State says it won't make changes to lane-use plan

Posted: Friday, May 19, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- State officials won't make any changes to the Kenai Area Plan even though the borough has filed a lawsuit.

''It's not going to happen,'' said Marty Rutherford, deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. ''The plan is signed. It's done.''

The plan sets land-use classifications for state-owned land in the borough and determines which land the borough can select to complete the remaining 44,000 acres of its entitlement from the state.

John Baker, the state attorney who is handling the case, said Natural Resources Commissioner John Shively had offered to try and resolve the borough's concerns.

''But the state feels bound to honor the public participation that led to the area plan,'' Baker said. ''As for the land which, as a result of the area plan, is not available for selection by the borough, the agency feels bound to honor the land classifications that are in the area plan.''

Mayor Dale Bagley contends that the state left mostly mountaintops, glaciers and wetlands for the borough and kept the best land for itself. The mayor wants the borough to be allowed to select state land by Kenai and Trail lakes, some of the peninsula's most valuable real estate. The plan recommends much of that for addition to state parks or for state retention for wildlife habitat and recreation.

Bagley on April 7 appealed the plan to Alaska Superior Court. The borough assembly on Tuesday tabled indefinitely a motion to support the appeal.

''I'd like to see us negotiate with the state,'' Nikiski assembly member Jack Brown said. ''I think it would be in everyone's best interest to sit down one more time and see how close we are.''

Bagley said the appeal won't be withdrawn. He said, however, the borough will continue talking regularly with the state.

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