Knowles signs coastal zone bill

Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles has signed a bill that removes a citizen's right to ask for a state review of coastal zone program decisions.

Supporters of the bill said the previous law wasn't working and frustrated developers and those protesting projects.

Under previous law, those wanting to do projects in a coastal zone had to receive a state finding that the project was consistent with the coastal plan for that area.

After the Division of Governmental Coordination made its decision, individuals living in the affected area who commented when the agency was considering the issue could petition to the state Coastal Policy Council.

But in deciding whether to reject the agency's decision, the council could only look at whether the petitioners' comments were fairly considered, not whether they had merit.

As a result, citizens never succeeded in having a decision reversed, said Patrick Galvin, director of the Division of Governmental Coordination. However, the petition process could delay work on projects.

According to Knowles, under the new law, the council would no longer hear petitions on specific projects.

Instead, the council would focus on whether a pattern of problems or abuse exists, and take necessary action to ensure proper future decisions.

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