Shed, Conex law stalls

Kenai council postpones action again

Posted: Friday, April 04, 2008

A plan to regulate the look of storage sheds in the city and the use of Conex boxes as storage sheds stalled once again in the Kenai City Council chambers Wednesday.

Saying they wanted to allow for more public comment, action on Ordinance 2287-2008 was postponed two weeks ago.

On Wednesday, no one from the public commented.

Council members once again debated details of what is becoming a working draft of the ordinance, and once again voted to postpone action.

The proposed ordinance adds a requirement for "accessory structures over 120-square feet" to have a building permit and places restrictions on the large sheds or Conex-type structures if used in the city's central commercial and residential zones.

As proposed, Conex-type structures or storage sheds must have all wheeled assemblies removed, must be placed on a foundation, must be roofed and must be sided or painted to match the primary building on the lot.

Citing a message he received from the absent Councilman Rick Ross, Councilman Bob Molloy said the Planning and Zoning Commission did not recall requiring that sheds have roofs. Ross asked that the ordinance go back to Planning and Zoning for revision.

Councilwoman Linda Swarner said two Conex boxes near the Kenai Municipal Airport tower belonging to the Federal Aviation Administration should comply with the same rules as being considered for private citizens.

It was pointed out to her that the airport property is not in the central commercial or residential zones of the city.

Nevertheless, she said the federal government should comply with the same regulations placed on residents.

Councilman Hal Smalley said he too would like to see the ordinance go back to Planning and Zoning for revisions as it pertains to existing sheds and Councilman Barry Eldridge said he also could not support the ordinance in its present form.

Councilman Mike Boyle said the ordinance confuses the issue of Conexes with sheds.

"If the intent is to do away with Conexes, we should have a phase-out period," Boyle said.

Molloy moved to postpone action until the council's first meeting in May, allowing Planning and Zoning the opportunity to make revisions. The motion was approved unanimously.

City Manager Rick Koch has said "these kinds of limitations and restrictions are best left to individual subdivision covenants."

After slashing proposed fees in half, the council unanimously approved allowing people to suspend water and sewer services if they will not need the services for extended periods of time.

In the past, seasonal customers, such as recreational vehicle park owners, would be billed monthly throughout the year even if their RV park was only open for four months. The new regulations apply to residential customers as well as businesses.

Water customers will be charged $50 to turn water off and $50 to turn it back on. The original proposal called for $100 fees.

To help curb increasing problems with bears in the city, the council passed an ordinance mandating use of bear-resistant garbage containers in areas of the city designated as "bear problem areas."

A list of city-approved bear-resistant garbage containers will be available at Kenai City Hall.

Bear problem areas will be declared by the city manager, and unless an emergency exists, he will provide at least 15 days notice before the area designation takes effect.

The new rule is effective May 2.

During her mayor's report, Pat Porter showed council members a mock up of a newsletter she would like to begin sending to city residents to keep them up to date on happenings in the city and any changes in city rules and regulations. The council nodded its approval of the idea and Porter said the first issue would go out within a month.

The city manager informed council members that physical ground-clearing work is scheduled to begin Monday on the new Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse on Marathon Road.

At the beginning of the council meeting, Kenai Central High School freshman Lincoln Wensley gave council members a look at his Caring for the Kenai project titled, "Saving the Dunes."

Wensley produced a professional-quality video, a brochure and public service announcements designed to educate the public on the sensitive nature of the dunes.

Council members applauded his efforts and Swarner suggested he apply for a Kenai city mini-grant.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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