Kenai could take up rezone: Council to consider Spur Highway zoning changes

Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A controversial rezone proposal that failed to get the support of the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission, is slated to come before the city council for consideration at its meeting tonight.

The proposal to rezone properties across from Kenai Central High School from Rural Residential 1 to Limited Commercial has drawn the ire of many MAPS Subdivision homeowners who would rather maintain the low-density, slow-paced feel of their neighborhood.

At the recommendation of the Kenai City Council, the city administration applied to change the zoning on 13 Rural Residential parcels and one city-owned Conservation parcel north of the Kenai Spur Highway between McCollum Drive and Shk'ituk'tnu Creek.

Because the proposed ordinance is considered controversial, it does not appear on the council meeting agenda as a consent agenda item, but rather stands alone and requires a motion by one council member in order to be introduced tonight, according to acting city manager, Police Chief Gus Sandahl.

If it is introduced, it will be up for discussion by council members and comments from the public. If introduced, it will be scheduled for a second public hearing on April 1.

Also on the council agenda as a discussion item tonight is a proposal to change the method for amending the Kenai zoning code.

Currently to amend the code, an application is submitted to an administrative official, a public hearing is scheduled and the planning commission makes a recommendation to the council, which conducts another public hearing and decides whether to approve the amendment.

Councilman Bob Molloy would like to see seven additional standards for approval in writing, including one mandating if one-third or more of property owners in the impacted area oppose the rezone, the commission and council need to determine whether a compelling public policy or purpose outweighs the protests.

Molloy's recommendation is slated for discussion only with no action at tonight's meeting.

The council is scheduled to consider an ordinance allowing an extension of the 90-day limit for installing skirting around mobile homes placed in mobile home parks.

Because it is more difficult to install the skirting in winter months when snow is built up, extensions would be allowed on an individual basis, according to Sandahl.

At the request of Councilman Joe Moore, the city is being asked to support the Kenai Watershed Forum's efforts to obtain financing to renovate the white house in Soldotna Creek Park the forum plans to lease for its new headquarters.

Language in the proposed resolution recognizes the Watershed Forum's work in maintaining healthy watersheds on the Kenai Peninsula.

Another resolution up for consideration tonight seeks to retain the cultural and historical name of Shk'ituk'tnu for the 1 1/2-mile creek east of Marathon Road near the city of Kenai sign along the Kenai Spur Highway.

A request had been submitted to the Alaska Historical Commission to name the creek "Reds Creek" for Glen Rex "Red" McCollum Sr., a long-time Kenai resident who died in 2002, and in recognition of red salmon that return to Kenai Peninsula streams every year, although the creek in question is coho salmon habitat.

A pact with the Alaska State Trooper Bureau of Highway Patrol also is slated for consideration.

The proposed agreement calls for Kenai Police to send one senior officer to serve on a state highway traffic team for two to five years. The position would be state funded and the officer would receive major crash training that he or she could bring back to the Kenai department, according to Sandahl.

"I would support the assignment as long as it's in line with the mission: reduce traffic fatalities," Sandahl said.

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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