In hopes of selling a number of lots in the Soldotna Junction Subdivision for commercial development “as soon as possible,” longtime resident and landowner Dolly Farnsworth has asked the city to rezone the land from multi-family residential to commercial.
The Soldotna Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the change at a meeting earlier this month, and the Soldotna City Council on May 23, scheduled a public hearing in the rezoning for its June 13 meeting.
Six lots, bounded by Soldotna Avenue, Kasilof Street and Farnsworth Boulevard, would be zoned commercial and three lots would be rezoned as multi-family residential, if the measure is approved by the council.
The property is in a westerly direction from the rear of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union on the Sterling Highway.
The lots being considered for rezoning to multi-family residential would serve as a buffer between commercial property and a rural residential district to the north.
During the council meeting last week, the city’s $11 million budget for fiscal year 2007-2008 was approved.
“There are not too many changes operationally from last year,” said City Manager Tom Boedeker.
“There are no additional (staffing) positions,” he said, and added that ice time revenues at the Soldotna Sports Center were down, but revenues from other events there are increasing.
“Capital projects are rather light,” Boedeker said. “Major projects are being held until we look at the five-year plan.”
Council members were told that last year, the city moved to a 75-25 percent split of sales tax revenues between operations and capital spending. Boedeker recommend returning to a two-thirds to one-third split as had previously been done.
“That would put more money into capital,” he said.
The council approved returning to the former allocation split.
Boedeker also said the Community Schools Program, as funded in the budget, is going to be the same as during the past year as far as funding to the After the Bell Program and to Community Schools classes and placing classroom aides in the high school.
Finance Director Joan Miller asked for authority to recalculate the budget because the state Legislature reduced municipalities’ funding rates to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) from 28 percent to 22 percent of payroll.
The reduction represents a savings of $185,527, she told the council.
Miller said the savings would be allocated to each affected operating department.
During his report on police activity, Chief John Lucking Jr. said the city has had a number of recent brown bear incidents, including a brown bear in the yard of city hall on May 20.
“We shot at it with rubber bullets and used bean bags to run it off,” he said.
Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael reported that all of the city’s parks are now open, except Rotary Park, which incurred significant damage from winter ice floes.
“We’ll be able to put it back together by July 1,” Carmichael said. He also said city workers would have between 90 and 95 percent of the stairs into the Kenai River returned by July 1.
Kenai Watershed Forum representative Josselyn O’Connor told the city some of the highlights planned for the Kenai River Festival, which moves to Soldotna from Kenai his year, and is scheduled for June 9 and 10 at Soldotna Creek Park.
As usual, the event will include a 5-kilometer “Run for the River” race and this year, organizers have added a 10-mile foot race as well.
“The Anchorage marathon is the next week, so the runners will come for the longer event,” she said of the 10-mile race.
The free festival will feature food and vendor booths, fresh salmon dinners, live music and free children’s activities.
“We have 25 agencies on board to do children’s activities,” O’Connor said.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at email@example.com.
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