the commission had not had the entire record of its June 26 hearing on the permit specifically, it did not have access to the record of testimony and prior discussions. Commissioners were relying on memory.
Best and Montague said the likely result of a full-blown Board of Adjustment proceeding would have resulted in the board sending the case back to the commission.
The planning commission will take up the issue again tonight.
Prior to the August commission meeting, a planning staff report had recommended granting the permit, saying the proposed project would provide safe access and cause no significant erosion or destruction of habitat.
Testimony at the August meeting included at least two residents generally opposed to rebuilding the ramp.
During his testimony, State Parks representative Jack Blackwell said that Parks heard from many residents who favored ramp reconstruction while Parks was evaluating whether to rebuild it.
He also said a hydrologist with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities had recommended building the ramp as far upstream as possible within the meander bend. That and other recommendations have been incorporated into the design, he said.
If rebuilt, Blackwell told the commission, only standard fees of $5 per launch and $5 fee for parking if a vehicle was separate from the boat trailer would be charged.
When it came to a vote, the commission denied the permit request by a 7-5 margin with one abstention, eventually precipitating the official appeal.
The commission meets at 7:30 p.m. today in Soldotna.
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