Agenda focuses on boundaries, roads

Posted: Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Revised assembly district boundaries, proposed new road standards and money for school greenhouses where tree seedlings would be raised for reforestation efforts are among a host of issues the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will take up today at 7 p.m. at Seward City Hall.

Substantial changes to district boundaries are expected to meet with assembly approval. Population growth and redistribution over the past decade, as recorded in the latest census, require the redistricting move. Seven of the nine seats will be up for election in October.

To provide for rotation of seats in future elections, some sitting members of the assembly will be required to stand for re-election earlier than expected, and four candidates elected in those races this coming October will win one- or two-year terms instead of the normal three years.

The proposed boundaries generally follow state precinct lines. Some districts would see little in the way of boundary adjustment, others a great deal.

The Homer-Kachemak City district, Assembly District 8, would grow to include territory recently annexed to the city and add a region on the west side of Cook Inlet south of Chinitna Bay.

Assembly District 9, a horseshoe-shaped district circling Homer and Kachemak Bay from Diamond Ridge to Seldovia, will be slightly reduced. The eastern boundary of the Soldotna district, Assembly District 4, would include a portion of Funny River Road, and its western boundary would be adjusted.

Those changes would require new boundaries for Kenai South, Assembly District 1, and Sterling's Assembly District 5. Sterling would add significant territory to the north in an area currently split between District 3, Nikiski and District 6, Seward, and to the south into territory now in the Tustumena district, Assembly District 7.

The Nikiski district would get new southern and eastern boundaries and lose a portion of its territory on the west side of Cook Inlet to District 8, while Assembly District 6, the Seward district, would add unpopulated land to its western boundary under the proposed scheme.

In the fall, Seats 1 and 9 would be on the ballot as one-year terms; seats 4 and 7 would be up as two-year terms and Seats 2, 5 and 8 will be up for full three-year terms.

Only Seats 3 and 6, held by Gary Superman of Nikiski and Ron Long of Seward, escaped truncation. Each will serve out their current terms, which expire in 2004 and 2003, respectively.

The Kenai Peninsula Road Service Area Board has requested changes in borough standards for roads. Ordinance 2003-13 will be introduced tonight and set for a public hearing June 4.

Currently, road construction standards are set for four categories of roads and linked to the numbers of lots served by those roads. In all cases, the number of lots defining those categories is proposed to be lowered.

Category IV roads, currently defined as a road serving 100 lots, would be redefined as serving just 50 lots, and a new section of the law would require their design be done by a licensed professional civil engineer and approved by the director the road service area prior to construction.

Another proposed section defers certification of Category IV roads for permanent maintenance for two years while the stability of the new road is tested. During that time, the road would be on a temporary maintenance status. Should the new road fail to meet borough standards after two years, the service area would not certify the road until it was brought up to Category IV standard.

In addition, builders of Category IV roads would be required to post a bond equal to 120 percent of the road construction cost. In the event an applicant fails to correct deficiencies noted by the service area board, the borough would use the money to make the necessary improvements.

The new road rules also detail specific road-construction requirements for Category IV roads.

Ordinance 2001-19-36 would appropriate $60,000 in borough timber sales receipts within the Land Trust Fund to the School Capital Improvement Fund and be used to build school greenhouses at Skyview High School and Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School.

The greenhouse program is being conducted in cooperation with the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

In concept, school science classes will use the greenhouses to grow tree seedlings for the borough's reforestation program, according to Robert Bright, the borough planning director.

A greenhouse at Seward High School already is operational. A forest service of $5,000 helped refurbish the unused facility, which now houses some 3,000 seedlings.

It is estimated that combined, the school greenhouses could provide between 10 and 20 percent of the borough's reforestation program seedlings. In other business, the assembly will consider awarding a contract for professional consulting services to study the feasibility of constructing an industrial park in Nikiski.

In January, the assembly approved spending $75,000 to learn if building an industrial park in Nikiski would benefit the economy of the peninsula.

The study might show an industrial park isn't warranted, assembly members admitted. On the other hand, it may demonstrate that construction of such a park would prove a boon to new businesses large and small.

The assembly also is expected to introduce Ordinance 2002-19, the fiscal year 2003 borough budget.

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