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Challenger center appeals rejection of oversized sign

Posted: Sunday, May 05, 2002

The Challenger Learning Center of Alaska made one last pitch for approval to build an oversized sign for its facility along the Kenai Spur Highway.

Steve Horn, executive director of the center, and Peter Klauder, the architect for the proposed sign, spoke to the Kenai City Council at a Board of Adjustments hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting.

"We've worked very hard to come up with something special for a very special building," Klauder said about the proposed sign.

Horn and Klauder were appealing a decision made by the Planning and Zoning Commission March 27 that refused the center's request for a variance permit to build a sign that exceeded the maximum allowed height.

The city sign code limits signs to 32 square feet in height for a conditional-use permit, which the Challenger center operates under. The proposed Challenger sign is a wire cage sphere resting on a triangular cement pedestal. The pedestal measures 75 square feet and the sphere is 63.62 square feet. In total, the sign would require a 107-square-foot variance, which the commission did not grant.

Horn and Klauder appealed the decision and presented their case to the council. Horn originally pointed out to the Planning and Zoning Commission that the center has to deal with a significant right-of-way boundary with the Kenai Spur Highway. Any sign they construct for the center would have to be 160 feet from the road, making a small sign hard to see.

Klauder explained to the council that the proposed sign would continue the planetary design motif the center already incorporates and would be a monument to the Challenger shuttle disaster.

"I'm not really sure what we would do in terms of a sign for this building if this is shot down," Klauder said.

The council has 30 days to issue a written opinion on the matter. Kenai Mayor John Williams did not participate in the adjustments hearing, citing a conflict of interest, since he is the president of the board of directors of the Challenger center.

In other council news:

Andrew Carmichael gave a presentation on the Arctic Winter Games. He shared the experience of attending the 2002 games in Canada and Greenland and made a pitch for support in attempting to host the 2006 games in the central peninsula.

Jennifer Beckmann and Kristen Lambert, of the Central Area Rural Transit System Inc., addressed the council. They gave a brief update on the CARTS program and requested scheduling a work session with the council to discuss the city of Kenai helping fund CARTS. Williams responded that the city faces a $335,000 budget deficit and needs to deal with that in a policy work session Tuesday before making any decisions about funding.

The council unanimously passed an ordinance that increases the estimated funds and appropriations by $3,000 in the Senior Citizens Title III Grant fund for a grant from the state of Alaska Commission on Aging and a budget transfer from the Borough Grant Fund. The grant money will be used to buy a computer and provide transportation for training personnel to meet new reporting requirements for the senior citizen program.

The council unanimously passed a resolution amending the ICMA 457 Deferred Compensation Plan (a retirement plan) to allow loans.

John Wensley, a teacher at Mountain View Elementary, informed the council that Kenai Peninsula Borough teachers are conducting an evening letter-writing campaign at Carrs to give area residents a chance to tell peninsula legislators in Juneau that they support education funding. Wensley invited council members to participate.

The council unanimously passed a resolution setting the public hearing date for the Pillars Subdivision Paving District as June 5.

The council unanimously passed a resolution awarding a bid of $38,312 to Big G Electric and Engineering Inc. for the Kenai Recreation Center Light Replacement 2002 project.

The council unanimously approved a contract not to exceed $29,590 to Wince-Corthell-Bryson for a Bridge Access Road water and sewer feasibility study.

The council unanimously approved a resolution awarding a bid of $41,501 to Great Bear Ford for a streets flatbed truck. Council member Duane Bannock was allowed to abstain from the vote, since he works for Kenai Chrysler, which is affiliated with Great Bear Ford.

The council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Central Peninsula Counseling Service's concept of building a residential treatment center for adolescents.

The council unanimously approved a sublease of Tract C, Kenai Tidelands Survey No. 2 from Polar Equipment, Inc., which does business as Cook Inlet Processing, to Ocean Beauty Alaska Inc.

The council unanimously approved a special-use permit renewal request from Reean Pitts for an automatic teller machine in the Kenai Municipal Airport terminal .



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