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Roads, dogs on agenda

Public has chance to address Borough Assembly on Tuesday

Posted: Monday, February 04, 2008

Competing ordinances aiming to impose higher roads standards on subdivision developers will get another round of public hearings at Tuesday's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting.

Also up for public testimony is a measure that would authorize the borough likely through a contractor to impound and dispose of vicious dogs in areas outside borough cities.

On roads, Ordinance 2007-33 (substitute), sponsored by Borough Mayor John Williams and Assemblywoman Milli Martin of Diamond Ridge, will get still another hearing.

At the Jan. 22 meeting, the assembly made wholesale changes to the ordinance, but voted to postpone final action to give members a chance to digest the impact of the amendments.

Ordinance 2007-33 (substitute) has been in the works since late summer last year, and is itself a revision of an earlier measure considered, but rejected, last spring. The principal aim is to ensure that future subdivision roads at least those within 330 feet of already maintained roads would be sufficiently well-built to make them eligible for borough maintenance prior to the approval of a final plat. In addition, developers would be required to build roads linking their subdivisions to maintained roads.

That measure includes provisions for formal agreements between the developer and the Road Service Area in cases where all subdivision roads are not built prior to final plat approval for example, in phased projects. Those agreements would include financial assurances that the roads would be built and when.

A final vote is likely to be very close, and the outcome of the controversial measure is not assured.

Into that mix last week came a second substitute submitted by Assemblyman Gary Knopp of Kalifornsky. Ordinance 2007-33 (Knopp substitute) also would require roads built prior to final plat approval meet borough maintenance standards. However, it would allow plats to be approved before roads are built in rights of way.

Perhaps more importantly, Knopp's substitute dumps any reference to subdivision agreements and financial guarantees regarding future roads. Instead, other provisions in borough code would require roads built later to meet maintenance standards.

Knopp's substitute also offers provisions requiring that progressively larger subdivisions built at progressively longer distances from maintained roads also construct subdivision roads to maintenance standards, as well as build connectors to the maintained road system.

Knopp said his ordinance would protect small-scale subdividers from heavy financial burdens, while ensuring large land developers provide well-built roads.

Meanwhile, another measure offered by Knopp back on Jan. 8, Ordinance 2008-02, also is up for a public hearing. It was proposed, he said, as an alternative to 2007-33. It is in some ways similar to his more recent substitute for 2007-33.

According to Knopp, instead of requiring roads close to maintained roads be built to RSA standards before plat approval, it would require pre-existing roads throughout the service area proposed for dedication be built to RSA standards before the plat is approved. If no roads have been built, then approval could be granted. Future roads would be subject to RSA standards.

The borough legal department has indicated there were several problems with 2008-02, but also has said none were insurmountable.

Just how the assembly is likely to vote on the three measures before them is unknown and may depend on public input.

As for the dog ordinance, numerous complaints from residents led Assembly President Grace Merkes to propose Ordinance 2008-01, which would enact a new chapter in the borough code providing for impounding and disposing of vicious dogs in areas of the borough beyond city limits.

The cities of Kenai, Soldotna, Homer, Seward and Seldovia already provide animal control services that residents living beyond city limits often use. Ordinance 2008-01 would broaden services boroughwide.

State law allows boroughs to license, impound and dispose of animals on either an areawide or nonareawide basis.

The measure would define a "vicious dog" as one that had bitten any person or persons on one or more separate occasions, causing the skin to break, if the bite occurred without provocation.

The "vicious dog" label also would apply to any dog that caused serious injury or death to a human being.

In other business, the assembly is expected to consider:

* Resolution 2008-014, authorizing award of a contract for external audit services to Mikunda, Cottrell & Co., the firm that holds the current contract. The new contract would extend through 2010.

* Resolution 2008-015, supporting House Bill 288, an act relating to net energy metering for retail electricity suppliers and customers.

* Resolution 2008-016, designating the Peninsula Clarion as the newspaper to publish the 2008 Property Tax Foreclosure List.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.



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