Borough looks to extend permit use

Posted: Thursday, May 06, 2004

An ordinance introduced at Tuesday's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting would extend the effect of some conditional-use permits issued for projects around specific anadromous streams to accommodate larger and lengthier projects.

Ordinance 2004-14 would allow permits for certain projects to be issued for as long as six years. Currently, such permits are issued for just one year with a possible one-year extension. The assembly, meeting in Seward, set the ordinance for a public hearing June 1 in Soldotna.

The ordinance applies to land within 50 horizontal feet of rivers and streams designated as part of the borough's "Habitat Protection Area."

Established by ordinance in 1996, the area includes the Kenai River and 10 of its tributaries, as well as 14 other rivers and creeks across the borough. All are identified in the Department of Fish and Game as important for spawning, rearing or migration of anadromous fish.

Conditional-use permits are issued for certain construction and installation projects normally prohibited from the habitat protection area.

However, the short two-year deadlines are unworkable for some projects, according to Max Best, borough planning director.

A state project to build a bridge crossing the Kenai River would be an example of a project for which the two-year limit would be too short, he said. The same can be said of complex and time-consuming projects proposed by some private property owners who may own significant amounts of river frontage, Best said.

In a memo to the assembly, Best said the ordinance would require the planning commission to make findings in support of a permit term extension beyond the two-year limit "to ensure the extension is consistent with the intents and purposes of (the borough code)."

The assembly also introduced and set for public hearings on May 18 and June 1 Ordinance 2004-19, which would appropriate funds for fiscal year 2005, which begins July 1. The borough has proposed spending $57.2 million from the general fund. That would cover, among other things, the estimated $13.5 million it will take to run general government operations, and the $32.6 million to be transferred to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District representing the local share of the cost of schools.

Other portions of the ordinance set out funding for various service areas and special funds such as solid waste disposal. The accompanying Resolution 2004-047 formally establishes the amount to be set aside for schools.

The total school budget, including the local match and state and federal funding is $95 million for fiscal year 2005.

In other business, the assembly:

Adopted Ordinance 2003-19-42, appropriating $120,000 for replacement of the gym floor at Kenai Central High School;

Adopted Ordinance 2003-19-43, appropriating $293,000 from South Peninsula Hospital Service Area's fund balance to cover interest due on general obligation bonds;

Adopted Ordinance 2003-19-44, appropriating $30,000 to Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association for a Coho Enhancement Project in the Homer and Seward areas;

Adopted Ordinance 2004-08, authorizing a land exchange with Offshore Systems-Kenai to acquire land to support the North Peninsula Recreational Service Area cross-country ski trail.

Introduced Ordinance 2004-14, a measure to increase the maximum amount to which the borough sales tax would apply from the first $500 to the first $1,000. Hearings are set for May 18 and June 1.

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