Less empty concrete and more beautified businesses are the goals of an ordinance passed by the Soldotna City Council Wednesday night to reduce the number of off-street parking spaces stores, offices and other establishments are required to provide. The hope is that the change will have a positive effect on the city's environment and aesthetics.
"Typically Soldotna has been a little heavy on the parking requirements," said Councilmember Kyle Fisher. "Too stringent of requirements inhibits good landscaping, but it also inhibits building sizes and the ability to expand."
Now, instead of creating one parking spot for every 200 square feet of building space, businesses and other institutions will only be compelled to make one for every 300 square feet, a proportion much more in line with other Alaska cities.
This freed-up space will hypothetically allow growing businesses to expand their structures, or landscape their property without the fear of violating zoning codes.
"Our businesses did complain because they were limited in what they could build," said Mayor Peter Micciche, who pointed to the example of Homestead Jewelers & Gifts, a local shop that had to limit its retail space because of the parking issue.
The ordinance also promotes the beautification of properties in the hopes that grassy buffer areas and shady, tree-rich storefronts will becomes the norm instead of vast expanses of barren asphalt.
-- Karen Garcia
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