Kenai land use plan developing

Posted: Friday, March 24, 2006

Economic planners have forwarded two ideas for land use to the city of Kenai: one for Millennium Square and one for bluff acreage north of town.

The economic development committee of the Kenai Economic Development Strategy (KEDS) action team has asked the city to solicit professional development plans for city-owned property known as Millennium Square near the Vintage Pointe Manor senior housing complex.

The committee also recommended the city work with property owners to re-plat an area along the Kenai Spur Highway north of Kenai in Section 36.

Mayor Pat Porter and the city council have scheduled a work session with KEDS members for 7 p.m. April 17 to discuss the recommendations.

The KEDS team, a group of Kenai doctors, lawyers and business owners, formed a little over a year ago and spent most of 2005 organizing, adopting bylaws and setting up working committees, according to chair Rick Baldwin.

KEDS plans to meet in a joint work session with the city council each year and conduct an annual economic forum to gather public input on development. The first public forum is being planned for 2007.

In a letter to the city council, Baldwin said the KEDS team recommends the city put out a request for proposals (RFP) for development plans on Millennium Square, an area bounded by Bridge Access Road, Frontage Road and Spur View Drive.

A draft plan calls for the area to be developed into a business park with commercial shops, a hotel and possibly a convention center overlooking the Kenai River.

The development also would include park benches, picnic and day-use areas, coastal trails and a bike trail.

In its development plan, KEDS said, the old Shkituk Village is believed to be in the parcel directly adjoining the southeastern section of Millennium Square.

“The committee found this to be an opportunity for Kenai to partner with local Native groups to create greater awareness of the cultural presence in the area by not just allowing the area to be used for a Native cultural and interpretive center, but engaging with Native groups to make this happen,” the development plan stated.

In its letter to the city council, the group said it feels the announced plans of Wal-Mart and Lowe’s coming to Kenai “will provide the necessary incentive for professional developers to respond to the RFP.”

KEDS’ recommendation on Section 36 land involves mostly city-owned land with a few other property owners.

The committee said the lots should be re-platted so they extend from the Kenai Spur Highway to the bluff.

“This would allow property owners to situate homes far enough away from the bluff to account for erosion.

“The outcome of the re-plat would almost certainly be the construction of large custom homes in an area where the property owners are now reluctant to build,” KEDS’ letter stated.

Baldwin said the area was originally subdivided for residential lots, “but did not take bluff erosion into account.”

If the lots are re-platted, creating longer yards for property owners, the lots would be more usable, he said.

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