Kenai land use hearings slated: Planners to discuss Limited Commercial, MAPS proposal

Posted: Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kenai planners set public hearings for April 22 to consider zoning changes for property across from the high school recently rezoned to allow small businesses into the area.

Over protests from residents in the neighboring community, a rezone ordinance was passed by the Kenai City Council on April 1, changing about 22 acres north of the Kenai Spur Highway from Rural Residential 1 and Conservation to Limited Commercial.

Residents of the MAPS Subdivision, named for streets bordering the neighborhood -- Magic Avenue, Aliak Drive, Princess Street and the Spur Highway -- argued that changing the parcels along the highway to Limited Commercial would negatively alter the quiet, low-density complexion of their community.

During about six months of debate, the residents pointed to several land uses allowed in the Limited Commercial zone that they did not think would be good fits for their neighborhood.

In a work session following last week's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, planners decided to schedule a public hearing to consider requiring conditional use permits for such enterprises as restaurants, personal service businesses, dormitories and boarding houses, greenhouses and tree nurseries. Under the existing zoning code, the uses are permitted.

Other changes would include not permitting mobile home parks in the Limited Commercial zone and removing the prohibition against automotive service stations to allowing them with conditional use permits, according to planning assistant Nancy Carver.

The planners also are to study a proposed "MAPS Special Zoning District" proposed by the neighborhood residents.

The district would allow single-family, two- and three-family dwellings, churches and off-street parking. Commercial and industrial uses would be prohibited.

In the MAPS special district plan, a professional office structure up to 4,500 square-feet would be allowed on Dr. Todd Wortham's property. On a borough-owned parcel, colleges, elementary and high schools, government buildings, museums, parks and recreation, boarding houses and public parking would be permitted.

The rezoning controversy began late last year when Wortham applied to have a vacant 2.97-acre parcel across from Kenai Central High School rezoned so he could build a new professional building for his dental practice.

Also excepted in the MAPS special zone would be four parcels that currently have four-plexes on them. The four family dwellings would be allowed to remain with conditional use permits.

City Councilman Rick Ross has said the proposed changes to the land use table under Limited Commercial came about because of issues brought to the council's attention by MAPS residents.

As it stands, the rezone goes into effect May 1.

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



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